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The Wednesday Waffle Issue #25: Nostalgia in Comics!

Hello! It's Wednesday, which means it's New Comic Book Day, which means that although you can't come into the shop and browse the rack, we do have a rack, and you can browse it virtually HERE.

So. First of all, apologies for the lack of a Waffle last week. It was an editorial decision. We wrote a long, heartfelt piece about so-called "cancel culture", the decision that Disney took to fire Mandolorian actress Gina Carano, and the accusations of abusive behaviour levelled against writer/director Joss Weadon by former Buffy and Angel star Charisma Carpenter, who was then backed up by other cast members.

In the end we pulled what we'd written. We'd stand by it - no, let's not hide behind the third person here - I would stand by what I wrote - but having written it, I was struck by how little it added to the discussion. It's a subject that needs discussion and nuance, and I hope we'll get to it in a future Geeks at the Gates conversation, but the musings of yet another middle aged white bloke wouldn't have added anything meaningful to the discussion and so I decided not to bother you all with my opinions.

So we skipped a week, rather than post something pointless.

This week we have something lighter for you - the return of two much loved versions of equally loved characters. Yes, both Michael Keaton's Batman and Christopher Reeve's Superman are coming back!

We've reported before on rumours that Keaton will be reprising the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in future Batman movies. There's an obvious reason why Reeve isn't able to do the same, but we're not talking about a movie project. No, it's better than that - both Superman '78 and Batman '89 are coming back to comics!

In many ways it's curious that this has taken so long. We've had several runs of the Adam West/Burt Ward versions of Batman and Robin in the Batman '66 comics, and Linda Carter's Wonder Woman '77 has also had a couple of successful runs in the comics. Given the popularity of both Reeve and Keaton's versions of their characters (let's not mince words here - Christopher Reeve is the best on-screen Superman and Michael Keaton is the best on-screen Batman. You're free to disagree on this, but you'll be wrong...) it seems strange that DC have waited this long to cash in, but they're making up for lost time now!

Superman '78 will be set between Superman and Superman II - which makes sense, because they are the two genuinely good Superman films. Superman III is good fun, but doesn't really hold up all that well and frankly, the less said about Superman IV the better. Besides, it's a genuinely interesting time in the development of this version of the character.

This is a time when Superman is still new and the good people of Metropolis are still amazed by his abilities. Lois Lane still hasn't learned that Clark Kent, her bumbling colleague at the Daily Planet is in fact the Man of Steel. It's a time before Zod, a time that offers opportunities for series writer Rob Venditti to draw from the optimistic style of Richard Donner's original movie. Together with artist Wilfedo Torres will help us to believe that a man can fly.

Now. That's exciting enough. After the grimdarkness of Henry Cavill's portrayal* (to be seen again soon in the Snyder cut of Justice League) it's refreshing to see Superman becoming a symbol of optimism and everything that's good about America again. After the last few years, I think we could all do with some of that.

Batman '89 looks like an even more exciting project though. Sam Hamm - who penned both of Keaton's outings as Batman - is coming back to continue the story he and Director Tim Burton started more than thirty years ago. In effect, we're getting the sequel to Batman Returns we deserved, diverging from the continuity of the two Schumacher movies (that we will not speak of here).

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman

For me - and I suspect a lot of BatFans my age - that's the best news I've had all year. The possibilities are huge - we could see more of Michelle Pfiefer's Catwoman, perhaps some development of her relationship with Batman, as well as the transformation of Billy Dee Williams' Harvey Dent into Two-Face (and anything that might dislodge the memory of Tommy Lee Jones' performance in that role can only be a good thing), perhaps even the debut of a Robin and a Batgirl that are more suited to Tim Burton's vision than the ones we got in the Schumacher films.

The possibilities are literally endless!

The first six chapters of Superman '78 and Batman '89 will be released as "digital first" books on 27th July, with new chapters of each book being released weekly for the subsequent six weeks. That adds up to the rough equivalent of six issues of each comic if they were to be released as regular single issues. It looks as though there won't be monthly versions of these stories though, with DC choosing to go straight from "digital" to "hardcover collection" with Batman '89 slated for release in October 2021 and Superman '78 following in November 2021. I hate to use the "C" word so early in the year, but they seem like they'll make great Christmas gifts.

After the trials and tribulations of 2020, and the less than ideal start we've all had to 2021 I'm really looking forward to settling down to wallow in some warm and cosy nostalgia. If they launched a comic book series based on the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and I'll be in seventh heaven!

*To my way of thinking Cavill's version of Superman, which I suspect has more to do with David S. Goyer and Zack Snyder than it does Cavill himself, is a fundamental mis-reading of the character. I know many of you like it, and that's fine, but to me he's just not Superman.