Tim Fox has a long journey ahead of him before becoming the next Batman, and it begins here as a familiar face comes calling to bring the second Fox son home to Gotham.
Future State has come to its conclusion, but the story of the next Batman is just beginning. It’s literally beginning as DC Comics’ latest digital-first series The Next Batman: Second Son takes us to the present day to chronicle the journey that will eventually lead to Tim Fox donning the cape and cowl in a possible future. John Ridley, Tony Akins, Ryan Benjamin, Mark Morales, and Deron Bennett offer up a solid first entry to Fox’s ongoing story.
On the artistic side Akins, Benjamin, and Morales offer up some well-crafted story that is quite heavy on the action within its twenty-two pages. There are a few pages that stand above others because of the level of detail and the interesting way that panels have been laid out. As the action begins, the amount of detail starts to slide. That’s not a bug, but a feature, as it centers the focus more on Tim and the action taking place instead of the surroundings and background faces.
The only thing that was truly questionable was the choice centered around the final two pages. Page twenty-one offers up the perfect conclusion cliffhanger moment with a familiar face coming to collect Tim. Then it slides into page twenty-two where the focus and the ‘to be continued’ are centered around an image of the back of Tim’s head as he stares at the cameo character and a strange woman’s lower legs and their feet. It not only feels weird but almost feels slightly like a waste of important page count real estate that could have been used to flesh out other parts of the action/story.
Bennett does solid work with the lettering, especially when he gets to cut loose with the onomatopoeia in the action scenes. The decisions on how to place the word balloons, especially the conversations between Tim and Vol, were really good ones as it helped things flow so much easier on the pages with conversations.
Tim Fox and Bruce Wayne are entirely different characters with different motivations and life circumstances, yet there is also a lot that makes them similar enough to explain why the former picks up the latter’s second identity. Those differences and similarities make themselves known well in this first issue as Ridley begins to paint a picture of just who Tim Fox really is.
One of the biggest story points with Batman in various incarnations is the idea that he wants the Batman identity to die with him and does not want any of his accumulated children to pick up in his stead. Often most of them have no desire for that because they have their own identities and are vastly different in their personalities and life experiences.
Yet at the end of the day, many of the given candidates like Timothy Drake or Dick Grayson (Damian Wayne and others have different circumstances) might be different than Bruce in some ways, but they were raised or trained by the man and have a lot of the same biases and mindsets that he does. Mindsets that naturally are going to come tinged with some privilege.
That is one of many things that makes having a Black person as Batman so important, alongside the biggest reason being representation. It is no secret that members of minority groups in the United States face a lot of uphill battles that those within the ‘majority’ group often can’t even fathom.
The Foxs have now become richer than Bruce Wayne thanks to the Joker and were never a family struggling (Lucius has been working for and alongside the Waynes for a long time), but they are a Black family in this country which sets them apart from Bruce.
It will be interesting to see how Ridley digs into some of these differences as the story continues.
The Next Batman: Second Son #1 is now on sale from DC Comics digitally through ComiXology and will be collected in print in April.