Title: Batman: earth one.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Other info link: Here
Earth One is another experiment in DC's ongoing reboot obsession. The Earth one universe is a self contained cannon built just for modern takes on existing characters (where that leaves Earth 2 is beyond me). As much as DC's obsession with alternate versions of characters can be infuriating its also liberating when its at this level of quality.
I will try my best to avoid specific plot spoilers abut can't promise to be spoiler free....
The Batman of Earth One is a more raw Bruce Wayne who has received most of his training for the well loved Alfred Pennyworth. However in this version of events Alfred is Thomas Wayne's old war buddy and trusted head of security (briefly) who begrudgingly takes the role of Bruce's guardian after mummy and daddy come to an untimely end.
The Batman that Bruce becomes is low tech and brutal but also amateur grade and filled with anger, lacking the menacing reserve that our beloved core timeline Bruce has developed.
The main thing that stands out articulacy in this book is that batman's eyes are exposed, from a story point of view this fits as Batman has not yet gained his technological edge's but it served the reader by offering a more an emotional connection to this man.
Alfred is taken on an artistically fresh journey, he is no longer drawn as a gentleman butler but as an aged and worn soldier, his awareness of his environment and his distrust of his fellow man is nailed perfectly without a single line of dialogue and the delicate cane he walks with serves to highlight the reasons that he hasn't gained his own cape and cowl.
Every other characters in the book is also darker and more brutal with James Gordon a broken cop who wants little more than to keep his daughter safe. A penguin mayor who does not shy away from depravity and evil this serves to show just how rancid Gotham is without a real Batman there to fend off darkness as it spreads.
We are treated to a version of Martha Wayne (maiden name Arkham) who appears to be a little unstable, echoing back to the Flashpoint version of her that personally I loved. granted this is explored through flashback and dialogue more than direct exposition.
Strangely however the one shining light in the story is the captivating yet under used Barbara Gordon who is drawn some how cleaner than the rest of the cast with a radiating warmth that purposefully missed the tone of the world she lives in. She is the character in the story that interests me the most.
The story reads like a TV pilot but I mean that in the most respectful and complimentary way. Earth One is an easy read that you can simply fall through with little effort and its a pleasure to experience. I think this setting is ideal for this raw Batman and I would love to see more of this kind of story.
In short, buy this book. if you like Batman and can stomach alternate Earths this is the closest thing to a 'realistic' Batman story you are likely to encounter any time soon. Here is an Amazon UK link to save you some time