The Batman of your ‘90s weekday afternoons is back—and some of his most influential creators on the small screen and in comics are teaming up again to deliver the continuation of the show we never quite got.
DC Comics has just announced that Paul Dini and Alan Burnett—two of the fundamental architects of the original Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, and of course Batman Beyond, alongside Bruce Timm—will team up with Ty Templeton, who has been bringing the animated Bat-verse to comic books ever since 1992's Batman Adventures, and Monica Kubina for Batman: The Adventures Continue, a new six-part digital-first comic book series.
Set in the immediate aftermath of where The Animated Series ended its 85-episode run, The Adventures Continues will see Bruce Wayne continue his fight as the Dark Knight, alongside Tim Drake as the young Boy Wonder—but will also see the duo uncover secrets from The Animated Series’ unseen past that threaten to turn Bruce and Tim’s world topsy-turvy.
“The relationship between the core characters, Batman, Alfred, Batgirl, Robin and Nightwing, is really the heart that drives the larger story,” Paul Dini exclusively told Gizmodo over email. “We did not want them acting as background ‘traffic cops’ sorting out the mayhem caused by a parade of villains. This story tests them as potential new mentors, dangerous allies and old rivals confront them. They have choices to make and sins to atone for which will determine the path of any stories we’d tell after this.”
Templeton (joined by Kubina on colours) won’t just be providing art for The Adventures Continue comic. As the series incorporates new, Animated Series-style takes on beloved DC characters, the comic will be joined by the action figure line from DC Collectibles of the same name, taking Templeton’s comic book designs and transforming them into plastic life. “What we’re bringing that’s fresh is a host of ‘new’ characters that are familiar to comic readers,” Templeton said to Gizmodo in an email. “Jason Todd, Deathstroke, and a wonderful collection of characters that are part of the Batman universe, but were never on the show itself, are all making their Batman Adventures debut in this series.”
Taking a page out of Adventures’ old book, The Adventures Continue will be incorporating characters from the Bat-canon that have thrived since the show came to an end, reimagining them for this specific take on the DC Universe. “The comics always had a habit of introducing DC characters in their animated versions before the show had a chance to,” Templeton told us. “Characters like the Demon, Deadman, Swamp Thing, and even Superman first entered the Animated Universe in the pages of Batman Adventures before they were on the screen. We’re going back to that tradition with Jason and Deathstroke and...well, I don’t want to give away TOO much!”
As someone who’s been able to work on translating the work of Dini, Burnett, and Timm into the comics world for nearly 30 years at this point, The Adventures Continue represents a labour of love for Templeton. “Batman: The Animated Series was the distilled, pure, correct essence of Batman done very very right,” Templeton said. “Reacting as a fan, that first episode—‘On Leather Wings’—was a game-changing moment for me, equal to the first Chris Reeve Superman movie, or Downey as Iron Man. So many TV and film producers don’t get our characters’ appeal or the essential ingredients right when they adapt our stories to their medium, so it’s exhilarating when someone does.”
“Bruce, Paul, Alan, and so many others in the creative team, clearly loved and got the Batman world from the best of Batman comics, and translated it to the screen better than anyone before or since,” Templeton continued. “And besides the writing and the art, we have performances that are timeless. As much as I might enjoy Phoenix, or Ledger, or Nicholson, or Romero as the Joker, nobody embodies the character like Mark Hamill. And it’s no accident that Kevin Conroy keeps showing up as that iconic Batman voice in DVDs, games, shows, and whatever’s coming next. If you do it right, if you hit the bullseye every time, if you create characters like Harley Quinn and Mr. Freeze and Roxy Rocket...you’re going to be influential for decades. (Yes, I know there was a character called “Mr. Freeze” before BTAS, but it wasn’t the same character at all!)”
“There’s a streamlined elegance to the design that allows The Animated Series to be instantly appealing to kids and older fans,” Dini concluded. “Likewise the stories, while rooted in classic superhero adventures, delve a bit deeper into the motivations and minds of the characters, both good and bad. It really strikes home as being both accessable and aspirational in terms of look and tone. Oh, and it also stars one of the most popular and beloved characters in comics. You can’t forget it all comes back to the Bat.”
Batman: The Adventures Continue will release first in digital format starting this April; print releases, collecting two digital chapters at a time, will begin hitting store shelves on May 6.