Batman Earth One Review

Batman Earth One
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Gary Frank
Inks by Jonathan Sibal
Color by Brad Anderson

For those of you that may or may not know the Earth One books are a series of graphic novels only in collected form. In other words they were never issues. They are all original stories only in trade. This one is everyone's favorite caped crusader, Batman. It is written by DC comics writing powerhouse and living legend, Geoff Johns. Johns has done phenomenal work on numerous comics even some Marvel. Gary Frank does most of the heavy lifting for the art on this book. Frank is a superb artist most recently known for his work on Shazam. There are a few images that stick in your mind both new and reminiscent of classic Batman runs. The story is an alternate universe, hence Earth One. As such it is also a origin story. The differences were not only peculiar but brilliant and astounding as well.
Geoff Johns does a few things in this book that not only have they never been done before but you also never see them coming. Because this is a graphic novel only universe and story Johns can do certain things and take certain risks that he would or could not do in your average comic book story line. That being said the revelation of Bruce Wayne's family tree and what happens to the villain is something more akin to that of what happens in comic book events. This book has an unfair disadvantage of recreating an already overdone origin. Despite this uphill battle Johns storytelling wins you over. He brought a dark tone to the book from the beginning and ended it that way as well.
The art had a dark and gritty tone to it too. Gary Frank was not the only artist on this book. As penciller he was the main artist. Jonathan Sibal also brought his inking skills to the table. Brad Anderson delivered color to this story. This Batbook may have had a little too much color for my taste as I prefer them to be more bleak, depressing, and drab. I won't deny the yellow emblem will stick in my mind for weeks to come. The facial expressions and body language are expertly done and some of the most well drawn I've ever seen. There is so much detail and realism in the characters, environment, and all around story.
Bruce is just a guy in a suit trying to solve the murder of his parents. By the end of the book his mission is so much more clear. The city needs him and he refuses to let what happened to him and his parents happen to anyone else. Alfred has a slightly different role in this universe as more of a mentor and trainer than caretaker. Alfred was originally going to be hired on a bodyguard and consult to Thomas Wayne since he was a Royal Marine. As you know things don't go as planned but instead of coddling Bruce after the death of his parents he pushes him to be strong and become something else. The other characters that this book focuses on seem drastically different at first. James Gordon may appear the same as usual but he acts like a dog that has been beat too many times and just accepts it. Harvey Bullock looks and acts the most different as he was a reality TV star cop. Bullock surprisingly becomes a likable character in this story as he's a hard charger that refuses to take crap from anyone. He does have some shortcomings as he's full of himself and a little bit of a womanizer. His flaws make him more of an interesting person though. Most of the characters have a solid amount of development and their own arc as they change and evolve throughout the story.
Somehow, despite all the evolutions the Batman has been through, they were able to do it again. With just enough tweaks, twists, and turns Geoff Johns makes it fresh and new. Gary Frank manages to pay homage to classic Batman runs and moments while creating new images that will stick in your head. It's a memorable book, that is without a doubt. It may have been a little underwhelming at first but I for one cannot stop thinking about how good it was. The dark, gritty tone yet realistic and colorful visuals leave me wanting more. Any book that can make leave me feeling this way deserves to be a STRONG BUY.


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