Over the decades Batman has assembled the most impressive rouges gallery in all of pop culture. The mere fact that we can do a Top 20 list and still feel like we’re leaving people off speaks to the quality of Gotham’s villains. Any how, this thing is long enough already, so let’s just get started.
By now there have been so many different versions of Batman I wasn’t sure they could really do another variation of the Dark Knight. There’s old Dark Knight Returns Batman, vampire Batman, the ‘Goddamn Batman’ and a whole slew of others. Batman: Earth One introduces us to yet another version of the caped crusader and with Geoff Johns writing. And here’s a big surprise, it kicked some ass. I’m not going to kiss John’s ass by saying he’s one of the best writers out there, and has won multiple awards for his writing or that he’s from Detroit… but I guess I did. Truth be told, there isn’t much this guy touches that isn’t a damned good read, and Batman: Earth One is no exception. Add the exceptional artwork done by Gary Frank and you’ve got a pretty stellar book. No it’s not a masterpiece, or the most unusual work of alternate Batman story, but it works just fine for a good read.
Johns obviously drew from other stories like Year One, and even the Nolan Batman films for this re-imagining of the Batman mythos. The Waynes are still the richest M-Fers around Gotham, but this time around Thomas Wayne is running to be mayor of Gotham, and Martha Wayne is his campaign manager…. And her maiden name is Arkham. CRRRAAAAZZZZY. And I mean that in both terms of story, and that the Arkhams are usually effin’ nuts. As you know, (Or don’t) Martha’s maiden name in the DC universe we know is Kane, of the wealthy Kane Chemical Company. The Arkhams appear to have had a hand in building the city of Gotham in this story, with the Waynes as their financiers. I imagine they could do some pretty interesting stuff with the story and Bruce Wayne having ties to the Arkham family, but we’ll definitely have to wait for a sequel to see anything linked to that.
Speaking of Bruce Wayne, remember that sweet little innocent kid portrayed in the movies and the comics at times? Well not this time around, the kid is actually quite the little shit and really has a sense of self entitlement going for him in the beginning of the book. He is of course humbled by the murdering of his parents right before his very eyes, and no child should have bear the brunt of something like that. Well, except maybe Joffrey from Game of Thrones, because he is an unforgivable bastard. Bruce and Alfred don’t know one another at all in the start of the story, and their relationship is somewhat strained throughout from everything we’ve seen before. The Alfred angle is similar to the Nolan Batman movies, but Johns is able to make the character his own in several ways. I’ll be interested in seeing where the story goes in regards to them. Let me just say… Alfred is definitely not a butler in this one….but he definitely serves people with ass whoopings!
Alfred isn’t the only character that has undergone some changes in this story. Plenty of characters are given a face shift, as I like to call it, including Harvey Bullock, Commissioner Gordon and even Harvey Dent in a vague way. They are each different in their own subtle ways and as I’ve said before there is so much that can be done with them in a volume of this new adventure for Gotham City.
The story featured a version of one of the Gotham Rogues that is a little more grounded in reality than he is used to in the comics, once again Johns going for the Nolan angle. The end gives us a glimpse at the next possible foe for Bats to throw down against and it looks like to be off to a good start. I’m wondering if we’ll see more than two villains in the next volume and better yet another original villain. The Birthday Boy was definitely an original villain though not very multi-faceted… and yes that is a terrible name but just give him a chance, it’s not so bad.
Batman Earth One is a damn good read, though that also means that it’s a quick one at only 144 pages. The book isn’t something that will knock your socks, but it’s something new for the Dark Knight that will definitely entertain and leave you wanting a bit more. One thing that strikes me as odd is that with the Earth One Batman, the costume shows his eyes instead of being white like in every other comic. To me this adds a bit of mortality to the character, showing that he is only human and not yet built up to his legendary status like he is in the DC universe we all know and love. Maybe after having a few more notches under his belt we’ll see the white eyes come back. But then again, the eyes showing cowl hasn’t been this cool since Adam West donned the suit…. (That’s debatable of course.)
