|Batman: Earth One|
Cover for Batman: Earth One by Gary Frank
|Publisher||Earth One (DC Comics)|
|Publication date||(Volume 1)|
July 10, 2012
May 6, 2015
Batman: Earth One is a series of graphic novels published by DC Comics as part of the Earth One line. The series is written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank. Volume One of the series was released on July 4, 2012. Volume Two was announced for a 2013 release but postponed and, as a result, was released on May 6, 2015.
Batman: Earth One Volume One is the second original graphic novel to be announced by DC Comics as part of the Earth One line of graphic novels established in 2009. It follows the 2010 release of Superman: Earth One, marking the first collaboration between writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank on a Batman story.
Bruce Wayne is the eight-year-old son of Dr. Thomas Wayne, a mayoral candidate for Gotham City, and Martha Wayne (née Arkham). After receiving death threats, Thomas contacts his friend Alfred Pennyworth to become the head of security at Wayne Manor.
During an outing with his parents, Bruce is taken hostage by a mugger. He demands that the Waynes pay a ransom for the return of their son and attempts to remove Martha's pearl necklace. Thomas tries to intervene and the criminal shoots them both in front of Bruce. Following Bruce's return to Wayne Manor, Alfred learns that he has been named as Bruce's legal guardian by the Wayne parents in the event of their absence. Alfred agrees and presents himself to Bruce as his butler.
As a teenager, Bruce befriends his classmate, Jessica Dent, and develops a rivalry with her twin brother, Harvey Dent. He also learns about Arkham Manor, where Martha lived as a child. Martha's mother suffered a mental breakdown when Martha was twelve years old, murdering her husband with a sledgehammer, and committing suicide by jumping off a balcony. Arkham Manor is believed to be cursed due to the actions of Martha's mother, causing all members of the Arkham bloodline to become insane.
Bruce is inspired following a teenage experience at Wayne Manor and shortly afterwards convinces Alfred to train him in various forms of martial arts and acrobatics. Bruce also learns investigative techniques. Following this training, he discovers evidence that Mayor Oswald Cobblepot was involved in his parents' assassination.
In his mid-twenties, Bruce dons a bat-themed costume as a disguise, inspired by his pre-training experience at Wayne Manor. Meanwhile, Detective James Gordon of the Gotham City Police Department is investigating a string of disappearances involving young girls between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. The case is shortly put on hold, so that Gordon can meet his new partner, Harvey Bullock, an experienced LAPD detective who has come to Gotham to solve the Wayne murders in order to revive a fading career.
Following an altercation between Cobblepot's bodyguards and Bruce at a function organized by the mayor, Bruce's alter ego is named "Batman" by the press and the topic becomes a public sensation. Cobblepot, infuriated by Batman's actions at the event, orders one of his henchmen, a serial killer named "Birthday Boy", to take care of Jacob Weaver, a former policeman who is employed by Cobblepot and the subject of a search by Batman. Birthday Boy is then shown to be responsible for the kidnappings that Gordon had been investigating.
After Weaver is killed, Batman's investigation leads him to Arkham Manor, where Birthday Boy had been placing his victims. A chain of events leads to the kidnapping of Gordon's seventeen-year-old daughter, Barbara, by Axe, a petty thug who previously antagonized Gordon, at the behest of Cobblepot. Gordon learns that Bullock is indirectly responsible for Barbara's kidnapping, and an apologetic Bullock helps Gordon find Axe, who is violently forced to reveal Barbara's location.
While Barbara struggles against Birthday Boy, Batman, Gordon and Bullock unite in the search for her. Batman eventually intercepts Birthday Boy while Gordon rescues Barbara; Batman overpowers the serial killer, who is then arrested by Gordon and Bullock. In a subsequent confrontation between Batman and Cobblepot, the mayor reveals his intention was for Weaver to murder Thomas Wayne, but he and his wife ran into the mugger instead. Cobblepot then prepares to kill an unmasked Bruce but is fatally shot by Alfred. Axe is arrested and Birthday Boy is transferred to the Crane Institute for the Criminally Insane, run by Dr. Jonathan Crane (the serial killer's identity is revealed as Ray Salinger, an escapee from Crane's hospital).
Barbara begins to idolize Batman, studying martial arts and criminology, and sketching potential "Batgirl" costumes. Bullock, on the other hand, is traumatized by his experiences and succumbs to alcoholism. After his crimes are posthumously outed, Jessica Dent replaces Cobblepot as the Mayor. Bruce is left disappointed by the truth behind his parents' death, but with Alfred's encouragement, decides that he will continue on to refine his new persona as Batman.
The story concludes with the depiction of an enigmatic man reviewing information on Batman.
The events depicted in Volume Two occur six months after those of Volume One. A mysterious serial killer, who calls himself "The Riddler", is murdering people in Gotham, hoping to get Batman's attention.
Elsewhere, after losing track of one of the drug dealers he fought during a car chase, Wayne has Lucius Fox (who is promoted as the Head of Wayne Enterprises' Research and Development department) build him a custom-made race car. Prior to Batman's first appearance, there were numerous sightings of "Killer Croc", who was lurking in Gotham's sewers.
