Like "Wonder Woman: Earth One", "Batman: Earth One" is a retelling of Batman's origin with a modern twist. You may have noticed that I opened this post saying "Forget everything you knew about Batman..." and that is because you probably should forget everything you knew about Batman.
This version of the story, written by one of my favorite comic book writers, Geoff Johns, takes the very basic elements of Batman's origin and pretty much abandons all the other things that we associate with Batman.
Bruce Wayne is a millionaire playboy? Yep. Alfred Pennyworth is a skinny British butler? Not anymore! Batman's parents were murdered? Yeah. Batman can do anything because he's Batman? Nope! He lives in Gotham City? Of course. Penguin is short and tubby? Nah, he's tall and lean. And there is a lot more that fans are familiar with that have been dramatically changed.
I think a lot of diehard Batman fans dislike this story because of all the changes, however I think that the changes make for a fresh and interesting Batman story. Sure, it's not exactly the Batman I grew up with and love, but as long as I can let go of my attachment to some of the classic Batman elements, it's a pretty fun story.
Here's the story...After the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce Wayne trains to become a crimefighter and investigate the men behind his parent's murder. Bruce believes that Thomas Wayne was assassinated by Gotham City's new mayor, Oswald Cobblepott, also known as the Penguin.
As Batman, Bruce Wayne is clumsy and often acts without thinking things through, fueled by his thirst for revenge. He really has not interest in protecting Gotham City or waging a war on crime. His mission is to bring in the man who is responsible for his parent's murder and nothing else.
Bruce Wayne is aided by Alfred Pennyworth, an old military friend of his father, who does more than serve Bruce tea and tend to his injuries. This iteration of Alfred can fight and he has helped train Bruce to fight and win, no matter what it takes.
"Batman: Earth One" is also not just Bruce Wayne's story, but the origin story of Commissioner James Gordon. Detective James Gordon is a cop in Gotham City, meaning that he knows that if he puts his knows in a certain someone's business he or the people he loves will be hurt. It isn't until Gordon is partnered with Harvey Bullock, a detective from LA, and the arrival of Batman, that he remembers his purpose as a police officer.
Finally, I want to talk about the art in this story. Flipping through the pages and looking at each panel, I kinda feel like the art is a little dull. Perhaps I just finished looking through the art of "Wonder Woman: Earth One" and I'm still reeling from how great every was in that story. Gary Frank is the artist of "Batman: Earth One" and as much as I love Frank's art, I don't think his ability really shows in this story.
On a positive note, I do enjoy Frank's designs of the characters in this story. I feel like Frank pays homage to all the iterations of these characters from comic books, movies, and television, and created a fresh and modern amalgamation.
I do recommend this story for new readers, and I think that new readers might actually enjoy this story more than the diehard fans. A new reader would enter this story with very little preconceived notions of what a Batman story is supposed to be, and I think that longtime fans of Batman will either appreciate the changes that Johns and Frank made, or completely hate this story.
ISSUE: Batman: Earth One Vol. 1
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