cover image Batman Earth One

Batman Earth One

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. DC, $22.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-40123-208-5

Have you heard the one about the orphaned millionaire who dresses up like a bat? Of course you have. The irony of Batman is that he’s one of the most high-profile superheroes ever, despite his dark and mysterious demeanor in comics. Johns’s effort is sold as a reimagining, but it’s essentially the same story that’s been retold for the past 70 years. Bruce Wayne seeks revenge for his parents’ murders against the backdrop of a crime-ridden Gotham City, with a few cosmetic updates, such as Alfred the Butler being portrayed as a grizzled military veteran who trains Bruce Wayne with tough love, and the Penguin as the corrupt mayor of Gotham City. The trappings are gritty, but there’s not a lot of suspense surrounding them—you know who the villains are and you know they are going to be disposed of. Nor are there interesting character revelations about Batman, with Johns preferring to focus on other characters more closely. Frank’s art adds interesting realistic touches without verging too far from Batman’s comic book ambience. The book is definitely appropriate for newer fans who haven’t read or seen this origin story a thousand times already, or casual readers influenced by the Christopher Nolan movies who want to dip their toes in the comics. (July)