Before I ever turned a page of a Spider Man comic, before I stood in line to see the latest super hero blockbuster, there was a TV rolled into our kitchen and aerials adjusted so that we wouldn't miss an episode of Batman. I was four years old when millionaire Bruce Wayne and his young ward Dick Grayson set about fighting crime on the American Broadcasting Company. Twice a week, we waited on the voice over: "Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel." The adventures, we were assured, would continue.
Adam West died last week. Long before there was a question of Michael Keaton versus Val Kilmer versus George Clooney versus Christian Bale versus Ben Affleck and so on, there was only one Batman. Before the rubberized physique enhancing black suits of the late twentieth century, there was the purple tights that only the pop art sixties could suggest as the uniform of a vigilante for justice. Adam West was playing camp as Gotham's Caped Crusader, and he was all in. Sliding down a pole with his young companion into a cave, chasing enemies even more colorfully costumed than himself, he kept a straight face. Straight. Pretty daring.
That was the super thing. As ridiculous as things got, Batman kept his cool. There was always something left in his utility belt for the crisis du jour. When the bad guy was about to encase the dynamic duo in concrete or cut them in half with a buzz saw, you had to believe that there was some danger, otherwise there was no need to tune in for the next episode. That was what Adam West brought to the role. He wasn't the Dark Knight, more like Twilight. He was walking a fine line. Up the side of a building. We, the audience, were in on the joke. So was Adam West, but he never cracked a smile. At that time, he was probably laughing all the way to the bank.
Then, three years after that ride in the Batmobile began, it was over. For the next fifty years, Mister West traded on his secret identity for acting gigs that relied heavily on his stay in stately Wayne Manor. And he did it with good humor.
I call that heroic.
Adam West slid down the Bat Pole and stomped on the Bat Terra. Aloha, Super Friend.