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Batman: Earth One (Batman (DC Comics)) Hardcover – July 4, 2012
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In the world of superhero comics, there remains one origin above all others, no matter how many times it is retold: an alley, a family, a gun, and a criminal, Batman's origin is as terrifying as they come. Today, Geoff Johns, superstar scribe and DC's Chief Creative Officer, leaves a notable mark on the character by taking it in a new direction in Batman: Earth One, a re-imagining of the Batman mythos from the ground floor. To celebrate the book's release day, Geoff Johns answered a few questions about his version of Batman's origin, and he provided two exclusive pages to the new graphic novel (available after the jump).
Omnivoracious.com: Batman: Earth One puts a modern-day spin on Batman's origin. What facets of Batman (and Bruce Wayne) did you focus on modernizing?
Geoff Johns: I think the image on the cover says it all--we wanted to see his eyes. Most of the time, Batman's eyes are white in the comics. We wanted to make this more about a flawed, vulnerable, troubled young guy who is on an arguably insane mission of revenge. So I'm not sure it's modernizing so much as humanizing. Gary and I pulled everything back. He's not the Batman who can tear about 30 S.W.A.T. team members without breaking a sweat. He's not the Batman who has invented a Batmobile. There is no Batmobile. He's got a car with tinted windows. He hasn't even thought of the idea of a Batmobile yet. You see in the very first pages what he carries in his utility belt.
It's more about Bruce than Batman. And his journey parallels a lot of the other main characters in the series—once you survive a tragedy someone else hasn’t, where does your life go? How does that affect you? One character in particular has given up. This is about learning to never give up.
Omni: What sets Batman: Earth One apart from any other "early" Bat-tales, such as Year One and The Long Halloween?
Geoff Johns: Batman's not the best as what he does. Alfred's relationship with Bruce, Bruce's mother, Bruce's mission, the cops, Gotham's streets, the secret in the basement, the red dirt and the police man from Los Angeles. It's just a different take on the character.
Omni: What Batman characters were you particularly excited about modernizing?
Geoff Johns: Alfred and the police. Their stories will speak for themselves, I think.
Omni: While you've written Batman in Justice League, this is your first time writing him in a solo story. What would you say is the most important part to understanding the Dark Knight?
Geoff Johns: Understanding Bruce. I think, unfortunately, we all understand loss. And this is loss at its very core. A boy and his parents. How you fill that bottomless pit inside you is a bit of a fruitless journey. But Bruce comes to a very big revelation within the story that ultimately changes what Batman is to him and, I think, us.
Omni: What differed in writing a solo Batman story as opposed to writing him as part of an ensemble?
Geoff Johns: I absolutely loved working with Gary on this because of the singular universe. We built everything from the ground up without having to worry about other stories or other takes on the characters. It could be all ours to re-imagine. And with the page count. We were able to tell our whole story, dive deeper into the characters and create a stand alone graphic novel series starring an entirely new Batman.
Omni: You've worked with Gary Frank before on Superman: Secret Origin and Superman: Brainiac, amongst other superhero-centric graphic novels. What is it about his style that continues this working relationship?
Geoff Johns: Gary does emotion like no one else can. The subtleties in what Gary's art conveys, along with the power, mystery, strength and drama, it's unmatched. Our styles mesh very well together. Every single project we've ever worked on together has turned out greater than I could've imagined. Gary Frank is a true master of his craft, graphic storytelling and character. He brings as much soul to the story as he does to the art and Batman: Earth One would not have worked without him.
- ASIN : 1401232086
- Publisher : DC Comics; First Edition (July 4, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 144 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781401232085
- ISBN-13 : 978-1401232085
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.9 x 0.4 x 10.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #175,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The Earth One tales are a good idea, a soft self-contained reboot of sorts meant to update some of DC's key characters by giving writers some freedom in declaring this an alternate universe. But the general point of these seems to be (1) to make the characters more grounded/realistic, and (2) diverge from that character's "canon" in interesting ways.
