The Thin Bat Line: Reviewing ‘I Am Batman’ #13

by Scott Redmond

Overview

‘I Am Batman’ most assuredly has a law enforcement issue that continues to drag the story of the new Batman further and further down from what it could and should be, and there isn’t an end in sight for this issue. Jace Fox is a good character, a Black Batman is a great concept, and the creative team is putting their all into this series but it’s just not fully clicking even after thirteen issues.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Out of all the heroes, it is no surprise that Batman has one of the closest relationships with the police. A relationship that fluctuates depending upon a given storyline or era, switching from collaborative to antagonistic various times over eight decades. For better or worse, this is a relationship that has continued with the new Batman Jace Fox.

Which side of the column, better or worse, does this relationship fall now? It must assuredly is leaning hard into the for the worse side of things.

As I’ve noted in previous reviews of this series, there has been at times far too much cop stuff in this book. Batman is working for/with the cops, crooked cops, cops murdering or being murdered, corrupt cop organizations, the police allowing things like the Magistrate to happen, etc., etc. Oh, and of course, the new cops in the form of Chubbs and Whittaker are the ‘good’ cops fighting back against the system. We’re thirteen issues into this series and cops have featured or taken up space in every single one in some way.

John Ridley is exploring some interesting things at times, some of the issues are just hitting hard and working, but it’s starting to just heavily weigh every time I open an issue that the new Black Batman is just stuck dealing with cop stuff. Bruce Wayne Batman is off dealing with his sins and operatic stuff, and Jace Fox is just stuck with all the cops. I’m unsure how many more cop issues I can take before I find the nearest rooftop with a gargoyle that I can perch upon to scream into the dark void.

Also, the billionaire side of the Fox family is showing really hard in this issue and Tiffany calls them out for it because they just shrug off a lot of stuff when she brings an issue to them.

Truly one of the biggest issues with this book is that there is just too much going on. It’s not a Batman-centric story or Batman and supporting cast. There is a whole cast of pretty main characters, including the cops, and it’s just trying to go in fifty directions at once while not finishing things it already started to work on. An arc of Batman actually building up his stuff and going out and doing Batman-like stuff with some villain or an actual detective-like story or something is needed big time.

I’m inching much closer to finding that lovely void-adjacent gargoyle.

I want to like this book all the time, trust me. It’s got a Black Batman at the lead; this is a concept that instantly is close to my heart and that I want to succeed. Ridley clearly has a lot to say about police, he is about to write a Renee Montoya-centric all cops miniseries (which is…yeah), but it’s just too much. I didn’t know I was signing up for Law & Order: Batman when I decided to pick up this series.

Art-wise we get another bit of a mashup as regular artist Christian Duce is joined by Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira with Rex Lokus still on colors. Overall, the art styles coexist well and don’t clash, as they have some similar sensibilities. Things are still pretty smooth and kinetic as they have been in previous issues with great energy, and some good paneling choices. Faces shift a bit from smoother to very angular to sort of flattened across the pages but it’s just a small thing and speaks to the differences between their styles.

Lokus colors shift a bit to match the different artists and the variety of times of day/locations that this issue employs. There is still an inherent darkness/shadows that can be found befitting this book’s somewhat heavier nature. While the daytime scenes are bright but not so bright that they stand out compared to the colorful night scenes, all of them have the same weight and sort of toned-down nature.

There is a whole lot of dialogue found in this issue as there is a ton of talking and exposition to be delivered, but Troy Peteri makes it all work on the page. Even when most of a panel is filled with speech bubbles it doesn’t feel overwhelming and there is a good energy that is given off by these bubbles as we move through them. All the usual elements that he employs to make sure that tone/volume and personality are clear in the words are on display, changing the font in a variety of ways to get the intention across clearly.

I Am Batman #13 is now available from DC Comics.

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