Farewell, Adam West

adam west BatmanI never needed to say I was Batman. I just showed up.”–Adam West in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory

This is a post I’ve been dreading even though I knew I’d have to do it eventually. With the news last week, I knew I’d have to make a tribute to Adam West. This was a person I would have to make a tribute post for because he was an important part of my childhood.

When I was in fourth grade, a new TV network started in New Orleans, WNOL-38. (It eventually was bought out by Fox and currently the WB/CW network) For its first two years, it was your basic channel that had syndicated reruns. One of these was the Batman TV series from the 1960’s starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin.

It was this show that introduced me to Batman, the Dark Knight. Each weekend, they would air both parts of the original episode back to back. Each week had a great old movie star or TV personality guest star as the villain. There were famous comic book villains such as the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), the Joker (Caesar Romero) or Catwoman (Julie Newar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt) . The show even had its own villains like King Tut (Victor Buono) and Egghead (Vincent Price). It was fun and action-packed. I loved how the fights always had sound effects printed on the screen, just like a comic book.

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Film Freak: The Killing Joke

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One of my all-time favorite Joker stories is The Killing Joke. The story was controversial because it brutally changed the status quo: Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) was now paralyzed from the legs down. Because of this, she would later become the hacker Oracle. It also recounted the Joker’s origin, building on how he started out as The Red Hood. I personally believe this story helped Batgirl become a better character, more than just a female, younger version of Batman.

I was excited when I learned that an animated feature was being made. When I learned that Mark Hammil, Tara Strong, and Kevin Conroy were reprising their roles as The Joker, Batgirl, and Batman, I was even happier. The movie even became DC’s first animated feature to have an R-rating. That’s really the only way the story can be done. This is the Joker proving that everyone is as twisted and sadistic as him. He believes all everyone needs to push them over the brink is a “bad day”. And this is him giving Commissioner Gordon and Batman that “bad day”.

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Memory Lane: Holy 50th Anniversary!

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On January 12, 1966, Batman got his first TV series. Starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the titular caped crusaders, this show became well known for its campy storytelling. For many years it never got a proper home video release (that changed about 2 years ag0), but it was syndicated for quite a long time, which was how I got into it as a child. Thanks to this show and Hanna-Barbera’s Superfriends, I became a big fan of Batman. This year marks the 50th anniversary. I decided to make a countdown of why this show is still great so many years later.

10) Adam West saved Batman. Batman’s comics were on the verge of being cancelled before the show began. Yet, when the show became a hit, DC realized their mistake. Julius Schwartz, who was head of DC at the time, insisted that the comics take on a tone similar to the show.

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9)They actually made their own villains. Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and even Mr. Freeze were regular villains. But they took things a step further and even made up villains of their own, including Egghead, played by Vincent Price and pictured above.

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8) The Batmobile. Just look at that car! It still looks awesome!

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7) Batgirl. Although Batgirl did exist before the show, she wasn’t like we know her today. The show influenced the comic to make her Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, and I like her this way.

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6) Adam West voiced in Batman the Animated Series. As a way of passing the torch to Kevin Conroy, Adam West appeared in the episode “Beware the Gray Ghost” as an aging actor who is disparaging his role as the Gray Ghost, a TV superhero who influenced Batman. It’s one of the best episodes of the show.

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My Top 15 Favorite DC Superheroes

After posting last week’s article about the Joker, I thought why not make the whole month about comics?

DC Comics was the first company I ever got into, thanks to my love of the character you’ll see in the #1 spot. What’s so great about DC is that their characters are so iconic and legendary.  It’s a shame that often when the comics are made into movies, the results aren’t great.

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15. Static: Static comes from the (sadly now defunct) Milestone Media comics line. He has electricity based powers and is both street and book smart (he was even a valedictorian when he graduated from high school.) He was the only character from his line to get his own cartoon, and it was a great show too, especially when he teamed up with Batman, the Justice League, and even Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future.

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14. Starfire–My favorite Teen Titans member. I like her bubbly personality and she’s just a fun character. Yeah it sucks what they did to her in Red Hood and the Outlaws, but overall, I she’s a great character when done right.

