Batman 1.15 – The Joker Goes to School

It doesn’t take too much reading about Batman to run across a reference to it being “campy,” but the term is so often misapplied that you’re pretty likely to find references to comic books, generally, being campy. The first seven stories are certainly examples of pop art, but, perhaps as the producers were making them in a vacuum, without public reaction to their work, the tone is sometimes a little uneven, and the plots more varied.

By the time of “The Joker Goes to School,” which aired in March 1966, they were getting feedback and finding their feet, and the first evidence of really amazingly silly highwire comedy peeks out. Here, Adam West is playing cold fury at tiny moral outrages. He can’t arrest the Joker on school grounds because he hasn’t been proved to have done anything yet, and can’t even bust him for loitering, because, as the Joker reminds him, Gotham City’s statutes on loitering require the culprit to remain in the same spot for two full minutes. “You… you jailhouse lawyer,” he fumes, impotently.

The Joker’s plot, meanwhile, is built around tempting high school students into becoming truants and dropouts. He’s filled the milk machines and coffee dispensers in Woodrow Roosevelt High with silver dollars and quarters, instantaneously inspiring the entire student body, every one of whom has stayed after school, to low morale and despondency in a single afternoon, because who needs to study when you can live your life hoping for the next milk machine to give you twenty bucks for a dime? There’s bound to be another one out there somewhere!

Stay in school, kiddies! Batman says so!

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