This article explores the impact Earth One and Year One Graphic Novels have had on modern live action adaptations of Superheroes such as Green Arrow, Batman, and Superman, and provides a poll for you to answer the question: Which DC Superhero would you like to see get an Earth One title next? - 10/12/2012
POLL: WHICH OTHER JUSTICE LEAGUE MEMBERS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE GET AN EARTH ONE OR YEAR ONE COMIC?
First off, for those who haven´t read the following graphic novels, shame on you, and you call yourself a comic fan?! ☺ Anyway, read them;
they´re really, really cool, definitely worth the read, and also if your a "spoiler junkie", like me, they have a huge impact on upcoming live action adaptation projects of DC characters.
Batman: Earth One
Superman: Earth One
Green Arrow: Year One
Batman: Year One
(There are other Year One titles, but they depict the lives of side kicks, such as, Bat Girl and Robin. And being honest, don´t really fit into the general tone of the series that bares it´s name, so I haven´t counted them)
What distinguishes Earth One And Year One Comics:
This is a series of standalone graphic novels that chronicle the origin stories of the major DC characters, positing the question: What would happen if they were set in modern times?
The distinguishing factor of these graphic novels is their sense of psychological realism. They update both Superheroes and villain´s as well as supporting cast members; focusing not so much on reinventing them, as much as reimagining them, taking into account, their motivations, their struggles, why they´ve decided to become heroes, what it feels like to become these larger than life characters. As such, psychology plays a huge role, in fleshing out what makes Clark decide to don the cape, and Bruce the cowl. And for the first time we really get the sense of how they struggled with this decision.
A twisted serial killer called The Birthday Boy, sure to become a reoccurring villain in Batman Lore.
Secondly the series follows our heroes, from a very young age, discovering them in troubled periods of their lives, trying to cope with their inevitable destinies.
Clark Kent questions his reason for possessing his gifts
A new more action oriented Alfred giving young Bruce a taste in humility.
The last thing that connects this series, thematically, is the writers employ a darker more mature tone, often casting new light or twists on well established characters or aspects of our heroes mythologies.
The Earth One comics in particular have been a huge commercial and critical success, with both Batman and Superman titles being added to The New York Times best seller list, probably the most important book review in the world, and hailed receiving mostly positive reviews.
WHICH OTHER JUSTICE LEAGUE MEMBERS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE GET AN EARTH ONE OR YEAR ONE COMIC?
|John Stewart (GL)|
|Hal Jordon (GL)|
|Justice League Team|
Why Comic Movie Fans Should Care About These Publications:
“With Superman Earth One Stracynski has once again managed to do what he does best – reimagine an iconic character in a way that seems completely accessible, fresh and most important humantistic.”
- David Goyer
Writer of The Dark Knight, Batman Begins And The Man Of Steel
I think it´s important to start this section of the article with the above quote, as you can see straight from the horses mouth, the kind of source material, Screen Writers and directors seek out. This series of comics, along with some key graphic novels, from their inception have been a huge influence on Hollywood, and the various incarnations we´ve had of Batman in particular. I think in future, with comic audiences tastes becoming ever more refined, The Darker Graphic Novel will become the breeding ground, of many a television show, animated movie and live action movie.
One only has to think, why Nolan chose Bane as the villain of the third installment of The Dark Knight trilogy, over the fan and studio favorites, The Riddler and The Penguin?
Many have respected Nolan´s, decision, claiming it came from an artistic fortitude; I personally don´t think so. The only reason Bane was chosen, is because, Nolan and company, had a great comic story run to steal ideas from. Knight Fall and Dark Knight Returns were seemlessly fused together by Nolan´s team. Of course in the first part of Frank Miller´s extremely popular Dark Knight Returns Graphic novel, Batman faces a similar threat from the leader of The Mutants as he does Bane i.e. a physical one, and overwhelming odds as Gotham becomes over run by criminals.
