Batman: Earth One (Hardcover) Review

First off,I’ll say that I liked this book. Second,I didn’t “love“ it. I’m always down for a new Batman story (he's my favorite superhero, after all) and there have been many takes on his origin in particular, but honestly,this book reads like a rejected Batman Begins movie script. Don’t get me wrong,I think that Geoff Johns is a good writer,but it seems as though Earth One tries a bit too hard to change things and doesn’t really succeed.

With Earth One,Geoff Johns presents a more realistic take on the Batman mythos. Perhaps it’s even more realistic than Chris Nolan’s Batman films. Instead of Bruce being trained by ninja (that’s the plural form of ‘ninja,’ by the way) as in the films, he is trained by a significantly harder edged version of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred has always had a back story of being a little bit more hard edged than his butler lifestyle might lead one to believe,but here it goes full tilt. Alfred,in this story,is no mere butler; he is ex-royal military,walks with a cane,refers to Bruce as simply, “Bruce,” is Bruce’s legal guardian and his sparring partner.

Bruce as a child is also portrayed quite a bit differently than in previous incarnations. Here,he is played as a severely spoiled child,touting his family’s wealth and bragging about it. He’s also quite whiney.

Jim Gordon is handled a little differently as well. He is a bit more cowardly and accepting of Gotham City being run by crime lords at the beginning of the story, opting not to save a damsel in distress, simply because,“that’s just the way things are.”

I think my main problem with the book is that I just don’t like these new characters. I liked the fact that in previous versions,the characters were a little bit more moral. To me,Batman plays as more like an idiot in a suit rather than someone who generally wants to make criminals fear him. He just seems to have very little motivation throughout the story for donning the cape and cowl and fighting crime. Sure,his parents died and he wants vengeance to a certain degree,it’s just not as emotional as it could have been,or that it has been in something like Year One. I really would have no interest in seeing the rest of these character’s lives play out.

Next thing is the art. All in all,Gary Frank does a good job. The book looks good… except for Batman. I’m not crazy about the costume design,really. It kinda looks like a Ghostbuster jumpsuit with Batman’s cape and mask. That’s essentially it. Also,the decision to show Batman’s eyes rather than white slits is kind of iffy here. I don’t mind a more realistic take that shows the eyes. The “Arkham” game series does that pretty well. It’s just that sometimes,Frank’s version looks creepy for some reason.

I don’t know folks. Based on these criticisms,one might think I hated the book. I didn’t. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Alternate takes on characters have always been something that I’ve enjoyed,but this one just felt kind of lacking. In my humble opinion,Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is still the definitive Batman origin story.

Story: 6/10 Art: 8/10

Total: 7/10


Posted on July 12, 2012 .