By Kelly Puckett, Marty Pasko, Ty Templeton, Brad Rader & Rick Burchett (DC Comics/Titan Books)
ISBNs: 978-1-56389-098-7 (DC), 978-1-85286-521-4 (Titan)
Batman: The Animated Series launched in America on September 5th 1992 and ran until September 15th 1995. Masterminded by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, the show revolutionised the image of the Dark Knight and led to some of the absolute best comicbook tales in his almost 75-year publishing history.
By employing a timeless visual tone (dubbed “Dark Deco”) the show mixed elements from all iterations of the character and, without diluting the power and mood of the premise, perfectly honed the grim avenger and his team into a wholly accessible, thematically memorable form that the youngest of readers could enjoy, whilst adding shades of exuberance and style that only most devout and obsessive Batmaniac could possibly find fault with.
Naturally the comicbook version was an cast-iron contender for collection in the newly-emergent trade paperback market and this long out-of print edition – published in America by DC and by Titan Books in Britain – gathered the first half-dozen all-ages epics from The Batman Adventures comicbook (originally published from October 1992 to March 1993) in a smashing, straightforward sampler of Fights ‘n’ Tights fantasy.
Preceded by ‘An Introduction by Paul Dini: Batman’s Most Animated Adventures’ and accompanied by a plethora of pulsating storyboards, the action begins with ‘Penguin’s Big Score’ by Kelly Puckett, Ty Templeton & Rick Burchett.
Each story was divided into three chapters and ‘Charm School Dropout!’ found the Bird of Ill Omen taking tips on how to rehabilitate his nefarious reputation from The Joker, whilst in ‘Top of the World, Ma!’ the Foul Fowl’s new standing as a philanthropist had all Gotham agog.
The sinister scheme was finally exposed by Batman in the climactic third act ‘Power of the Press’, but the hero had no idea that the real winner was the Clown Prince of Crime…
In issue #2 ‘Catwoman’s Killer Caper’ (Puckett, Templeton & Burchett) kicked off with a gem heist before, on Joker’s urging, sultry Selina Kyle visited England’s Tower of London to swipe ‘The Family Jewels!’
In hot pursuit, the Gotham Gangbuster headed across The Pond to quell ‘Panic over Londontown’ and solved the mystery of a seemingly impossible theft in ‘Midnight Madness’ – but not before the Harlequin of Hate snatched the real prize…
All that crafty conniving culminated in ‘Joker’s Late-Night Lunacy!’ by Puckett, Templeton & Burchett, with Gotham’s airwaves hijacked and Commissioner Gordon kidnapped by the larcenous loon who made himself literally unmissable viewing in ‘A Star is Born!’
‘I Want My JTV!’ saw District Attorney Harvey Dent make it onto the Joker’s inescapable guest list, but Batman was again one step ahead of the game and lowered the boom in the explosive ‘Flash in the Pan!’
Writer Marty Pasko and penciller Brad Rader joined inker Rick Burchett for a gripping two-issue tale of terror guest starring Robin as ‘Riot Act’ describes ‘Panic in the Streets’ after a strange plague caused citizens to lose the ability to read.
Even with utter chaos gripping the city the Teen Wonder’s ‘Help on the Wing’ results in a huge step forward but when ‘Robin Takes a Fall’ the mastermind reveals himself and the drama intensifies in #4 with ‘Riot Act: Johnny Can’t Read!’ as the Scarecrow steps up his campaign to teach the slackers of the modern world a lesson….
However, the Dynamic Duo are well aware of the ‘Hi-Fi Hijinx’ at the root of the problem and, with the help of a repentant henchman, end the crisis in ‘Those Who Can’t Do!’
This initial foray into classic four-colour fun ends with a stunning change of pace as Bruce Wayne is arrested for murder in ‘The Third Door!’ Crafted by Puckett, Rader & Burchett, the cunning locked-room mystery opens with ‘The Party’s Over’ as the prime suspect details the facts of the case to young Dick Grayson, before being locked up with a mob of dangerous thugs in ‘Crime and Punishment’ leaving the kid to ferret out the real killer in the tense conclusion ‘War and Peace’…
Compellingly written, superbly designed and spectacularly illustrated, these stripped-down rollercoaster-romps are quintessential Bat-magic, and as a host of big name bad-guys vie with timeless crime scenarios on every page, this is a book any fan of any age and vintage will adore.
Sheer, unadulterated magic – so start agitating for a new edition now!
© 1992, 1993 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.