Batman Earth One, Volume 3 was the best book I’ve read from Geoff Johns in quite some time! Maybe since Batman: Earth One, Volume 2. It’s been 6 years (!!!) since the second volume was published and almost a decade since the first. Sometimes I wish the Earth One books would come out more regularly, but I think it might lessen the novelty.
As with the first two volumes of the series, and the rest of the Earth One line, what we get here is something of a reimagining of Batman as a more down-to-earth and street-level hero. Character back stories and personalities are changed. The changes are often surface level, but it’s enough to make for a take that you haven’t read before. That’s a good thing considering the expansiveness of the Batman canon. The Catwoman rebrand was actually pretty clever, but I thought Johns failed to really explore what could have been beyond just a changing name and costume.
It’s a perfectly serviceable Batman story and for whatever reason it does feel distinct from the main line offerings. The writing is reminiscent of Johns’ work from around 2006-2012, which was a good era for him. It’s not trying to be anything pretentious or revelatory. It’s just a good, and more grounded, Batman plot. Some of it, admittedly, doesn’t make a ton of sense but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
Gary Frank is a great artist and can draw Batman until he no longer wants the job as far as I’m concerned. It’s a good fit for the story too. Frank doesn’t need over-the-top villains and action to keep the book visually interesting.
I actually got a bit excited for the teases for volume 4 in the closing for this book. Hopefully Johns and Frank can manage not to get side-tracked by movies and subpar maxi-series so it isn’t a 6 year wait for the next entry.