What Next Batman & Second Son began, this series continues and grows upon as the time of Jace Fox becoming Batman is no longer the far off future but is the very real now of the DC Universe. There are a number of interesting themes explored as the book fleshes out Jace and his world a bit more. The pervious series art team delivers another great issue ahead of the big art changes to come with the new number one issue on the way.
DC Comics Future State event showcased a slew of potential futures for a great number of familiar and new DC Universe characters. Many of those potential futures are starting to occur in similar and different ways in the present, including the rising of one Jace Fox as a new Batman.
After wrapping the digital-first series The Next Batman: Second Son to focus on Jace’s origins & return to Gotham, John Ridley, Travel Foreman, Norm Rapmund, and Rex Lokus are joined by Dave Lanphear have launched the next chapter in Jace’s story with I Am Batman #0.
Right away, this issue isn’t new reader-friendly per se. That’s not a bad thing at all, just something to be aware of. It reads as mostly an epilogue to the aforementioned previously wrapped Second Son series with some pieces that lead into the upcoming full, I Am Batman series.
This book continues the moves of the last one of not only tying into the overall happenings of the Bat-line itself but taps into a lot of the issues and things we’ve seen in the real world. It does not shy away from the way it depicts the issues with the police, very similar to the issues in the real world, and the way that they view some of the citizens of Gotham. There is even a way that he pulls in some real-world attitudes about wearing masks into the story without the DC Universe being in a pandemic (it’s tied to the events of the Arkham destroying A-Day).
Jace Fox gets a little more fleshing out here as he’s settled into Gotham, putting on a façade around his family much like the other guy who wears the bat suit, and we get some more glimpses of his past. There is a slightly better balance of things in this issue, giving things more room to breathe, likely because of the fact that this is an expanded page count issue. Hopefully, that balance continues into the new series, as it at times was an issue in the previous one.
Batman might have goals to save the city, but to a lot of people, Batman is an authoritative and secretive not necessarily trustworthy figure (since he spent years working hand in hand with the GCPD). This is not shied away from here as Jace’s first outing in the suit has him trying to stop agitators that have infiltrated a protest, and it brings him into the crosshairs of the protestors and police alike because to both he is a threat. While the police’s approach to masks and others is wrong, the idea that we can’t look to secret hidden figures to save us does have some merit that the book seems to be exploring.
Sadly, this is the last issue that the majority of this art team will have together, as Olivier Coipel is set to take over pencils with the first issue. It’s a great one for them to go out on though as they continue to nail the mixture of more character-focused pages and the more action-packed ones.
There are pages where we see a young Jace and then right after we see the present-day Jace, and often In cases like this, there aren’t a lot of clear distinguishing things about the change other than haircuts or such. Not the case here. There are clear signs on Jace’s face that speak of the things he has seen and done since then, the weight of the world that is upon his shoulders. It’s very Bruce Wayne-like in many ways, further showcasing the similarities between these two men.
Emotions and body language are spot on through most of the pages, you can feel the exasperation coming off Rene Montoya in a few of the pages. There are some really striking pages of Jace taking his newly found Bat-suit out for the first time. The glow of the eyes, the swirling smoke, the shiny blue metal with hints of black mixed in just works. There is a true weight to what is occurring on the page.
There is a ton of changes to dialogue that litter this issue, and tons of dialogue period to set things up, and Lanphear makes it flow so easily. From the varied captions to the back and forth conversations of the characters. There are a few SFX to be found, and they are of the more subtle nature which works.
I Am Batman #0 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.