Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Holy Revival! What's Up with Batman?

Karen: The first wave of figures from the Batman TV show are out and available from fine retailers everywhere. They look pretty great -detailed and with solid likenesses to the actors. Who's purchased these figures?  Not only are we getting a ton of products, but DC is putting out the Batman '66 series too. What's up with this sudden outpouring of love for the Adam West-era Batman? Sure, there's always been some nostalgia for the show, but why has it become so popular right now? Are people burned out from years of an unrelentingly dark caped crusader? Let's hear what you think about this -and the products themselves.


William said...

I picked up the Batman & Robin 2-pack, as well as the ultra cool Batmobile that the figures can sit in. Here are a couple of links to some pics I took.

I think the sudden explosion of Adam West Batman nostalgia stems from the fact that DC finally cleared up some kind of legal issues concerning the rights to the old TV series. So, now that they are free to release product based on the show they are taking full advantage of it, which has sparked a newfound interest by fans old and new.

Doug said...

Bill --

Very cool pics! Thanks for sharing those. I also loved the two shots of Superman duking it out with Big Ugly Jimmy!

I love these new Batman figures. I haven't purchased anything, but I am oh so wanting them (and that sweet Batmobile!).


Steve UK said...

Hi Doug,
Have you seen the Hot Toys figures shipping sometime in May/June next year?

Very expensive but I'm gonna save up.

Sideshow have them for pre order already. I don't know many more details about the inscale 66 Batmobile but that's gonna cost loads..

Steve UK

Edo Bosnar said...

William's probably right about the whole legal background underlying this revival, but I sympathize with Karen's speculation that fans are just so sick of grim 'n' gritty, borderline psychopath ninja Batman.

As for that comic book series, I think they should have went full retro and put a cover price of 10 cents on them!
By the way, have any of our regulars here bought it? What's the deal with the weird coloring on that cover, is it 3D?

J.A. Morris said...

Don't expect the series to be released on dvd or blu-ray any time soon though:

Doug said...

Steve UK --

Hot Toys' products are always worth drooling over, but never have a price point that I can justify! They do amazing work, don't they?


Doug said...

In thinking about the "grim & gritty" Batman, et al., as a parent I'd much rather have my children grow up on Adam West than on Frank Miller. Now, once they're into the teen years there's certainly a place for TDKR and Year One. But the 1966 series is perfect for an all-ages audience.


Steve UK said...

Hi Doug,

Yea, it is hard to justify paying out the money for HOT TOYS figures.
I only have one in my collection.

The Christopher Reeve Superman. It's a beautiful piece and really captures his likeness.

I enjoy 'dark' Batman, but sometimes it's good to have something fun and lightweight.

That's what comics are really about, having a fun time.

Anonymous said...

As someone who still buys contemporary comics, I am regretting not picking up the Batman '66 series when it started (may need to look for the issues next time I am at the shop - but since I only got every 3 or 4 weeks, stuff not on my pull list can be hard to find for cover price even if recent). I didn't realize Jeff Parker was writing it, and he has written stuff I really like, like Agents of Atlas (which was based on What If. . .? #9)

Those toys look great. The likenesses are amazing, but I don't do toys (my classic ROM is my only exception). I do appreciate that it says "adult collector" on the box. It annoys me when figurines are listed as "toys" or "action figures" but aren't actually poseable or playable - not because I want to play with them, but b/c kids should be able to.

Karen said...

I really like the look of all of these toys, but like Doug, I haven't purchased any of them. My figure/toy buying has slowed down a lot this year. I think I am starting to feel buried under the weight of my collection. The thought of moving -which I hope to do in a few years -is becoming scary.

We have a few Hot Toys figures in the house -mostly due to my husband; the only one I actually spent money on was General Ursus - and I love the detail. But the cost! It's insane. The one I would LOVE to have is the Bruce Lee figure from Enter the Dragon, but I just couldn't spend that kind of money on a figure.

Osvaldo: Agents of Atlas was a favorite of mine. A great series unencumbered by a lot of Marvel continuity or current events (for the most part). Never understood why it just disappeared so suddenly -sales I suppose. I do like Jeff Parker. He seems to have a good grasp of characters and is not too heavy.

Garett said...

Maybe fun is coming back? Here's a funny video, Bat Dad, that came out a few days ago:

J.A. Morris said...

Here's another piece with more info on the status of the series & the recent licensing:

Something else to consider:the window cameos.

