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.
Title: Superman: Earth One
Author: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Shane Davis
Publisher: DC Comics
Release date: October 27, 2010
Europeans and North Americans both enjoy their comic books, but both enjoy them in an entirely different way. Where in here in North America we get a monthly 22-page fix for each series, and sometimes many 22-page fixes for popular characters (ex. Batman, Wolverine, Deadpool, Superman), European comics mostly come in larger hardbound copies with a much higher page count, but at a greatly reduced pace. Europeans deal more in graphic novels as opposed to pamphlet style floppy monthly comics. Europeans also enjoy the North American style as they import plenty of the books, but when you travel on the metro in Paris or on the tube in London, you are more likely to see someone with their nose in a graphic album of some sort.
I’ve always looked at this difference two ways. The North American way is more like instant gratification and more about profit, which is North America to a tee; while the European way has higher page counts but forces their readers to be more patient between “issues”, costs less in the long run, and they get books/stories with a higher creative value because it doesn’t have the same limits as the 22-page book. I’ve always felt that patience is something Europeans have had more of than North Americans do, but anyways…DC Comics has decided that it’s time to really try out the graphic novel approach. Don’t get me wrong…there have been many done-in-one graphic novels from DC in the past like Brian Azzarello’s Joker, or Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke, but now DC has decided to launch an original graphic novel line with some of their top talent committing to a few years of just doing these books. This past week saw the release of the very first one of these OGN’s, with J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis’ Superman: Earth One.
There have been many Superman origin stories in print over the last few years. This one was quite new in places but also had many familiar moments as well. This is a Clark Kent whose father died before he donned the costume, and a Clark Kent who was never Superboy. This is really a “movie style” Superman origin story, and that is fine by me. J. Michael Straczynski is a movie/television writer at heart, and he gave us a fantastic Superman origin and first adventure book. The difference between the origin in this story and other origin stories, is that JMS doesn’t try and get the whole thing in this one story. Clark is still learning, and really doesn’t know much at all yet. He just put on the costume that his mother made for him out of his old blankets and helped save the world when he was needed.
This graphic novel is the first of at least two planned by this creative team. The plan is to release one every six months, so hopefully these guys take a bit further and bring us at least 3 or 4 in total. And Superman isn’t the only one being given the OGN treatment. DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, along with the amazing Gary Frank, will tackle Batman in the same fashion in the coming months. No word on if these books will tie into each other, but hopefully they don’t, and they just tell their own stories in the same fashion that movies do. At a cover price of $20US and $24CAN, this is probably the best deal out there in terms of page count. This OGN was 136 pages of story and art without a single advertisement for a toy or a video game. That’s less than 20cents a page folks!
I was so impressed with this thing and the actual execution of it, that I’ll definitely be back for Superman Earth One #2 as well as the Batman OGN’s down the line. Cheers to DC for taking the plunge into the direct OGN market in ways that they have never committed to it before. Hopefully this will spur-on Marvel to do the same thing. Don’t you want a Captain America OGN by Ed Brubaker and Dale Eaglesham or maybe an Iron Man OGN by Matt Fraction and Adi Granov? I know I do, even though those books are still only in my dreams J .
What did you guys think? Is the Europe-ification of our graphic novels a blessing…or is it a betrayal to our core comic book reading style of the 22-page floppy? Did JMS and Shane Davis succeed or was this just another rehash of the Superman origin mythos? Who else do you want to see get the “Earth One” treatment? Sound off in our awesome comments section below J .
Title: Batman #700
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Tony Daniel, David Finch, Andy Kubert, and Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics
Release date: June 9, 2010
Another big time comic book reached a milestone issue number this month, and that book was the adjective-less Batman title, which hit the big number 700. This landmark issue makes Batman one of the longest running titles in all of comic book history. The book featured a sweet cover by David Finch, and also featured the return of Grant Morrison to these pages for the first time in over a year. Morrison has been making “Batman & Robin” his sole Batman story telling outlet.
The issue featured four separate but inter-related stories from four separate eras of Batman’s career. The first story, titled “Yesterday” features a tale starring the original Batman, Bruce Wayne, with art by current Batman writer/artist Tony Daniel. The second story “Today” features a story with Dick Grayson, the current Batman, and art by oft-Morrison collaborator Frank Quitely. The third story, “Tomorrow” features Damian Wayne as the caped crusader in the not too distant future. A future that was first investigated by Morrison and Andy Kubert back in Batman #666. Kubert returns to pencil this cool little tale. Last but not least, issue #700 also features a glimpse of various Batmen from the future such as Terry McGinnis, aka Batman Beyond, a Batman from a post-apocalyptic era, and a Batman from a Utopia-like society. All with gorgeous art by David Finch. The issue is then topped off with a pin-up gallery featuring pieces by Shane Davis, Juan Doe, Dustin Nguyen, Guillem March, Tim Sale, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Philip Tan. All in all it was a very packed anniversary issue, but that’s okay. Nothing is better than really getting a big bang for your buck with these special issues.
The story that runs through the book was really an interconnected time travel story wherein each part of the issue tied into the other parts via the overall meta-story. Some things about a particular case from when Batman and Robin were Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson seem off. Bruce is not able to understand why everything happened in the way that it did. The case they were working seemed to have some holes. Some of those holes are worked out in the next story, and even more comes to light with each successive story. This is Grant Morrison doing what he does best. At first the story was confusing me, but it made more and more sense as I went on. By the end, I really loved this book J !
As a single issue, this is totally accessible to the fair-weather fan of Batman. We get a 30 page story with a bunch of pin-ups and a few sweet diagrams of the current incarnation of the Bat-Cave for only $5, and in today’s comic book landscape, that is in fact a deal. I would go so far as to say that this is one of the Top 5 Batman issues by Mr. Morrison. EVERYONE SHOULD CHECK IT OUT! What did you all think? Sound off below in our handy comments section J .