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First look: Batman: The Animated Series lives on in DC Comics' new Batman series

By Jeff Spry
Batman Hero

Spawned from the world of Batman: The Animated Series and its triumphant, Emmy Award-winning run from 1992 to 1995, DC Comics is dipping back into the nostalgic well of that pioneering show that redefined the way the Dark Knight was interpreted in an invigorating six-issue miniseries — and SYFY WIRE is delivering a first look at the premiere issue alongside comments from its stellar creative team.

To fuel this revival, DC has gathered the visionary minds of Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, the same imaginative forces behind Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond and those iconic shows' stylish, neo-noir aesthetics. 

Matched with this dynamic writing duo is artist Ty Templeton, who has recreated the instantly recognizable design work of Bruce Timm, just as he first accomplished back in 1992 with Batman Adventures #1.  Colorist Monica Kubina brings a vivid palette of varied hues to accent Templeton's pencils.

Batman 1

These fresh Bat tales start unspooling from this seminal Dark Deco world on April 1 with the initial two digital chapters found on ReadDC and ComiXology. Subsequent online issues will roll out bi-weekly until the series is scheduled to come available in print beginning May 6.

Batman: The Adventures Continue #1 kicks off when Gotham City's Wayne Enterprises is attacked and robbed by a colossal robot that rips off an entire laboratory room. But who is the master manipulator behind the metallic thief, and how will Batman pull the plug on the mad machine's rampage? Could it be the coincidental appearance of the diabolical Lex Luthor or some other genius-level supervillain with plans to conquer the Earth?

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Dini and Burnett took a forward-reaching approach to the project and envisioned this new comic series as perhaps the never-seen season of Batman: The Animated Series if fate had not steered their attention toward creating the futuristic Batman Beyond. They promise these continuing stories will address certain gaps from the original show and reveal secret histories that could upend Batman's world.

Burnett claims all the ingredients for reviving the beloved animated series in comic form were already boiling when editor Andrew Marino asked if he wanted to be involved.

"DC thought that readers and collectors would like to see more of the animated world," Burnett tells SYFY WIRE. "The idea was to feature popular villains and storylines from the books, which the series hadn’t dealt with. I was more than happy to get on it. It’s invigorating to be back in the continuity of the series, and so familiar, like riding a bike. The other plus was working again with Paul Dini, who is so ridiculously talented."

Batman 4

Dini promises that fans of the original series will see a veritable parade of famous faces, from supporting characters like Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock to classic villains like Catwoman, Clayface, and Bane.

"Some will be quick cameos, but we really wanted to pepper Batman's world with as many members of our supporting cast as we could," Dini adds. "There will also be well-known DC characters that have never appeared in the animated series before, such as Azrael, and some interesting new villains created just for this run.

"That said, it was really important to Alan and myself that the through line of the story be about Batman himself. It deals with a number of good and bad choices Batman made over the years and how a tragedy in his past affects his crime-fighting family today."  

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Artist Ty Templeton didn't worry about either nostalgia or modern sensibilities when creating the art for the series, and wished only to tell the story as best he could, concentrating on where the emotional close-ups were, how he should stage a fight scene moment, and where the action is heading across the page.

"Because it's a 'digital first' comic, the layouts are sideways, which is a fun new challenge, but I've done this style before with the recent Batman '66/Adam West comic series," Templeton explains to SYFY WIRE. "Nostalgia is part of the equation, because the designs for these characters were done years ago, five animated series ago. That's baked in.

"Also Alan, Paul, and myself worked on the comics and TV shows that came out years ago, so our names get a bit of a nostalgic tang when associated with these characters. We created stories many fans read in their youth. It's a jolt to discover you've been around long enough to be considered nostalgia, but it's also very gratifying to be well remembered for something. As for modern expectations? All I can tell you is that I've read the script, and you modern guys can expect one of the most fun and satisfying Batman tales in years."

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The enduring appeal of Batman: The Animated Series across generations is something Dini and Burnett hold to heart, especially when crafting this new evolution of the material.

"The animated series was originally crafted from elements of Batman's history which we always felt were either iconic or that served our interpretations of the characters well," notes Dini. "That made for a bold, dramatic look for the series, and versions of the characters that struck most viewers as being true to their original heroic or villainous interpretations. It was Batman Basic, but it was also a version everyone seemed to like." 

"It was a series that was created by fans," Burnett recalls. "We all loved the comics and felt a responsibility toward them. We’d put our spin on the villains, but we weren’t re-inventing them. We were fleshing them out, trying to figure what made them tick. And of course not enough can be said about the look of the show created by our fellow producers Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski. Knowing we were writing for that kind of dark deco ambiance made a difference."  

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Now enjoy our full eight-page preview in the gallery below. DC Comics' Batman: The Adventures Continue #1, featuring a main cover by Dave Johnson and rousing variant by Dan Mora, are scheduled to hit shelves on May 6, 2020. Digital-first chapters arrive beginning in April 1.