Before I start this review, I think it’s important to read my recently uploaded review for The Next Batman: Second Son. Make no mistake, I Am Batman #0 is not the start to a new series, but the end of a previous one – and while I liked Second Son, it’s a little frustrating that the creative team had to jump to a different comic to finish that story. Fortunately, it’s one that I don’t mind reading.
I Am Batman #0 shows Jace Fox in a batsuit for the first time – and it goes about as miserably as you’d expect for someone who has no experience with the technology. Honestly, that’s fun to watch! We don’t often get to see Bat-tech in the hands of someone who doesn’t really understand it, and while it’s played seriously, it shows the difficulties that come with quite literally stepping into someone else’s shoes.
I will say, it’s a litttle strange that despite so many issues spent with Jace, we don’t really know his opinion on Batman at all – aside from the fact that at a very basic level, he believes the batsuit to be used by Lucius Fox and Bruce Wayne as a tool to enforce the will of the rich. That’s a cool perspective to have, but it’s one that doesn’t really get explored. We’ve never really seen Jace talk about Bruce Wayne, though we do get a good explanation in Second Son as to why he hates the tools of the privilege. Jace is a complicated person, and I like that the story is taking the time to explore it.
The core momentum of this comic is about an attempt to disrupt a protest, and to start a war between the left-wing protesters and the police. Obviously it’s filtered through a comic book lens – for example, people wear masks because of their fear over another Joker gas attack, not the COVID-19 virus – but the imagery of police facing protesters amidst public outrage, with plants placed within the crowd to incite riots? The comparison is beyond obvious. I’m trying not to read too deeply into it, because it could mean a lot of things, but it does add a layer of political intrigue to Jace’s attempts to navigate his role as a crimefighter and his relationship with the public.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the GCPD for a minute, seeing as I didn’t get to that in my Second Son review. Renee Montoya is the new commissioner, and I’m really not sure how I feel about that change. It feels like we just got her back as The Question, and now she’s making a point to hunt down masks in accordance with the law. Honestly, I’m not a fan. Ridley and Foreman at least show us that she’s conflicted about the matter, but she’s still ultimately the one enforcing these laws – and is still enforcing them by the time Future State rolls around. I don’t know as much about Montoya as I should, but I’ve read a fair few of her stories and I don’t know if that’s particularly loyal to who she is. The scenes she has with detectives Chubb and Whitaker are good, though – it’s clear that this isn’t the end to any of their stories, and I can see it working if it progresses in the right way.
Travel Foreman’s art is good, if a little simplistic at times – as seen in the above image, where Chubb’s face is literally five straight lines that make her look like a mannequin. His background work also leaves something to be desired, with several locations looking less like lived-in spots, and more like a few lines were strewn over a page before the team called it a day. That’s not just Foreman, of course – the inking and the colouring don’t add much depth to scenes such as this, which is actually one of the more detailed backgrounds in the issue.
In addition, the UI of the technology in the comic is rather basic. There’s a sequence in which Jace looks at comments on a thread on his phone, and it just looks like a series of messages from people in a text chain. Despite these complaints, though, there’s still a lot to enjoy! I really love the way Foreman drew the interactions between Jace and his friend/romantic interest Hadiyah, where two characters who enjoy each other’s company struggle to completely connect because of the hangups they have in their way. Not only that, but his art really shines when Jace steps out in the batsuit. With smoke billowing around him and his eyes glowing to shine through the air, it’s a great example of the penciller, inker and colourist all putting in the work.
What this results in is a pretty good ending to a solid beginning! Jace has had a decent start to his first forays into Batman’s world, and while I think there’s a lot to improve on, that can come with time – if DC gives the character the care he needs to really shine.
- You’ve already finished Second Son. If you don’t feel like doing that, probably best to start with next month’s issue 1 instead.
- Katana or Renee Montoya are your favourite characters. Oh, right, Katana’s in this too!
- You want to see what this new Gotham City looks like to an outsider looking in.
If you’re not a fan of Jace Fox, this book isn’t going to show you anything overly badass that’ll convince you that he’s suddenly the best character of all time. What it will show you, though, is something a little more subtle: a man who’s slowly working to better himself, claiming the title of Batman to help do that. Whether that’s the right thing for him to do seems to be a question that the book poses going forward, and with Fear State on the horizon, we’re on the precipice of finding out just what this new Batman is really made of. Hopefully, it takes what we’ve started with here and does something great with it.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this movie for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch