SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for the first chapter of “Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77,” on sale now.
The eight-part series will also be released in print, but not until January, so if you want to read the latest comic book adventures inspired by Adam West’s bravely bold Caped Crusader and Lynda Carter’s amazing turn as the Amazon princess, stop spinning the wheels on your Batmobile and get clicking.
“Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77” is co-written by Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko, who have been writing the titular characters in their own solo series for DC Comics since inception. The brainchild of Andreyko, the crossover event – 40 years in the making – is illustrated by David Hahn and Karl Kesel with covers Mike Allred and Alex Ross. Holy dream team, Batman!
CBR connected with the dynamic writing duo to discuss the new series and learned some exciting details about what’s to come, including, perhaps most importantly, why Eartha Kitt’s appearance as Catwoman in the first chapter doesn’t mean that Parker and Andreyko consider her take on the character as the most iconic iteration from the “Batman” TV series.
CBR: I am going to start with a tough question here and put you right on the spot. Catwoman in “Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77” is depicted as Eartha Kitt so is it safe to say that she is your choice as the definitive iteration of Selina Kyle?
Marc Andreyko: Keep reading. That’s actually a fun part about this series. I hate to spoil it but we’re actually using all three of the Catwomen. We’re Darrin in “Bewitched.” [Laughs] All three of them are going to be there. Every two issues, we’re going to use a different one. We don’t acknowledge that they’re different. They’re all Catwoman.
Jeff Parker: Just like the show. You have to deal with it.
Andreyko: And they all act like the way they played Catwoman each time. It’s consistently inconsistent.
Marc, we know all about your love and respect for Lynda Carter’s turn as Wonder Woman. What are your thoughts on Adam West as Batman?
Andreyko: I’m just following Jeff’s lead. When I pitched this book to DC, I said I wanted to co-write it with Jeff because he so masterfully captures that Adam West version of Batman without making it smarmy or looking down on it or being campy. He really captures the fun of the show. I am really just hoping that I don’t embarrass myself in front of Jeff.
Parker: And he didn’t.
And Jeff, what are your thoughts on Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman?
Parker: Like Marc said, obviously I’ve been lucky enough to write this version of Batman quite a bit, but honestly, the “Wonder Woman” TV series loomed quite large on my childhood just like Marc. Lynda Carter burned her way into everybody’s consciousness. It’s the one thing that everyone can agree on when you talk about superheroes. Everyone loves the way that she portrayed Wonder Woman. She is so full of goodness, and I always appreciate the fact that she would give a speech about peace before beating everybody up. That, to me, is one of the things that just has to be in there.
Andreyko: She’s like a good parent. She warns you. She gives you three warnings. And truthfully, it might hurt her more than it hurts you. [Laughs]
Parker: Then, as you’re laying there bleeding, she says, “I really didn’t want to do that.” [Laughs]
Andreyko: You really brought that on yourself.
Have either of you spoke with Lynda Carter and/or Adam West about writing them as comic book characters?
Andreyko: I had the pleasure of meeting Lynda just over a year ago at one of her concerts because she does a jazz tour every year. And she was lovely. She was so supportive of the book when the original “Wonder Woman ’77” book came out. She talked about it on “Today.” When I met her, she took my hands and said, “Thank you for doing this book.” And five-year old me was weeping openly saying, “No, no, no, no. Thank you for letting me. You’re Wonder Woman!” She’s just as gracious and lovely and elegant and progressive and cool as you would imagine. She’s just a joy. That’s why the performance has lasted for 40 years. She was one of the first people to play a genre character and not treat it like genre, or treat it like it was beneath her. She treated it with the same sort of respect as if she was playing Lady MacBeth or Eleanor Roosevelt. She takes the role that she played very seriously, and the importance it played in young girls’ and boys’ lives.
Parker: I met Adam West when I was 10-years-old, when he and the Batmobile were going across the country. It was such a profound experience for me that I still have my autographed picture of him from that day. I think that’s what actually led to me being asked to write “Batman ’66.” In one of those weird universal happenings, I emailed that pictures to one of my editors. We were talking about something else, and just out of the blue, I thought he might like it. I sent it right at the time that the rights were coming together with Fox/Greenway so that DC could finally use that version of Batman again. It was kind of magical.
