Guest Article: ‘I Believe A Man Can Fly!’: Why The World Still Needs Superman By David Sayers

This may come as a surprise to many of my fellow nerds who have heard me sound-off about this subject in the past, but I actually really love Superman. With the best will in the world, if you are at all attached to the mythology of mainstream Western comic books, then how could you not? To put it simply, he’s the OG. He’s the superhero. The benchmark that inspires all others, and that all others are in their own way compared to, and ever since his conception he has been a hit with both the comic readership and the broader popular culture, and it was decades before any other character even came close to following in his footsteps.

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Dad and lad review: Batman ’66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

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The genre of comic books and graphic novels has been around for a long time. I mean, a really long time. So long in fact that my dad used to read them. That’s right. On some level, my obsession with comic books comes from my father. He’s the one you can blame! I’ve had a lot of time with my family this year which gave me an idea: instead of writing an entire piece, I could get my Dad to write it instead! In actuality, I wanted to try a bit of an experiment. I am a fan of the Batman ’66 series from DC Comics and I know that my dear old Dad was reading and watching Batman all the way back in 1966. There is no one better to judge the quality of the book and it’s adherence to the source material than my father. Over to you, Dad…

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Picture Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_6_Il1pEKb68/THPlWPBTJlI/AAAAAAAAACs/kqPBmROEiSU/s1600/3753395886_a590c5578c_o.jpg [Accessed: 29/12/2015]

Dad’s Thoughts

Hi, Pat’s dad here. I was eight in 1966. England had just won the World Cup and there were two black and white TV channels in the UK. Batman was the top early evening show on one (ITV), and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was the top early evening show on the other (BBC). American comics were presented on newspaper with a primary colour palette and a glossy front and back cover. All adverts were for American products (bubble gum and plastic collectibles) in cents (not even in dollars).

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Batman and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. were the pinnacle of American entertainment for eight year old boys (only Gerry Anderson’s shows such as Thunderbirds could compete). They had fantastic theme tunes, great characters, and great villains. Boys would sing the short burst of theme tunes that broke up the scenes (advert breaks in the States) and repeat catchphrases such as ‘Holy Cow’, ‘Open Channel D’, ‘POW’, and ‘Thwack’.

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Picture Source: http://www.getreadyretro.com/ekmps/shops/getreadyretro/images/batman-66-meets-the-man-from-u.n.c.l.e-2-3157-p.jpg [Accessed: 29/12/2015]

Maybe it is the thoughts of a man in his fifties, but ‘The Batman Affair’ has taken these iconic characters and placed them in the style of the current comic books. In doing so, it has lost the essence of the characters and the situations they found themselves in. If you are going to brand a comic as ‘Batman ‘66 meets The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’, then give it a 60’s feel. Primary colours, sound effects, catchphrases, and scene changing panels would provide a full retro feel. If you are going to identify so closely with characters from a particular era then it makes sense to incorporate these other aspects.

However, I am pleased that someone has thought that it is viable to bring back 50 year old characters. Putting nostalgia aside, I hope that the characters are given a chance. The ‘protective’ Batman rather than the Dark Knight and a United Nations organisation committed to stopping crime are simple ideals which could be explored in the complex world of today.

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Pat’s Thoughts

The old man has got a point. I’ve spent the afternoon digging through some of his old comics and watching old Adam West clips and I have to say Jeff Parker has missed some of the original flair from the classic Batman tales. That being said, Batman ’66 is not really for my Dad, it’s for modern comic book audiences. Typically fifteen to thirty year old readers who are most likely to have watched a few episodes of the Adam West Batman and the Guy Ritchie The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film from earlier this year. Comics have changed in their style and pacing over the years and so Jeff Parker has had to adapt his script to fit in with this.

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Picture Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2tgvTfTzIDw/Utc9gNryidI/AAAAAAAAKM4/OUmts7q9t5w/s1600/batmanga+Collage.jpg [Accessed: 29/12/2015]

It would have been really cool to have a different paper quality or at least some art direction harkening back to those early days of DC Comics. I can understand why it would have been impractical, but it could have helped sell the idea. The internal art by David Hahn seems to work well for me, but everything in the design department is camped up and played for gags. My advice would be that if you are a large fan of that era of Batman to maybe avoid it. If you have a passing acquaintance with it, this is perfect.

…that’s the last piece of the year folks! See you on New Year’s Day with a new BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!