This week, we’ll be uploading two reviews for the latest issues of I Am Batman: a catch-up for last month’s issue #2, and one for this month’s issue #3. Both will cover different scenes, praises and critiques, but you’ll find that each of them have a similar score.
Let’s get a positive out of the way immediately: this book has an amazing cover. Probably Jace’s best cover yet, Gerado Zaffino’s work acts as a fantastic homage to previous Batman works while still looking so distinctly its own thing – if I had to recommend this book for one thing, it’d be for the cover. Collecting comics just for the cover is becoming a more and more expensive hobby nowadays, but it’s worth mentioning when good art deserves promoting.
Now I do think this book is a little better than its second issue, but I’ll be completely honest: it’s not by all that much. While I’m still entirely uninvested in the premise of the story, there are a few character beats that make this book interesting to read. Not only that, but the plot actually progresses! Let’s check out what this book does right, and what it does wrong.
Now, the art is one of the things I’d definitely say I Am Batman does right! After Olivier Coipel left, Stephen Segovia took the reins, bringing a slightly less realistic but more dynamic Jace Fox to the page with the help of fellow artist Christian Duce. In this issue, their work–
…Ahem. Sorry. What?
You are on your third fucking issue and you had to hire a third artist?!
This is crazy! Is this not absolutely crazy? The turnover rate has been insane on John Ridley’s Batman books! We had two artists for The Next Batman (four issues), at least three for Second Son (also four issues), and now three for a monthly ongoing that’s only just begun?? I don’t care if the art is good or bad at this point, I’d just like some consistency!
I’ll grant that their illustrations, combined with the efforts of colourist Rex Lokus, make the work of the two artists blend together almost seamlessly (or three artists, if you believe Comixology). With only a few small exceptions, DC has done a nice job of making it difficult to see who drew what for the average reader. If this method gets a decent product out without it being too jarring, I have nothing necessarily against it… but dear lord, does it not speak to the organization of this book just the slightest bit? A consistent artist, working with Ridley to create a consistent vision, might be the thing the story needs to really tie it together. I don’t know why this hasn’t been the case so far, and experiencing this every time I read a Jace book is starting to wear thin.
Meanwhile, the story continues to follow the police guarding a murderer from “The Moral Authority”, a group fighting against the mythical “Hidden Agenda” I mentioned in the previous review. I think Ridley’s intention here was to deepen the politically charged world of Gotham and comment on mob mentality… which I suppose he does on a very surface level, if you count this interpretation of the disenfranchised as violent reactionary conspiracy theorists as “a good level of nuance”. The good news is, this all is over rather fast.
This issue acts as setup for Batman’s new antagonist, Seer – another one of this story’s villains we barely ever interact with. I’ll grant that he’s more interesting than people like Arkadine, who’s dealt with in this issue, but he’s still not particularly impressive when you stack him up to the entire Batman Rogues Gallery. Get back to me when he has some sort of animal for an umbrella.
What I like about the story is the concessions characters have to make to get through to the other side of the battle. Detective Chubb is forced to let Batman help them in a life-or-death situation, and Jace’s mother has to be talked down out of shooting the masked vigilante she doesn’t know is her own son. It creates several great character-building moments that sow the seeds for larger growth across the book – even if the premise of the life-or-death situation they were in is built on rocky foundations from the previous issue.
All this being said, I still don’t know where the story is really going. This is yet another end to a small arc I wasn’t particularly intrigued by, but it all feels like it’s building to something actually substantial for Jace to fight. I’d like to know what it is, and this book is wasting its good will by not reeling us in while they still have us paying attention.
- You wanna give Jace and the world around him a chance!
- You’re a fan of the way Batman’s world integrates with the world of the police in this comic.
- Expendable income isn’t a problem for you if you’re in the mood for a dope cover.
Better than last issue, nowhere near as good as it could be. What issue #4 needs to do is to provide us with a strong, visually exciting hook: because if this book doesn’t justify its existence soon, it might stop treading water and start sinking under its own weight.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch