Batman Earth One: rebooting the bat

Batman: Earth One is a reboot of the Batman story written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank. It's a timely book, coinciding with the conclusion of the trilogy of Christopher Nolan Batman films, and it offers a very good entry to the series for people who haven't followed it closely until now.

We've seen a lot of remixes and retellings of the Batman origin story, and I think this is my favorite to date. Johns dispenses with some of the less plausible aspects of the Batman myth, and presents us with a Gotham that is out of control, corrupt, dark and glorious. There's a haunted house, there are serial killers, Hollywood phonies, and a mayor named Oswald Cobblepot.

The book moves swiftly, hits all the right emotional notes, and is beautifully made and illustrated. I picked my copy up at Secret Headquarters on a recent trip to LA, on staff recommendation (I've never gotten a bum steer from SHQ). It's got me excited about Batman comics for the first time in 20 years.

Batman: Earth One



      1. Maybe they’re poor people super-villains and those tuxes are their costumes?  

        The Legion of Smartly-Dressed Urchins!

    1. Every minority needs a superhero/villains to identify with, the one percenters just have more choice than most:

      – Batman
      – Ironman
      – Professor X
      – Green Hornet
      – Lex Luthor
      – Fantastic Four
      – Daredevil

      Though pretty much every super villain is some empire building money bag of some or another sort.

          1. The Watchmen actually represented a pretty wide spectrum, income-wise.

            Ozymandias: Pretty much the richest guy on the planet.

            Night-Owl II: Bruce Wayne on a somewhat tighter budget.

            Night-Owl (original): Working class retired beat cop/car mechanic.

            Rorschach: Penniless slum-dweller raised by a single mother who worked as a prostitute.

            Dr. Manhattan: Gods don’t use money.

      1. Daredevil?

        Isn’t his whole origin story about a kid in hell’s kitchen that gets horribly blinded by a toxic spill? His father a run down boxer that throws fights for a living? The same kid that then grows up and runs a law firm that caters to his old neighborhood and is constantly on verge of bankruptcy? That Daredevil?

        Yeah, that just SCREAMS 1%.

        (unless Marvel’s fucked with his character in recent years, which is possible I suppose)

  1. I actually really enjoyed this but the current Batman run by Scott Snyder / Greg Capullo is fantastic.

    1. Yeah, pretty much. 

      As compelling as the story (and it’s various iterations) is, do we have to read the same fucking thing every 2 years? 

      We need a term for the reboot-fatigue that’s going to be washing over us after all the movies and books that we get to hear all over again for the first time. 

  2. In light of the annoyingly fast reboot of Spider-Man movies, I propose a Universal Reboot Book. The book consists of two reflective silver inner pages. You clip out one or two images of the franchise character that you want to reboot, and set them in the middle of one of the mirrored pages. Hold the pages open 45 degrees or less, and you can see the infinite regression of reboots within this reboot. And maybe this will cure you of ever needing another reboot of that character.

    You’re welcome.

    1. The only reason Sony rebooted Spider-man was to retain film rights (and to hop onto the Marvel gravy train in the same summer as The Avengers). Marvel would love to get the rights back.

    1. Everything published under the “Earth One” banner is its own continuity. It’s generally compared to Marvel’s Ultimate line in this regards, in that they’re meant to be a series of stories about well-known characters, free of  the main universe’s continuity baggage. (The line having been originally announced & published long before DC’s reboot last year.)

      The main difference between “Earth One” and “Ultimate” (and DC’s own All-Star line) being that it’s published only as trade-paperbacks, which is meant to potentially make the works more appealing to people who don’t buy monthlies. So far there’s only been one other title released for the line: Superman: Earth One, by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis, which was released in 2010.

      1.  I liked Superman Earth One more than this, but they were both pretty entertaining.    I’m a big fan of both JMS and Johns. 

        Superman Earth One vol 2 is being released November 6, 2012.

  3. So…….  

    Exactly the same as regular batman, but gets beaten up slightly more?

  4. You haven’t been excited about a Batman comic in 20 years, woof.  You should do a little digging my friend, there’s gold in them hills!

    Also, just this year, the very talented Mr. Scott Snyder has been dishing out quite the tantalizing little Bat-tale.


  5. So far Scott Snyder’s run has been fantastic.  I think Snyder is writing some of  the best monthly Batman stories since Denny O’ Neil was writing Bats.

  6. “presents us with a Gotham that is out of control, corrupt, dark and glorious.”
    Right. So it’s a totally new wrinkle then.  I would be more interested in seeing a Batman comic strip that shows the scene where (is it?) Joe Chill kills Bruce’s parents, over and over again for 500 pages, but each one in a different drawing style. Talking of style, I don’t like the style of of the book’s drawing shown here at all. Insipid.

    1. Maybe someone could do a reboot where Gotham is a small, picturesque midwestern town full of sunshine and rainbows. The Joker regularly performs at birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs, and Mr. Freeze is just the guy who drives the ice cream truck.

      1. Yes. I like the idea. I sort of see Batman still in costume, but like soft material like in the very old black and white serials, and he just walks or drives a black pick up truck, slowly, safely, and he has an office where people come to ask for his help finding their lost kittens, or to work out why the milk didn’t get delivered today. It should be paced like The Straight Story.

          1. Yes! And the Joker could be his nemesis in really trivial ways, like he  parks his car close to the pick up’s bumper blocking it in in a way that stops Batman’s pick up from getting out easily. This is going to be big, I know it.

    2.  Don’t forget the variations on the murder of Bruce’s parents where it’s not Joe Chill, but the future Joker (as in Tim Burton’s first movie); you could also make the killer Ra’s al Ghul, or a very young Harvey Dent, or maybe even an time-traveling ex-sidekick making sure that Batman exists. The gunshots, the bodies on the pavement, the grim young boy vowing revenge. Over and over and over again.

      1.  Actually, I think that last version is the one I like the most.  I’m kind of getting tired of his parents biting it in the first five minutes of every movie.  Seriously, in every movie.

  7. What I enjoyed most about this was the reboot of the origin of Harvey Bullock (even though it was suspiciously close to a character from one of my favorite movies, but it was an awesome character so I didn’t care).

  8.  If you have to show the gore… (A) it ain’t good writing, and (B) it ain’t Batman.

    (Not that I disliked the Dark Knight concept — but that wasn’t Batman either, and I was really annoyed that they didn’t have the courtesy to change the name when they changed the character.)

  9. What is the percentage of comic book readers over 13 that like this terrible style of coloring? This style of coloring where everything is reflective is just awful. I cannot read any comics that look like this because they are visually repulsive.

    Is it really just me who feels this way?

  10. Why do comic books still exist in this day and age?

    Seriously people, you’re all internet savvy. Go read webcomics.

    1) There are many thousands of them available in most major languages.
    2) They don’t suffer the artistic limitations and constrictions inherent to actual print comics.
    3) They’re not reboots of reboots of reboots of cliche characters that are three quarters of a century old to begin with.

    …and 4) They don’t cost you a cent!

  11. I totally agree with “reboot fatigue.” If the big twist in this version is that, as is implied by the first page above, young Bruce is somehow responsible for his parents’ murder by leaving out the back of the theater rather than the front, then I’ll pass. 

    1. Kyle Baker did a a few years ago. He’s no Jack Cole but he did a very creditable job with more humor (real humor) than anyone since Cole.

  12.  Two things:

    “…it offers a very good entry to the series for people who haven’t followed it closely until now.”

    With respect, it’s actually a horrible entry point into the series.  It’s a good story, but it’s a horrible entry point because it does not align with any of the current monthlies or any of the pre-52 continuity.  If you liked this book and walked into a comic book store and wanted more of this Batman, you’re out of luck.  Earth One books ship yearly.  So you’d have to either purchase new 52 material (different Batman) or older continuity books (different Batman from that different Batman).  Not to make this too confusing, but it kinda is.  

    “It’s got me excited about Batman comics for the first time in 20 years.”

    Personally, I’ve found Scott Snyder’s Black Mirror and his current New 52 run quite compelling. And if we go back in time a bit, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Long Halloween, Batman: Under The Hood by Winick and the entire Grant Morrison run all had plenty of interesting things to say about the character.  This is but one of many good bat stories.  The great thing about comic books is the number of voices that participate in providing their perspective on the characters. 

    1.  BTW, outside of the main Batman title, I should also have put honorable mentions for Meltzer’s Identity Crisis.  Morrison’s JLA and Waid’s JLA.  But I figured I’d just stick to the Batman title. 

  13. I liked mac and cheese when I was a kid.  I now also like sushi, fresh greens and nice reds, but they don’t interfere with my steady love of mac and cheese.  This was a good book, I’d also recommend the Long Halloween. 

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