Batman ’89: Shadows was actually the first written collaboration between Neuverse Creative and me, even though Batman ’89: Case of the Chemical Syndicate was completed and released first. This came about as I had been a big fan of Tim Maxwell and his team’s work with other Batman projects on Neuverse Creative and wondered if they would adapt the comic. Not only that, but I also wondered what it would be like if I had adapted the comic.
After talking it over with Tim, I took a shot at writing the audio adaptation, with the idea of it being a streamlined version of the overall story from the comic. Given that this was an audio drama, certain aspects had to be changed. For example, Joe Quinones had a ton of fantastic visual Easter Eggs in the comic, but this would be difficult to translate over audio. So I instead added Easter Eggs in the narration and dialogue.
What follows is my commentary and breakdown of these Easter Eggs as well as the changes:
“But at the Janus restaurant, there were two people who weren’t so worried about ghosts and goblins.” This, of course, is a reference to Harvey’s line in the 1989 film, “Mr. Knox, we have enough problems in this city without worrying about ghosts or goblins.”
“On the rooftop far above, stone gargoyles gazed down, keeping watch of the crime. One of the gargoyles…moved.” Patreon patron Slight Rebellion Off Madison commented that he noticed this connection, but this is a pull from the script for Batman 1989, originally written by Sam Hamm. Here’s the script excerpt from the shooting script
“ STONE GARGOYLES gaze down from their shadowy rooftops.
Mom’s SCREAM (uninterrupted from the previous scene)
ECHOES up. And one of the GARGOYLES MOVES.”
A great narrative line that I wanted to bring to life here.
“I promised I’d make this city safe for decent people.” is of course a reference to Harvey’s line in 1989 in his speech that he’d make the “city safe for decent people.”
You may notice that certain beats have been shifted around in a different order. Here, Bruce dreams about reuniting with Selina early in the story, to establish his yearning for her, even though it doesn’t happen until issue 3 in the series. Also Harvey’s phone call to Barbara from his car as well as his visit to Mr. Otis’s shop in issue 1 have been combined with his meeting with Barbara in the park and his meeting with Drake in issue 2. This was deliberate as I wanted to keep the focus in the beginning on Batman/Bruce and push Harvey’s scenes with the others until later.
I wanted to bring the audience more into Batman’s connection with Gordon, so I included a flashback of Gordon comforting Bruce after the deaths of his parents, as well as Batman saying, “Thank you.”
Since Bruce references Harvey Dent’s speech when talking to the Council, I thought it was important for him to actually watch Harvey’s speech on TV in the Batcave. So I added that into the Batcave scene, with that replacing “Dr. Q.”
Catwoman only says, “Hi Honey!” in the comic but I added the “I’m home” as a subtle reference to her, “Honey, I’m home…I forgot I’m not married” in Batman Returns.
In hindsight, the full line should have been, “Honey, I’m home…oh, I forgot, we’re not married.” Dammit..
Catwoman’s line “I think fires are romantic, don’t you?” comes from a later scene in the comic, but it was moved to her first scene with Bruce in the alley, as I thought it would fit the end of this scene and because that later scene was cut for time.
I thought it was important to have Bruce and Harvey interact more after Harvey’s accident in Part 2 and before Batman sees him as Two-Face later on. So I combined both characters’ scenes with Barbara so that all three of them were in the room together with Bruce telling Harvey directly about flying him out for the operation. Bruce would also tragically witness Harvey’s coin flipping here, with no idea how the coin would be used against him later in their alter egos.
For the sake of time, Bullock’s role got combined with the detective who informs Barbara that Harvey escaped the hospital (which was Sam Hamm’s cameo). Since most of Bullock’s other scenes were cut, including his attack on the protesters, this renders the Neuverse version of Bullock as a more traditional take on the character rather than the more corrupt version in the comic.
I thought it was important for Jerome Otis to see Two-Face in action, so I added him and the community leaders present when Harvey attacks the police station. I also added a reaction from Batman on seeing what his friend has become.
Two-Face’s monologue in the opening page of issue 6 nearly made it into the script, but I decided to cut it for time as it went on too long and made you wonder why Batman would let him talk so long when you heard it in audio form.
Two-Face killing Carmine Falcone was also nearly in the script, but I decided to cut it as it was yet another actor to cast for a scene that wasn’t entirely necessary.
One of the biggest changes I made was this exchange:
Last Christmas, I was wrong. We’re not the same, Selina. I hoped we were, but we’re not. I’m not a killer.
Not a killer? Please. I heard what you did to the Joker. The Red Triangle Circus. Penguin-
Maybe I was but not anymore. I can’t be. If there’s anything I’ve learned from you, it’s that.
This Selina and Bruce dialogue I added to the finale is my favorite addition, personally, and the part that I listen to over and over again when performed by Angela and Josh. The original comic had Bruce say that they weren’t the same and that he’s not a killer, but Catwoman calling out the hypocrisy, the references to the previous films, and Bruce affirming their differences came from me.
It felt so pivotal to me for Bruce’s arc and would feel like something that the previous films were leading up to.
Ever since learning that Joker killed his parents, he’s been consumed by vengeance until he meets Selina in Returns, her vendetta against Shreck, and sees her as a reflection of him- that they’re “the same. Split right down the center.” It shakes him and I see Shadows as an existential period of him questioning himself and his effectiveness (with his best friend hunting him, him blaming himself for Nyesha’s father’s death, Drake challenging him), until witnessing Selina murder Two-Face causes him to take a stand on who he wants to be.
While Drake’s “Avenging Eagle” joke was kinda fun, I thought it’d be better for audio listeners to hear the confirmation that he was Robin, since they didn’t have a visual of his costume to confirm it, outside of the thumbnails.
The comic and the audio drama end in an ambiguous way with Bruce flipping the coin to decide whether to go out as Batman. Since I wasn’t completely sure whether there’d be a continuation, I originally wrote a more definitive narration stating that Bruce would go out as Batman:
“But before he could see the result, the Bat Signal came on. It reflected off the mirrored lenses on the roof of Wayne Manor, bathing Bruce in the light. It didn’t matter what the coin said. He was ready to follow Drake’s advice. He was ready to think bigger. Now with Harvey Dent gone, someone else needed to inspire the people of this city. Gotham would need both Bruce Wayne. And Batman.”
I even recorded my narration of this. However, the sequel, Batman 89 Echoes, was announced with a description saying that Batman had disappeared. This implied to me that Bruce actually decided not to go out as Batman after the coin flip. Since it was looking likely that we’d release this before the first issue of Echoes, I asked Tim to cut my ending and end the drama with Bruce’s coin flip, which I think worked really well.
We don’t have inside knowledge on what Batman 89 Echoes has in store, but I can confirm that we’ll collaborate again to bring it to life through another audio drama!