At the Time Warner Center, on the eve before New York Comic Con, Kia and DC Entertainment unveiled a Batman-inspired Kia Optima sporting a design based on the art of DC co-publisher Jim Lee. The car is the first of eight customized Kias inspired by Lee's renditions of the core members of the Justice League, all of which will be rolled out over the next 10 months at comic-cons and auto shows across the U.S., including the 2012 SEMA Show and the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. The cars will be auctioned off to raise funds for the We Can Be Heroes campaign to fight hunger in Africa.
Finished in matte black with piano black bat silhouettes and yellow LED lighting accents, the Batman Optima features a performance exhaust system, bespoke 20-inch black alloys and Ksport brakes offering larger rotors and calipers, along with improved stopping power and custom-designed 20-inch wheels. It has lowered suspension using a coilover system and sports a "muscular"ground effects kit.
Along with large bat silhouettes on across the doors, the car screams "Batman" thanks to the custom bat wing-shaped front grill that took over 40 hours to complete while the HID headlights sport integrated bat signals. Inside, the seats are fitted with custom black leather and suede, decorated by bat-symbols in yellow stitching. The center console holds multiple batarangs.
Not enough Batman in it for you? Don't worry. The rear windshield features a stencil of Batman artwork by Jim Lee and the trunk contains a bat-suit, complete with cowl. All of this combines to create a car that's just a step away from the Batmobile. Perhaps fittingly, it isn't street legal.
Explaining how he became involved in the car's design, Jim Lee said, "It was presented to me as, 'Hey, we're doing this cool thing with Kia and we need an artist to help out -- do you have any suggestions on who we can contact?' And I said, 'What? I'll do it!' I'm way into cars, I go to auto blogs and check out all different cars. So to me, this was a great way of reaching new audiences. And it's a great way to help the We Can Be Heroes campaign and get more people to be aware of it."
As for how the customized Kias will differ from each other, Lee made it clear that this was all worked out. "Every car has a personality. We died our best to mix and match. This is probably the most technologically advanced of the cars, which falls into Batman's wheelhouse. Ultimately, we just had fun with it and it's so different from anything else I've done. If I were drawing this for a comic book, I'd normally put in more engines! At the end of the day, you don't want to go too crazy with comic book design on it because then it goes too far. Superman and Batman get top of the line models. The Green Lantern one will try to capture the energy of the character and the ring. There will also be an all-Justice League one."
Finally, when asked if readers should expect to see Batman going on patrol with his new Kia in the pages of the comics, Lee answered with a good-natured laugh, "It'd be hard to keep the secret identity if Bruce Wayne were driving this around Gotham!"