It would have been a lot harder, and required far more creativity on Nolan´s part to have The Riddler, or The Penguin, as villain, because despite being amongst Batmans´ most recognized and charismatic villains, they haven´t had many good graphic novel story lines.
The villain in Dark Knight Returns, giving Batman a similar style beating to the one he famously received from Bane in which Bane broke his back.
Clearly, Nolan saw the opportunity to fuse Dark Knight Returns, and, Knight Fall storylines, as each has a equally monstrous villain who betters Batman physically.
However, in terms of sales, I am of the opinion that Nolan´s Dark Knight Rises may have been an even bigger commercial success if he had have chosen villains, who match up to the Joker´s charismatic status. The Riddler for instance, alone may have added a good 100 million, to it´s opening weekend.
And It seems DC are already trying to remedy this situation. Cause riddle me this Bat fans, who do you think the main villains are in Geoff John´s Batman Earth One part 1 and 2?:
That´s right The Penguin, given his most sinister depiction to date. And:
Go figure, The Riddler
Most recently C or even D-List superhero, Green Arrow is making head lines due to his brand new CW show: Arrow. Already being lauded a critical success, I got a chance to watch it the other day, and was pleasantly surprised. However, the creators of the show, were actually drew inspiration for the TV Show from the 2007 limited miniseries, Green Arrow Year One. In this stand alone series, which was completely detached from DC´s normal status quo continuity, Oliver Queen´s mythology is taken out of the comicbook universe - it´s traditionally found in, with his trademark boxing glove arrow - and transported into a much darker realm, grittier, bleaker street world, dowsed in mystery, contaminated by secrets, and polluted by thugs, insane killers and organized crime. Oh and guess what?! No super powers were allowed in this comic run as well; rather all Oliver´s rogues, were translated into non-powered forms. If in the comics they had super strength, instead they´d be body builders. The writers and creators of the show have acknowledged direct influence from Green Arrow Year One.
With the new TV show launching with massive numbers, it seems like DC fans are about to step into a surreal world in which Green Arrow is seen as cooler than say Green Lantern. (I swear the first of my noncomic book reading friends who tells me they think Green Arrow, is just a lot cooler than Superman, Wonder Woman or The Incredible Hulk, cause: “there just more realistic, and have weaknesses, you know, so I can relate to them more.” I swear to god, I´m going to just knock them clean out. Simply blasphemous)
Now onto, Batman Begins. Nolan obviously took his cue from Batman Year One. It is clearly the case once you delve into the ultra, almost hyper realistic world of Year One.
Take the following two scenes for instance, which were seen as masterful strokes by Nolan, by non-comic reading movie goers:
Remember this for instance:
This scene in the movie, in and of itself guaranteed the success of any future installment of the Batman Trilogy. Without this Batman Year One, Nolan and team may have fallen into the trap of using The Joker before wetting the audiences appetite. If they had have used the Joker first, the sequel may well have not even been such a success.
Yep that´s right, the scene where Batman uses a high frequency signal to call on Bats for back up against Gotham PD, was actually Frank Miller´s idea. Miller could probably legitimately request DC pay him a huge sum, since quite frankly Nolan´s trilogy is an adaptation of his work. That´s If he hasn´t already.
With the current Man Of Steel movie helmed by Zack Snyder, even from the trailers one can see again a clear tonal influence from modern runs on the character; like that of Mark Waid´s Birthright or Earth One.
Mark Waid, was the first to give Superman this modernized treatment, but Earth One really crystalized Waid´s approach, and the influence is all over the two trailers we´ve seen thus far of M.O.S.
From the lost Clark Kent, wondering lonely across the world searching for his path in life, to Superman´s powers being displayed more realistically e.g. sonic boom in flight.
So why should say a Flash Fan, or a Green Lantern fan, or a Wonder Woman fan be interested in all this? Why should they want their favorite Justice League characters to get the Earth One treatment?
