Batman '89 is a superhero comic book limited series published by DC Comics that serves as an alternative continuation of Tim Burton's first two Batman films, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), which starred Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman, while ignoring the subsequent films Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) that starred Val Kilmer and George Clooney as the character. The series is written by the first two films' screenwriter, Sam Hamm, and illustrated by Joe Quinones. It was launched in August 2021, and is set to run for six issues.
|Publication date||August 2021|
|Written by||Sam Hamm|
Following the events of Batman Returns, Gotham City is in chaos as a result of a war between a gang of Joker-inspired criminals and a group of vigilantes dressed up as Batman. Determined to clean up the streets, district attorney Harvey Dent vows to take down the real Batman, whom he holds responsible for inspiring these copycats, as well as police commissioner, Jim Gordon, who poses a possible obstacle in Dent's path to become state attorney general. Dent is aided by his fiancée, Barbara Gordon, a GCPD sergeant and Gordon's daughter, who also sees Batman as a threat and has a strained relationship with her father. Dent also tries to gain Bruce Wayne's support, but is unsuccessful due to the latter sympathizing with Gordon. Later, Dent calls the National Guard to help restore order and tries to lure Batman into a trap using the Bat-Signal with Lieutenant Harvey Bullock. While patrolling in Harvey's childhood neighborhood, Burnside, Batman encounters another masked vigilante as he confronts a young thief who was trying to help his younger sister. The thief is killed by a stray bullet when Batman attempts to escape the National Guard, leaving Bruce racked with guilt.
The vigilante is a young man from Burnside named Drake Winston, who works as a mechanic at an auto shop owned by Dent's childhood mentor, Jerome Otis. After being criticized by the Burnside neighborhood council for the National Guard's actions, Dent makes a powerful televised speech denouncing the violence. During the speech, Drake stops the Batman impersonators from looting and earns the moniker "Robin" when one of the impersonators claimed he was "robbin' the store". Inspired by Dent's speech and the thief's death, Bruce meets with the council and Dent at Otis' auto shop and offers to pay for four years at Gotham University for all of the children in Burnside. Shortly after the meeting, the shop is attacked by the impersonators who tracked Drake to the garage. When Bruce arrives, he finds that the impersonators have already been defeated by Catwoman. Dent goes inside the burning auto shop to find Drake and is knocked out when an explosion destroys the stairs.
Bruce and Drake work together to rescue Harvey just before the auto shop blows up. Dent survives but is rushed to the hospital after suffering from severe burns on the left side of his face and sulfuric acid poisoning. Much to his dismay, Bruce is hailed as a hero by the press and finds out that Drake saw him confront the arsonists. At the hospital, Dent's subconscious tells him to think of the power in the choices he makes, inspiring him to make marks on one side of his two-headed coin. Later that night, Batman finds Catwoman on the rooftops. She tells Bruce she's back in Gotham to track down rich criminals and chastises him for not making more of an effort to stop them. The two then work together to stop the fires from the arsonists, who were released early on bail.
The residents of Burnside participate in a march to protest the arsonists not facing punishment, and Drake helps them fight back against Bullock and his corrupt riot cops. During the protest, Barbara notices Dent displaying increasingly erratic behavior and relying on his coin to make most of his decisions. He later escapes his hospital room and takes off the bandages that were covering the burnt half of his face. Barbara hears what Dent did the next day while talking to Selina Kyle, who takes the opportunity to scan Barbara's hard drive under the guise of helping her with a virus. Dent steals a computer and multiple files from the GCPD before retreating into the subway and sets up the abandoned Burnside station as his new base of operations. Meanwhile, Bruce invites Drake to meet him at Wayne Manor. Prior to their meeting, Bruce learns that his great-grandfather acquired an automotive company owned by Drake's ancestors in a forced buyout. Drake tries to convince Bruce to identify the arsonists to the police, but Bruce denies seeing them as Catwoman had already taken them down. He then goads Bruce into fighting him and deduces that Bruce is Batman from his fighting style before revealing himself to be the masked vigilante Batman encountered in Burnside. He proposes they form a partnership to combat the chaos slowly brewing in the city.
Barbara receives a note from Dent telling her to meet him at the park shortly after finding out that her father is resigning. Dent hires a criminal the police use as an informant who was connected to "The Lincoln Job", a case where a group attempted to rob 31 million dollars in two armored cars, and uses him to recruit the various Joker gangs for an attack on the GCPD. They collapse four subway tunnels in close proximity to the GCPD headquarters, where most of the police are ambushed outside as they were told of a gas leak. Batman helps Gordon fight the gang members inside while Drake takes out the snipers covering the streets. They eventually confront Dent in the evidence room stealing the money from the Lincoln Job case after shooting Bullock. Dent manages to make Batman accidentally shoot Gordon with a knockout dart, allowing him to steal the money and kidnap Gordon while forcing Batman to stay behind to save Bullock and deal with the police. Batman escapes them with Drake's help.