So this is it. The last comic in the DC Universe we know until the new 52 starts, which just so happens to be today with the only other DC Comic to be released this week in Justice League #1. But let’s start with the end of Flashpoint.
Last time we saw it was definitely end game time with all the major players in action. Cyborg, Batman and Flash squaring off against Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Thawne, the Reverse Flash. It’s definitely a little confusing with all of the time travel stuff and I have to admit it sort of ended with not so much of a bang. It felt a little rushed, but had a nice little touch at the end which I enjoyed. It reminded me of Back to The Future actually… Now don’t go on if you don’t want to spoiled because there are spoilers aplenty.
As Flash and Thawne square off it is not only revealed that Thawne was not the culprit behind the alternate timeline, but it was Barry himself! DUN DUN DUN!
So let me break it down…. Thawne could never kill Barry Allen as you may well know because then he could never be in the 25th century. But when Barry went back in time and pulled the Speed Force entirely into him to stop Thawne from killing his mother he basically reversed their roles and shattered the timestream into what we’ve been experiencing in Flashpoint. Thawne was running through the timestream when Barry altered it and was basically turned into a walking, talking paradox as he now existed outside of it. All the times Thawne tried to kill Flash, it would never work because with no Barry Allen from the past to create a Speed Force to carry on into the 25th century, Thawen would never have been the Reverse Flash. If you ask me, the guy was a paradox before and I wasn’t getting the logic of Barry not being able to kill him, but it’s ok because Thomas Batman Wayne took care of that problem. I would think with Thawne existing outside of the time stream even Barry could kill him. But enough of this because my head is hurting.
After Thawne is finished it’s up to Barry to go back and make right his wrong! He travels through the timestream saying a final farewell to his mother before catching up with the Barry who went back to save his mother and stopping him from screwing up time. As he is running Barry is told by a weird looking broad that the time streams had been splintered into three to weaken the heroes for someone’s impending arrival and that the three must be turned back into one. Overall a very confusing ending. Is the New 52 going to be made up of three different realities? Who is going to arrive? Darkseid?
My favorite part of the issue was involving Bruce and Barry. Before Flash went to go fix everything, a dying Thomas Wayne gave him a letter to give to Bruce when he sees him. Barry gives the letter to Bruce after explaining everything that happened to him in the other timeline. I admit I got a little teary seeing Bruce cry over the letter and was glad that he got a little bit of peace from losing his parents even if it was his father from an alternate timeline.
Overall I give the issue a 3 out of 5. It was a little confusing as far as time travel stuff goes but still enjoyable. The only thing that stopped it from getting a higher score was how rushed and quickly wrapped up it was and it makes me think that the New 52 thing was decided upon after Flashpoint already started. But who knows. Either way, bring on the new 52 and let’s see how long it all lasts!
Flashpoint is here and it did not disappoint one bit. Thanks to Geoff Johns for that once more and especially Andy Kubert’s fantastic art! Now to the story of Flashpoint. At the end of the Road to Flashpoint, a three part arc taking place in The Flash ongoing series, it was revealed that the Reverse Flash is the one behind aging people beyond their years and that he is the anomaly messing with the timeline that Hot Pursuit was searching for. Unfortunately they do not catch him by the end of the arc and he settles for killing one Barry Allen (Hot Pursuit) since he can’t kill the real one. Hot Pursuit was a Barry Allen from on the alternate Earths and he is now a pile of dust thanks to Reverse Flash. At the end of that arc a bolt of lighting flashes and everything changes. It was very reminiscent of House of M to tell you the truth, just as the Scarlet Witch changed reality.
Barry Allen wakes up at work at the beginning of the issue, with his co-workers calling Captain Cold, Citizen Cold and a hero. They’re also puzzled by who “The Rogues” are. Flash hears there is a shoot out going on involving this “Citizen Cold” and the Pied Piper and instantly gets up to go investigate “Flash” style. He notices his ring is missing and then succeeds in promptly falling down the stairs… quite literally at the feet of his mother. You know, his mother who was killed by the Reverse Flash? Yeah, instant jaw drop for him but also a touching moment for us to watch as he embraces someone he hasn’t seen in years.