Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
There is magic within the mind of Geoff Johns that somehow seems out of phase with the rest of humanity, for who can argue against the man who turned round the fortunes of Aquaman and revitalised the whole D.C. universe, if that is not magic then the whole concept of art is somehow askew.
That magic touch can only take you so far though and there are times when the idea of recreation, of reimagining a character’s origins or beginnings can place the artist and writer at odds with the long term fan or even those that have been captivated by a different medium’s take on the subject. Batman: Earth One is a captivating portrayal of how Alfred came into the young life of Bruce Wayne, the arrogance and selfishness of the boy indirectly leading to his own parents senseless murder and how the two found, if not peace, then the urgency to come to terms with the aftermath of it all. When viewed against the hit television series Gotham, some parallels can be observed but sheer force of technical enjoyment, Batman: Earth One perhaps gives a greater perspective of the shadow to come, if not the absolute thrill ride that Gotham offers.
With stunning artwork that is both mischievous in its expectancy and brooding in its delivery, the history of Batman may be turned slightly but it doesn’t derail itself in chasing an audience with sensationalism or awkward metaphor. This is a story in which a certain degree of cleansing is to be observed, perhaps it takes off the rough edges attributed to it from decades and layers of additional information, of characterisation that seems out of place; if you must begin again, especially with a character so beloved as Batman, then giving it responsibility and honour is the only way to go and in Batman: Earth One that responsibility is shown, the respect is absolute and the final offering a marvellous piece of graphic illustration.
A graphic novel that revels in its history whilst pushing the character onwards, such a move is to be applauded.
Batman: Earth One is available to purchase from Worlds Apart on Lime Street, Liverpool.
Ian D. Hall