Fox family dynamics remain at the forefront as the series continues to deepen the changes to them and Gotham City born out of ‘Joker War.’ Cool color palettes and smart uses of shadows supplement truly engaging art both in action-packed and quieter scenes, adding to the stylistic vision of Gotham across the Batman books.
One of the greatest benefits that comes from weekly releases of entertainment is the ability to really breeze forward in storytelling. Rather than having to wait a month (usual comics) or years (movies), one can watch a storyline move quite rapidly forward while not losing anything in the process. This is a benefit that DC Comics’ The Next Batman: Second Son has easily taken advantage of, having already easily found its stride with five digital issues over five weeks.
While the first issue had a lot to do with its focus on Jace Fox and the world he’s gotten into since leaving his family years ago, John Ridley has done a lot more in the subsequent issues with the Fox family and Gotham as a whole. Every member of the family has panel time and the people they interact with change each issue.
It’s still really strange that so much of the major changes to do with the GCPD are happening in this book with no mention so far in the other Batman-related titles. Though to be fair, they are on a monthly release and have to catch up, but it’s strange that the new Commissioner, a pretty big Batman supporting character, is only known in this book. There is so much happening here, it’s really sad that people seem to be sleeping on it because of the digital format, they are truly missing out.
Overall, the issue was another solid one with the Fox Family and GCPD matters, as well as a return to Batwing action, but there was one story choice that felt a little odd. Jace puts all his work on hold because there is a social media vlogger type that posts a picture of his sister Tam, who is in the hospital, and he heads out to beat the person up (after giving a speech to his little sister about how that would do nothing but make the guy more famous). Jace has to rescue the man first and then threatens him and ‘cancels’ him.
While this is a thing that happens all the time, social media folks that cross every single line especially on YouTube, the whole ordeal and throwing in a ‘canceled’ reference just feels so out of left field and pulls away from the more interesting parts of the story. It feels like quickly inserted commentary or reference to modern times.
Travel Foreman, Mark Morales, and Rex Lokus get to cut loose a lot more again as there is far more action in this issue, compared to the heavy talking stories of the last issue, with both Jace and Luke (Batwing) Fox taking on folks connected to their sister’s situation. It will never be tiring to see the way that they depict Batwing’s decloaking sequences and the way that they fluctuate the number and layout of panels is just really well done.
Just like the other Batman books lately there are many really bright and perfect color choices in panels that just add a lively atmospheric feel to Gotham that just works. The shadowy second to last panel with Batwing and the villain Ratcatcher needs to be printed and framed, it’s just so good.
Strangely enough, there isn’t a single bit of sound effect lettering in the issue which means Deron Bennett doesn’t get to cut loose like the others, but turns in a solid run of lettering with a little bit of flare in the dialogue when it fits.
The Next Batman: Second Son #5 is now on sale digitally through ComiXology