The next day, Dent donates $900,000 to the residents of Burnside. Gordon places the knockout dart in Dent's clothes to help Batman track him. Batman and Drake track Dent to the park where he's meeting with Barbara and find that the police and Dent's henchmen are ready to attack at any moment. Barbara attempts to arrest Dent, but is knocked out by Catwoman, who encourages Batman and Drake to follow Dent while she takes care of the police and henchmen. At the station, Gordon calls out Dent for his twisted sense of morality, prompting him to shoot the commissioner despite the coin flip encouraging him not to. As Gordon lays dying, Batman arrives to confront the fallen district attorney.
After the success of the Batman '66 comic book series, comic book artist Joe Quinones revealed in March 2016 that he and Kate Leth had pitched a Batman comic book series set in the world of Tim Burton's Batman universe to DC Comics in 2015. He also revealed the concept art they had submitted. The book would have picked up after the events of 1992's Batman Returns. Quinones said about the inclusion of the characters in the comic: "We would have seen the return of Selina Kyle/Catwoman as well as introductions to 'Burton-verse' versions of Robin (designed to be portrayed by Marlon Wayans), Barbara Gordon (designed to be portrayed by Winona Ryder), Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (the latter designed to be portrayed by Geena Davis). It also would have showcased the turn of Billy Dee Williams' Harvey Dent into Two-Face". The pitch was initially rejected by DC. In 2019, DC's Chief Creative Officer and publisher at DC, Jim Lee, acknowledged that many artists and writers had proposed a comic book series set in the Burton-verse over the years and that the book being made in the future wasn't out of the realm of possibility.
In February 2021, DC announced to release a comic book continuation of Batman Returns entitled Batman '89, ignoring the subsequent films Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), in which actor Michael Keaton did not appear following Burton's departure from the franchise. DC further revealed that the series would be written by Sam Hamm and illustrated by Quinones, and would include the return of Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) while also introducing a new version of Robin named Drake Winston (whose appearance is inspired by Marlon Wayans, who was originally attached to play the role in the Burton films) and showing the transformation of Billy Dee Williams' Harvey Dent into Two-Face.
In response to a question as to whether the Joel Schumacher Batman films are canon to the world of Batman '89, Hamm responded that the Schumacher films take place on the alternate universe of "Earth-97" as opposed to Batman '89's "Earth-89". On Twitter, Joe Quinones revealed that the story "loosely takes place in the mid-nineties."
The book's first issue garnered generally positive reviews from critics. Syfy Wire's Matthew Jackson wrote: "This is more than a tribute. It's a bold reimagining and a killer exercise in worldbuilding on Hamm's part, bolstered by Quinones' pitch perfect art." Toussaint Egan of Polygon praised the book's "multifaceted depiction of people of color". John Saavedra of Den of Geek stated: "[I]ssue one is a promising start for a modern reinvention of the Burtonverse." Bleeding Cool dubbed the book "pitch perfect", rating it 8.5 out of 10; it also topped the site's Bestseller List. Screen Rant stated that Batman '89 proves that casting actor Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face (in 1995's Batman Forever) was "a mistake".
- Stone, Sam (August 11, 2021). "Batman '89 Rejects the Dark Knight's '90s Movies With a New Twist on Batgirl". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on 2021-08-11. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
- "First Look: Step Back Into the Gotham City of Tim Burton's Seminal Classic 'Batman' movies!". DC Comics. DC Comics. July 15, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
- Batman '89 Vol. 1 #1–5. DC Comics.
- Whitbrook, James (February 17, 2021). "Behold the Batman '89 Comic That DC Rejected Because They Hate Joy". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on February 16, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
- Mueller, Matthew (March 9, 2016). "Batman '89 Series Would Have Picked Up Where Tim Burton Left Off". Yahoo!. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
- Huver, Scott (June 27, 2019). "How the 1989 'Batman' Movie Forever Changed the Comic Book Character". CNN. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
- Betancourt, David (August 10, 2021). "Tim Burton Never Got to Make More Batman Movies. This New Comic Is the Next Best Thing". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
- Schedeen, Jesse (February 16, 2021). "Batman '89 and Superman '78: Classic DC Movie Universes Return as Comics". IGN. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
- Stone, Sam (August 11, 2021). "Batman '89 Rejects the Dark Knight's '90s Movies With a New Twist on Batgirl". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
- @Joe_Quinones (June 30, 2021). "That said, our story loosely takes place in the mid-nineties" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- BATMAN '89 #1
- BATMAN '89 #2
- BATMAN '89 #3
- BATMAN '89 #4
- Jackson, Matthew (August 11, 2021). "Comics Wire: Making Sense of Substack's Creator-owned BET; Free Comic Book Day; Batman '89; and More!". Syfy. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
- Egan, Toussaint (August 10, 2021). "DC's Batman '89 Comic Shows a Face of Harvey Dent We've Never Seen Before". Polygon. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
- Saavedra, John (August 10, 2021). "Batman '89: What Happened Next in the Burtonverse After Batman Returns". Den of Geek. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
- Tabu, Hannibal (August 15, 2021). "Batman '89 #1 Review: Pitch-Perfect". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
- Johnston, Rich (August 15, 2021). "Batman '89 Tops Bleeding Cool Bestseller List". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
- Isaak, Joshua (August 15, 2021). "Batman '89 Proves Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face Was a Mistake". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 16, 2021.