Some characters work no matter what universe he or she is in.
For instance, Spider-Man dealt with other incarnations of himself in the Spider-Verse saga. Honestly, I couldn’t begin to count all of them!
My favorite hero is also one that thrives in many different settings. The Batman, this version from Earth One, has returned in the second volume of that series, and it’s an excellent sequel.
Previously in BATMAN EARTH ONE: “It’s here – the sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller and critically acclaimed BATMAN: EARTH ONE by the superstar creative team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank! While Gotham City is plunged into terror by an enigmatic anarchist and killer calling himself The Riddler, the Dark Knight must reconcile the increasingly conflicting ideologies of Detective Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne’s head of security, Alfred Pennyworth. But there are many more mysteries lurking within Gotham City, including the secret agenda of Harvey Dent and the bizarre creature prowling the sewers – Killer Croc!”
A GRITTIER, MORE REALISTIC HERO
What separates this Batman from the various other incarnations of this hero is that he’s more realistic and grittier. He doesn’t use gadgets very often and instead relies on his strength more than his wits. Also, we get to see how his methods of operation develop, such as his need for a faster car.
Like other Batmen, he started seeking out the killer of his parents. He initially intended, once that mission was accomplished, to hang up the cape and cowl for good. Instead, once he began his journey into the seamy underbelly of Gotham, he realized there was a need for a crime fighter not corrupted by criminals as the Gotham City Police Department had become.
He’s accused of killing Major Cobblepott, which is intriguing since it was actually Alfred, who is also much more realistic and can function well in a fight, who did that. This Alfred is reminiscent of the version from the Beware the Batman animated series, somewhat younger and less fragile than most of the other Alfreds we’ve met. over the years
Geoff Johns, who is one of my very favorite writers, explores Bruce’s standing in this Gotham, having previously been close to the new mayor, the sister of Harvey Dent. When called on to take a more public role, Bruce turns it down because he feels others can do that more effectively.
Johns actually makes Killer Croc something of a sympathetic figure, which intrigued me. On the other hand, he’s taken the Riddler down a more Joker-like path, with mysterious origins and murderous intentions. He still has the desire to challenge others with riddles, but if you don’t solve them in the given time, your life is over! He also makes Harvey Bullock an entirely different guy, and pairs him with Gordon, much like we see in Fox’s Gotham. Familiar faces don’t necessarily mean we’ll understand how they will behave in Earth One.
CLEAR ART THAT TELLS THE STORY WELL
Gary Frank has worked with Johns before, but that was on Superman’s origin story. Frank’s art continues to shine particularly when displaying facial expressions, and he does a spectacular job on Harvey Dent, who moves from maniacal to controlled rage. Well done!
I was very interested in the fact that Batman has no eye coverings as he often does elsewhere. Instead, we see his eyes through the cowl, which makes Batman somewhat more menacing since we can see his anger and frustration through human expression rather than wraith-like white eye slots. It fits the whole more realistic motif very well, in my opinion.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A Great Sequel!
These Earth One books are great books for those who don’t want to get into stories that require knowing a lot of continuity as well as those of us who like seeing different takes on these characters. After all, you just need to read one other book to pick up all that’s going on with this Batman. However, if this series continues to be successful, it’ll be like Marvel’s Ultimate universe, originally conceived to avoid mountains of continuity but ended up there anyway. So far, there have been three Superman Earth One books, and we’ll see how that series and other volumes focusing on DC heroes do.
Still, everything that makes Batman a relatable hero is on display, such as his humanity and ability to bounce back from being surprised by foes like the Riddler and Killer Croc. We also don’t know what will happen next and how the Dark Knight will figure his way out of the most dangerous and often craziest of situations. I like to think that I’d be able to think on my feet like he does, but when I’m really being honest with myself, I doubt I would.
I don’t see that this volume is available digitally at this point, so you’ll need to head to your local comics shop to pick this book up. However, it’s a good sequel and engaging read, so it will be worth it!
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