She Got Next is the first installment of a new arc. Even though this issue calls itself a part one, most of the plots revolve around the Empire State of Mind finale and barely push past that. Most of the detective work in this issue happens at the very end and so we aren’t really given a reason to care about this next arc other than to see how the events of Empire State of Mind play out. There are a lot of plot points that have been accompanying the various stories of I Am Batman and while most of the time they seem like kind of unnecessary b-plots, they really take away the focus of the main story in this issue. So not only does the finale of Empire State of Mind feel like the driving force of this issue but there is also Jace’s family dynamics, the mayor (maybe) being afraid of his past coming to light and Batman still trying to find new headquarters.
I do want to address the way this issue unpacks the finale of Empire State of Mind because there are pretty much two good things I can say about this comic and the interrogation scene is one of them. These first three pages felt really impactful when I read them and looking at them again for this review I can see the subtle choices that John Ridley made to have the interrogation work so well. Detective Chubb shooting a fellow officer is no small matter and was a pretty big shock at the end of Empire State of Mind (even if I thought it was a pretty bad ending). This shocking act is a very vivid parallel to the clash between social justice and tradition that has underlined the police within these comics and it is where this clash reaches a new extreme.
Detective Chubb represents the push towards social justice as she becomes this antagonistic force within the police that tries to point out the hypocrisies and underlying prejudices of the system she serves. Detective Keenan is the old school traditional detective that has lots of ties within the police force and is probably a regular at whatever bar his boss would go to. This mini-series has bent over backwards to show us just how difficult it is for Detective Chubb to fight against these traditional ways of thinking and operating. Not only was she sent to New York for her behavior but she lost the trust of virtually every officer around her. The police interrogation reinforces all of this by showing us how skewed the entire force is against her narrative. While the questions are framed as an impartial review of “conflicting accounts,” Detective Chubb is asked a much more leading question than the one that is asked to Keenan.
A question that obviously leaves her much more frustrated and distraught compared to Keenan who continues to act like he owns the place with three goons by his side to snark and sneer at Chubb. Overall I think that these three pages are a really subtle and powerful way to showcase one of the most prominent tensions within this mini-series and I wish that the rest of the comic did more of this. But alas… we also have to talk about the rest.
My biggest critique of this issue (and honestly I Am Batman in general) is that I finished it and just felt so confused. Beyond wishing this issue to be more stand-alone I also just have a hard time figuring out what John Ridley wants his characters to be like, how he wants all these different plots to come together and what his criticisms of the real world (where you and I live) really are. It would take way too long to show y’all exactly what I mean for each point of confusion I have so instead I’ll just elaborate on the first one. That being: what does John Ridley want his characters to be like?
Jace’s Batman was supposed to be the voice of the people but we lost those nice little moments where Batman would interact with the people and instead all he did in this issue was talk to his family and then help the police in a shootout. Tiffany, Jace’s youngest sister, is supposed to be feeling guilty and unable to cope with what happened to her sister but her scenes are so rushed that we barely understand why she would run away in tears or what led her to then vaguely talk like she wants to become a superheroine. And back to Detective Chubb, who has been having a real tough time with her morals, and yet I still can’t figure out if she’s going to be the unrelenting voice of reason or if she’s ok with compromising her beliefs to work with “the masks”. So for the most part this comic feels too dependent on the previous stories and even when I’m following these long winded stories issue after issue I just end up confused and dissatisfied. I fall back to the words of fellow Batman News reviewer Nicolas Finch who opened his review of I Am Batman #7-9 with “Sometimes, less is more”.
These words also bring us to another point brought up by Finch as my eyes fall upon yet another artist tacked onto the series. Over the course of I Am Batman I have seen so many artists join the roster only to just as suddenly vanish and while I don’t think each artist clashes too much with another I do feel as though the New York we are treated to never gets to claim its own distinct aesthetic. The same goes for Batman who has leaped into action under the pen and pencil of countless artists on I Am Batman but could hardly be described as having a consistent look.
Christian Duce and Tom Derenick mesh their styles pretty well throughout the comic so I’m not sure exactly which artist is behind this panel but I’m really set back by how the New York skyline has such a sketchbook look to it. This might seem like a minor detail but the rest of this comic has such thick lines and clearly defined spaces that just pop right out of the page and yet here we have this skyline that looks like it’s from a completely different comic. So even if this is a minor issue it still speaks to the inconsistency that is created by constantly adding new artists to a comic that never got a chance to find a consistent vision.
While the quality of the art is impacted by the rotating roster of artists working on I Am Batman I do enjoy the coloring that Rex Lokus pairs to the art. Earlier I mentioned that I had two nice things to say about this issue and finally I get to talk about the second one! With so many thick lines outlining the designs of characters and backgrounds (for the most part, cough cough) it’s great to have such vibrant and bright colors for the majority of this issue because it allowed me to really enjoy and linger on the pages that had something really cool going on like the opening page or when Batman leaps into action.
Towards the end of the comic the setting is more dark and so the bright colors aren’t as present but they still manage to creep in through the graffiti that’s sprayed all over the streets. I love this touch to the art of the world because it’s a token of appreciation towards the beauty that is created despite the city that surrounds it. Even if the rundown apartments people are living in give these scenes a darker atmosphere it’s the art the people living there make that ultimately gives it life.
- Every issue of I Am Batman is pre-ordered or previously owned and you’re in too deep to get out
- You’ve just got to find out what happens to Detective Chubbs after she shoots Detective Keenan
- A secret part six to Empire State of Mind sounds perfect to you
Even though I enjoy tiny details here and there I have found I Am Batman to be kind of overly confusing in its themes and messages. This issue in particular felt like everything was still advancing at a snail’s pace and I honestly wouldn’t recommend reading this issue because it’s not even a part one at this point, just another section of Jace’s many slices of life that have all gotten stale real fast.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.