Earlier this year, fans finally got to see Batman and Wonder Woman meet on the big screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Unfortunately, two of the most popular small-screen versions of the iconic heroes (Adam West’s Batman and Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman) never got the opportunity. Now that both of those TV shows live on in modern homage comics (Batman ’66 and Wonder Woman ’77) DC is making up for lost time. The new digital-first crossover series, Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77, brings the West and Carter version together in comic form, in a plot that spans from the ’40s all the way through the ’60s and ’70s settings of the respective TV shows, as the two heroes battle the immortal villain Ra’s al Ghul.
EW spoke to co-writers Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko about what fans can expect from this long-awaited meeting. Check out a preview from the first issue below. Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 #1 will be available for download Wednesday via digital comics retailers, including the DC Comics App, DC Entertainment, iBooks, Comixology, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this crossover come about? It seems like a natural fit.
ANDREYKO: After reading Batman ’66, I had approached DC [asking] why aren’t you guys doing Wonder Woman ‘77? Then we started doing the book, and I reached out to editors and said I’d really love to do a crossover. I had an idea for a basic plot, but I only want to do it if Jeff co-wrote it with me. Jeff really took the property of Batman ’66 and captured the color, joy, fun without looking down his nose at it or making it snarky. He makes it look easy. Out of respect for what he’d done with the character, I asked if we could reach out to Jeff. Luckily he said he’d love to be part of it, and he’s been the co-captain with me.
How did you guys figure out the timing of the crossover? Batman is obviously set in the ‘60s, Wonder Woman in the ‘70s, and most of the first issue is set in flashback to the ‘40s, so it seems to hop all over the timeline.
ANDREYKO: My idea for it was, since the first season of Wonder Woman took place during World War II, and Batman was in ‘66, and then her second and third seasons took place in ‘77, why don’t we do all of them? Have a through-line story that starts in the ’40s with Wonder Woman and 10-year-old Bruce Wayne, then go to the ’60s when she’s back on Paradise Island, and then up into the ’70s where Wonder Woman’s where she is, and where is Batman? Find out where all those characters have ended up. Then it was just a matter of, who’d be a great villain? What kind of story do we have?
PARKER: Like he says, it worked really neatly with explaining or going along with how Wonder Woman did that season 2 switch. We treated it exactly like the way we treat Batman ’66’s weird continuity, where we just roll with it. One of Mark’s best ideas has to do with who plays Catwoman in the series. I think that’s something that’s something people will find really fun as they get into it. Like here it’s one version of Catwoman, and then we switch it up, and never comment on it. It’s kind of meta.
Ra’s al Ghul is obviously a good villain for a time-hopping story, since he’s immortal. How did you go about introducing him and Talia to the Batman 66 universe?
ANDREYKO: One thing that changed the whole story for me was by having 10-year-old Bruce and Talia meet as little kids in the ‘40s story. There’s always been that connection with them in the mainstream comics, where they love each other but are nemeses at the same time, so having them be 10-year-olds puts a through-line and gives a level of emotional poignancy and spine to the story. While we’re having fun telling this story that crosses the eras and nostalgically mashes characters that we always wanted to see together, the story needs to have a heart or it’s just playing a video game. There’s a lot of poignancy in it that I didn’t really expect to come through.
PARKER: You don’t have to worry, are we gonna try and make some kind of romance bw him and WW, which we don’t, because the Talia connection is there. So Wonder Woman and Batman solely recognize each other as “ah, a crimefighter.” The highest level of recognition from Batman. So I’m glad we got to avoid a lot of cheesy stuff that could’ve been done.
It’s kind of weird that this ‘70s Batman villain has had such a modern resurgence. Now Ra’s al Ghul pops up everywhere, from the Christopher Nolan movies to Arrow. What do you think is attractive about him as a villain these days?
ANDREYKO: The idea of the Lazarus Pit is really interesting. He’s franchised those, so he has an organic reason to travel all over the world. The whole familial thing, “I’m an evil king and the daughter the princess loves my nemesis” – I mean that’s Shakespeare. They’re such grand gestures that can be done with him and because he’s immortal, you can have him be operatic and Shakespearean and it’s not silly, it’s where he comes from. He can legit speak about himself in the third person and not seem like a jerk.
PARKER: I like him as this rogue element that’s not necessarily good or bad. He’s fighting the Nazis too in the ‘40s story, even though he’s just as big a threat to everybody and young Bruce as they are. Nazis are taking over the world, but in his mind, it’s just something he has to sit out for awhile and it’ll all be gone, and he’ll still be doing his League of Shadows thing.
How would you describe the relationship between Batman and Wonder Woman?
PARKER: Batman kind of idolizes her.
ANDREYKO: He meets her at a very formative time of his life. We do stuff that ties in his origin into this stuff in interesting, Easter egg ways. But Bruce meets her when he’s 10 and she’s an adult, so he’s always looking up to her. She’s an inspiration to him. He respects her as a hero, and in the universe that we’re kind of establishing here, she’s the origin for when he does pick up the mantle, in an indirect way.
PARKER: Go back and look. Most of Batman’s villains and strong figures in the show were women. They had some pretty progressive attitudes in the middle of this campy show with all these jokes going on. So we’re kind of keeping that up.
These interpretations of the characters have fallen in and out of favor over the years. What do you guys like about writing these series, and why do you think they’re resonating right now with fans?
ANDREYKO: When it comes to Wonder Woman, Lynda’s performance has been the benchmark for 40 years. And now with her 75th anniversary and her appearance in Batman v Superman and her own movie coming up and the rise of the girl geek, we’re seeing there’s a need for this material. Batman’s one of the only characters in comics you can reinterpret in different ways. You can go from Christopher Nolan to Joel Schumacher to Tim Burton to Frank Miller to the Adam West TV show, and they all work. Now that geek culture commands culture, we need all these different permutations. I can give the Batman TV show DVDs to my 5-year-old nephew to watch, and then I can give Batman: The Animated Series to my 11-year old nephew to watch, and then when he’s older we can give them the Nolan movies. It’s nice to have these different versions of these characters so we can share with everyone, because they are our mythology and you don’t want anyone to be left out. There are so many different permutations of this character and they all work. That’s lightning in a bottle to be able to create a character you can do in any medium or any type of story, and none of it feels forced.
PARKER: That’s the key. There’s no right version, but there’s something consistent about all of them. The trick for us is not quite fan-service, but you are trying to give them something they wish they could’ve seen at a certain point. More importantly, you’re trying to surprise them with something they didn’t even know they wanted. It would be a huge mistake to troll forums and listen to people say “here’s what I want to see” and then write that down. That’s a bad idea, and it’s not what they want. They don’t want to see something just as they laid it out, you’ve got to bring something extra. Hopefully that’s what we’re doing.
ANDREYKO: We also have an unlimited production budget as far as special effects. We don’t have to worry about what’s gonna cost. We had some conversations between us and our editors where we realized, “That wouldn’t have been on the show, but it would’ve if they had the money.” If they had the money, they would’ve hired Ray Harryhausen and had some stop-motion stuff, so let’s put some of that in there. It’s a matter of making it faithful to the tone and world of the TV show, but also use the strengths of the medium we have, so we can do shots of Batman and Wonder Woman flying in their planes next to each other, talking to each other.