THIS WEEK: As The Batman Adventures returns in the form of Batman: The Adventures Continue, we revisit the 90s cartoon tie-in that’s better than you may remember.

The Batman Adventures

Writer: Kelley Puckett
Penciller: Ty Templeton
Inker: Rick Burchett
Colorist: Rick Taylor
Letterer: Tim Harkins

As beloved as Batman: The Animated Series has been since debuting in 1992, one could be forgiven for assuming its comic book tie-in, The Batman Adventures, would be a less-than-stellar cash-grab at best. If you were a fan of the cartoon and were hungry to read The Dark Knight in his native medium, why wouldn’t you pick up any number of other Batman comics published since 1939 instead?

For starters, The Batman Adventures reflects its source material by being among the few Batman comics in which you could hand any issue to a random 9-year-old without worrying about the risqué content the mainline Batman series has been peppered with since the 70s. Even in the Golden and Silver Age, when Batman was as decidedly geared towards children as other superhero comics, you’d likely find material that justifiably would not fly today, such as casual racism.

But mostly, The Batman Adventures remains appealing today because it’s undeniably, and consistently, well-crafted. I’d encourage anyone to pick up its reprinted debut issue from the “DC Classics” line today. “Penguin’s Big Score” is funny, briskly-paced, and rewarding for kids and adults alike.

From the start, it’s clear that Kelley Puckett, Ty Templeton, and the rest of the creative team are eager to show off their grasps of comics as a unique storytelling medium. We open the first page on what appears to be a cold open of Batman chasing a criminal, but it’s really just one of the Penguin’s henchmen watching Batman on TV. We’re soon introduced to a running gag that I don’t believe has been in any other piece of Batman media, including The Animated Series: The Penguin’s penchant for malapropism.

Neither of these subtle tricks would necessarily work on television, as they rely on a reader’s ability to slow down and notice small nuances. Similarly, whale Templeton, Rick Burchett, and Rick Taylor maintain Bruce Timm’s clean lines and signature character designs from the cartoon, they still carve out a style of their own. Their grasp of layouts and composition is all theirs.

I worked with 4th and 5th grade students as part of my Americorps service from 2014-2015, and one of my favorite parts of the job was reading comics to the kids. I was 23, and having enjoyed this issue as a humorous romp with clever wordplay, figured 10-year-olds would get a kick out of it for similar reasons. What struck me upon reading it to them was how seriously they took it. What had been cheeky fun for me was dark, thrilling, and maybe even a little scary to them.

I would eventually read the entire first volume of The Batman Adventures to these kids, and they remained interested in much the same way. That consistency might be the best thing about The Batman Adventures: a child can pick up just about any issue, and be treated to an exciting, playful adventure that their 20-something siblings would almost certainly enjoy too.

The Roundup

  • Batman #92: Man, Jorge Jimenez has got to be one of the best artists to emerge from superhero comics of the past few years. It’s just a shame the story isn’t as strong as it could be. I like James Tynion IV as a Bat-family writer, but Punchline still needs more to justify her existence.
  • Joker 80th Anniversary Super Spectacular 100-Page Special: there’s a lot of talent within these pages so I won’t blame the creators, but it’s just hard to get excited about this much Joker. He’s still one of my favorite villains despite everything, but we need to see less of him.

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!