Robot 6

Earth One graphic novels to retell early years of Batman, Superman

Superman: Earth One

Superman: Earth One

DC Comics announced this morning it will tell stories from the early years of Superman and Batman in a series of graphic novels set “on a new earth with an all-new continuity.”

Superman: Earth One, by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis, will journey back to Smallville and chronicle “the journey of Earth’s greatest adopted son, as he grows from boy to Superman.” Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, will take Bruce Wayne back to Crime Alley, where tragedy set him on the path to become the world’s greatest detective.

Batman: Earth One allows Gary and I to break the restraints of any continuity and focus on two things: character and story,” Johns tells Ain’t It Cool, which appears to be down.

The books will debut in 2010, but no specific date was announced.

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Comments

19 Comments

…Wasn’t this kind of the point of the “All Star” AND “Confidential” lines? I know those are more just “random early-days” stories but do we REALLY need yet ANOTHER retelling of origins? Or here’s an idea: Put quality writers and artists on the other 2 lines so they’re actually good and people read them. Aside from ASBAR (which is probably the most fun train wreck i’ve ever seen) they’ve ALL sucked! I’m friggin embarrassed for Tim Sale on that POS Superman Confidential “first kryptonite” idiocy.

Can somebody explain what’s so confusing about Batman or Superman continuity that another new one needs to be introduced? I mean, bring back Bruce and maybe give him a Robin that isn’t his crazy long-lost son, and you should easily be able to do Batman stories that require no knowledge beyond “rich guy, dead parents, fights crime.”

Nice to see DC embracing OGNs though. I’m curious to see whether it’s the beginning of a wider change in their line, and whether Marvel will follow suit.

I think the selling point of these OGNs isn’t that they’re re-telling/re-vamping the origins, but that they’re aimed toward building a new audience via bookstores instead of comic book shops. These books aren’t strictly for us.

It’s DC’s ultimate line.

And there are some good creators on there, so I see nothing wrong with it.

So, wonky question here: Is “Earth One,” then, literally the new “Earth-1″ we saw created at the end of Busiek & Bagley’s “Trinity?” That would be kind of nice.

See, this is what they need to do. I’m not sure about Shane Davis, though…

Marvel’s mistake with the Ultimate line was making it the same old pamphlet based format. DC’s learned from that, good one on them.

Wesley’s comment was my first thought, too. This is an attempt to capture a bookstore market by creating a linear, self-contained line of books that can bypass the labrinthine, obtuse continuity-obsessed collections that make up the majority of what DC and Marvel try to push onto bookshelves.

The graphic novel section at every bookstore I’ve ever visted is a total mess. Books of all different sizes and shapes with no clear markings stating “this is the place to start”. Whereas, you move to the manga section and it’s very tidy. All the books are the same shape and size with a standard trade dress that’s distinctive to the particular series. Much more user friendly, and I think DC is trying to get a “re-do”, to make it easier to have a place for people interested in the characters to start and have a discrete, linear path to follow, without all the headaches associated with the random collection of books that make up the rest of the graphic novel section.

I think it’s a great idea, honestly, and I’m suprised it’s taken this long for one of the big two to man up and step out on the limb with an OGN only line. As another poster said, it’s what the Ultimate line should have been in the first place.

“I think it’s a great idea, honestly, and I’m suprised it’s taken this long for one of the big two to man up and step out on the limb with an OGN only line..”

i agree with this. it`s still so boring tho.

Sounds like a great idea to me! I think the trade-only, low-continuity approach will attract a lot of new readers. It was the Ultimate trades that got me into comics in the first place, and I always thought either Marvel or DC should try doing something trade-exclusive. I think Marvel missed their chance with the ultimate universe, though. The ultimate books would have been more successful in the longterm if they’d had some sort of over-arching story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. One of the problems with superhero stories is they never have a definitive end, or the accompanying closure and satisfaction that the reader gets from a series of novels or a movie. Its sounds like DC might be doing something like that here, retelling the stories of their greatest heroes with one overarching plot. If that is what they’re doing, I’ll be very excited to see the result.