I´ll give you an example: what was the real problem with The Green Lantern film? It was this; screenwriters are not the imaginative artists that people tend to think; they are really business people, writers for hire who usurp good (or bad ideas as the case may be) from actual artists, novelists, biographers, comic book writers etc. and just adapt them for screen. Usually when they are lacking a good story to adapt, they don´t pride themselves on achieving something better, unless they´re passionate about the subject matter.
When it comes to Green Lantern, he´s had some fantastic runs in the comics, but as for revamping and retelling his origin story, not a lot of good work has been done, concentrating on that area alone. It is this reason that anyone attached to the project of introducing Green Lantern, would have a hard time drawing inspiration from the source material; in comparison to Superman or Batman´s origin, which have had so many classic interpretations (Red Son, Batman Year One, Secret Origins etc) and been retold billions of times. While, DC´s top two have tons of fantastic material to draw on, unfortunately, the same can not be said for GL: or even Wonder woman, who´s part of the so-called trinity.
So what happens? We get a screenwriter (Greg Berlanti), and director (Martin Campbell), who doesn´t approach the studio to make a GL film, or, take on the film as a personal passion project, because they feel they have GL story to tell, one they´re compelled to render to the realm of moving pictures; instead we get a creative team who are approached by Warner Brothers instead, as WB´s latest guns for hire, who could never make a great film with Green Lantern, because they can´t make head nor tails of him.
This is where an Earth One would come in very handy for characters like The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.
One, because Superman and Batman, have already given the brand commercial and critical prestige, and, two, this series of comics is reintroducing these characters to a broad and far more wide ranging audience. Its subsequently giving non-comic readers and filmmakers an in on how these characters mythologies can be revamped for our modern more cynical times.
The series has searched for the complex humanity of these characters and found it. Really drawing out the implications of their mythologies in subtle ways, that not only hardcore comic fans can accept, but that screenwriters - who spend a lot of time reading much more sophisticated material than your average comic – can accept, as well. It´s already revitalized interest in the Superman mythology and shown how malleable his story can be.
Who I personally would like to see given the Earth One or Year One treatment.
There are two characters in particular.
My first is The Flash. Why? I´ve always liked The Flash even though I kind of find him cheesy. I haven´t read many of his comics because I found him kind of hokey, a bit of fun, a joke, with a very eccentric rogues gallery.
However, every once in a while I dip in, and ever since reading Batman Year One and Superman Earth One I´ve thought, this guy could really use such treatment.
But what I love about the idea of Flash is the fact that of all the DC characters he´s the one who´s truly human. He´s just a normal dude, who gains god like powers, by pure chance. You might say well what about Batman, he´s just a human, or Green Lantern, he was also human then gifted his abilities. But with Batman, he´s very separate from humanity. First off, he´s a billionaire, which immediately puts him at a distance from the average person. But second and most importantly is that Batman is at the peak of human existence. He is something we ought to aspire to, rather than who we are. Physically, Mentally, and Monetarily he is superior in every way to most normal people, and therefore still at arms length from us.
With Green Lantern we have a similar story. Hal Jordan didn´t just find the ring, he was chosen by The Guardian’s, due to an inhuman will and inner strength.
The Flash on the other hand is just a normal guy, with a normal job, when an accident happens that grants him powers that could give Superman a run for his money. I believe there´s a great psychological gravitas to that story that should be explored and given a modern twist. I´d also like to see how they could modernize the origin of his powers and perhaps steep it in a more scientifically believable scenario.
I mean the lightning/chemical thing is a bit dated for my taste, and I think audiences may find it silly. But, others might disagree.
My second would be Wonder Woman. Now Wonder Woman is an excellent character, with a seriously good origin story, and some great villains.
It is often said of Wonder Woman that she fails because of a lacking rogues gallery. This is absolute nonsense. What I think happens is people read the names of her villains, and maybe a brief description and just assume they´re not that good. Or they see her Silver Age villains, and again think, man that´s silly. But everyones Silver age villains were terrible. Comic books then were forced to adhere to a strick code of conduct, preventing them from really pushing the creative envelope.
