Dominos begin to tip over as five issues of buildup help expand the world that the digital-first series is helping to build within Gotham City. A moodier and colorful vision of Gotham comes alive as the art playfully dances between the shadows and the brighter but also muted colors.
For five issues, The Next Batman: Second Son has been building quite a few connected, but not fully connected plotlines. Those include Jace Fox, the potential future Batman, and his return to Gotham, the storylines following his brother Luke (aka Batwing), and those showcasing what has become of the GCPD following the “Joker War” events. Within this sixth issue, two of those plotlines collide in a pretty huge way.
John Ridley has wisely used the format and space of these digital issues to put all the pieces together that were needed to begin setting things into motion. All of that was done without the issues just being exposition or static building, there were big character moments and action seeded through all of the issues.
Anything to do with law enforcement is a tough topic to tackle because of the terrible actions being taken by a lot of real-life officers. Lives have been lost and wrecked by the actions of far too many police officers across the land.
Ridley does not place the police of Gotham as some shining bastion as the comics have often done. Within the ranks, there are those that relish the new laws that allow them to take down any ‘masks,’ heroes and villains alike, and there are those that push back against these forceful laws however they can.
The most intriguing avenue is Renee Montoya, the new Commissioner of the force, who seems to be a figure in the middle. There is the struggle of wanting to take over so that the ship can be righted with the force. She can get them to actually be a help and boon to the city, struggling with needing to follow orders along the way including the masks ban. While it’s not the storyline I would have wanted for Montoya, having it be a familiar character in this spot makes it hit far more than a strange new character.
Travel Foreman and Rex Lokus have gotten to really stretch and deliver some dynamic and moody art in the previous issues, but it sings even more with this one. The use of the shadows in various panels highlights things so much and makes an even bigger impact. They also do not shy away from using brighter color palettes that make things from the Ratcatcher’s costume to the surroundings pop and feel even more comic booky in many ways. It is a very ‘grounded’ series on many fronts, but also knows how to present that in an artistic way.
Truth be told, the heavy amount of Luke Fox/Batwing in action in this title really makes one crave a Batwing series of some kind again.
It’s quite interesting that this series seems to have moved to a place in these last two issues where sound effect lettering is practically non-existent, with just one moment in this issue despite all the action. That of course is only part of what a letterer does and the other parts done by Deron Bennett are beyond solid just like every previous issue.
The Next Batman: Second Son #6 is on sale now digitally and will be collected in print in the future.