Of the various Earth One books I sampled a while back, I think I enjoyed the Batman series the best. True, Wonder Woman only had one volume, but let’s go one step at a time.
Volume two picks up shortly after the first. Batman is now roaming the streets at night, taking down petty criminals and inspiring fear in the hearts of crooks everywhere. James Gordon is cleaning up the police department. Harvey Dent is the DA, and his twin sister Jessica is the new mayor. Harvey Bullock has basically crawled into a bottle. Alfred is still insisting Batman have things like firearms and body armor, or maybe let a crook die once in a while even if its only accidental. Alfred is also loudly insisting that Bruce stop sharing so much with other people.
The plot here comes when the Riddler comes to town. Basically set up as some sort of mad bomber, the Riddler sets up traps that tend to explode when people don’t answer his riddles correctly. Is he doing it randomly, or is there a purpose to his madness? Batman at this point isn’t much of a detective, though he does ask Gordon for lessons (Alfred disapproves).
Along with a rather deadly version of the Riddler, the reader is treated to different incarnations of Killer Croc, an origin for what looks like Two-Face, and a last page reveal of another classic Bat-villain that should come as something of a surprise.
And still no sign of the Joker. Keeping Batman’s deadliest foe away for the time being is working out rather well, since pulling the Clown Prince of Crime up early on would seem to be more of a cliche than anything else. With potential set ups for both the Batcave and the Batmobile, there’s real progress being made on what Batman will eventually become.
Geoff Johns’ story and Gary Frank’s artwork continue to bring about a dynamic and dramatic story. I’m giving this volume nine out of ten urban sewer legends.