DC Comics’ solid family drama series is setting up a future Batman but also spending time developing and expanding the horizons of some fan-favorite Bat-related characters. This is not a book to be sleeping on if one is truly a fan of Gotham City and the characters within.
Digital comics is a realm that many comic book publishers have dabbled in from time to time in various ways over the years. Many times, when it comes to DC Comics and Marvel Comics, the original content they would release digitally would often be anthology format stories or stories that took place in alternate realities from their mainline content. Those are always welcome, but what DC Comics is doing more now, with actual in continuity mainline digital-first books is a very welcome shift.
While the rest of the Bat-line have mostly only had one issue (a few still have yet to have their first) under the new Infinite Frontier banner, the digital-first The Next Batman: Second Son has had four issues over the last four weeks. Within those four issues, there has been a great bit of Fox family drama, as well as more establishing of Jace Fox who one day could be Batman, but also a lot of big changes to the whole of Gotham City that are sure to cause waves in the other books.
John Ridley is really hitting his stride at this point and proves how important digital books like this can be to the overall line. Rather than taking months to get through one overall arc or plotline with only an issue a month, books like this can lay out a lot more and build a world a lot faster. It would not be surprising to see more titles like this in the future as the rapid release of books that people love is sure to be a selling point to many.
As with the previous two issues, there is a lot to digest in this one, from more changes at the GCPD under the new Police Commissioner, callbacks to previous stories that are having effects on the current events, more of Jace’s work to become something more, plenty more time with Luke Fox/Batwing, and still room for the Fox family issues to pop up.
Travel Foreman, Mark Morales, and Rex Lokus continue to bring a lot of life to this corner of Gotham City with the addition of John Livesay assisting Morales on inks. There is a very clean and simple yet heavily detailed look to the work they have done. Every face is so emotive and distinct from one another and there is enough detail in most backgrounds to fit the area/mood, but when it’s really needed, they turn it up and bring even more action and detail to the pages.
The cover is a bit misleading as this is a lighter issue on the action compared to the last, and Batwing doesn’t engage with clowns or anyone else. This story is more about the action between the family and the brief moments that Jace goes back to the job he was doing before coming home to Gotham. There is a really great closeup of Batwing though that could be framed on a wall like a poster.
Deron Bennett has less room to cut loose with lettering without the action beats this issue, but lettering isn’t just about sound effects or big creative displays. It’s an integral part of the process just like everything else and often the lettering not standing out above other stuff is actually the mark of a good letterer. It means they are doing their job well and it just flows with everything else which describes Bennett’s work.
The Next Batman: Second Son #4 is now on sale digitally through ComiXology