Author(s): Geoff Johns
Illustrator(s): Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 07/10/2012
Hard cover Price: $22.99
Other Choices: Watchmen, The Dark Knight, Superman: The Movie
Synopsis: Gritty, hyper-violent graphic novel about Batman's origin.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman: Earth One is an action-packed graphic novel that introduces a new version of the Dark Knight quite different from the traditional Batman we know from the comics and movies, games, and TV. It portrays its hero as an untrained, fallible neophyte. Other familar characters from the Batman comics are depicted in new ways, which gives the story most of its energy. There's a good deal of violence -- beatings, stabbings, shootings -- delivered by Batman and his allies and by the villains. A serial killer who preys on teenage girls may be the most disturbing aspect of the book.
- Families can talk about why vigilantism is dangerous and why citizens should not attempt to take the law into their own hands.
- Why are superheroes so popular with modern audiences? What sets Batman apart from other superheroes?
- How has the comics medium changed over time? What kinds of comics appeal to children and teens, and which are more suitable for adults?
What's the story?
In BATMAN: EARTH ONE, wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne adopts the persona of the Batman to seek vengeance for his parents' murder. But this version of Batman is clumsy, impetuous, angry, and untrained. Other characters from the long-running comics series are shown in a new light: Alfred is a former Royal Marine, the Penguin is the mayor of Gotham City, and cop Jim Gordon is no longer on the straight-and-narrow.
Is it any good?
Comics have a long tradition of "alternate earth" versions of their superheroes. DC revamped its entire line of comics in 2011 and reintroduced a Batman that's pretty close to how most people think of "Batman." But Batman: Earth One introduces a new version of the Dark Knight quite different from the traditional Batman we know from the comics and movies.Comic-book adventures in alternate universes can be a lot of fun, but Batman: Earth One turns out to be a hyper-violent, disappointing drag. Familiar characters and themes are turned upside-down, sometimes with great cleverness, but they don't add up to a world that feels any more interesting or inviting than what has been the standard Batman origin story since the '30s. Gary Frank's pencils are expressive and kinetic, but Geoff Johns' script doesn't do his masked vigilante justice.
The Good Stuff
Messages: In Batman: Earth One, might seems to make right. Batman has always been an ambiguous figure, but this version makes nearly everyone around him committed to the notion that the best way to seek justice is to take the law into your own hands.
Educational Value: Batman is one of the most recognizable fictional characters of the past century. Batman: Earth One presents a clever take on the comics mythos, featuring familiar settings and characters in a completely different light. However, the action and motivations of said characters have little to do with how the real world works.
Role Models: As a masked vigilante, Batman has always been an ambiguous figure, but the moral rectitude of this version of Bruce Wayne is particularly murky. Reckless, angry, and unprepared, he blunders his way along the path of vengeance.
What to watch out for
Violence This being a modern superhero saga, Batman: Earth One contains a fair amount of violence, some of it bloody and disturbing. Batman delivers beatings to various villains and is in turn shot, stabbed, and clubbed. "Good" cops Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock also settle disputes with a baseball bat and a tire iron. A villain dies after being blasted with a shotgun and falling through a high window. Perhaps most disturbing is a masked serial killer who kidnaps and murders teenage girls. (The killings are not depicted directly.)
Sex: In Batman: Earth One, wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne leers at some women with short skirts and deep cleavage, but sex takes a backseat to violence.
Language: Batman: Earth One contains some swearing, with one or two instances each of "hell," "damn," "bastard," "son of a bitch" and "prick." The strongest curse is "a--hole," used once.
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: One of the villains smokes and uses a lighter that's a clue to the story's central mystery. The pressures of police work lead one character to the brink of alcoholism.