The creative team behind the beloved show, Batman: The Animated Series, have reunited to bring their vision of the superhero to life again. DC has launched a new digital comic book series called Batman: The Adventures Continue, which will feature six issues.
Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, the producers of the 1990s animated series, returned to write the comic book’s story. They were joined by longtime Batman artist Ty Templeton (colors by Monica Kubina).
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Dini said the idea for the comic book series came from a DC Direct toyline.
“It started with DC,” Dini said. “They have a very successful line of collector’s figures based on the animated series, and after running that for about four or five years, they sort of ran out of characters to do that we had done in the animated series, and they came up with the great idea of “What if we do characters that were never in the show, but in the style of the show?” These could be characters that came out when the show was on, or in recent DC history, such as Red Hood, Azrael, the Court of Owls and a few others. I came in to do development work as far as writing those, and that led to the decision to tell stories in comic book form.”
“It was a fairly natural next step [to make comics],” commented Templeton, who had hired to do designs for the toys in different action shots. “When we showed the designs off at a couple of toy fairs, the response was amazing. People went crazy for them, were demanding more designs, anything! So there was clearly a demand for this kind of style. I think people really fondly remember this stuff.”
Rather than make their story completely driven by the toys, Dini and Burnett returned to their old way of doing things: they focused on the characters. They knew that toys could always follow (and they did), especially if fans were really invested in a particular character, like Poison Ivy or Mr. Freeze.
Speaking about Batman: The Adventures Continue, Dini said, “…We thought, what’s an awesome story that involves the core members of our cast? — I mean Batman/Bruce and his little family he’s got, with Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl and Alfred — and we’ll weave the new characters in and out of that dynamic. It’s good to have a few things agreed upon in advance, because it challenges you to come up with something that matches that.”
Dini referenced a Red Hood story they’re currently working on as an example of a story arc they were never able to explore in the animated series. Having the space to examine Red Hood makes the six issues of Batman: The Adventures Continue “like a season story,” Dini said.
“It’s like a secret history of Batman, and Batman: The Animated Series that fans never saw,” Burnett chimed in. “It’s been interesting working that into things.”
It’s not without challenges. Batman: The Animated Series is not only beloved by fans; it’s also seen as one of, if not the, best depictions of Batman in media. Returning to that world came with some pressure.
“We’re all fans, everyone that created that series,” Burnett said. “We brought the things we loved best from the comic book and put them in the series. It has a classical feel, it’s because we went back to the source and built it up from there — and [now], I’m just having fun. It’s been a ball to work on. I think that comes through in the storytelling, I think that it’s fun. I’m just having a good time.”
Dini said, “I feel like we have created something — not just Alan and myself, but all the other producers, Bruce [Timm], everyone — we created something that people like an awful lot, and now we have the possibility to keep it going in a proper way. … We want to make sure that we’re proper stewards of this version of Batman. We kind of police ourselves.”
For Templeton the responsibility stretched back even further than the 1990s animated series. “I’ve been doing Batman now for 30 years,” he said. “I’ve done the Adam West version of Batman and, I guess you’d call it the regular DC version of Batman, and every time I feel that I’m picking up the torch that Bill Finger and his partner Bob [Kane] did all those years ago. I always feel that responsibility when I step onto Gotham’s streets.”
The project has been a reunion for Dini and Burnett, who fondly remembered working on the animated series together. “…I was happy to get this call and find out they were reviving the series in this digital format,” Burnett said. “When I was asked if I wanted to be on it, I was more than happy! It’s been a ball, because we’re dealing with the continuity of the series and I’m working with Paul again, it’s like being back in my office again at Warner Bros. It’s terrific!”