Looking back, he was just great to talk to as a little kid. Just like Lynda Carter, he knew everybody was completely enamored with him. He did not resent it. He was a total mensch. [Laughs] He was completely accepting of his status. And never really went back on that. He may have resented being typecast but he always got it together for the fans and especially, the kids because he knew they all looked up to him just like Lynda. And that’s what makes this series work. You’re not only working with the characters of Batman and Wonder Woman but you’re also working with these real-life people.
This story features Bruce Wayne recalling his first encounter with Wonder Woman as a young boy. Why did you take this approach versus something set in their own ‘present day’ continuity?
Andreyko: When I approached everybody about doing this, my thought was to address each show in each season. The first season of “Wonder Woman” was set in the 1940s and “Batman” was obviously set in the 1960s. And the second and third seasons of “Wonder Woman” were set in the 1970s. We have a through line and a ‘through-villain’ and all of the connective tissue to make this one big epic.
The first two issues of print – the first four digital chapters – are set in 1944. Digital chapters 5-8, or “Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77” #3 and 4, are set in 1966. And chapters 9-12, or ” Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77” #5 and 6, are set in 1977. We specifically wanted to do that, knowing that Bruce would have been 10 years old in 1944. By setting it up this way, we get to explore how the genetic material for being a hero was in him even at that young age, and also, how meeting Wonder Woman at that young age would influence him later in life. And it’s also just fun to have 10-year old Bruce Wayne running around in short pants fighting Nazis. [Laughs]
Parker: And it’s also fun to see little Bruce Wayne doing stuff that’s not watching his parents getting mowed down. There was that one really horrible part of your childhood, but you got to run around with Wonder Woman in your house. That’s not too bad, is it?
The story opens with a character named Mr. Finlay getting a book burgled by Catwoman – a very important book: “Lost World of the Ancients.” The only Mr. Finlay I know from DC Comics is Jacob Finlay, who, after a retcon in “Secret Origins” #37 in the late 1980s, was revealed as the original Doctor Light. Any connection here?
Andreyko: No, I just pulled that name out of head. [Laughs]
Parker: Let’s shut down real quick, Jeff! [Laughs]
Andreyko: Sometimes, it’s not an Easter egg. [Laughs] [Finlay] just strikes me as the kind of billionaire guy you would see on “Batman” with a book worth stealing. And I love the way David Hahn drew him. He reminds of a particular character actor from the 1960s and now I forget who it was.
You mentioned a through line for the series, and a ‘through-villain’ — one of my all-time favorites — Ra’s al Ghul. This makes perfect sense, now that we know that this story spans a few decades.
Andreyko: Agreed. We’ve all like Ra’s al Ghul, ever since that Dennis O’Neil/Neal Adams story in the early -70s. At least, I know I did. It kind of changed Batman into a global adventurer. Wonder Woman works really well in that type of story, too. But honestly, I think we both just wanted the al Ghuls in this story – Ra’s and Talia.
Parker: Ra’s al Ghul really made the most sense in terms of a supervillain for this story because he’s immortal. And when we were thinking of actors from the period that we could ‘cast’ as inspiration for Ra’s al Ghul, there were so many. I can’t name names, because legally, we can’t, but we did look at faces of what people looked like during the height of the TV shows to get the look right. There was a little bit of this character actor and a little bit of this character actor, and then we filtered it all through David Hahn’s genius mind.
You mentioned the genius of David Hahn but you also have Karl Kesel on this book, as well as Mike Allred and Alex Ross doing covers. That’s a real dream team.
Andreyko: In terms of art, it’s the smoothest book that I’ve ever worked on. Pages just roll in like clockwork. David and Karl make these great little choices. And because Karl Kesel can draw and write and do everything himself, if we have any little tweaks, David doesn’t even have to do it, Karl can make them on his own. It’s just hitting on all levels.
And like you said, Mike Allred and Alex Ross are doing amazing covers. Everybody on this book inspires me to be a better writer. I hope I don’t drop the ball.
“Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77” #1 is available now.
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