I´ll admit I was a victim of this as well. But I recently have got into Wonder Woman due to her Animated Feature; and it just occurred to me, I have no idea why I never liked this character? Plus she´s really hot. She´s now become one of my favorite superheroes along with Superman, Batman, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, Hitman, and, Captain Marvel.
Just to illustrate my point, I want to do a slight thought experiment with you. I want you to think about the following characters names, and just try and forget you´d been exposed to media interpretations of the character. What would you think of them?
Or even, try and convince someone not into comics that a character called Braniac is actually really cool. People most of the time have to see to believe. Hense the success of Iron Man.
Be really honest with yourself, if you hadn´t fallen in love with the animated series of The X Men, or, read the comics, could you really take a character named Magneto seriously. I know I´d think, no way that guy can be as cool as The Joker, (who is my favorite villain). I´d think, also no way can that can guy be translated into a cool movie villain, the general audience just wouldn´t accept him.
This just goes to show you can´t always judge a book by it´s cover, because now I love Magneto, and Braniac one of my favorites, I rank him up there with Lex Luthor as Superman ´s greatest enemy
In this sense Wonder Woman´s rogue gallery, is really as good as writers of the character make them. She has some villains like Dr. Psycho and Cheetah that I thought were pretty silly till I started reading the comics. Now, having read some interpretations of Dr. Psycho, and Cheetah, they are actually some bad ass mother[frick]ers.
Dr. Psycho, is an evil psychologist, who develops telepathic powers that allow him to place some truly disturbing subliminal suggestions into peoples minds like: “Its in your mouth, you have to stop it, before it reaches your brain.” While Cheetah, is easily the sexiest feline fem fetal this side of Cat Woman. Oh and did I mention she has a predilection for devouring human flesh.
Even more exciting are villains like Ares or Alkyone, who can now be established clearly as Wonder Woman archnemisis´. I mean how dark could you make a creature like Ares in a modern interpretation: a god who literally feeds off the psychic energies of war, and whose soul motive is to spread, suffering, hatred, and discord around the globe.
Alkyone in one of her typical upbeat moods.
Ares, feeling equally upbeat ☺
As for Alkyone, anyone who hasn´t heard of her, she is in Gail Simone´s recent run on WW (The Circle) and man I was blown away. She is by far one of the most psychologically fascinating villains I´ve ever read. I felt so sorry for this poor woman, and, yet she was an absolutely terrifying prospect. I´d describe her as a cross between Annie Wilkes, the psycho in the film Misery, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, but with the fighting and tactical prowess of Xena Warrior Princess. If a writer was given freedom to go to some really dark places with this character, I could see her becoming one of the greatest villains of all time.
As for WW woman´s mythology itself, I think it just lends itself to a modern interpretation that tries to draw out the implications of her character. In short WW comes from a utopian society, populated by immortal female warriors who have chosen to isolate themselves from the rest of the world; she is the only child born on this island, and that is all she´s ever known; when Captain Steve Trevor crash lands on Paradise Island, she finally gets the opportunity to travel to patriach´s world, as one of the amazons is to be assigned to escort Steve back to America.
This is every bit as classic a story as Superman or Batmans, and so much could be drawn from it. For instance, what would it be like to spend an eternity in Utopia? Would it feel like a prison even though it was paradise? Would a young Diana want to escape? And, once in the real modern world, what would she think of us?
As such I really think a long with the cool Greek mythological aspects of her story, Princess Diana´s tale would be a truly profound read, if taken in a darker, more realistic direction. Earth One could be the right way to achieve this.
Thanks for reading and please let me know any DC characters you think should be given Earth One comics? Any I´ve missed out? If you´ve read them what you think of the series? And, if you believe they are not as significant as I´ve stated?
Oh I should give an honorable mention to Martian Manhunter, I always forget the ones I love most, I´ve been writing a fanfiction for an Earth One style comic for him.
Let me know I´ll give a link if you want to check it out.
Sign This Petition if you´re interested in Wonder Woman Earth One comic.