Zachary Michael

December 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Mixed feelings on this one. I’m glad that they’re trying to tap into a new audience in a smart way. But i’m bummed because it’s a real talent drain-Gary Frank is a great artist, Shane Davis is good and getting better, I was hoping to read some of JMS’ work when he came to DC. But I don’t have an interest in seeing Superman’s formative years again nor do i particularly care to see Geoff Johns on Batman.

I imagine that the problem with these attracting new readers is they will be put on a shelf in the “comic book/TPB” section of bookstores, and to a “new reader” they will look just as complicated and continuity laden as every other Superman/Batman trade on those shelves.

In terms of format, this is brilliant. The monthly single issues, which are always only parts of a story and never a story unto themselves and are constantly sky-rocketing in price are no way to bring in new readers and the comic book speciality store is a dead-end. Putting a line of continuity-free, introductory, self-contained OGN’s created by some of the most popular creators and directing them toward mainstream bookstore readers is exactly what they should have been doing for awhile now.

It terms of content, this is useless. Everyone knows the origin stories of these characters. Having said that, however, the origin stories are the most interesting things about them. As is the case with any person, real or fictional, the most fascinating thing about them is what defines them… their “who they are and how they came to be”. With these corporate-owned superhero characters, the original story tells the full tale of their character, personality and the dynamic of the world they live in… every story thereafter is just maintaining that status quo. It should go without saying that this gets pretty damn boring after 8 decades or so. This is why the Ultimate line was so popular and it’s why the movies ALWAYS tell the origin story. It’s just more compelling.

If DC really wanted to innovate, they’d… I dunno…create new characters?

Also, I hate to double-post, but this kind of ties in with another story that appeared on the Robot 6 blog today – the Mark Millar Idea twitter. The basic gag there is that there are only so many things you can do with these corporate-owned superhero characters without breaking them. In order for them to remain intact, you have to color within the lines and it’s REALLY hard to be drastically innovative while doing that. At the end of the day, the beginning and ends of a story are the parts people remember the most so if you’re not allowed to finish them off, re-telling the origin again and again is on the horizon for the NEXT century, as well.

MrSomebody said:

“One of the problems with superhero stories is they never have a definitive end, or the accompanying closure and satisfaction that the reader gets from a series of novels or a movie. Its sounds like DC might be doing something like that here, retelling the stories of their greatest heroes with one overarching plot. If that is what they’re doing, I’ll be very excited to see the result.”

That’d be pretty cool but I doubt DC has the stones to do it.

I think Wesley Smith (3rd post) has it right: “…building a new audience via bookstores…”

Most comic book fans at the LCS aren’t going to buy this.

After reading the interviews with the writers, it looks like this isn’t what everyone’s complaining about as “Yet ANOTHER origin story.” Obviously with a new continuity that they get to control, they have to touch on it a little, but it seems more to work as character examinations and using them in ways that they don’t have to worry about Superboy or the 31st Century or that time Batman went to space or whatever. Stripped down and straight forward stories of popular characters that anybody can get into, along the same lines of the Joker OGN.

I’ll be reading these for sure.

It seems to me like the story wouldn’t be much different than what a movie does. As in, when Batman Begins came out, it was a continuity free Batman story about his origins. When Iron man came out it was a continuity free Iron man story about his origins. Same with X-men, Wolverine and soon similarly with Green Lantern.

However, saying that, I still loved watching those movies and I love JMS so I will definitely check this out.

Finally, it’s great to see DC pursue a pure “Ultimate” line of comics.

All-Star was more of a creator vanity (in the best sense of the term) line where the writers decided to distill the characters to their ideas, and Confidential feels more like stories outside and independent of continuity.

This promises to actually be an alternate, modern timeline. And that is a perspective and angle I’d LOVE to see DC characters, who are often relegated to this sort of SIlver-Age and larger than life image, take on, that is a more modern feel. And plus, from what it seems to indicate, these stories will have ramifications in this self contained world, meaning we’ll see the books affect each other unlike the All-Star books.

I haven’t read the articles or reviews. Too tired. But does DC call them their attempt at an ultimate universe? Because that is what many readers said about the All-Star line when it started. If DC isn’t calling it their ultimate universe, fans shouldn’t either.

I just don’t get the whole “Earth One” thing. Seems needlessly confusing, especiall if they’re aiming these books at the general bookstore crowd rather than the continuity obsessed fanboy.

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