Bullock remains traumatized over the travesties that occurred in Arkham Manor; Gordon tries to help Bullock to combat his alcoholism. Gordon needs Bullock as an ally in order to combat crime in Gotham.
Jessica Dent comes to Wayne Manor to visit Bruce in the hopes that, as the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, he could help her find five of the remaining members of Oswald Cobblepot's criminal organization within the city's legislature. Despite Cobblepot's death, his criminal empire remains active because of these five members. The corrupt officials have taken over the city's police department, housing commission, public works, city council and the state court. With her brother, Jessica is desperate to find the officials in order to destroy Cobblepot's legacy once and for all. Batman seeks Detective Gordon's help in uncovering the identities of these corrupt officials.
After a bombing, Batman chases the Riddler who is challenging him. Batman falls off a balcony and meets an attractive woman in her apartment after she tends his injuries.
Seeing Gordon's excellence as a detective, Batman asks Gordon to train him in forensics and deduction, with Gordon notes that Batman has a gifted investigative mind. As they track their murderous suspect to the sewers, Batman encounters Waylon Jones, a benign but mutated man whom the media dubbed "Killer Croc", who is seeking refuge underground out of fear of society's discrimination over his genetic disorder. With Jones' help, Batman discovers the Riddler's hideout; however, Batman fails to stop him from bombing a rapid transit train. Using discovered clues, Batman deduces that these killings were not random; they were actually targeted. Batman leaves Gordon an encrypted cellphone for the detective to contact him, calling it his "Bat-Signal".
Jessica reveals to Bruce that she knows he is Batman. With new information from Gordon, Bruce discovers the Riddler is targeting the people who Jessica and her brother are trying to find. Bruce is later accused of being the Riddler after the real Riddler frames him in an attempt to divert Gordon's investigation, but Jessica is able to provide Bruce an alibi so he is not arrested. During a riot at the police precinct caused by the Riddler, Cobblepott's former henchman Sal Maroni fatally stabs Harvey Dent. Maroni then disfigures the district attorney with a Molotov cocktail before he dies. Jessica, in her grief, scars the left side of her face to match her brother's. After chasing the Riddler (and with Waylon Jones’ help) Batman subdues the killer.
After he is cleared of all charges, Bruce generously writes a check to help the city's police department rebuild their precinct. Bullock begins to recover from his alcoholism. Batman offers Jones a place in Wayne Manor seeking his help in finding a location to hide his “Batmobile.”
After Gordon arrests a police captain who was one of Cobblepott's lieutenants, he is promoted to captain. In the epilogue, the woman who Batman met is revealed to be a cat burglar, who is now obsessed with him.
- Bruce Wayne/Batman
The disillusioned heir of the Wayne and Arkham families; after his parents' death, Bruce vows to find their killers. Eventually, his quest for revenge leads him to discover a cause greater than his personal vendetta. Wishing to intimidate the criminal element in Gotham, Bruce dresses as a bat to strike fear in them, preparing himself by training in various forms of martial arts available from his legal guardian, Alfred Pennyworth, as well as teaching himself to be a skilled detective. Bruce refuses to use conventional firearms against his opponents, remembering his parents. Instead he uses resources from his family's company to design an arsenal for himself and seeks Lucius Fox's aid to develop it.
- Alfred Pennyworth
A former soldier of the Royal Marines, a friend of Thomas Wayne, and a skilled martial artist and sharpshooter. After his friend's murder, Alfred become Bruce Wayne's legal guardian and trains him in martial arts. He has a daughter living in Seoul, South Korea with her mother, where Alfred had previously worked at a security firm. In the military, Alfred lost a leg in an explosion. After Thomas Wayne saved his life following the explosion, he helps create a prosthetic leg to replace the one that Alfred lost, leaving Alfred indebted to Thomas's generosity. Alfred's experiences with violence and the conditions in Gotham have caused him to develop a pessimistic and cynical view towards the world and people in general, though Bruce seems to have restored his faith a little.
- James Gordon
Once an idealistic cop, the mysterious death of his wife has left Gordon disillusioned, and he tries to protect his daughter from the crime-ridden Gotham City. Faced with his new partner, Harvey Bullock, and the subsequent emergence of the vigilante dubbed as Batman, Gordon's own principles are ultimately revived, and sets to once again become the moral and just policeman he once was in order to fight the corruption of Gotham. As of Volume Two, Gordon is promoted as police captain after he arrests his predecessor Christopher Black; Black is exposed as one of Oswald Cobblepott's lieutenants. Gordon begins a secret alliance with Batman to rid the corruptions within his department.
- Barbara Gordon
A 17-year-old library assistant and daughter of James Gordon, Barbara lost her mother at an early age. Taking on a supportive role for her increasingly disillusioned father, Barbara is soon captured by Mayor Cobblepot's henchman, the Birthday Boy. Her rescue by Batman then inspires her to consider a role in vigilantism and starts designing a costume of her own based on his. As of Volume Two, she is enrolled in University of California, Berkeley, majoring in computer science. Despite her relocation, she hacks into the city's mainframes for her father to help him find the Riddler and his targets.
