I Am Batman continues to become a stronger title as it continues, finding its own distinctive voice and direction that makes it stand out from the other Batman books in the line. Somehow a grounded Batman and the cops style book works far better than one might have assumed that it would.
Crafting stories and reaching certain points with said stories can take time. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of time. With I Am Batman it took till the most recent arc, and especially this issue to fully reach a place of being very focused and very “Batman” like in nature.
As noted previously in these reviews, the first handful of issues was hard at times because the book could not find a footing as it lost half its issues so far to a crossover. Even worse those crossover issues were contained tie-ins that had little to nothing to do with the actual overall event, leaving Jace Fox’s Batman off to the side while the rest of the Batfamily came together.
Ever since though the book has been getting much stronger through this first arc, especially since Jace is in a new city with a new supporting cast and has found a place as a more grounded actual street-level, Batman. Since debuting this version of the character, John Ridley has done a great job at showcasing not just who Jace is but what makes him similar but vastly different from Bruce Wayne’s Batman.
This Batman has a ‘job’ with the police of sorts but his relationship with them is far from the chummy one of Bruce and Jim Gordon, very antagonistic and full of mistrust, especially with Gotham transplant Detective Chubb. This is also a slimmed-down Batman in the sense that he doesn’t have a giant cave with a mega computer and Justice League connections. He’s got a motorcycle, an armored bat suit, and some batons that he uses to take down criminals and villains. Can’t get much more street-level than that.
This issue is very focused and flows smoothly as the various forces that have been brewing to collide finally do as Manray, the ‘artistic’ serial killer, comes for the mayor. We’re even left with a cliffhanger ending that is sure to throw even more wrenches into relationships as Chubb has to make a choice with big repercussions.
It’s been pretty nice that we seem to have come to a place where, for at least these last three issues, there is a pretty consistent artistic team after the musical chairs it began with. Christian Duce and Rex Lokus handle the pencils and colors respectively again. Duce has such a smooth style that works for this story, allowing the action sequences especially to glide around the page with some great energy. They are also brutal but not extremely gory brutal, as Manray dispatches many of the people trying to protect the mayor from him.
The last issue had a few panels of close-ups that came off a bit wonky, but that’s not the case here as it’s all pretty good.
It all pairs well with Lokus colors which capture a lot of the dark and gritty atmosphere one should see in a Bat-book while also bringing a lot of bright popping colors to bear in the right areas. There is a page later with Hadiyah calling Jace and her apartment panel is colorful and light while the image of Jace/Batman is him in a dark shadowed alleyway with tied up crooks behind him and the police sirens behind providing most of the light. It’s just good stuff.
Letters are once more presented by Troy Peteri who does such solid work. We get plenty of the variety of elements that can cause dialogue to appear different depending on character or volume/tone which is always great. It gives us the ability to know for sure how we should be reading the moment along with the clues from the art. SFX that are huge parts of the given scene, coming from the actual object or action that spawns them, are favorites.
One that I really liked was in that same Hadiyah/Jace scene I mentioned above where the police siren SFX is partially covered by Jace’s word balloon. Because the sound is important but Jace’s words and the moment take precedence and stacking them that way makes that even clearer.
I Am Batman #10 is now available.