Batman: The Animated Series rises again this spring.
EW has exclusively learned that DC Comics is launching a new six-issue miniseries called Batman: The Adventures Continue in April. Set in the world of the beloved show, the digital-first series is written by the show’s producers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett and illustrated by Ty Templeton, who worked on the show’s old tie-in comic series Batman Adventures.
For many people, the Emmy-award winning Batman: The Animated Series is the definitive adaptation of the Dark Knight. Over the course of 85 episodes, Dini, Burnett, and Bruce Timm produced mature and emotional stories that not only streamlined the Caped Crusader’s mythology but also introduced new elements into it that eventually made their way to the pages of DC Comics, like Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya, who are both featured in the new live-action film Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Not only that, but the show also birthed several movies, a popular video game franchise (the Arkham Asylum games), and an entire shared universe that included shows like Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and several more.
Batman: The Adventures Continue is part of an initiative to introduce new characters into DC Collectibles’ Batman: The Animated Series line of toys, with Templeton designing these new additions in Timm’s style. So, the comic will feature many familiar faces from the DC Animated Universe like Superman and Lex Luthor and some that never appeared in that world until now, like Jason Todd.
“We’d gone from Dick Grayson to Tim Drake, and we had left out Jason. What we’re doing with this is looking at this as a chance to go back and actually acknowledge that was a part of the animated Batman’s history,” Dini tells EW. “For the first time, you’re going to see that story and you’re going to see what happened in that relationship. So, it’s our chance to not only to do Jason Todd but also the Red Hood. There are other characters like Azrael, who was popular in the comics around [the time of the show], and Deathstroke, who we never used in the animated series.”
Templeton adds: “It’s fun that it doesn’t feel like we have to deal with the 15 year gap since we told stories with these characters. We can just feel like we just stepped into these things yesterday, because the shows and comics are always out there. They never go away. I didn’t want it to feel like there’s a big gap and Batman was old and Tim was in his 30’s or anything like that. I’m really happy it just feels like the next day.” (To clarify even further, the comic takes place before the traumatic flashback events in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker).
In the first issue, Batman and Bruce Wayne are dealing with two mysteries. First, a giant robot breaks into Wayne Enterprises and steals an entire laboratory. Second, there’s also Lex Luthor’s mysterious return Gotham City.
“We’re kicking off with the Bruce-Lex relationship in a semi sequel of [the Batman and Superman crossover] ‘World’s Finest’ because the events of that are touched on. Where did that leave Bruce and Lex after they were busted by Batman and Superman? It’s interesting to see the little dueling that goes on between them,” says Dini.
The first issue also introduces a mystery for the reader: “Who is the mysterious character in the shadows observing all of this?” says Templeton. Dini adds, “There’s a stranger in town who has staked out the Batman family, who knows them very well, and is watching them from a distance with a mixture of amusement and deep hatred. That’s gonna be a challenge and concern for them at some point. The guy is so good that even though Batman and the others get glimpses of him, they have no idea who he is or what he wants, and that’s a mystery for them to solve.”
Looking ahead, Dini also offers up a tease for the “intense” Azrael storyline: “[He comes] to Gotham on a mission of death to recover something that’s been stolen from the Order of St. Dumas and that brings him into conflict with Batman. Batman has to keep him murdering members of the Gotham underworld as they try to put together this mystery of who took it and why. I think it’s one of the coolest reveals we’ve done and it makes perfect sense given the lore of our series. That’s one of the issues I’m most jazzed about.”
The legacy of Batman: The Animated Series continues to live on today elsewhere to. In addition to Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya’s appearance in Birds of Prey, Tom King’s forthcoming Batman/Catwoman comic will introduce Andrea Beaumont, who was created for the Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm film, into the main DC Comics universe. The continued relevance of some of the characters he helped created keeps Dini inspired.
“It gives me a feeling of pride and satisfaction to know there are certain elements I introduced to the world that have gone on to become iconic. I guess I feel the same way that Bill Finger, Denny O’Neil, or Jerry Robinson felt when they would introduced a character that would click and it would go on to have this history. As far as the characters themselves go, I always get a little bit of a secret smile on my face when I see somebody cosplaying as Harley Quinn or all the attention paid to her. I really, really love the movie. I love Margot Robbie’s version of her. It’s almost like, ‘Oh, I knew her way back when and see she’s still working,'” says Dini. “On a personal level, it just makes me more determined like, ‘Alright, now the next time I’m working on is going to be just as big,’ So it’s very encouraging for me as a creator to get some positive feedback and keep going.”
Batman: The Adventure Continues — which features a cover by Dave Johnson and a variant cover by Dan Mora — hits shelves May 6, 2020. Digital-first chapters will be released in April.