Title: Batman Earth One vol. 1
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics
Release date: July 2012
Verdict: Top Marks!
With the release of Christopher Nolan’s final piece of his epic Batman trilogy, it seems like everyone is talking about Batman these days. Just less than a year ago, DC Comics relaunched all of their titles, including Batman, with new number one issues. Things were “fresh” for a new generation of readers…or at least that was the tagline. In fact, things were still very much as they were. The real freshness comes from this brand new graphic novel. Wherein Christopher Nolan and his crew gave us a fresh Batman in his movie series, so has Geoff Johns and Gary Frank in this new graphic novel series.
The Batman/Bruce Wayne that we’ve seen on screen three times over the last 7 years was different from the versions that came before and was also different from its comic book predecessor. That’s also the story for this new Batman. It’s a new mythology, a different Bruce Wayne, a different Gotham, a different Alfred; but, in a good way, it all still feels nice and familiar. In this new universe/interpretation, just like before, Bruce loses his parents to gun violence outside of a movie theatre. The big difference is that Bruce’s father, Thomas Wayne, is running for mayor against the corrupt Oswald Cobblepot. When Thomas is gunned down, the best bet on who ordered it was Cobblepot. An important difference in this new world is that Oswald is not “the Penguin” in the same way he is in the mainline DCU. His features aren’t as exaggerated, but he is very much the same kind of mob boss he is in the DCU.
On this Earth One, Bruce’s mother is a scion of the Arkham family. This actually makes Bruce the “heir” to both the Wayne and Arkham legacies. This is actually an important fact, as when Bruce takes up the cowl, Alfred worries that he may actually be mentally ill. Is it just the fact that his parents were killed in front of him that turns him into the Bat, or is his mother’s family history of mental illness also to blame?
Alfred is very different in this universe as well. He is a former ‘war buddy’ of Thomas Wayne’s’, and is brought to Gotham by Thomas to work as his personal security, as Thomas doesn’t really trust the people that surround him. Gotham is a dangerous place afterall. Suffice it to say, Alfred is not the familiar family butler we all know. Right after he is introduced, Thomas takes the family to the movies, and from here, the inevitable happens. Gun shots ring out. Pearls fall to the street. A small boy’s life is changed forever, and a Dark Knight is born. After all is said and done, Bruce is remanded into the care of Alfred, as Thomas and Martha intended should something unforeseen happen. Alfred is taken aback as he is not father material (in his own mind), but from that point on he becomes Bruce’s ‘butler’.
This story shows us a new-ish origin and a different Bruce from what we’ve seen before. He is an angry man who takes on the cowl to deal with his anger. It’s not about saving everyone and stopping crime forever; it’s more about his rage. His training is not like the cartoon or the regular comics; he’s not even a detective yet. It’s really just the beginning. But it sets up a promising future. Alfred is a former royal marine who will teach Bruce what he can in terms of fighting and tactics. Word from Geoff Johns is that the next volume will see Bruce learning to become the world’s greatest detective. All in all, I’m excited for more Earth One stories. With a creative team like Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, who have brought us books like Superman: Secret Origin and an awesome run on Action Comics, we are in for a treat. Now if they could only get on the schedule they originally set (one of these every 6 months to a year), I’d be as happy as can be.
So, what did you all think? Was it better than J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis’ Superman Earth One? Was it better than Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight movies? Let us know by sounding off in our comments section below.