Too Close To Home: Reviewing ‘I Am Batman’ #16
by Scott Redmond
‘I Am Batman’ semi-tackles a relevant issue plaguing our reality but mostly turns it into another life-altering secret moment for the Fox family as the series moves closer to an ending. It’s hard to tell what to even make of this series at times, the ups and downs have been wild. Where it all goes next, is anyone’s guess at this point.
I Am Batman returns to being a Fox family-centered series as the final issue approaches and major secrets emerge. It’s safe to say that the world of Jace Fox/Batman and the whole Fox family will never be the same again.
As has been noted in many of the previous reviews written for this series, I’ve been very up and down with this series as it’s sort of roller coastered around. I wasn’t expecting to see that a final issue is just a couple of months away, especially with how much was still left to establish or explore for the character, but it’s also not a shock. Both because that’s just the nature of the game in most cases with most books that aren’t the handful of decades-old ones but also because it seems like John Ridley had an overall direction this was all going. There is no word if this is it for Ridley and the character or even if the character will appear elsewhere after, but I have to assume that we’ll know soon enough.
Gun violence and its randomness is a situation that is an all too common occurrence in our real world and it appeared that this was going to be a Batman story that was tackling that. Instead, it turns out that the gun violence is not random, it is specifically targeting those with ties to the Fox family. Specifically because of Lucius Fox, who comes to town after his wife Tanya’s assistant is gunned down, and a massive secret of his that Tanya has had to keep alongside him.
While the huge secret that has ties to Jace’s whole existence and his place in the family could lead to interesting places, the swerve and this violence just all being tied to it was a bit of a disappointment. Not because Ridley isn’t crafting the story well, I was still quite enwrapt with the whole thing (as it was a more Batman and character story with far less police overshadowing), but because I think I would have preferred the initial story of Batman dealing with gun violence. Ridley has a unique voice and so much to say but here it feels like what he might have said just got swapped out for general soap opera stuff in a sense.
I just can’t honestly decide what to make of this book month after month because the ride has been all over the place in both content and quality. This is an issue that is back to the better side of things, but it’s hard to not think about what we could and probably should have gotten out of a series focused on a Black man as Batman. At this point, it’s the highest of cliche tropes that any member of the Bat family, whether they are firmly in it or at the side, has to have some sort of parental tragedy or issue looming over them. Welcome to the family fully now Jace.
This issue sees the return of Christian Duce and Rex Lokus to the art and colors. Duce does a great job always when it comes to capturing the emotion and character moments. We’re witness to a lot of sadness and anger in this issue and we can see and feel it from the character’s facial expressions and body language on every page. During the last page reveal the shame on Lucius’ face is plain as is the massive sadness that Tanya feels at having to shatter the bubble of Jace’s world after all these years. His is a very smooth and kinetic style that lends itself to these moments, while also allowing the action to move smoothly and create some pretty iconic scenes like Batman against the moon coming at the mass shooter.
That image is so dynamic, with the white space border around it, I would put that up on my wall right now.
This is a story that has darker tones but spends a lot of time in the day with the family, which works for the style of colors that Lokus brings into play. We get plenty of shadows and darkness popping into play all over the place, while the daytime moments have a variety of colors that pop but are also pretty toned down giving us a more grounded feeling as we spend much of our time outside of Batman-related stuff here. It’s all very ‘real’ in tone with the shootings and the family issues, so the colors match that.
We slide between a lot of dialogue and a lot of panels where few words are used, allowing the images or the SFX to do the talking, which allows Troy Peteri to put in a variety of work here. Bigger pages with lots of exposition/dialogue don’t feel overwhelming because it flows around perfectly, with the right amount of emphasis or font changes to make the tone or volume in the moment clear for us to hear. While there are caption boxes placed in the right spot to add the most tension to some moments, next to some very colorful but powerful and scary SFX that hammer home the terribleness in some of the moments.
I Am Batman #16 is now available from DC Comics.