He is just a man.
Fallible, vulnerable, and angry.
In a Gotham City where friend and foe are indistinguishable, Bruce Wayne’s path toward becoming the Dark Knight is riddled with more obstacles than ever before. Focused on punishing his parents’ true killers, and the corrupt police that allowed them to go free, Bruce Wayne’s thirst for vengeance fuels his mad crusade and no one, not even Alfred, can stop him.
In the tradition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Superman: Earth One, writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank re-imagine a new mythology for the Dark Knight, where the familiar is no longer the expected in this long-awaited original graphic novel from DC Comics.
Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank 7.0
I don’t need another origin story. No one needs another origin story. I wish that the people behind our favourite superheroes would finally understand this. One can only see Superman, Spider-man, and Batman’s origin tales retold only so many times before it becomes extremely tedious. It might even create a backlash, as fans lose sight of the canon version of the events.
Frankly, the only reason I got this book was because I had enjoyed some of the efforts put into the ‘Superman: Earth One‘ book. It wasn’t genius, but despite its flaws there were some interesting touches along the way. I figured that this might prove true of the Batman character as well – although I knew going in that this origin was already a wash since DC had rebooted all the characters mere months prior.
So what was the point, then? I suspect that the intention was to create a DC version of Marvel’s successful ‘Ultimates’ line of rebooted superheroes – which all fall outside the continuity that the masses know and love. Of course, if that is indeed their intention, it’s a squandered effort: only a handful of books have been released in the Earth One line in approximately three years!
Perhaps they haven’t been successful. I don’t know. But I don’t see why not, aside from the aforementioned gripe about redoing origins time and time again. The books are certainly decent enough to warrant an audience: the ideas are pretty good, the writers are sharp enough, and the art is relatively proficient. They’re not stellar examples of originality and skill, but they do have something to offer.
Such is the case for ‘Batman: Earth One’, a book that rehashes the familiar all the while throwing in a few unexpected twists that might tickle some and infuriate others. For starters, it makes Bruce Wayne younger and less capable, transforms Alfred into his mentor (and a former military man), and ties in Bruce’s origin with the Penguin – who has been Gotham’s mayor for many years, corrupting it to the core.
I had no major issues with the direction that Johns took, but I must say that I was underwhelmed with this “Batman”, who not only seemed unspectacular in the physical sense, but also seemed pretty average intellectually. Whereas our traditional understanding of Batman (not to be confused with the movie versions) makes it obvious that he should be one of the greats, this one makes you ponder why you should care.
This Batman is a disgruntled teenager with enough muscle and balls to leave a bruising mark, but not enough skill to outdo his opponents or enough savvy to put clues together as the world’s greatest detective should. And he’s not an especially sympathetic character either, unless one has an affinity for revenge and can connect with him on that level. Otherwise, he’s a barren soul, with nothing to distinguish him aside from his cape and cowl.
Perhaps the character is meant to evolve as the books come out, and that’s why I give this one the benefit of the doubt. It’s a professionally-made book and it deserves kudos for the technical effort. But it’s not nearly engrossing or unique enough to really champion, as far as I’m concerned – which is something you would wish to do. It is, after all, The Dark Knight. Or it could be, in a different place, and a different time.