Today I am delving back into origins, as it were. Only this time, it’s more of a redo. And kind of an Else World’s tale. Today, you see what it takes to be Batman, in Batman: Earth One. Written by the “can’t do anything wrong” Geoff Johns with artwork by “can’t miss” Gary Frank, this early version of the Dark Knight is anything but. And let me explain why I say that. Bruce is still a young man. He’s only just decided to take on the mantle of the bat. And even that gets touched upon. This may just be the penultimate origin story of Batman, slightly updated from even Frank Miller’s Year One epic.
The artwork styling is way different than the Gary Frank I remember from his run on Gen 13 all those years ago. But it works. Batman needs to be grittier. Even when he’s just cutting his teeth on busting heads in crime. The colors are a bit muted and darker. Nothing over the top in terms of brightness, unless you count new to Gotham PD Harvey Bullock’s plastic smile, fresh from Hollywood Detectives on the West Coast. Each character looked amazingly unique, but still had elements tracing back to both their four color universe versions, and real life actors who could easily portray these characters, should they decide to begin a series of DC Else Worlds movies. For instance, Alfred was a dead ringer for Sam Elliott. And if Elliott could pull off the British accent, it would work nicely. And then of course, Jim Gordon, the meek, afraid man, and terrified father of Barbara is never better than Gary Oldman. I mean, I could never see anyone but Gary playing Gordon and make it seem so natural. Bullock had the television good looks, and Bruce Wayne was of course the stoic pretty boy billionaire. I thought I had who Wayne was modeled after a number of times, but the mystery evades me. Frank pulls out all the stops with his trusty pencil and brush techniques shining brightly.
Next, I’ll tackle the writing. And Johns smacks another homer. It’s true. The dialog was crisp. The characters were spot on, and I got his point, where he chose to start them all out. Wayne was in over his head. Alfred, the concerned father figure. Gordon the too scared to try anything that would get him noticed. And Bullock, the brash newbie who figured why not dive in head first and make some noise. And those were just the main characters. We still had librarian Barbara Gordon who ends up in the mix. The Birthday Boy, who didn’t really speak so much as invade the scenes with his massive frame and simplistic dialog. But I guess a monster with a pithy vocabulary would be a bit superfluous.
Gordon’s strength of character grows by leaps and bounds and pushed to his cranial limits by Bullock. And Bullock, drops to the depths by the graphic novel’s final pages. The criminal element begins to take notice of the absurd man dressing as a bat and running on rooftops. Barbara also begins to spread her wings, so to say. Alfred feels the mission is over now that Bruce has exposed the corruption behind his parent’s murder. But Bruce, sees things differently. Now more than ever, with that monumental goal accomplished, is just the tip of the iceberg. The cowl stays on the well coiffed head of Bruce Wayne. But it appears he’s gonna have some allies as well as a bit of a rouges gallery building with the fantastic final page of Batman Earth One.
As you may not yet be familiar with my musings here on the Hardcore Review, or maybe, like the grades I deliver, you’re just a glutton for punishment, here’s how I deliver my analysis of the projects I review: I base everything here on a moment in wrestling history. Being that I call it the Hardcore Review, you might think I only scope out blood and guts or only rate based upon massive trauma and blood loss, but that’s just not true. To me, hardcore reflects more the attitude, the style, the words or limits pushed by those who make a career inside the squared circle. The more amazing the promo, hilarious the in ring skit, sexy or revealing the moment, tenacious the action or violent the chair shot the more I liked it. And with extremely little exceptions, the more references to Hulk Hogan, the more I wish I had been unconscious from drinking too much while I stumbled through whatever train wreck I am forcing you to live through in a vicarious kinda way. Batman Earth One is a solid piece of comic book story telling from both a literary and a visual aspect. It encompasses all emotions and pushes the reader to explore what a real world Batman might appear as. This book had some moments of sheer brutality. But it was poetic in its delivery.
So, I give you ECW Hardcore Heaven 2000, where the self proclaimed King of Old School, Steve Corino battled the Japanese Buzzsaw Yoshihiro Tajiri. The match saw Corino lose what seemed like half his blood, and take a mammoth ass kicking from the much smaller, but quicker and viscious Tajiri. Tajiri hit Corino with everything he could think of, and Corino kept kicking out. But finally, Tajiri laid out Corino’s second in Jack Victory, laid Corino prone on a table and delivered a sadistic double foot stomp from the top rope to end the match.