Although "Batman meets The Avengers" might sound misleadingly ground-breaking, the revelation that the characters involved are from the British TV show The Avengers makes the news no less exciting among fans of the '60s TV series.
Beginning this week, the Adam West TV version of Batman from the 1960's will meet John Steed and Emma Peel, two characters from The Avengers spy-fi British series from the same era. The mini-series, appropriately titled Batman '66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel, comes three years after DC first launched the Batman '66 title.
Written by British author Ian Edginton with art by Matthew Dow Smith, this digital-first miniseries tells what happens when Bruce Wayne is dealing with a theft by Catwoman and some new players arrive in town — the lovely Mrs. Peel and her comrade John Steed.
Steed and Peel have been featured in comic books before, including a Grant Morrison/Ian Gibson version from 1990, and are appearing in the DC Comic as a joint venture with BOOM! Studios, who own the British characters' comic book license. The two characters take on criminals, solve mysteries and pursue conspiracies and supernatural occurrences.
Digital chapters of the 12-issue Batman '66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel are available every two weeks on multiple platforms, then are collected into print. As the series launches digitally this week, Newsarama talked to Edginton and Smith about the concept behind Batman '66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel and what readers can expect when characters from the two cult TV shows come together.
Newsarama: Ian and Matthew, are you guys fans of both shows? Or was this something you had to learn about?
Ian Edginton: I grew up in the '60s, so they were on British TV pretty much constantly in reruns, so they're in my DNA, basically. It's stuff I grew up with. So when the job came along, it was like, "Yes! I'll do that!" There was no deliberation.
Matthew Dow Smith: I grew up in the '70s and '80s, and Batman was on TV constantly, and I loved it. But I also grew up with a very family that loved stuff like Doctor Who, All Creatures Great and Small and The Avengers. So huge fan of both shows.
Nrama: Let's talk about these characters. Do you feel like they go together pretty organically? Or did you have to work a little to get them to mesh together? I mean, they both have that '60s feel, right?
Edginton: Very much so. They actually mesh surprisingly well. When you write the dialogue, their interchange works really well. They share a lot of the same sensibilities. The Avengers are slightly darker, because you would have people being killed. And obviously Batman wouldn't have that. But there's a definite crossover where the sensibilities meet, and that's where we've planted our story.
The main core of it is humor. There's a lot of humor in both shows, and we play that up and it comes out in the character exchanges.
Smith: And they're both very unreal approaches. They both have an artificiality to them.
And there were even several sly jabs at Batman, the show, in the Avengers show. They did poke fun at the Batman show.
Nrama: So they sort of existed in the same universe before?
Smith: Well… close enough.
Edginton: Yeah, close enough.
Nrama: Can you describe a bit about the characters from The Avengers and how they fit in with Batman '66?
Edginton: We're focusing on the Steed and Mrs. Peel relationship, the Diana Rigg character. It was never overtly stated in the TV show, but they are government agents who investigate odd and strange incidents and crimes that go on in the U.K. and worldwide.
That kind of naturally brings them into play in Gotham, because strange things occur every day there. They fit in quite nicely in that world.
Nrama: And Matt, did you have to research the show at all to try to capture the characters and their world accurately?
Smith: I was very familiar with the characters, but that didn't stop me from buying a brand new set of Blu-Ray DVDs. I had them, but they weren't Blu-Ray. I think it was very important for my artistic process to buy them on Blu-Ray and watch them several times again.
But I need a lot of photo reference for projects like this, and it's always nice to sit down and study them. But it is weird having worked on a few comics like this now, it's always weird to go back and watch one of your favorite shows not as a fan of the show but as somebody who has to kind of recreate the look of that show. There's a whole other process. You know, it's fun to watch them, but in a very different way, when you sit here on the couch with your new pen and say "Oh! i've got to do that!"
Edginton: I did the same thing. I bought box sets of both series to sit down and reacquaint myself. It was such a chore having to sit down and watch television!
Nrama: What brings these characters together in the story?
Edginton: They're each following a plot from different directions that kind of leads them to meet in the middle. There's an heiress who's in jeopardy, a British heiress. And so the Avengers have come over to sort of watch her back and see who's managing her.
That brings them to encounter Batman and Robin in Gotham. And Catwoman comes in after the first issue. And so we have both teams coming together, and the story goes off in a different direction. They team up, basically, although I don't want to give too much more than that away.
Smith: I can say that they would send me these scripts and I'd just freak out because I get to draw a character that I love. Every chapter is a new thing I get to draw that's just like a childhood dream come true.
We have conversations like "Which version of Catwoman are we going to draw?," which is such a great question to be asking as a grown-up man.
Edginton: A lot of people, when they heard about it, told me, "If you're going to have Mrs. Peel in the catsuit, you've just got to have Catwoman! You just have to have her." And so, yes, Catwoman is there. And there's some great conversations between Mrs. Peel and Catwoman as well. That was fun to write. So yeah, it doesn't feel like work, honestly. It's just been such fun to write.
Nrama: What is it like when Batman meets these characters?
Edginton: We kind of establish that they know of each other in passing. We've almost said that it's a shared universe, so they're kind of aware of each other. There's some witty banter that was fun to write. The '60s Batman is very polite all the time, and Steed and Mrs. Peel are both characters who have a sly, slightly sarcastic turn of phrase. So it's fun to see the exchanges going on between them.
Smith: For me, the fun one in particular is Peel and Robin. There are a lot of great scenes with the two of them, with her very dry way of speaking and Robin's over-the-top enthusiasm for everything.
Edginton: He's like a puppy!
Smith: Yeah! He really is like a puppy.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about the miniseries?
Edginton: Just have fun with it. We're trying to be fun and entertaining. It's the sort of story I would want to read. If I saw it on the rack, I would pick it up. So I'm trying to write the sort of fun and entertaining story I'd enjoy with these characters.
Smith: Yeah, I just want people to have as much fun reading it as we've had doing it.