DC’s Earth One series has been, for me, a mixed bag. Though not keen on the Green Lantern and Teen Titans iterations, I really enjoy the Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman volumes, so the release of a third Batman one was right up my (crime) alley.

Shorn of decades of continuity, these volumes stick us at the beginning of Batman’s superhero exploits, not a new idea in comics but one that has thrown up many great series over the years. The difference with Earth One is that each volume is released solely as a graphic novel, and as such the creative teams do not have to split the story into chapters which can lead to a much more free flowing end result.

Back again on volume three are writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, and straight off it’s clear that the quality from the first two isn’t going to drop. Frank is one of my personal favourites, and he does a stunning job throughout, including some legendary full page pieces. We are introduced to Catwoman, who is played just right, plus the return of Bruce Wayne’s maternal grandfather, thought dead for decades. Add to this another supposedly dead man providing weapons to any criminal who wants them for free and you have a mystery wrapped in potential chaos for Gotham.

Geoff Johns is usually a safe pair of hands (except on the last Wonder Woman movie – ouch), and he does an excellent job once again. We haven’t got Robin yet, but Batman is partnered with a non killer Killer Croc (and his dog, BatDog) plus a still old but tough as nails Alfred. It does get a little melodramatic right at the end, but it’s still a great rush, the comic equivalent of riding a shopping trolley down a steep hill.

If you liked the previous two, there’s really no reason not to get this straight away. If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into the Earth One universe, then the three Batman volumes are a great place to start. Dark, gritty, violent and beautifully presented, Batman: Earth One is still a real triumph.

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