This creative team is crafting a truly engaging, emotional, and insightful story that looks at not only the hardships and privilege of one family but also takes a deep look at issues that plague so many of us in reality. Moody-focused artwork brings full attention to the story, making every panel truly engaging whether it’s one full of action or one full of talking characters. They are truly doing something special and different set within the confines of Gotham City and the world of Batman.
Bruce Wayne is a privileged individual, born into the wealth that his family had amassed over generations. When tragedy struck at a young age, he didn’t grow up like many with that sort of wealth. The sorts of things that one expected a young playboy to do with billions happened, but they became a mask to cover his true self that was unleashed as Batman with his dedication to his mission against crime and protecting others.
That wealth and the wealth and power it brought to others though did touch the life of the man that could be Batman one day. The Next Batman: Second Son #8 does a deep dive into the very privileged life of a young Jace/Tim Fox and how that privilege turned him into the stereotypical wealthy spoiled child which led him down a path that ultimately severely harmed an innocent. John Ridley has been seeding Jace’s ‘sin’, that brought him back to Gotham to testify about now that his family is even richer, for the entire series so far and now it is beginning to come to light.
Seeing a young black man growing up similar to, but very different than a young white man (Bruce) is a very interesting angle. Ridley showcases the idea that wealth and power can control and warp anyone, no matter what societally created group they belong to. Tragedy set Bruce on the path that he was on, and in a way, that path helped create what Jace became earlier in his life. Lucius Fox was so busy running Wayne Enterprises, he was a mostly nonexistent in his children’s lives outside of giving them the fancy things they wanted.
Where Bruce had tragedy befall him, that spurred him to change and eventually become Batman. It appears Jace stands to be the opposite as he causes tragedy and made the choice to change and move towards better, and potentially Batman one day.
Travel Foreman, Norm Rapmund, Rex Lokus, and Deron Bennett continue their stellar moody work with this series, brightening things up a bit from previous issues because of the flashback nature of this issue and the brighter privileged world that Jace belonged to. One of the really great things they do through the issue, and in previous ones too, is the framing of panels where there are a lot of emotion-filled closeups that really drive home how much more personal this story is in the non-action-oriented panels. At its core, it is a family story and how this family is coping with their past, present, and future and the art matches that perfectly.
This is a very dialogue-heavy issue since it is Jace giving testimony, but every single panel does the heavy lifting right there alongside the words which are never too much. The bubbles and caption boxes are spaced perfectly to accentuate the art around them and never to distract or take away from what else is going on.
This is helped by the more minimalist style that is prevalent in these issues, where the backgrounds are left lightly or not detailed at all. It easily allows the eyes to focus on what is happening in the panel and on the words. Not that detail is bad, there is some amazing detailed art that helps stories greatly, but with this focused type of story, the style is a great choice. It is truly felt when Jace makes his big mistake and poor choice, the art panel depicting this harmful event puts all the focus on how brutal and devastating it would be and then even more so in the aftermath panels.
The Next Batman: Second Son #8 is now on sale digitally from DC Comics.