Writer: John Ridley
Art: Travel Foreman, Norm Rapmund, ALW’s Dave Lanphear, and Rex Lokus
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: August 10th, 2021
DC FUTURE STATE offered fans a preview of different aspects on the horizon with Jace Fox as the current BATMAN. Now, leading off directly from THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON, Jace pushes himself deep into the heart of the Magistrate’s regime and the people of Alleytown. Let’s dive into I AM BATMAN #0 by John Ridley as fans uncover the brand new age of the next Dark Knight!
In our current society infused with COVID controversy, protests, and political tensions, weighted (and sometimes radical) opinions clutter the climate with social and emotional strain. As much as our culture continues to say, “why can’t things just go back to the way they once were?”, what gets misplaced is the fact that this tension was always there buried just beneath the surface. And frankly, if 2020 and beyond have shown this world anything, it’s that our world has merely turned a blind eye to so many things for far too long.
Now, many may be wondering what any of this has to do with I AM BATMAN #0 and how this helps frame the comic? Well, for starters, this comic is placed in the dead center of a fractured Police State, racial tensions, and extreme radicals willing to escalate already tense situations. Now, I’m not here to state political opinions. I’m merely here to place the current landscape of I AM BATMAN. To anyone searching for a story that hits real close to current culture while simultaneously indulging your superhero fixation, I AM BATMAN could be that comic for you.
THE NEXT BATMAN
Furthermore, to anyone who hasn’t given THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON/ Tim (Jace) Fox a shot, I strongly recommend giving this BATMAN a fair shake. I AM BATMAN #0 will not clue new readers into an entire backstory of Jace, nor will it catch interested fans up on the happenings in Ridley’s BATMAN run. You’ll have to dive into THE NEXT BATMAN titles for that information. However, the story does give curious fans enough information to start somewhere while building their interest in the character in the process.
Moreover, Ridley’s take on BATMAN is refreshing and unique in a time where this type of exploration is invigorating and remarkable. Some fans may question the point of bringing someone in as BATMAN who’s not a member of the Bat-Family. And honestly, I can understand that especially with the long history of the character. However, Ridley’s choice as to who wears the cowl offers all readers, regardless of BATMAN lore, the opportunity to arrive on a level playing field. This premise should be extremely attractive to new readers. Plus, the angle I AM BATMAN, as well as THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON offers provides that real-life parallel that hits close to home. Jace is many of us trying to understand and navigate in a world of change, except he’s trying to make a difference while many of us (myself included) have our opinions yet never act.
Now, the biggest problem I had with this issue was the lack of “BATMAN”. Other than a few moments, this comic could have been about any superhero. Simply replace the BATMAN suit with Iron Man and we have a new Iron Man. Nothing about the issue necessarily felt like BATMAN. Granted, this is a zero issue in which he’s progressing into the character. Still, up to page 20 of this issue, readers only see two panels of anything resembling BATMAN. Ultimately, 7 pages at the end had a “BATMAN” on them out of 30. Plus, this was a more armor BATMAN than anything else. Hence, the premise is that this issue could have been about any hero in a suit of armor. K list needed more Bats!
Travel Foreman, Norm Rapmund, and Rex Lokus do a phenomenal job providing fans with a smooth, almost clean look at Jace’s Gotham. However, where this creative team absolutely shined was with the character’s facial emotions. Commissioner Montoya’s anger, Jace’s shock and happiness when meeting Hadiyah, and even the street thugs’ pain after his broken knee were all conveyed masterfully. Expression isn’t easy to communicate in a still picture. Yet, Ridley and the rest of his art team make it look easy.
I AM BATMAN #0 provides curious fans that have heard about this “New BATMAN” a chance to dip their toe into the pool with a reasonable jumping on point. Hopefully, it sparks many to dive into THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON to iron out more of the plot points and gaps many may still experience throughout this issue. Nevertheless, while many come to comics looking for an escape from reality, that is most certainly NOT this title.
I AM BATMAN is real, it’s raw and comes dangerously close to sinking the battleship of the world at large. Yet as authentic as I AM BATMAN and THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON are, I find them in many ways inspiring and encouraging throughout these rather rocky and opinionated waters. I hope that BATMAN fans of all ages give this book, and frankly this character, a chance. There is just so much potential that anyone taking a look should naturally be drawn towards further installments. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God bless!