I Am Batman dives deep into the realm of Fear State as it tackles some close-to-home real-world issues and mulls over the nature of fear as Batman’s greatest weapon and what happens when that fear is not there. Jace Fox’s latest series cements him as a new type of Batman for a different world and is masterfully brought together by a rotating cast of creative stars.
A state of fear has Gotham City in its grip, all according to the plan of Doctor Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, and the new Batman, Jace Fox, is right in the thick of things. Taking a page right out of reality, the threat this Batman faces is the terror and violence born out of hateful people being easily swayed by conspiracy rhetoric from disembodied unknown voices from the realm of technology.
John Ridley right away hits the accurate notes with these sorts of groups by having a young man kill off the anti-government masked vigilante Anarky because the disembodied voice Seer (think Oracle meets QAnon) convinced him and others that all vigilantes, cops, the Magistrate, and others are all government pawns out to control the masses. The fact that they kill a character that shares a major belief about the government with them right away points to how often those that are puled into these groups are beyond seeing the truth and logic of things.
Another angle that is played with here is the idea of fear, and how the Batman image was meant to inspire that within the criminal element. When confronting a bunch of the Moral Authority members, Jace thinks about how the fear is failing him right now, perhaps because they know he’s not the usual Batman, but about how he can gain it back. This speaks heavily to the idea that these types of individuals don’t have the same fears that come with other individuals. They are full of hate and conviction, and this makes them supremely dangerous.
There is a very solid balance of action and more character/topic-focused moments within the issue, all brought to life by Steven Segovia who is the third artist in as many issues for this new series. Segovia has a very detailed emotive and beautiful style that fits with this book. The action scenes are so dynamic and come right at you. Especially because the paneling is varied and goes for whatever works dramatically for the setting rather than sticking to any sort of industry standard.
Rex Lokus brought his coloring talents to this book’s precursor and keeps bringing a lot of colorful life to this world. He meshes quite well with Segovia, bringing the right level of darkness mixed with bright with a very matted/realistic tone.
Despite the art changes and the styles that each person brings, the work that Segovia and Lokus have done here matches the tone of Olivier Coipel and Alex Sinclair who were on the last issue. There is still that gritty realism and the dynamic of light/dark aesthetic that is bread and butter for anyone taking on Gotham City.
Troy Peteri remains on board to handle the lettering, and right off the bat shows off the talents with a lot of variety. There are dialogue bubbles that take on their own life, bolds and increased fonts, and a ton of energetic and colorful SFX that help give the action even more life. Even the caption boxes for Jace and Seer feel unique to each of them, despite the main difference being a different background color. Truly the work that letterers do goes undersold or overlooked by so many people and places, but what they are doing it an art all its own and brings that other angle that makes comics hum and reach their full potential.
Overall, this book is working well. It might be hard for some to get fully into it since it’s a book kicking off with an event and one where all the heavy lifting of setting things up was done in an alternate future miniseries and a digital-first ‘origin’ series.
I Am Batman #2 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.