DC Comics is expanding on two of the most iconic superhero movie universes of all time in 2021. Today the publisher announced Superman ’78 and Batman ’89, which chronicle the further adventures of Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Michael Keaton’s Batman.
Both titles are similar to DC’s previous Batman ’66 and Wonder Woman ’77 comics, in that they’re both digital-first titles set in these cinematic universes and featuring the likenesses of the actors involved.
Fittingly, Batman ’89 is drawn by Dial H artist Joe Quinones, who famously pitched DC on a potential Batman ’89 comic several years ago. DC didn’t approve the pitch at the time, though Quinones posted art on his website giving fans a taste of what he envisioned for the series. Now those plans are coming to fruition, and Quinones is even collaborating with Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm on the new series.
Batman ’89 looks to be ignoring both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, instead presenting an alternate continuation of Batman Returns more in line with director Tim Burton’s vision. The series will not only pay off on Returns’ final shot by bringing back Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, it’ll also revive abandoned Batman Returns plot threads by introducing “a new Robin” (presumably Marlon Wayans’ Dick Grayson) and showing the Billy Dee Williams version of Harvey Dent becoming Two-Face.
Superman ’78, meanwhile, is a collaboration between Hawkman writer Robert Venditti and Batman ’66 artist Wilfredo Torres. This series is set fairly early in the Man of Steel’s costumed career, before Lois Lane uncovers Clark’s secret. Superman ’78 explores how the citizens of Metropolis come to grips with the discovery that a man can fly. It’s unknown whether the series will introduce new takes on familiar Superman villains.
Both Batman ’89 and Superman ’78 will run for 12 digital chapters. The first six chapters of both series will launch on July 27, with new chapters following once a week for the next six weeks. Print issues collecting two chapters each will be published between August and October 2021, with hardcover collections to follow in October for Batman ’89 and November for Superman ’78.
The timing of the Batman ’89 announcement is intriguing, given that Keaton is reportedly preparing to reprise the Batman role in the upcoming Flash movie. Could this series help fill in some of the missing gaps in the Batman ’89 timeline? Assuming the book is successful, we can only hope DC will announce a follow-up project that more directly sets the stage for the older Bruce Wayne of The Flash.
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