The End Is In Sight: Reviewing ‘I Am Batman’ #17
by Scott Redmond
In the penultimate issue, ‘I Am Batman’ begins to load up the plate with a variety of plot and character moments both new and old as it prepares for some type of conclusion. Jace Fox’s history and place in the DC Universe is still being forged, and some of the elements are proving to be interesting should they be followed up on beyond this series.
Secrets have a way of really cutting to the bone, especially when they come from those you love and trust. One of the things that made the previous two series that led into I Am Batman work was their focus on family, both the good and the bad elements surrounding the Fox family. As this series prepares to wrap itself up the spotlight is fully back on the family, as everything Jace Fox thought he knew comes crashing down.
Personally, I think this series is strongest when it’s focused on the family and more personal elements of Jace Fox’s life, or on smaller scale stuff. All the focus on the cops through most of this series has been detrimental to the whole. As of this moment, there is no indication where or if Jace or the other Foxes will keep showing up when this series ends with the next issue, so it’s best that we get some focus and possible closure with them just in case this is it. I don’t believe that this is it, John Ridley and all his collaborators and DC Comics have invested too much in this character for him to just fade away into the pit of character limbo.
All that being said, as good as this issue is because it’s narrowing its focus again to the character elements, there might be a bit too much placed into the penultimate issue. Don’t get me wrong it’s mostly good stuff and additive, but it kind of feels like much of it should have been spread out more if the cop stuff hadn’t taken up a massive chunk of the middle of the series. There is room perhaps for some of it to pay off in the final issue and what might come next. It’s strange to think that there was no telling when a comic might end in the past, but at the same time, creators took time and let plots/characters/moments breathe a bit more.
Now with constant relaunches and cancelations, books are often back-loaded because they have to scramble through establishing things that were overlooked to hit other big elements. Or they didn’t backload on purpose, but the sudden ending of a title (either through editorial decree or creators deciding to move on to something else) means they have to try and shove the jigsaw puzzle together even if the pieces don’t precisely fit. I mean hell we get all the drops about Lucius and Elena Aoki (Jace’s real mother), Tiffany stepping up as a vigilante more and revealing she knows about Jace to Vol, Hadiyah revealing she knows about everything to do with Jace too, oh and introduction of a whole new vigilante that is Hadiyah at the very end. It’s a whole lot of big moments squeezed into one issue, that flow quite well and do up the tension, but hot damn it’s a lot of stuff right on the doorstep of a final issue.
As is the norm for this title, we get another issue that brings in numerous artists. Christian Duce has handled many issues and after doing one solo again is now working with Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira to complete this issue. It’s a mostly smooth transition, with everyone handling different scenes, but it’s clear when the art changes. It’s a mixture of smoother styles and a bit more rough-grounded sort of style, with all of them being pretty good on the level of detail most of the time. We get a variety of paneling styles as some of the pages are done with more standard sort of panels with some good white bordering, while other pages are panels with a variety of shapes and sizes slashing all over the page creating a totally different energy.
Collectively the emotional/facial work is pretty spot on, clearly showcasing the variety of emotions that this issue is dealing with. From clear anger to sadness to resignation and other elements in between. What action we do get, very brief near the end, flows pretty well thanks to the styles in play as well as the fact that those pages employ the more energetic paneling stylings.
Rex Lokus has been mostly one of the stalwarts on this series, and the previous one, bringing the same level of colors throughout. Plenty of shadows and darkness are at play on the page, with more toned-down colors that are befitting of this more street-level sort of series. Even the colors that are on vigilantes are muted with a tiny bit of pop, but not a ton. Naturally, Batman and Tiffany stand out quite a bit from others with their costumes, but not glaringly so. Basically, they look like two folks dressed up in flashy clothing standing alongside people wearing more muted business-style attire.
Another stabilizing member of the creative team is Troy Peteri who makes sure all that emotion and energy we see in the other artwork is reflected in the lettering. Plenty is done to establish a baseline level for dialogue lettering while making enough changes that let any dialogue change in volume or tone so that we can ‘hear’ it properly as we read. Big giant fonts and tiny quieter fonts, characters dropping names in the style of logos, and all that sort of great comic book stuff can be found and flows easily through the issue.
I Am Batman #17 is now available from DC Comics.