Well I didn’t review Earth 2 Annual 1 seeing as how it revolved around a couple of characters that are going to be pretty much nonfactors in the Earth 2 universe going forward. Al Pratt, The Atom, was last seen freezing to death in Moscow and getting his arm ripped off by Superman, and Batman really does little in the issue besides shooting some villain by the name of Knockoff Mr. Freeze – I mean, Mr. Icicle.
So in Earth 2 Annual 2 we get a Batman origin story, which is something that we’ve seen thousands of times – but this is not the Batman we know, of course! This Batman has perhaps a far more tragic and heartbreaking origin story than Bruce Wayne’s, and it is done in such a way that makes him both a despicable and sympathetic character. It opens up with Batman talking to Hawkgirl and Red Tornado Lois, the only two characters he’s shown any sort of connection to during his time in Earth 2. He’s revealing his identity to Hawkgirl because of his respect for her detective skills, and Lois for her connection to Bruce.
We start off in the familiar setting of 1979’s Park Alley, better known as Crime Alley, and the scene of the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne at the hands of Joe Chill. We are treated to a very quick recap of that fateful night, and immediately transition to the previous Batman of Earth 2 at a mortician’s table. The corpse on the table is none other than Chill himself, and Bruce has taken it upon himself to determine the connection between his murder and the murders of several mafia members.
The men all belonged to the Falcone family, and we get an instant classic scene of Batman interrogating Frankie Falcone in his bed. Really quick, the whole “Batman interrogates someone in their bed” is one of my consistently favorite Batman scenes. You know what I’m talking about: the “Batman and Gordon talking on the roof” scenes, the “Robin gets mad at Batman for not caring about something and Batman makes it up to him later” scenes. It’s just one of those scenes that’s used in Batman stories that sticks in people’s minds.
During the interrogation, Falcone reveals that he had a connection with Thomas Wayne, after Thomas saved his life. There are some cool scenes that demonstrate that regardless of how high of a pedestal Bruce places his parents, Thomas and Martha were still human that did normal things that some would frown down upon.
There’s an assassin taking out all the people involved with the death of Thomas and Martha, His brutal method of murder seems to be caving people’s heads in with his own hands, thanks to some sort of Venom-like drug that enhances one’s strength. He’s also not shy around firearms, and he looks like another iconic Batman villain, insane to the max.
The assassin turns out not to be the person Bruce was expecting under the ski mask, and the revelation causes him to reject all help from said person. The assassin’s tale after that is a very sad one, but about half the book revolves around his life, so I’ll cut it short there. If you want the full run-down, do read the Spoiler Section. I’ll go into more detail there.
In the meantime, the artwork is done by Robson Rocha and Scott Hanna, who use the power of darkness to deliver the sadness and melancholy nature of this story. Every panel has its own shades of darkness, which correlates to the mystery surrounding Batman’s case and the identity of the assassin. This is divided with the flashbacks to Thomas and Martha’s earlier years, which are bright and filled with Disco-light. The one thing I took issue with was the depiction of Bruce’s death. In issue #1 of Earth 1, Bruce dies pretty much instantaneously when he downloads the virus into the Parademon tower. It’s supposed to be a heartfelt and dignifying death, as Bruce saves the world with his sacrifice. In “Origin,” Batman’s sacrifice is revisited, but his death makes Bruce look far more painful and grotesque, and Batman looks almost inhuman. It just put me off a bit.
- If you haven’t figured it out, this Batman is indeed Thomas Wayne. He was only seriously injured by Joe Chill, and hid from the world to protect Bruce.
- I liked that Bruce thought that the assassin was Jarvis Pennyworth.
- By the way, Jarvis Pennyworth was just as much of a bad-ass as Alfred is, and gets to open a can of whoop on some assailants.
- It’s not often we get to see Thomas and Martha’s first meeting, and I like that they showed it.
- We also get to see the death of Alberto Falcone, most famous (at least for me) from The Long Halloween.
- I felt really bad for Thomas during all the scenes where Bruce shuns him. He’s at Bruce’s wedding, Helena’s birth, and acts like the guardian angel for the Wayne’s (as if they needed one), but it’s a very painful yet endearing sequence.
- Oh, so Bruce just lets Thomas kill Falcone? That was a little weird for me.
- Those last few lines from Thomas sort of sum up his character. “I have no one left to disappoint.” It’s heart-wrenching to see such a strong and powerful person like Thomas Wayne fall so far into self-loathing and depression.
- Also, if Thomas stops taking those drugs, not only does he lose his strength and stamina, but I believe he will also die. I’d rather that not happen.
Favorite Quote: “You should know what kind of man you’re following.” – Batman, to Hawkgirl and Red Tornado Lois.
- You like relatively original origin stories.
- You’re a fan of Batman from different universes.
- You want to learn more about Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Strong artwork and a cathartic story make this one of the more powerful origin stories that I’ve read in a long time. An unexpected result, along with genuine heartache and sympathy, put this in one of my more favorite Batman origin stories of all time. I strongly recommended you read this even if you’re not reading Earth 2.