The Mis-Adventures of Adam West is the first of what will be a series of graphic novels. The focus of The Mis-Adventures is West himself, or rather an idealized version of West as the standard-bearer and embodiment of the 1950s and early 60s action hero. At the beginning of the graphic novel, we are introduced to West examining a handful of scripts from a sleazy-looking agent, turning down roles in Michael Bay-type modern action movies. West’s objection to these movies is not that they are vapid, but rather that they compromise the hero in the familiar “hero as a kinda bad guy who will sometimes do questionable things to achieve his (ultimately good) goals” trope ubiquitous in today’s big-studio action movies. West leaves the producers’ office dejected and without work, convinced he is a member of a dead breed of action hero no longer wanted in modern Hollywood.
Soon thereafter, however, West discovers a magical amulet sent to him by “a fan,” which immediately transports him into the middle of the scripts he’s just rejected. West is therefore given the chance to make the scripts “right” by saving the day in his way, which is to take the high road, rewriting the script by making the hero clever rather than ruthless.
The premise is very interesting, and the amulet ties the stories together in a compelling way. We are told he can only escape this alternate reality by achieving “what he wants.” What, exactly, West wants is complicated by the fact that he seems to be getting what he thought he wanted when he stars in these vignettes in his squeaky-clean manner.
The vignettes themselves, unfortunately, are disappointing. One involves modern-day political intrigue; the other is set in the Wild West. Both have implausible moments and one never gets the feeling that West is in any real danger. West is dropped in medias res into both of these stories, so there is some inherent nonlinearity to the storylines. Unfortunately, both of the stories are themselves told in reverse, a seemingly unnecessary narrative add-on that this reader found disorienting and distracting.
After re-reading the novel, I strongly believe that the authors are trying to construct some kind of meta-narrative about the campy mid-century action films that West embodies—a project which has much potential. Having a fictionalized-yet-somewhat-authentic West (the real Adam West served as a consultant to this comic) at the center of this kind of meta-narrative is ideal, and it positions this series to critique both the general cookie-cutter crappiness of today’s action movies as well as the idealized masculinity of the 50s and early 60s. The Mis-Adventures of Adam West seems like one of those series that will improve greatly over time after the initial setup and exposition are complete, and the authors have the chance to unpack and delve deep into the many items they’ve bought to the table. [subscribe2]