Holy catsuits! It’s the BATBOOK OF THE WEEK!
Green Hornet? Check.
The Man From UNCLE? Check.
The Avengers? You’re up.
Nearly a year after it was first announced, Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel — a swinging DC/Boom! team-up — launches 6/8 with it’s initial, digital-first chapter.
This is something I’ve been waiting for and there was no way this wasn’t going to be the BATBOOK OF THE WEEK, even if Detective Comics is reborn this week with Issue #934.
In the world of comics, Steed and Peel aren’t called The Avengers for the obvious reasons, but they’ll always be so in my heart and mind. When I was a kid, the UK show would run as late-night reruns Saturdays on Channel 2 in New York and I’d sit riveted from the start of that snazzy theme song, soaking up the swinging ’60s scene.
So with the Green Hornet and Napoleon Solo in the comic-book Batmobile’s rearview, I’m completely revved up. So much so, that we’re bringing you a two-part Batstravaganza, featuring an interview here with writer Ian Edginton and a follow-up with artist Matthew Dow Smith (click here for that).
Now what’s the story about? Well, the first chapter has Bruce Wayne squiring Miss Michaela Gough (wink) when who should make their scene but Catwoman — and another statuesque, catsuit-clad woman with her bowler-wearing colleague…
The series will run in 10-page chapters digitally over the next several months. As chapters accumulate, it’ll be published in a 6-issue print miniseries (with inevitable trade collections to follow). The first chapter will be available for download 6/8 via the DC Comics App, Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology.com, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store and iVerse ComicsPlus.
So check out what writer Ian Edginton has to say about bringing these mad and mod worlds together. (Plus, if you wanna hear Mike Allred talk about Batman ’66 and The Avengers — and you do — click here):
Dan Greenfield: How’d you land this groovy gig?
Ian Edginton: It was an act of great generosity on the part of writer Rob Williams, he of Martian Manhunter fame. He was initially offered the gig, but recommended me as he knew I was a big fan of Batman ’66 and had previously written Steed and Mrs Peel for Boom! So I was very familiar with both properties.
Growing up in the 1960s and ’70s I was raised on shows like Batman, The Avengers, The Prisoner, Man in a Suitcase, The Champions, Green Hornet and so on. There’s a photo of me aged about 5 wearing my Batman cape that I loved more than anything, so I can quite justifiably say that for me this job is a dream come true!
Dan: What was your introduction to the Batman ’66 show?
Ian: The show was frequently on re-runs over here in the UK throughout the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Back then there were only three TV channels and during the school holidays they’d broadcast a whole slew of what they considered children’s programming.
It was a curious mix of whatever they could scrape together that was vaguely age appropriate. These ranged from various Ray Harryhausen and George Pal movies to the Buster Crabbe, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials, to dubbed French and German TV series such as The Flashing Blade and an adaptation of Robinson Crusoe. The jewel in the crown, though, the thing that as kids made us stop whatever we were doing and camp ourselves in front of the TV, was Batman!
Dan: So, what’s your favorite episode?
Ian: It’s actually the movie, the one with the fearsome foursome – Riddler, Joker, Penguin and Catwoman. I saw it before I saw any of the TV series and it’s still my favourite. There’s so much to love in it and the scenes such as Batman trying to get rid of the bomb or the shark repellent Bat-spray moment that have become so iconic now. That campiness later came to be ridiculed and derided but I think we’ve come full circle. We had so much grim and grittiness going on with regards the character, that a lighter hand, a clever-yet-fun approach is more than welcome. There’s plenty of room for both. When I landed this series I used it as an excuse to buy the Blu-ray boxed set and I watch them with my son and daughter who are 6 and 9 and they love the show.
Dan: Same with “The Avengers” TV show. How’d you get hooked in?
Ian: Again, it was all thanks to reruns that were used as late-night filler on BBC2 and later Channel 4. A lot of those classic British TV series were dusted off and given a new lease of life to fill the schedules back then.
Dan: And what’s your favorite episode?
Ah, now this is tricky. My favourite episodes are all from the Mrs Peel era and it’s a tie between The Girl from Auntie — the title’s clearly a spoof on The Man From UNCLE and features Mrs. Peel being replaced by a blonde namesake. Then there’s The Cybernauts, which featured the series’ most iconic villains, and finally A Touch of Brimstone with Mrs Peel in that outfit.
Dan: Now, did you go back and brush up on the shows or did you write this off the top of your head? How did you work to get the voices and each show’s “shtick” just right?
Ian: I watched a selection of episodes from both series just to get my ear tuned to the right turn of phrase and then I ran with it. If I ever felt I was veering off course at any point, I’d go and watch a couple more just to get me back on track. It got to be very much of a guilty pleasure, though, as I’d watch “just one more episode” and then another and another and before you know it, I’ve been sat in front of the TV all day!
The fun challenge was balancing the tones of the different shows. Batman is more campy and light whereas The Avengers is a bit darker. The key was to play right in the middle where the two overlap. I found Steed and Mrs Peel’s sarcastic humor meshed well with the lightheartedness of Batman and Robin. There will be some fun interactions between the two teams.
Dan: Extremely Important Question #1: Will we see a Mrs. Peel/Catwoman fight? Because if not, you’re going to have to answer to me.
Ian: It will happen. It does happen!
Dan: Extremely Important Question #2: Will we see a Steed/Penguin umbrella duel? Because if not, I’m flying across the Atlantic to demand satisfaction.
Ian: Then you’ll have to book your ticket, as sadly Penguin is a no-show. It wasn’t for want of trying but for the story we’re telling — artist, Matthew Dow Smith and myself — Penguin wasn’t really a good fit, although several other classic Batman villains do appear.
Dan: Final Extremely Important Question: Which show has the better theme song?
Ian: Tough choice, I’d have to say that The Avengers edges out Batman but only by a whisker!
Dan: We’ve been running our own list of whom Batman ’66 should team up with next. What would be your choice? (Click here.)
I’d have say either The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible or The Champions. I’d be happy to write them all!
Don’t forget, citizens, to check out Part 2 — an interview with artist Matthew Dow Smith — here!