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13. Firestorm–Firestorm has the unique characteristic of having not one, but two alter egos: Professor Martin Stein and Robbie Raymond, a student. They were both bonded by a nuclear accident that gave them the ability to merge into the superhero Firestorm. And yes, I was beyond pumped when he appeared on The Flash‘s TV series.

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12. Green Arrow: Rich playboy and master archer Oliver Queen is sort of a more light-hearted version of Batman crossed with Robin Hood. While I’m probably in the minority when it comes to that silly boxing glove arrow, I like his variety of arrows that he’s used through the years. He’d rate higher if he weren’t such a jerk to everyone, including his own sidekick.

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11. Zauriel–In the 90’s when Grant Morrison was writing the Justice League, he wanted to use Hawkman as one of the members. DC refused because at the time, Hawkman’s comic book was such a mess that they felt it wasn’t profitable to drag the entire League into the mess.  So, Morrison said “fine, I’ll create my own winged superhero.” The result was Zauriel, who’s actually an angel with a cool fiery sword and an ear-piercing scream. He’s still around too, as one of the key members of the paranormal wing of the Justice League, Justice League Dark.

thRRNHUC4810. Nightwing–When Dick Grayson finally grew up and became Nightwing, he proved to all of us that he was more than ready to step out into the spotlight on his own. He eventually formed the Teen Titans and fought a demon and the mercenary Deathstroke. He’s learned from the best and I just can’t help cheering him on.

thR5IJ9XWU9. Hawkman and Hawkgirl: I decided to put them both in the same spot, because you really can’t have one without the other.  My only problem is that over the years, their origins have constantly changed. I personally like them best as warriors from the planet Thanagar, which is their most famous origin.

thVO72J03P8. Martian Manhunter: J’onn J’onzz is a shape-shifting alien and the last of his kind. When he came to Earth investigating the evil Starro, he knew he couldn’t take on the evil starfish alone (comics are weird sometimes, eh?), so he recruited several other DC heroes, resulting in the Justice League. To me, J’onn is the heart and soul of the League, with his Spock-like personality and staunch loyalty.

thIZZ6N7WV5. Superman: Come on, do you really think I’d leave the first superhero off this list? So what if he’s overpowered? He’s Superman, the champion of justice, the Man of Steel! Without him, we wouldn’t have any other superheroes!

4. thHYW64J1B Green Lantern–When you have a ring that can conjure anything you can imagine, how can you not have an awesome superhero? While I like most of the Green Lanterns we’ve had over the years (I’m not that familiar with Alan Scott), the ones I’ve liked the most are Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner.

3. thEDKG7CHBThe Flash–The Scarlet Speedster has always had a soft spot in my heart for his cocky attitude and innovative use of his abilities. I’m really more of a Wally West fan, but thanks to the TV series, I’m beginning to enjoy Barry Allen more and more.

2. thQLX61FNUWonder Woman–Wonder Woman is also pretty much the heart and soul of the Justice League, with her compassion and her zest for truth driving her to fight evil. I love the link to Greek mythology in her mythos, and she’s just a great character. I’m looking forward to her appearance in Batman vs. Superman, but I really wish she had  a whole movie to herself. She deserves it.

thUWS0NXDX1. Batman: The Dark Knight was the first superhero I ever saw in action, thanks to the Adam West TV series being rerun as a kid, as well as Hanna-Barbera’s Superfriends cartoons. I’ve watched all the movies, read several graphic novels, and thrilled to them all. Whether solo or with his various Robins, Bruce will always be my favorite superhero.

Next time, I’ll talk about my favorite DC villains.

 

Celebrating 75 Years of the Joker

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In 1939, Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27. A year later, his popularity was so vast that National Comics, which we know today as DC Comics (they get their name from Detective Comics), decided to give him his own solo comic in addition to making him the main feature of Detective Comics (at the time comic books were like anthologies and had several recurring characters rather than just one character like they do today). In that first issue, Batman’s most well-known foe, the Joker, made his first appearance. DC Comics celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2014 with a series of hardcover anthologies collecting classic and modern stories. This post will review all the stories in the Joker anthology.

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