Remember how Batman & Robin would be climbing a building, and someone, usually a recognizable celebrity, would pop out of a window. Among the cameos were Lurch, Green Hornet & Kato and Col. Klink. That means, if the full episodes are released, it requires deals with all the owners of those characters.

Doug said...

J.A. --

That's just a quagmire of property rights issues, my friend!


david_b said...

If lawyers smell $$, they have plenty of patience..

Doug, I'm slightly taken back by your enthusiam here. In the last '66 Batman column you did (last year..? I'm on my BB, so I can't check now..), you were poking some mean shots at the show, even representing it with the youtube video with the Batdance, not really a fair representation (it's akin to showing 'Spocks Brain' to represent Trek..).

I'm totally buzzed to see these toys, but grabbing a Batmobile will be tough..; most scalpers have already scooped 'em up and are charging quite a bit on eBay. Best of luck, y'all in grabbing these.

Mike said...

Edo -- Batman '66 is one of the few books that I buy and it is easily THE BEST current comics I have bought in quite some time. The cover isn't 3-D, at least the one I bought. With all the variant cover insanity going on today I'd have to pull mine out to check which one I have.

And I'm with you -- I wish it was people are sick of ultra-violent Batman (I know I am), but I bet it's the resolving of the licensing issues.

Btw, I attended a Batman convention in Chicago back in the early 90's and it was a blast. I briefly met and got autographs from Adam West, Frank Gorshin, and Julie Newmar. Gorshin was the best, and Julie was fantastic, but Adam West ... well, lets just say I think he wanted to be somewhere else.

david_b said...

Mike, agreed and agreed. Whether folks believed Miller ruined Batman in the '80s or not sounds like a great True-False BAB question someday soon.

I greatly prefer the detective Batman with test tubes and light fisticuffs to the most recent franchise.

Doug said...

David B -- And I quote from the post you referenced:

Doug: Today's Open Forum is a pretty simple question -- what was right, and what was wrong, with the Batman television show that ran on ABC during the years that many of us were born?

I'll start. The Batman television show, along with Super Friends and reruns of the 1966 Marvel Super-Heroes and the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon, were my "live action" (and given that three of my examples are animated, I mean moving pictures) introduction to the characters I was already enjoying in the comics. Even as a 6 or 7 year-old, I was certainly aware that Batman and Super Friends were watered down from what I was currently enjoying; the Marvel Super-Heroes was captivating, as I'd yet to fully understand the long history of Marvel Comics. But Batman was amazing to me -- it was so bright and colorful, and the over-the-top characters really drew me in. It was pretty whitebread story-wise, but the cliffhangers were enthralling! Now, looking through the lens of an adult, I certainly recognize it for what it was, and am fully aware of the damage it's done to the comic book genre in the eyes of the general public. Hey, is there an article about a movie heading into production that is not dotted with the obligatory "Bam!" or "Biff!"? Nope.

Now, the YouTube video I've included is certainly going to incite the haters among you, but I'd offer that for me, it's part of the nostalgic charm of the show. But it's on you now -- have at it!


Pat Henry said...

Apropos of what Doug said, I think there is a growing world-weariness for "Dark." The era of Goddamn Batmans and zombie apocalypse has crested, and perhaps there's a growing hunger for the knowing sorts of sweetness we might call "camp."

Was reading recently that even comment snark was down on the Internets, people getting twittered out with cynicism. Perhaps its too much to expect its more than a lull. Everything becomes tiresome after a while, even snark.

But I was re-watching the Thor movie the other night and it was remarkable to me how upbeat it was, heroic. The Avengers movie had some moments of real comic genius, heroic. And the last X-Men outing was a joy. And it looks like the new Marvel series might be as weirdly wacky as the X-Files.

I compare that to the darkness of the last few DC film outings. I sense there's a trend.

Pat Henry said...

I think the problem with the live-action ’60s Batman was it was primarily not intended to be about superheros or designed for fans of superheroes. It was more about finding some element of pop culture and extracting elements of that for kitsch and camp humor. It has about as much to do with Batman, per se, as Roy Lichtenstein to the comics he was co-opting or Andy Warhol to Campbell’s Soup. The producers weren’t even aware (and even less interested) in what was actually transpiring with the character in the source material.

It more was a vehicle to poke winking fun at nerdy comic-readers, har-har, not an appeal to comic-readers.

But what was going on simultaneously was a new little Renaissance in actual comic books, fueled in large part by the rise of Marvel and Stan Lee’s somewhat brilliant epiphany that the action of revived readership would be found on campuses and in coffeeshops. So you also had a rise of interest in comics and comicbook superheroes that were flooding over as fans of the TV series.