But Batman Earth One kind of fails on both points. Superman Earth One, for example, was a good idea because casual readers struggle to relate to Superman because he is invulnerable and irreproachable. So making him more human (and kind of a jerk) worked there. Batman, on the other hand, has traditionally been the ultimate human, but fully human, and often one of the more relatable DC characters. Origin stories from Frank Miller's Year One to Scott Snyder's Zero Year all emphasize the trial-and-error, rough aspect of Batman's beginnings. So making him even more "real" in this story essentially meant making him incompetent. It was going too far in a direction that's already been explored, but to an extreme where it was unenjoyable. This Batman is not struggling and mastering skills, he's just tough, angry, and blundering through walls (literally and figuratively).
As to the second point, this story diverges from the canon, but not nearly enough to be interesting. There are threads of ideas that are new (like Batman's Arkham lineage and the Penguin as someone tied into Batman's family) but don't actually lead anywhere significant. Things like a tough, belligerent Alfred are a departure, but not in a way that has a huge effect on who Batman is. In other words, it doesn't actually depart enough from the canon to make this worthwhile. Bullock? Instead of being fat? He's thin. Alfred? Remember how he was nice. He's mean!
If you're going back to the well of Batman's origins, you have to do more than that. Ultimately, I thought Batman Earth One played it too safe and did nothing to warrant yet another beginning for Batman. It has great artwork, which is why I move it up to 3 stars. But otherwise, I don't think this is worth most readers' time.
As I've stated recently in my reviews for New 52 Green Lantern, I'm just starting to read stuff written by Geoff Johns. Until GL volume 1, I wasn't familiar with his work at all. Three of the last four things I've read have all been written by him. I'm really fond of what I'm seeing so far. I liked seeing a different version of Batman for a little while. I don't think I'd enjoy the story as much if it was told in our universe, but for an Elseworlds story it works great. Story gets 4 stars.
Overall rating would be 4.5 stars.
This isn't something I'd recommend to a lot of people. If you're only a casual comic reader and are wanting a title to pick up because you're interested in reading some of Batman's adventures, this is not the book for you. On the other hand, if you're a Batman fan and want to see Bruce and the rest of his supporting cast in a different light , by all means, pick this up. You will not be disappointed
Top reviews from other countries
Geoff Johns has created an amazing origin for the Caped Crusader and the artwork brings the characters vividly to life. This is a great introduction to the Batman in comic form.
As to writing, it is very well produced. Rather than being split into issues it is just one big story which flows from start to finish in such an enthralling way that you can't put it down. I read volumes 1-2 in the same afternoon as I just wanted to know what was going to happen. I am not sure when volume 3 and on wards will come out, or if there will be but fingers crossed.
Bruce Wayne's parents were killed by an unknown murderer and Bruce was raised by his parents' faithful friend Alfred. When he becomes a man he decides to hunt down his parents' killer and bring him to justice while wearing a suit designed to terrify. He will become - the Batman. Sound familiar? Well that's where the similarities end and where "Earth One" takes off.
Bruce Wayne is figuring out how to be Batman but he's having a lot of problems. He's finding out how to manoeuver in the suit, he has troubles with the grappling hook, his footing on Gotham's rooftops is clumsy, and he's amateurish in all the ways Batman is perfect in other books such as fighting, subterfuge, and detective work. It's refreshing to see he's not so good at being Batman as he is in other books.
There are lots of other changes too with less focus on the gentle butler aspect of Alfred and more on the retired SAS/hard man side, Bullock is a complete 180 from who you'd expect, and Gordon's legendary bravery and dedication to the job is entirely absent here.
In short, the Gotham presented in "Earth One" is a scarier, more uncertain place because so much of what makes it appear safer in other Batman books is missing - GCPD are corrupt and Batman is useless. But that's what makes this book stand out, because it's a fresh take on Batman and reads like a more exciting book because of it.
Gary Frank does a fantastic job as always with the artwork, all of his books - most of them with Geoff Johns - look amazing and he does no less than his usual stellar job with this book. His Batman Earth One suit design is particularly good but every page looks gorgeous.
Johns does a fine job of setting up this new world and putting this new Batman on track to discovering all of the famous villains in his rogues gallery all over again with the added possibility that they will be different because this isn't regular Batman, this is "Earth One" Batman. I for one found this to be one of the best Batman books I've read in ages and am thrilled at the prospect of reading future books in this series.