Jeff Parker Talks Lord Death Man And ‘Batman ’66’ [Interview]
If you've been wondering why I've been a little more excited lately, why bird songs are a little sweeter or why food tastes a little better, it's because the latest storyline of DC's digital-first Batman '66 comic has involved Batman and Batgirl heading to Japan to take on Lord Death Man.
Jeff Parker, Sandy Jarrell and Jordie Bellaire have done a pretty amazing job creating story that I wish would've happened on television, but giving it the unlimited budget for stuff like a new Japanese Batmobile and an army of ninjas, and it's pretty great. To get some insight into just how it all happened, I spoke to Parker for his thoughts on bringing in other period-specific villains, why Lord Death Man is so much more exciting than his original American counterpart, and ideas for other non-Gotham location that could use a visit from the Caped Crusaders!
ComicsAlliance: The original Death Man story ran in the American Detective Comics, but Jiro Kuwata's manga version seems to have become the one that everyone prefers. Why do you think that is?
Jeff Parker: He’s got a very mythical quality about him because he’s so shrouded in mystery. He seems to be able to die and come back, and he haunts his foes’ dreams. And let’s face, it’s just enjoyable to say “Lord Death Man.” Sandy Jarrell really did a fantastic job at keeping his look and getting across the 60s feel that the book uses. Lord Death Man is fun and scary at the same time.
CA: My favorite episode as a kid was the one where the team went to Londinium, so I've always had a soft spot for getting those characters out of Gotham. In the comics, you've done Londinium and now Japan, so are there any other locations you'd like to go to?
JP: Mexico! But of course, what villain could they possibly meet by going there? It’s a neck scratcher. I am also a huge fan of the hero traveling and making an ‘official visit’ to another country.
CA: What do you look at for inspiration on Batman '66's version of Japan? Speed Racer? You Only Live Twice?
JP: Those certainly did get in there somewhat, but one of the main things Sandy and I discussed was that this story could swerve into Studio Ghibli territory and feel a bit like a Miyazaki film once we get into Lord Death Man’s lair. Visually it’s beautiful for that, Jordie Bellaire really knew how to treat that in color designing.
CA: Are there any other characters from the mid-60s that never made it on the show that you've been wanting to try your hand at putting in there? I've always been surprised Poison Ivy never made it on.
JP: Well it’s funny you say that, I’ve thought the same thing. I’m pretty certain that if they had more of a budget to do giant moving plants, she would have been right in there. I guess we’ll just have to take it the rest of the way, which is kind of the role of the book.
CA: Over the course of the series, we've seen a few more notable faces added to Gotham City, with Dr. Holly Quinn and Killer Croc showing up in the King Tut story. We talked a little bit about that before, but it seems like that's something that you're coming back to more and more.
JP: Yes, and I’m excited to see that readers are getting fired up about it. It fleshes out the TV series even further, and it’s a really intriguing exercise to engage in. How might these characters have been handled in an ideal world where the show went on and had an unlimited budget for cast and effects? It’s as fun to make as it is to read.
Batman '66, Chapter 55 will be available this Wednesday on Comixology, as well as on the DC Comics app and via other digital retailers. Here's the official description: