Comic Book: Batman: Earth One

Batman: Earth One is a 2012 graphic novel from DC written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank. The second installment of DC's "Earth One" line after Superman: Earth One, it aims to update the story of the Dark Knight for a new generation. The book has been critically acclaimed so far, although Bat-purists are likely to... well, go batty.

You know the basics of the story: Young Bruce Wayne sees his parents brutally gunned down in front of his eyes, and devotes his life to fighting crime, aided by his trustworthy butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and the stalwart cop James Gordon... except Alfred isn't really a butler. And James Gordon isn't very stalwart. And Bruce isn't about "fighting crime" so much as he is about "fighting the man who killed his parents": the mayor of Gotham City, Oswald Cobblepot. About the only thing to remain the same is Gotham, which is as much a Crapsack World as ever.

Batman: Earth One provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Harvey Bullock is a handsome former TV star, instead of an overweight, unshaven wreck. Though the ending strongly hints he's going to start rapidly sliding towards his mainstream canon appearance.
    • Oswald Cobblepot may not be a good-looking man, but he's a damn sight better than the heavyset, and frequently disfigured Penguin of the mainstream comics. This makes sense, as he probably wouldn't have been elected mayor of Gotham with his canon appearance.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Alfred's military background is played up a lot more than it is in most adaptations. In this version, he's a former mercenary who's initially brought on as the Wayne family's bodyguard, only to receive custody of Bruce when Thomas Wayne is killed. Though he sarcastically refers to himself as a butler (even though he isn't), he's still very capable in a fight by the time Bruce becomes Batman.
    • Oswald Cobblepot as well. He's not terribly formidable in a fight (though he holds his own against Bruce), but the fact that he's the Mayor of Gotham means that he's much more dangerous here than in most other versions.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Gordon gets hit by this, though reluctantly, and he rejects it by the end. While usually depicted as a resolutely incorruptible police officer, here he has a history of taking payoffs from the mob purely out of fear for his family.
  • Adaptational Wimp: The Earth One version of Batman more or less learned everything he knows about fighting from Alfred, having never travelled around the world mastering different forms of martial arts like his mainstream counterpart. It shows when he has trouble fighting off a group of cops, and when he gets caught off guard by the Penguin.
  • Adult Fear: The Birthday Boy, who kidnaps young girls, is implied to cut their throats and then keep their corpses rotting in Arkham Asylum's basement.
  • The Alcoholic: Harvey Bullock, at the end of the book.
  • Alternate Continuity: Is in its own continuity, separate from the main DC Universe. The Earth-1 in the latest DC Multiverse story, The Multiversity, isn't this Earth either. An extra in Superman: Earth One Volume 2 confirms that both Earth One stories take place in the same universe.
  • Badass Beard: Alfred Pennyworth. No, really.
  • Batter Up: Bullock, when he decides to go after Axe.
  • Battle Butler: Played with. Alfred is not a butler, but decides to call himself just that after he takes custody of Bruce. As for the battle part, well...
  • Bedlam House: Averted with the Arkham Mansion, which hasn't yet been converted into an insane asylum at the time of the story (though it's just as nightmarish as ever).
  • Big Bad: Mayor Oswald Cobblepot for volume one.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Alfred's rescue of Batman at the end of the volume.
  • Brits with Battleships: Former Royal Marine Alfred Pennyworth.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: The 15-year-old girl reported missing, with birthday candles placed at her open window. She presumably shows up later as the Birthday Boy's first in-comic victim.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Alfred is drawn to resemble Christopher Lee and Sean Connery.
  • Composite Character: In this version, Martha Wayne was born Martha Arkham, and given she dies as tradition, this makes Batman himself the Arkham family's last living heir, much like Dr. Jeremiah Arkham in the main series.
  • Corrupt Politician: Oswald Cobblepot is this all the way. Bonus points for resembling a Napoleon-sized Richard Nixon.
  • Death by Adaptation: Oswald Cobblepot is shot and killed by Alfred at the end.
