COMIC REVIEW: I Am Batman #1 – #6

To many Batman fans, the character has always been synonymous with Bruce Wayne donning the cowl and cape, prowling the night in search of justice and stopping crime. But what happens when Bruce isn’t around anymore? Who will (or can) wear the suit and fight? The new comic series I Am Batman answers that question with Jace Fox.

In the Future State series of Batman comics, Bruce Wayne is presumed dead after an organization called “The Magistrate”, a paramilitary organization brought into Gotham to hunt down and put an end to “masks” running amuck in the city. This includes villains, AND heroes like Batman, Nightwing, and the Arkham Knights. They’ve completely taken over the city, turning it into a police state and completely overriding Gotham City Police authority. In these series of issues, Batman was presumed dead after a violent encounter with Sean Mahoney, known as Peacekeeper-01 in Future State: Dark Detective #2. In the aftermath of Batman’s fight against The Magistrate Gotham began to rebuild under The Magistrate control, and with no Batman.

Jace’s story starts out during The Next Batman: Second Son series, and continued on in the Future State series. Jace is the son of Lucius Fox, who’s company FoxTech built and invented all of Batman’s tech, gear, vehicles, and equipment. Jace (formerly known as Tim) was behind the scenes fighting The Magistrate with Batman, but he only begins to don the cape and mask in the I Am Batman series, which began its run in September of 2021.

In the aftermath of Future State, Jace is living in a world now dominated by a group that shadows Gotham City with drones, androids and constant surveillance. Many may see The Magistrate as a saving grace to Gotham (Mayor Christopher Nakano seems to think so) but Jace knows that crime still lurks the streets, and there are those that are affected more by it than others. Depending on who you talk to, Batman means many things to many people; a sense of justice, vengeance, fear, or a symbol of hope. John Ridley, the writer of the series, brings Jace’s symbol of hope to those marginalized to the forefront. Almost naive and arrogant in his ways, Jace learns how to become Batman to a city that has long since moved past what the icon stood for.

Jace hides his face from many people, no matter what suit he is wearing (whether it be the Bat-suit, or a professional suit at FoxTech). As he struggles to identify himself trying to make his father proud, he also has the desire to be a symbol of hope for the oppressed. When he dons the cape and cowl, he wants to be seen, wants to be heard, and wants people to know that Batman is still a symbol of hope for the people; a symbol for the ignored and marginalized. Much to the opposite of Bruce Wayne’s Batman, who preferred to stay in the shadows. This is where Jace’s rendition of Batman can be more appealing than Bruce’s I feel. Jace’s story leading up to these moments make him feel that much more likable, and one that you’re able to root for from issue #1.

However, The Magistrate is on to him and his antics, as well as Gotham City PD officers Whittaker and Chubbs, who hate “masks” with a passion and work against Batman every chance they get. Batman’s life gets all the more difficult when The Magistrate doubles down its’ defenses with FoxTech that almost leaves him dead. Family matters force Jace to move to another city where he still wants to be a symbol, to which leads into the next question that this series is trying to answer by issue #6:

What is Batman?

Jace uses the mask to show everyone that Batman is still there. Initially he wears a cowl that completely covers his face, however after an incident that almost leaves him dead, he is encouraged to leave the mandible cover off, and show to the world who Batman is under the suit: a black man serving justice. The series leans in on themes of what it means to be black, powerful, and under the deceiving eyes of those around him. People pull out their phones and stream Batman fighting crime, and he even drives those around him to help his own efforts. The people see him for who he is, which I feel is a great step for Batman in this series. Every character is strongly motivated and well written under the guide of John Ridley.

Full of bloody action sequences and violence, artists Olivier Coipel and Alex Sinclair bring the dark and edgy to the forefront. Filled with dark spaces, riveting action sequences and fights, and character models and facial expression are well detailed and pop off the page. The action sequences are visceral and oftentimes painful to look at and read (not in a bad way!) especially when Batman takes out his Tonfa batons to dish out the punishment. In every way, even though Jace is Batman and wants to deliver justice, he is much more violent than Bruce Wayne’s Batman, and artists Olivier and Alex deliver on that feel extremely well.

I Am Batman is an action packed romp of a series that brings a whole new life to Batman. While many things happen in the lead up to this series, it’s easy to pick up from issue #1. The series this far delivers not only a great justice story, but also a great story about personal growth and development. John Ridley brings to the forefront many social themes, mental health and traumatic issues that some may find uncomfortable, however they are conversations and themes that are brought out well regardless. Not only are we witnessing the growth of Jace’s character, but also his father Lucius, still reeling from the aftermath of Future State. These themes add to the sense of Jace’s motivations as the new Batman, and as he is still navigating through the world of fighting crime and letting people know Batman is still around, there are still those who wish he wasn’t around, and others who want to use him as a tool of power.

Verdict: 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A riveting start for a new Batman, as Gotham reels from the death of the old Batman. Jace’s rise to prominence not only as a young and ambitious black man trying to make his father proud, but also becoming a force and symbol of hope for the beleaguered citizens of Gotham as the new Batman. The story crafted by John Ridley brings more than just fighting crime to the forefront, as it is well written and thoughtfully presented. Strong characters make a great story. The artistry Olivier Coipel and Alex Sinclair bring to the pages are dark, gritty, violent, and riveting. A great start for a new Batman!

Stojan Jovic is a writer for Boss Rush Network, and hosts the EXPCast: A Video Game Podcast. He loves all video games of course, with a special affinity for the Mass Effect series, Resident Evil series, and racing games. He’s also a born-again DC fanboy. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured Image Source: DC Comics

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