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Customer Review

74 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Side to the Dark Knight, July 10, 2012
This review is from: Batman: Earth One (Hardcover)
The origin story of Batman has been told countless times. In "Batman: Earth One," superstar writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank take a stab at telling an entirely new and unique take on the Dark Knight's beginning...and the result is stellar.

The Batman that we all know and love from the movies and comics is already a fully-fledged badass, taking on the worst that Gotham has to offer and always coming out on top...but was he always this way? Surely Batman must have had a few setbacks on his climb from hero to super-hero...right? This is the story that Johns and Frank set out to tell, reminiscent of Frank Miller's wildly popular and best-selling, "Batman: Year One."

Now, before any Bruce Wayne / Batman purists get all up-in-arms over the tinkering with the widely-known and cemented origin story of the Caped Crusader, know that Earth One is intended as an alternate story-line to the Batman mythos...similar to the best-selling, "Superman: Earth One," told by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Shane Davis.

In fact, Johns has stated that he hopes to continue with this alternate story in future - self-contained - graphic novels, outside of the main story arcs presented by the monthly issues published by DC Comics.

What is immediately striking about Johns' and Frank's version of the Bat's origin story, is the sheer number of liberties taken with the established mythos and characters in that universe. Yes, Bruce Wayne's parents are still killed and his journey begins with a desire to hunt down the murderer(s)...however, everyone from Alfred the Butler (a totally different take), Commissioner Gordon (before he's made a name for himself), Barbara Gordon, Oswald Cobblepot (aka: "The Penguin") and Lucius Fox are re-invented (to a degree) in terms of the genesis of their relationship with Batman.

However, I can't tell you how satisfying it was when Johns' and Frank brought everything together in the end...of which, I'll allow you discover on your own. All at the same time, these relationships remain very familiar - but simply told in a different way - in a way that establishes and even solidifies how Batman came to attract such allies and their loyalty.

Another thing that struck me and immediately set the tone for what I might expect from the remainder of the book, was found in the first few pages. Batman is chasing a baddie down, only to have his famous grapnel hook fail on him by back-firing and then later missing a ledge while attempting to jump from one building to another - a feat he normally does with absolute ease - only to fall helplessly to the ground on his back into a pile of garbage (letting out a very non-Batman, "Ow") and the "perp" gets away.

Shortly following his failure (and likely because of it), Batman comes across a robbery in progress...and instead of dishing out the usual ass-whopping we are accustomed to, he walks away! It is this uncertainty - so antithetical to the confident Batman we know - that it is almost shocking. Even seeing Batman drive a normal (non-Batmobile) car while referring to a map of Gotham, threw me for a loop!

The reader is continually asked to keep in mind that this story is of the earliest days of the Dark Knight, when he is growing into his own at the very beginning of his road to becoming a legend.

Throughout the book, Bruce Wayne is an angry, impetuous, arrogant and almost careless protagonist. It is clear that he is primarily motivated and focused on solving the murder of his parents and has had given little thought or desire to be the crime fighter and last hope of Gotham that he will eventually become.

In fact, it is during the course of taking down a serial killer who preys on young girls (a pretty dark and gruesome part of the story), that Bruce finally seems to understand the true evil that lurks in Gotham City and that he might be the only one to put a stop to it...and, more importantly, an evil that is bigger than that which took the lives of his parents. Gotham is overrun with corruption and fear, and it takes a while for Bruce to realize that he could be the solution. However, until that point, he is singularly-focused on his own demons and the feelings of guilt surrounding his parents murder.

Gary Frank's art is an outstanding compliment to Geoff Johns' words. His ability to emote through expressions, especially in the eyes, is amazing. It was because of Frank's art that I felt that I was so easily able to give life to Johns' words and the emotion intended by the writer...most notably in the exchanges between Bruce and Alfred...a relationship that Mr. Johns completely reinvented.

Also, on a personal note, I love Frank's version of Bruce Wayne. For many readers, we all have an ideal of what we think Bruce Wayne should look like and for me, Gary Frank came exceptionally close to how I visualize the Billionaire-Playboy-Gone-World's-Greatest-Detective...with Kevin Conroy's voice, of course. :)

Batman: Earth One is a completely different re-telling of the Batman origin story. Truth be known, some people are going to love it, while others will hate it...I firmly place myself in the former category and am looking forward to the next chapter of this alternate storyline.

The book is also a complete story from beginning to end (144 pages) and is therefore told entirely differently than how the monthly comics are intended to be read. Johns' has stated that he really likes the graphic novel format for this story and hopes to put out more like it...and judging from the interest surrounding this first book, I'm confident that he will have an opportunity to do so...and quickly I hope, because I can't wait for the next chapter of this story.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 20, 2012 10:02:56 AM PDT
Jason L. says:
Good review! It helped me decide NOT to buy this book. I am tired od DC rebooting, reinventing or outright twisting origins of their most enduring characters. I like Geoff Johns' writing and was initially going to purchase this graphic novel because of the author. But I am still reeling from The New 52 and can't bear to see Batman's origin butchered any further.

Had Johns stayed true to the original source material and examined different aspects, I would buy it without reservation. So I am very grateful for your review. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2012 8:53:41 PM PDT
Eric says:
How many times can the same origin be retold? Like Nolan's movies, it's one man's take. Some do well with it, other's don't. I enjoyed this book, and it was the differences in it that made it fun because it was well thought out. It's not a "reboot" as it's just a different take outside of the normal continuity. You have the right not to read it, but you're missing out.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2012 9:17:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2012 9:19:00 PM PDT
Jason L. says:
I think the better question is this: Why does the origin have to continually be retold? Perhaps explore others in the Batman universe with only a cursory mention of the Batman.

My point was actually more about the constant need to either twist or alter origins in general. I feel it is just a way to soak "the faithful" as well as new readers of our money.

I currently collect over a dozen different titles from DC and Marvel. I am unhappy with DC's new 52 Batman titles (of which I get all but 2) and have been largely disappointed since their latest reboot. Batgirl is definitely an exception; the writing is fantastic.

I completely see where you are coming from and perhaps may change my mind as used copies become available but for now, I don't see the need for another Earth (especially with the release of Earth 2-related comics).

But again I say thank you for your review and now the feedback. I guess it boils down to DC getting enough of what's in my wallet. I am a loyal fan but they are not impressing me much this last year. They are rebooting again in September (starting at #0) and I can only hope they do better in 2012-2013 otherwise they will lose my business with the exception of Batgirl as Marvel is putting out some good titles right now without a reboot every year.

Cheers!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 11:04:24 AM PDT
I understand where you're coming from, but you're making a big mistake if you stay away from this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2012 10:34:29 PM PDT
tierekisa says:
I think it's safe to say that with 'Earth One' and 'Earth-2' comics coming out, it's only a matter of time before 'Earth-S' comes out, then 'Earth-A,' 'Earth-32,' etc. Then guess what happens after all of that? ULTIMATE CRISIS! A repeat of a decision to clean up the very-soon-to-be-confusing continuity of DC Comics. It's fun to go back to the past...sometimes. Could be wrong, but somehow I doubt it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 9:40:24 PM PDT
Theo says:
I am in two minds. On the one hand, like Jason L., I am heartily sick of the endless reboots the superhero genre puts out in all media. I've long felt that that's just lazy writing.

On the other hand, Dana does at least make it sound like this one might be an _interesting_ reboot. That alone would make it all but unique. I mean, how many of those have we seen? I mean, _ever_???
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