I was originally going to write a review of Batman: Earth One and then I realized that two other amazing stories I have recently read were also written by Geoff Johns. So I decided to review them all together and remark on how Geoff Johns is a fabulous comic book writer. Four birds, one stone.
Batman: Earth One
I’ll start with my original review of Batman: Earth One. This is a spectacular reimagining of Batman’s early years. While the original back story concept remains intact (Mr. and Mrs. Wayne are murdered, leaving a young Bruce Wayne to cope without family which ultimately leads him to become The Batman) the rest of the story has some interesting twists. For starters, Bruce is raised by ex-military, friend of the family, Alfred Pennyworth. We witness Bruce experience some scrapes, bruises, and lessons learned as Batman hones his skills to protect Gotham from its seedy underbelly.
Aquaman: The Trench
It seems the most surprisingly popular of DC’s new releases is New 52 Aquaman. Aquaman is most notable as being a cheesy character with seemingly undesirable powers. However, in the New 52 series, Aquaman proves himself more than capable of keeping up with the other “supers” and plays an integral role in rescuing the city from an underwater threat.
Johns does a wonderful job of addressing the audience’s potential dislike of Aquaman by beating everyone to the punchline. In fact, he allows Aquaman to suffer many jokes from supporting characters about his useless abilities to “talk to fish”, etc, but lets Aquaman prove to us that he has what it takes to catch our attention in a positive way. If you have ever felt that Aquaman was not worth your time, this series will definitely change your mind.
Justice League: Origin
Johns does an unsurprisingly amazing job of bringing together DC’s New 52 Justice League. For a serious story, Origin is refreshingly humorous. Issue 1 begins “5 years ago” (I guess that would be 6 years, now) following Batman chasing down an alien when he runs into Green Lantern Hal Jordan [Hal to Batman: You're REAL? :3 ] One by one, potential JLers are introduced to the audience and their reluctant teammates.
The characters behave just as you would expect newbie supers to act who have never met (trust issues) and are simultaneously loved and hated by the populace. They have believable human reactions (fighting each other during their first introductions because they don’t realize they are both “good guys”). We get to see the origin of Cyborg, the addition of Aquaman to the JL (see the above review for why that’s so awesome), and a young(er) Hal Jordan as Green Lantern before all the crazy stuff happened with the Guardians (be sure to catch up on Green Lantern, Red Lantern, and New Guardians, in Rise of the Third Army and Wrath of the First Lantern story arcs). This story was so great I actually bought volume 2 when it came out. ["What?" says my beloved blog-readers, "Jess, you BOUGHT a book??" I know. That's how good this story is. By the way, we now have volume 2 in the library system.]
It’s no coincidence that I love every book I read by Geoff Johns. His writing style is captivating and the reader can tell that Johns loves his characters. He fills each character to the brim with personality and keeps them consistent throughout each series that he writes. He knows his characters down to their 2-D, comic book souls. He stays true to each of them and never compromises their integrity to sell his story.
Check out more stories by Geoff Johns and tell me which ones are your favorite(s).
I have recently gotten caught up on DC’s New 52 Green Lantern, which is really a continuation of the War of the Green Lanterns story arc. I jumped into the GL series with Sinestro Corps War volumes 1 and 2. Although those books kind of drop you into the middle of things in the GL Universe, they do a good enough job of filling you in so that you could start from there. I was immediately hooked and needed to read the rest.
The greatest appeal to Green Lantern, for me, is the lack of “grittiness”. GL is not “dark” in the same way that Batman is “dark”. Even though the GLU has been updated to current times, it still holds the same 1950′s comics feeling in that the worst language from the series includes “son of a b—-” and “jacka–”. I realise this is less than wholesome for some, but since industry standards have changed to include the acceptance of nudity, violence, and harsh language, I feel that some series tend to take it to the extreme. I found it refreshing to find a series that still tries to remain family-friendly.
What do you think about Green Lantern?
Quick recommendation: Focused on writer/illustrator Darwyn Cooke, this collects Batman: Ego, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score, and a few smaller Batman stories. While Batman: Ego gets the cover, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score is the real treat here. Previously published as a standalone, this train robbery tale fills in Selina’s backstory while finding a balance between a gritty crime noir and an Ocean’s Eleven style heist story.
Put a hold on Batman: Ego.
Wednesday Comics was a 12-week experiment DC Comics ran last summer. Every week a new newspaper-sized comic was released with each page continuing a character’s story from the week before.
Of course major characters like Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern were featured, but some of the more compelling stories featured Kamandi, the last human on a future world inhabited by sentient animals; and Metamorpho, whose ability to transform into any element is lampooned by writer Neil Gaiman.
Since it was experimental, results vary. Deadman, a character I’m not typically interested in, has a great story and the team of Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck make excellent use of the oversize page. On the other hand, the Wonder Woman story by Ben Caldwell reads like a layout nightmare.
My favorite stories were the Metamorpho one mentioned above and Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s Supergirl. Those two are easily the most fun in the collection.
Final word: this is an extremely oversized hardcover so expect it to be huge.
I was skeptical about how haunted Haunted Gotham could be since the standard DC Universe Gotham City is already pretty spooky. But this Elseworlds series clears the bar, presenting a Gotham City with ghouls, talking skeletons, and snake men. This Gotham doesn’t appear on any maps and if you enter it, you can never leave. Even death brings no respite with Dark Gods hunting down souls of the dead.
Here an adult Bruce Wayne has been trained by his parents so he can assume his destiny. With their murder at the hands of a werewolf assassin, Bruce becomes Batman and a pawn in a much larger game. Dr. Thomas Wayne was a member of the “Invisible College,” a league of mortals aligned against the Dark Gods and The Batman was their ultimate weapon, but can Bruce fight evil without becoming evil?
Imaginary stories usually change the setting while the basic hero versus villain story plays out like normal. Bruce Wayne might be Batman in the Old West or he might be fighting against a vampiric Joker, but there’s no real surprise in store. This Batman seems less sure of himself and his ability to take on the supernatural. He’s challenged in ways his DCU counterpart isn’t – ways that make for a compelling – and dark – read.