Batman and Wonder Woman have teamed up more times that we can count in the comics — but their latest is a real first, as Adam West and Lynda Carter's iconic takes on the World's Finest team up for Batman '66/Wonder Woman '77. We sat down with series writer Marc Andreyko to learn more. So, Marc, was Batman '66/Wonder Woman '77 something that you came to DC with, or did they come to you?
Marc Andreyko: Well, the moderately short version is, I originally pitched Wonder Woman '77 to Mr Hank Canals because of the success of Batman '66 and because I loved Lynda's performance. And after the success of Wonder Woman '77, I said I would love to do a Batman '66/Wonder Woman '77 crossover, but I want to write it with Jeff Parker because Jeff was the spearhead behind the Batman '66 book, and is such a super-talented writer.
And I pitched them the high concept of it, which is: It's six issues, it will be digital first, but it's a six issue mini — the first two issues take place in 1944, which is the first season of Wonder Woman with a 12-year-old Bruce Wayne. The second two issues take place in the '60s when Wonder Woman was back on Paradise Island, and the third two issues take place in 1977 when Wonder Woman is back in America, but where is Bruce Wayne? So are we going to do the Adam West Dark Knight Returns? Where is he at that point? There's a lot of leeway to play with there. And that was what I had, that was the high concept. We didn't have a villain or anything.
I pitched it to Jeff and Jim Chadwick and Kristy Quinn and they all liked it and said, "Let's do it." Jeff is just a dream a work with, he's such a smart writer and he writes stuff with such an air of nostalgia, but it's not a bunch of nostalgia porn? It's evocative of the period, but you don't need to know that to enjoy it. We have David Han and Carl Keiss on the art, and they just wrapped doing Batman '66/Steed & Peel. They're doing exquisite work. Every single page is a work of art. It's just a beautiful book, and it's so much fun.
One of the things I love about Batman '66 that I've read is that the camp is still there but also it very much seems like Batman could still kick your arse.
Andreyko: Yeah, what Jeff does so masterfully, and why I would never even attempt to write Batman '66 on my own, is he captures the tone of the show, the fun, but there's not a smugness. He's not looking his nose down at the show. There's a camp edge to it, but it's not about camp. It's not judging the characters, it's not making fun of them.
It's embracing the tone as a motif, and letting that serve the story — not trying to be too clever by half. Those stories have a dramatic pull to them, and we have some serious stuff happen in our book, we're in the '40s, so there's some bad people from Europe in this story. But we're also telling a story that's fun. And Jeff's masterful at capturing fun, but still telling stories that tell like they matter — that is a real powerful talent to have.
How far out are you going to pull the camera in terms of the cast? We're obviously going to get Robin. Are we going to see Wonder Girl? Steve Trevor? Any of the characters from the shows?
Andreyko: There are six issues, anything can happen!
There's logical characters like King Tut and Cleopatra...
Andreyko: I going to say this, you will see two villains — the main villains in the book have never been in a Batman TV show before. And you can probably figure it out, if you see that the book spans a lot of decades, you can probably figure out who the main bad guy might be.
The Demon's Head is a good guess.
Andreyko: I can't confirm or deny anything. It's Marsha, Queen of Diamonds for six issues!
Or Liberace! What was his character's name again?
Andreyko: He was... he had a piano player name. Something like that. [Editor's note: It was the great Chandell!]
Switching gears to a totally different direction: Death of Hawkman. You know that his whole schtick is that he dies and comes back to life. How are you going to try to get readers to care this time?
Andreyko: Because even though that's built into the character, we're doing something different. We're not reinventing Hawkman this time, even though it's a Rebirth-branded book, I'm taking a lot of inspiration from Rebirth in making these the characters that you know and love, with what is the core concept of this character if you had to describe them in one line, who are they?
I want to make that work in a way where, the continuity that serves the story we acknowledge, and we don't acknowledge the stuff that doesn't. We respect all that stuff — but this isn't a story about continuity, this is a story about rearranging chess pieces, it's a story about characters. It's a character-driven story. It will have big effects across the DC Universe, but I'm trying to tell a really entertaining space opera, and invest you into these two characters. Adam Strange and Hawkman could not be more different in their approaches to life and their senses. But there's something about them — they compliment each other very well when you see what's happening with it.
And how would you describe Hawkman and Adam Strange, and their relationships in one line?
Andreyko: Hawkman is a superhero on Earth, but a cop on his home planet. And Adam Strange is a superhero in outer space, and a regular guy on Earth. They're yin and yang to each other.
I've always been a Hawkman fan, I've always enjoyed Adam Strange, but never had a burning desire to write him. After the first time I started writing dialogue for him, I'm like, "Oh, I get him." I really want to do an Adam Strange book now, because he's a really fascinating character.
Batman '66/Wonder Woman '77 begins next year. Death of Hawkman #1 is on shelves now.