Here in May we are reviewing a couple of newer volumes, as well as one older one, keeping it in the focus of DC’s main heroes because of Convergence stealing all of our energy. The two new Earth One books may be something that DC fans will be turning to while the DC mega-event diverts all series. The Earth One series is essentially a different universe with a different continuity, but the same characters that we are getting to know through sequential graphic novels. The second one for Batman from Geoff Johns has been now released, and the third in the line for Superman. The third book we have here is an older collection of Tim Sale works on Batman that have not been collected before.
Batman Earth One: Vol. 2
This follow up to the first Batman Earth One was heavily weighted because the first one was forced to re-establish the origin story for Batman. This story has been retold to death, and we also had to go through a mega-long Zero Year event in the main Scott Snyder Batman title. People wanted to see this new Batman reboot continue, and even though the origin story was well told, we wanted to see where it would go from here. The second volume is a happy follow up telling a story surrounding The Riddler and having interesting takes on characters like Harvey Dent that are drastically different than most mainstream Batman continuity. The story itself lends itself a little to strong to the aftermath of the previous volume, which means it takes a little while to get going yet is not long enough to stray to far. With the amount of time we have to wait and the amount of backstory that we need, it would be nice to see these Earth One titles pushed to a little longer length. The art and characterization is all great, and the more humanized Killer Croc is a nice touch. Obviously Alfred is more of a post-military type of old “tough guy,” and Batman himself lacks many of the nuance and detective skills that he is generally known for. So we get the clear feeling that he is still learning, and has a long way to go. In general, this is a series to watch, even if it is not going to stand out as one of the great Batman books like Arkham Asylum, Dark Knight Returns, or Long Halloween.
Superman Earth One: Vol. 3
While this retelling of Superman’s early years is a worthy entry, it is not progressing in a way that we really would like to stand out. Similar to the Marvel Ultimate line, Superman Earth One is meant to update the character in a lot of ways. This is confusing since there have been a dozen of miniseries that have already done this, as well as just modern Superman books tend to be up on this. This books sees the return of Zod, as well as a burgeoning romance with the literal “girl next door.” Zod himself is not fully realized and we do not get full characterization, though we see Luthor supporting him at first until he switches and sides with Superman. This is a dramatic structural change for Luthor, and the end of his storyline is shocking. The relationship that Clark Kent begins to have is charming, especially in how supportive he is about his friend’s job as an escort. We see that he will likely be heading into a relationship, which is something that is sorely lacking form most Superman stories. In general, this was a bit of a disappointment, but only if you really expect a groundbreaking Superman volume.
Tales of the Batman, Tim Sale
This collection is meant to collect disparate early stories drawn by Tim Sales, who became famous for his Batman work with Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and the Halloween stories with Jeph Loeb. These collect five main stories, several of which from the 1990s, and one from Batman in Black and White. These stories are really only going to appeal to people who enjoy the earlier Batman work of the 1990s, and you are not going to see the more cutting edge Batman work that we have expected from Tim Sale. The art is beautiful, as to be expected, but again, not quite as striking as in his more central work. While these stories have all been well chosen, this is really going to be a volume to appeal to more hardcoare fans of Sale and Batman, and not just for the casual reader who enjoyed his classic work. It may be enough to hold us over, however, as we wait for Captain America White!