More than three years since DC Comics first announced the project, the publisher confirmed this week that Batman: Earth One will finally go on sale in 2012. Created by the former Action Comics and Superman: Secret Origin team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Earth One is an original graphic novel that retells and apparently re-imagines the beginnings of Batman, designed with an eye for new readers and the bookstore market. The Batman book is a companion piece to the identically formatted Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis, which was a considerable commercial success for DC when it was released in 2010.

DC has released the first (unlettered) story pages from Batman: Earth One, along with some remarks from Johns and Frank, which you can check out below.Like the Superman book, Batman: Earth One modifies details of Batman's earliest days from those that are generally considered canon. Specifically, the young Bruce Wayne of Earth One did not embark upon a globetrotting identity quest as part of his Bat-training, and Alfred appears to be anything but the frail elderly gentlemen that we're used to seeing in comics and film.

Johns and Frank discussed the changes at DC's The Source:

"Gary and I are tackling BATMAN from the beginning, before he knows what he's doing and with a very different ultimate goal in mind," said Johns. "He's never left Gotham. And our Gotham and the people in it are very gray. Our heroes unlikely. Our villains hidden. Our story is only beginning with volume one."

"It's essentially the first piece of the jigsaw," said Frank. "He's not the Batman people know, but he might be one day. He's certainly not yet a superhero. The fun is to watch him piece the persona together drawing on his experiences and the influences of those around him and, at this stage, the idea of becoming a 'superhero' hasn't even entered his head."

A release date is forthcoming, but readers can expect Batman: Earth One (Johns' first time writing a solo Batman title) to go on sale sometime this year.

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