As everyone should know, the absolute best way to celebrate July 4th is by reading awesome comic books!
So, in case you aren’t aware, I am incredibly obsessed with Batman. I’ve been that way for a very long time. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t running around in a cape and cowl. Hell, I’d do it right now if I wasn’t writing this post! When I was younger, I would run around my house trying to save anything that was in any sort of danger. When I say anything, I seriously mean anything! I think I raised a few eyebrows when the neighbors saw me trying to save a picnic table. You know, Batman was…is my hero! However, believe it or not, It wasn’t the comic books that made me obsessed with Batman. In fact, I never read a full comic book until I was a teenager.
The movies featuring Michael Keaton, and the 90′s animated series, were the sources of my obsession. I will never forget when I saw that first Batman flick. The look on my face when I saw the beauty and fierce nature of Gotham City, The fear I felt when I first glanced at The Joker, and how amazed I was seeing Batman kick some criminal booty! I never thought I’d experience something like this again. Granted, I’d end up seeing a lot of flicks I’d fallen in love with later in life, but non of them ever gave me the same viewing experience as that first Batman movie. That is, until 2005′s Batman Begins was released. Man, was that movie excellent. Not only did it give me the same experience as Batman did, but It enhanced it! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on that silver screen! This was how Batman should be done!
Now, why am I telling you this story? What is the point of it? Well, today I had a similar experience. Not 100% similar, but still similar. When I first read the classic comic Batman: Year One, I had experienced magic in it’s purest form. The book did an incredible job of telling a modern day version of Batman’s origin story. Not ever, not even in my wildest dreams, did I think anyone would be able to come close to as good as Year one when telling Batman’s origin story. Today…I, once again, stand corrected and flabbergasted.
About 2 and a half years ago, DC Comics announced that they would be releasing a new line of original graphic novels called DC: Earth One. In the same fashion as Marvel’s Ultimate line, DC: Earth One was a way of taking big DC characters, and telling their tales for a modern audience without the struggle of keeping within the main DC continuity. The first book in this line was Superman: Earth One. I wasn’t a big fan of the book, honestly. It kind of gave me a bad taste in my mouth with the whole Earth One deal. The next book from DC: Earth One was going to be a new take on the beginnings of Batman, obviously. However, because of Superman: Earth One I was kind of worried Batman would have the same fate with me. I became even more worried when it took forever for DC to release the damn thing even though it was already supposed to be out. Comic series usually die because of delays like that. People just forget they even knew about them.
Thankfully, The book is finally out, and It’s a freaking good read! Written by DC superstar Geoff Johns, and drawn by the brilliant Gary Frank, Batman: Earth One does a terrific Job of giving us a fresh take on Batman’s origin story. However, the best thing the book does is humanize Batman. The opening of the book shows Batman chasing after a criminal on the rooftops, as usual. But instead of capturing the bastard, Batman has a gadget malfunction and falls to the ground. This is a great example of how well Johns and Frank humanize Batman, but not the best. The best example is something most probably won’t even notice. The best example is…seeing Batman’s eyes.
Normally, Batman has those white lenses over his eyes. Without the lenses, You see both the Bat and the Man. It’s always weird that such a subtle change can be that powerful, but it’s true. Also, I really loved the new takes Johns gives to familiar characters. They all feel the same at their cores, but they’ve changed significantly. I, Especially, love his take on Alfred. Alfred is just a beast with a cane, man! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Alfred kick Bruce’s ass like he did in this book! Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Alfred kick Bruce’s ass…ever. At least, not in a physical way. As much as I loved Geoff Johns’s story, I loved the artwork even more! Gary Frank has such a great attention to detail. Frank usually blows me away, but this is some top notch work! I really love that he gave the book such a cinematic look. I felt like I was watching a movie the entire time!
The only real flaw I found in the book was the pacing. At times, The book feels a bit rushed. Like they were trying to fit a lot of material into the comic, but had to cut even more out. However, in the big picture of it all, The book is still fantastic! That flaw, for me, is just a minor nitpick. It’s not a persistent flaw, but it’s in there. Overall, even though it took 2 some years to release, Batman: Earth One is a fresh, modern, and damn good re-telling of Batman’s beginnings. I don’t think it’s Year One good, but I think Bat-fans will still dig it!