My BFF Nate and I have been friends for twenty years. He’s been around for all of my hobbies and pursuits (woodcarving, video games, comics, Krav Maga, kayaking, alcoholism, podcasting, camping). He knows me better than almost anyone and knows all about my life-long Batman obsession. So when he said, “Halbs, this Batman comic is great,” I knew it would be great. And it is great.
One of the reasons it’s great is the writer – Geoff Johns. He is the current chief creative officer at DC. He also brought me one of my favorite comic runs, the mid-2000s’ Booster Gold. If you don’t know Booster, on the outside he’s a time traveling doofus. Deep down, he’s a true hero (Batman gives him an amazing peptalk in issue #10). That comic run was both joyous and heartfelt. I’ve had a soft-spot for the Johns since then, and I hope more people appreciate him since he has become co-chair of DC Films. The first film he oversaw was Wonder Woman. He’s heading things in a good direction. He gets it.
Johns also gets Batman. In Batman: Earth One, Thomas Wayne (Bruce’s father) is running for Mayor against the corrupt Oswald Cobblepot. Bruce’s mother, Martha Arkham, is a philantrhopist who advocates for people with mental illness. It’s hinted that she herself has had mental health struggles. His parents (of course) are shot and killed in the street. Alfred, who was running security for Mr. Wayne, is left in charge of the orphaned Bruce Wayne. Alfred isn’t a sardonic bighearted butler; he’s a gruff solider. He knew Mr. Wayne from their time serving together in the military and he feels indebted to the family because Thomas Wayne saved his life. What they did or saw is unclear, but whatever they saw in the military is hinted to be horrific.
Fast forward to Bruce’s mid-twenties. He’s reclusive, young, handsome and magnetic. He’s full of rage and the desire to fix what’s broken in the city that killed his parents and his innocence. He struggles as the Bat. He’s vulnerable. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. Not yet.
That’s the setting and the mood of Earth One. It’s not grimdark – it’s gothic. It all works. It’s pitch perfect. If you like or love the Bat, I recommend adding this volume to your collection and head canon as Bruce’s true origin.