Starting To Feel A Lot Like Batman: Reviewing ‘I Am Batman’ #08

by Scott Redmond

Overview

I Am Batman’s character development and focus catches up with its action and political/social commentary to create an overall package that feels complete and on a path towards something interesting. Jace Fox is put through a major test as Batman and where this arc goes will surely decide who and what Fox’s Batman is going forward, especially with Dark Crisis on the horizon.

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10

Sometimes it can take a little bit for a series to find its way, especially when the first handful of entries are part of a massive line crossover event. With its eighth issue, I Am Batman has begun to find itself and give its title character and his supporting cast much more depth that matches the highs of its predecessor series, The Next Batman: Second Son.

While the crossover had good moments, it definitely had a detrimental effect on this book as a whole in trying to establish Jace Fox as a new Batman. That being said there were elements in that crossover that led to this book having its new status quo and moving some characters ahead, and it’s clear what John Ridley was attempting with the issues. Unfortunately, some of the great family character stuff from the aforementioned preceding series got a bit lost and muddled as this series moved along trying to reach this point.

Thankfully it’s reached that point and hopefully, there is nothing but upward movement from here.

Seeing Jace struggle as Batman, coming across his first foe that isn’t just corporate or bigoted evil but is just seemingly ‘pure’ evil sort gives us good reminders that this Batman is still new and fresh. His experiences are different than those of Bruce Wayne, and it’s giving some good development to watch him not only go through stuff but have a very solid family/supporting unit to rely upon in these moments. Bruce had Alfred, but Jace has his entire family and Vol and possibly more (including his weird but interesting relationship with the police) to help him grow and deal with things and realize what his limits and limitations might be.

Overall, the police/government stuff still isn’t fully hitting for me, as a Batman that isn’t buddy-buddy with cops (especially a Black Batman) would have been nice. What happened to the openly bigoted NYPD Commissioner was predictable but still adds something to the story because despite the man’s disgusting attitude Batman has to be above that and stop this killer who is going too far.

It’s good to see some artistic consistency between this issue and the last (the series has had a bit of an artistic musical chairs) with Christian Duce, Rex Lokus, and Troy Peteri still together for this one. Duce has a really smooth sort of style that works well with the intimate quality of this issue, as most of the action and character bits are very close up and personal. All the paneling is very good, especially when Batman and the killer are having their first back and forth as little headshot rectangles in columns facing off.

This is a story with some darker content, it features systemic bigotry alongside a brutal serial killer that eviscerates his victims as ‘art’ after all, and Lokus brings that darkness in with the colors like an ever-present shadow. Yet, those darker colors are also mixed well with lighter ones to create not only that sense of superhero books but also a more realistic tone where light and dark are always basically hand in hand as they are in life.

Peteri is a master with the lettering, as it flows smoothly and has emotion but there are little flairs that are great and showcase personality and differences in characters. For the killer, there are little bits of italics added for moments when he’s dropping a little ‘mmmm’ into his parts of the conversation (as he relishes thinking about what he’s done) and the change in font for the really different and intriguing grawlix is a great touch. He’s also one of a handful of letterers that leans more and more towards really showing off the volume/tone of a moment through shrinking or expanding font sizes which is always so appreciated.

At its core, this is starting to really feel like a ‘Batman’ book in tone but with a flair and flavor all its own that sets it apart from what a Bruce Batman book is meant to feel like. Hopefully, we get far more of this level and get to dive deeper into Jace’s world and see how things go in New York.

I Am Batman #8 is available digitally and in print from DC Comics.

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