So I guess what I’m saying is you had a very inauthentic mash-up to cash in on the camp scene being pumped up by a viewership with a very authentic interest in the source material.

david_b said...

Pat, that's an excellent synopsis of the '66 series. Hence no mention of any origins of either hero nor villain, just more or less what Adam West has always called, the 'Theater of the Absurd'..

I stand corrected, Doug. I had the impression you weren't charitable to the old series. When I have time in this DC hotel room..(waiting on some friends to take me out to dinner tonight..), I'll do some more BAB comment research.

Anonymous said...

I'm not one for fancy things, but I may check these items out. I had a bumper beet crop this year, and Mose's birth ritual is coming up. D.S.

Doug said...

David --

I surfed through around 250 of our old posts, using the labels "Adam West" and "Batman", and I cannot find an instance in a post or comment where I denigrated the 1966 Batman TV show. However, from time to time I have been known to say that I don't like what that show did to the perception of the comics industry in the public's eyes, breaking everything down to "Biff, Zipp, Pow!" But then on the other end, I've also railed against the influence of Miller's TDKR.

So I do not at all dislike either the Batman TV show or Miller's graphic novel -- it's their legacies that I have a problem with.

That being said, if you can catch me being a hypocrite, I'll gladly own the past remark I made.


Doug said...

Oh, and one other thing --

I think that brother one post above my last might have been smoking some beets...


david_b said...

Nope, Doug, I humbly retract my earlier charge, sir. My meager search didn't arrive at any results either.

I strongly agree with the post-Miller legacy, but I've mentioned in the past the meteoric rise of popularity generated by the television show having mixed results.. Huge up-swell of the comics industry overall, attracting the likes of Steranko, Adams and others to dazzle us, yet killed some respectability of the forum.

Alas, Batman didn't suffer too much ~ By the early '70s he morphed into the 'darknight detective' back on the streets.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think it's a combination of all those factors - the new legal freedom to license these toys (thanks William), the ever present nostalgia factor and the up cycle interest for the 1966 Adam West Batman series.

Karen, I'd love a Bruce Lee Hot Toys figurine too! Not the smiley face ones, though (looks kinda odd to me). I'd pick the ones with him in a fighting pose. But the price - egads! Imagine the price in TT dollars - one US dollar is about 6.5 TT bucks!

- Mike 'how does one smoke a beet?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

demoncat_4 said...

all the sudden flux of the adam west batman stuff is due to the show being fifty years old. and dc having finaly been able to clear the rights to merch. but mostly because the show has hit its golden anniversary as for a dvd and blue ray not happening for the clearance issues are still a nightmare for fox and warners mostly likeness rights.

Anonymous said...

It's Dwight Schrute, you schmucks! That's D.S.! Beets? C'mon.
You can't try to be funny around here anymore, you guys take everything so literally.

Karen said...

Guess if I knew who Dwight Schrute was that might make some sense to me then...OK, looked it up. Sorry, never watched the Office, I'm guessing Doug may not have either. Try not to take it so personally, Mr. Anonymous.

Mike, I agree, I don't care for the "leisure suit" Bruce or weirdly grinning ones, but that Enter the Dragon one is incredible!

Edo Bosnar said...

Mike, that's for the tip on Batman '66. If those ever get collected in a tpb, I think I'd be interested.
Speaking of the TV show, by the way, I highly recommend a movie called Return to the Batcave. It's a really cute tribute to the show, starring West and Ward, with appearances by Gorshin and Newmar. I'm not sure how much the "reminiscing" sequences taking place in the 1960s can be believed, but they seem to provide a great deal of insight into the creative processes and behind-the-scenes stuff going on with the '60s show.

And Anonymous, sorry, didn't pick up your reference right away, either. I've only watched a little of the U.S. version of the Office - I prefer the original U.K. show with Ricky Gervais.

Doug said...

I've only seen The Office a handful of times.

I think the true mark of a joke is in the number of people who laugh...

But welcome, "Dwight", and thanks for playing!


Doc Savage said...

I have all the figures but Catwoman, who I'm eagerly awaiting, and the Batmobile. Truly awesome to have the Batman I've been waiting for.

Actually bought my first new comics in years to get Batman '66. Subscribed thru TFAW. Have the first 3. Art is pretty nice, writing just average. Very disappointing but just having the REAL Batman back, yellow oval and all, plus his best pal Robin at his side, makes me keep the faith and hope the writing improves.

So happy to have the one true Batman back.

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