- Harvey Bullock
A decent yet arrogant police detective from the Los Angeles Police Department, and the host of the cancelled reality show "Hollywood Detectives", Bullock requests to transfer to Gotham to look for the chance to revive his fame. Harvey works together with his unwilling partner, James Gordon, at first to attempt to solve the Waynes' cold case murder, then to rescue James' daughter Barbara from the serial killer, the Birthday Boy. It is strongly implied that Harvey takes up drinking as a coping mechanism after witnessing the travesties that occurred in Arkham House, the Birthday Boy's dwelling.
- Lucius Fox
A young but brilliant intern at Wayne Medical, Fox wishes to develop a cybernetic prosthetic for his niece, who has lost her arm in an accident. After helping repair and even perfected Bruce Wayne's grapnel, he deduces that the young billionaire is the vigilante Batman after witnessing him using the same device on the news. It is implied in the end of the story that Lucius has come to accept his new role as a silent equipment developer for Batman, preparing a set of Batarangs for use. As of Volume Two, he is promoted as the head of Wayne Enterprises' Research and Development division, provides Wayne a new Batsuit and additional tools and is tasked to build the Batmobile.
- Oswald Cobblepot
The corrupt mayor of Gotham City. Cobblepot was an opponent of Thomas Wayne during his mayoral campaign. Bruce Wayne long suspects that Cobblepot arranged his parents' murder, and becomes Batman to verify it and avenge their death. It is revealed that in the past, Cobblepot did plan for the Waynes to be murdered, but was not ultimately responsible for their death. Cobblepot is the only person other than Alfred to discover Batman's secret identity, but is soon killed by Alfred as he is about to kill a vulnerable and unmasked Bruce.
- Jacob Weaver
Once a police detective of Gotham City Police Department, Weaver quit the force to work for Cobblepot. Weaver is Bruce Wayne's primary suspect as the gunman of his parents’ murder.
- Ray Salinger (the Birthday Boy)
A serial killer who had escaped from Crane Institute under Cobblepot's arrangements, Salinger has a murderous fixation with his first victim Amanda Grant. The Birthday Boy is also the first costumed criminal that Batman encounters.
A drug dealer who works for Oswald Cobblepot, Axe finds pleasure in intimidating honest police officers like James Gordon. He is eventually beaten and arrested after the introduction of Gordon's new partner, Harvey Bullock.
- Harvey Dent
Gotham City's District Attorney and a political enemy of Oswald Cobblepot alongside his twin sister, Jessica. Dent was a former bully of Bruce Wayne when they were both teenagers. Wayne and Dent still do not get along well. Dent is killed by Sal Maroni during a prison riot caused by the Riddler.
- Jessica Dent
The twin sister of Harvey Dent and the president of the city's board of supervisors, Jessica has been Bruce Wayne's friend since they were teenagers; each harbors romantic feelings for each other since childhood despite Jessica's brother's disapproval. She is well known in the city for her ongoing feud with Mayor Oswald Cobblepot, and assumes the role of Mayor following Cobblepot's death. In Volume Two, she disfigures the left side of her face after her brother's death, and implied to have developed a dissociative identity disorder; half of the personality she refined is based on her late brother's.
Gotham City Police Department's police captain, Christopher Black, is a minor character appears in Volume One. As in Volume Two, he is discovered to be corrupt and was as one of Cobblepotts’ lieutenants. Gordon ultimately arrests Black and he succeeds him as captain.
A few new characters were introduced in Volume Two:
- Waylon Jones/Killer Croc
A social outcast with a severe ichthyosis condition, who is forced to hide in Gotham's sewers and is befriended by Batman; Jones is tasked in finding a safe house for his benefactor after he takes him in.
- The Riddler
The Riddler once worked as Oswald Cobblepott's lieutenant, and is targeting his fellow members after his employer's death. In addition, he targets Batman in anticipation that the vigilante may interferes his coup over Cobblepott's criminal organization, along with attempting to learn his secret identity to satiate his curiosity. Batman's experience at the Riddler's hideout inspires him to establish his own lair.
Batman: Earth One received mostly positive reviews: Barnes & Noble lists the graphic novel as one of the "Best Quirky, Beautiful, Different Books of 2012." It peaked at #9 on The New York Times Hardcover Graphic Book Bestseller list. IGN listed it as #25 on their list of best Batman stories of all time.
The second volume received a widely positive response from readers and critics, with noting the improvement in storytelling and character work from the first volume, along with Frank's art-work and Johns' unique take on classic Batman characters being singled out for praise. Brian Truitt, of USA Today, states that this version of Batman "is neither a 'definitive' version nor one that blows the rest away", but still liked the more interesting, unique and realistic re-imagining of the classic Batman mythos and praised the gradual evolution of Batman's role as a skilled crime-fighter. It has made into #1 on The New York Times' Hardcover Graphic Books Best Seller List.
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