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Mel’s Muses: Batman: Earth One and The Amazing Spider-Man #689

It’s San Diego Comic Con season this week as geeks all over the world make their way to San Diego, hope everyone has a safe and awesome weekend ahead! And with The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises burning up the summer box-office, what better books to look at than these two.

Batman: Earth One. Believe it or not, I was looking forward to this Batman graphic novel way more than Chris Nolan’s Batman movie this year. And why not? You got two of the best creators in the comic book industry working on my favorite superhero, the dream team of Geoff Johns writing and Gary Frank on art. I know it has been over two years since it was first announced but Batman: Earth One was definitely worth the wait.

This one-shot graphic novel is the retelling or reimagining of the familiar Batman origin story. You could say it’s another modern take on the classic tale but Johns has taken the best bits from various origin stories over the years. There’s something from Frank Miller’s Year One as well as a nod to Chris Nolan’s popular Bat movies among others. Johns has molded those little bat Easter eggs together and added a big chunk of original genius to give us a comic book that’s fresh, creative yet dark and grim in all the right places.

You can expect some very cool character dynamics too, just not between the folks you would imagine. The friendship between Gordon and Batman is almost non-existent while the partnership between Gordon and newcomer Harvey Bullock, well, it made me laugh and sad at the same time. Without the doubt, it’s the dynamic duo of Batman and Alfred that stole the limelight here. If Warner Bros ever does a movie based on this, old Clint Eastwood would be perfect to play Alfred! This is not your prim and proper English butler; instead you got a tough ass-whopping ex-Royal Marines as Bruce’s legal guardian. You can actually see a parallel between their relationship and the one between the main DC Universe’s Batman and Robin. I can almost imagine Alfred training a young Bruce in martial arts in Wayne’s Manor. Besides, I lost count the number of times Alfred saved Batman’s life in this story, just like the Caped Crusader saving Robin in all those other regular Bat titles!

As for Bat villains, not all of the Arkham regulars showed up. The ones who did will definitely have you begging for more although one seems very unlikely to make a return in the sequel and, oh yes, Johns has already promised one.

A day after turning the first page, I’m still reeling from the stunning art by Gary Frank. Every page is just so rich with action and emotion. Even without dialogue, the facial expressions and body languages told volumes. After this, I’m just glad I can still catch the longtime collaborators at work every month as they tell the new origin of Shazam and Captain Marvel in the pages of the Justice League.

Batman: Earth One has just overtaken Killing Joke as the single Bat graphic novel that I would recommend to anyone and everyone. You don’t need to catch up or be familiar with all things Bats to enjoy this. Easily the best pick for my week.

The Amazing Spider-Man #689. I thought writer Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man stories were all consistently good although I sort of expected more bang from his last ‘Ends of The Earth’ storyline, and I sure as heck did not expect the epilogue to be in a totally DIFFERENT title! Why would you print the epilogue to a multi-part story in another comic book?!? OK, now that I got that off my chest … anyway this issue is the second part of the current Lizard saga and I felt it was much better and engaging than Slott’s previous stories. I thought there were definitely more comedic moments here, subtle though they may be.

Spidey, the vampire Morbius and Modell, Peter Parker’s super genius boss at Horizon, have finally managed to cure Dr. Curt Connors of his evil man-eating Lizard alter ego, or so they thought. And herein lies the fun, Connors’ Lizard personality is actually still in control and what we get is a series of inner monologues where Connors/Lizard is trying to play the straight guy in front of everyone, while desperately trying to curb his reptilian bloodlust. Same with the scene where an apologetic Morbius was caught drooling at work for all the wrong reasons, it’s a little fun read that made me chuckle between panels.

The art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and inker Klaus Janson had some hits and misses. I especially liked that crazed look in all of Connors’ expressions although some characters appeared a little too much sharp and angular for my liking. Overall a good enough continuation of the Lizard saga that was left hanging from a couple years back and I’m certainly looking forward to the next chapter. Just make sure it’s not in another title.

Cavalock

Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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