Batman Joins the Avengers at IDW by Jerry Whitworth
Announced at San Diego Comic-Con International 2015, DC Comics’ Batman ’66 series will crossover with Britain’s the Avengers John Steed and Emma Peel from IDW Publishing. Batman ’66 is a hit digital first series from DC expanding the 1966 Batman television show while introducing modern day characters like Killer Croc, Clayface, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Bane, and Harley Quinn set in the time period’s mold. The series would previously crossover with Green Hornet from Dynamite Entertainment based on the original crossover in the television show while Marc Andreyko has expressed a strong interest to see his Wonder Woman ’77 comic book team with the Bat-book (Adam West’s Batman would also star in a Super Friends-inspired pair of 1979 live action television specials called Legends of the Superheroes). The Avengers, a popular spy-fi television series from the 1960s, is no stranger to comics having been adapted by Gold Key, Eclipse (from the mind of Grant Morrison), Boom! Studios (by the legendary Mark Waid), and most recently by IDW in Steed and Mrs. Peel (Marvel having the publishing rights to the Avengers name). There is also, of course, The Avengers episode “A Touch of Brimstone” which inspired the Hellfire Club in the X-Men. But beyond just being in the same time period, what similarities do the properties of Batman ’66 and Steed and Mrs. Peel share?
To a degree, both Batman and The Avengers followed the same formula: a pair of heroes are called upon to investigate a bizarre series of crimes often involving criminals employing implements of science fiction-oriented origins. Even comparing Batman and Robin to John Steed and Emma Peel draws some parallels as Batman and Steed were the calm minded strategists/detectives dragged into battles using unique tools to their personas while Robin and Peel were accomplished minds in their own right but were younger and more prone to action (albeit many likely preferred to see Mrs. Peel deliver her trademark high kicks). Where both series are arguably most alike is their exploration of the pop art movement in the confines of their shows (one could even say both were art experiments). While many examples exist, the most obvious was the use of onomatopoeia in Batman offering a visual representation of the intense action the show employed while The Avengers was more reserved framing shots like real life paintings and using psychedelic effects in various ways. There is also, of course, the dry humor of both programs with a wink and a nudge the parties therein being aware of the joke but left the audience to pick up on them which offered an appeal to fans both young and old. In terms of a likely way the shows may intersect maybe Lord Ffogg, a character who may have very well been inspired by The Avengers.
Appearing in three episodes of the Batman television series, Lord Marmaduke Ffogg and his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup were Londinium aristocrats who founded a finishing school for young girls which trained the youths to be master thieves in their employ. Ireland Yard, baffled by the crimes perpetuated by the ring, called in Batman and Robin to help solve the thefts following a robbery of Chuckingham Palace. Ffogg would return earlier this year in the pages of Batman ’66 setting up a similar school in Gotham. The device of a bizarre criminal organization was not an uncommon trope of the time period and The Avengers were certainly no exception which commonly had Steed or Peel infiltrate such an organization to tear it down from within. It would then be fairly easy to see how such a story could work in a crossover especially considering a similar tale was touched upon in an early Avengers episode in “The Springers” which features a gang led by Neame at a girl’s finishing school that organized a prison break. Of course, there are other possibilities like the Sandman, a European criminal who uses hypnotic sand which falls in line with a number of plots from The Avengers. Thus far, no release date or creative team has been announced.