  • Demoted to Extra: Harvey Dent. He is still D.A., but his sister plays more of a role than he does. Harvey does show up in a flashback to deliver some exposition and get punched in the face by an angry Bruce.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Harvey Bullock goes crashing through this after he hits a light in the aforementioned basement.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Subverted.
    Harvey Bullock: This is Gotham City. It's bad cop, bad cop!
  • Handicapped Badass: Alfred has a limp and uses a cane. A fight with Bruce shows that his right leg has a prosthetic, thus the need for a cane. Thomas Wayne apparently made it for him during the war they met in.
  • Haunted House: How most Gothamites see the old Arkham Mansion (it's not an Asylum yet). It's been abandoned ever since Martha Arkham's mother killed her husband and herself in it, and it has a reputation for driving people insane.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Batman actually starts out this way, not being nearly ready enough for the job, being a failure at keeping a low profile, and equipped with malfunctioning gadgetry to boot. As the story progresses, he becomes a more capable fighter and finds a better source of equipment, slowly becoming the badass we all know and love.
  • Implacable Man: The Birthday Boy during his battle against Batman, Gordon, and Bullock. Nothing will keep him down, and his massive strength lets him overpower all three of them for most of the fight.
  • Insistent Terminology: "It's Mayor Cobblepot."
  • Jabba Table Manners: Mayor Cobblepot.
  • Knife Nut: The Birthday Boy favours a carving knife.
  • Mayor Pain: Oswald Cobblepot is this all the way, running Gotham like a mob operation.
  • Mythology Gag: Several.
    • Mayor Cobblepot is mentioned to dress in trademark "penguin suits". He also maintains his habit of keeping birds in his office.
    • Alfred at one point says "tt". Mayor Cobblepot later delivers a "kk".
    • Much as in The Dark Knight Saga, Lucius Fox is a demoted researcher languishing in the lower levels of Wayne Industries.
    • When Bruce punches a young Harvey Dent in the face as a child, there's a close-up shot that makes half of his face look distorted and ugly from the punch's impact.
  • Not So Abandoned Building: The old Arkham Mansion isn't quite as abandoned as everyone thinks — it's actually being used as a lair by The Birthday Boy.
  • Old Soldier: Alfred is characterized as such, with his being a veteran a major part of who he is.
  • Parasol of Pain: Mayor Cobblepot uses a sword umbrella to surprise Batman during their final confrontation.
  • Private Military Contractors: Alfred worked for one in Seoul.
  • Promotion to Parent: Alfred. He hadn't seen Thomas Wayne for years and just briefly reunited with him before Thomas's death - then Alfred found out that the Waynes had named him Bruce's legal guardian should anything happen to them.
  • Psycho for Hire: The Birthday Boy, a serial killer whom Mayor Cobblepot keeps on the payroll by supplying him with victims.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Martha Arkham's mother wasn't a psychiatrist herself, but she was a prominent crusader for mental health coming from a long line of them. Then she went insane and killed herself, and her family's mansion was subsequently abandoned (becoming Gotham's resident Haunted House in the process).
  • Serial Killer: The Birthday Boy, who kidnaps and murders young girls, and leaves candles on their pillows. He usually bakes a cake for his victim as well, and demands that they "make a wish" before he knifes them.
  • Sequel Hook: Barbara Gordon is seen drawing a Batgirl costume. The Riddler is seen musing about Batman's secret identity.
  • Shadow Archetype: The abandoned Arkham Mansion (owned by Bruce's mother's family in this version) is a dark reflection of Wayne Manor in more ways than one. They were both owned by two of the most powerful families in Gotham, but one is a resplendent beacon of wealth and status while the other is a decrepit wreck, showing how high one family has risen and how far the other has fallen.
  • Spoiled Brat: Young Bruce. Then his parents die.
  • The Stinger:
    "Who is Batman? What a riddle."
  • Terror Hero: This is Bruce's objective, though his presentation still needs some work.
  • Wretched Hive: Gotham City is even more miserable than ever, and under the control of The Penguin to boot.
  • You Killed My Father: Bruce's motivation in this version. He becomes Batman so he can bring down Mayor Cobblepot, who had his parents murdered so that Thomas Wayne couldn't get elected Mayor.
  • Younger and Hipper: As oppsed to other versions, where he's older than Bruce, this Lucius Fox is younger than him.

Alternative Title(s):

Batman Earth One