New York On My Mind: Reviewing ‘I Am Batman’ #5
by Scott Redmond
I Am Batman has a lot of serious potential that hasn’t quite been reached yet as it still tries to get off the ground in respect to establishing itself, its character, and overall setting/core mission. A number of artists bring this solid issue to life with their similar but somewhat conflicting styles but they make it work.
Beginning a series amidst a crossover event is one of those prospects that balances precariously upon the realm of high risk versus high reward. It might come with higher potential sales for a book, ones that typically might have a harder time with the way this industry/audience works but that might also come with the risk that the book/character doesn’t get to fully establish their own world/tone.
Jace Fox’s tenure as Batman kicked off as part of the alternate future event ‘Future State‘ and then actually began in a digital-first series that didn’t seem to get a lot of chatter amongst social media or even amongst comic reviewers. I Am Batman moved back to print being the dominant pushed form for the book with it kicking off as part of the ‘Fear State‘ event. So far, from a certain point of view, the balancing act is tipping very much towards the high-risk side of things.
That’s not to say that this series isn’t good or isn’t asking some good questions or presenting good character moments alongside stellar art. The past reviews I’ve done of the previous four issues will show that. Where the risk comes in is that we’re in the fifth issue and the book is just beginning to fully find a footing and that’s mostly because the actual meat of the book is coming in the next issue with a giant move to New York.
I like what John Ridley is doing with the character, not only doing really street-level stuff but tackling topics that can’t really be touched the same way with Bruce Wayne’s Batman. That being said I think that it might have been better to either find a way to start off getting this book its own place in New York or wherever or work the actual three-issue tie-in arc to end in a way where that happened sooner. Interesting stuff happens here, the family stuff and the somewhat reconnection between Lucius and Jace (including Lucius finally accepting he needs to seek some help after the torture he endured in ‘Joker War’). I really enjoy the dynamic of the Fox family and their issues, but I’m really ready to see what this series can do fully with Jace as Batman in his own place with his own rogues and own issues and his own playground.
So far I Am Batman has rotated through a number of artists, with some of them pulling shared duties on single issues. All of the artists are great and are doing a good job with building this character and world up, getting to see more artists at work is definitely a good thing in many respects. On the other hand, hopefully with the new change for the book, there is an artistic team that is able to put their stamp on the book either for an arc or for an extended run, just to sort of give the book a certain kind of feeling issue to issue.
Christian Duce remains from the last issue but is joined by Juan Ferreyra and Laura Braga with Rex Lokus and Troy Peteri still on colors and letters respectively. There is a bit of a clear disjoint between the art as each of the three artists has styles that are not fully similar to one another, but the colors across them help to bring some consistency and make them fit together a bit more. It’s clear who was handling which pages which isn’t a negative but just a fact of the issue.
Lokus keeps easily brings the darker and lighter touch needed for a Batman book, mixing and matching well with the colors no matter whose art is on the page. Same for Peteri who keeps the dialogue flowing, this being a bit lighter issue than the heavier dialogue last issue, and bringing hard-hitting SFX to the big fight scenes that dominate the middle of this issue.
I Am Batman #5 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.