I Am Batman #1
In the throes of Future State, the streets of Gotham City cry for justice and Jace Fox answers the call! With a new and improved Bat-Suit, Jace hits the streets to inspire and protect…as he follows the trail of the voice of misinformation and violence-the anarchistic Anti-Oracle! Can the new Dark Knight counterbalance their plan to inspire armed rebellion in the citizens of Gotham?! Can one man inspire a city?
I Am Batman #1 does a great many things in this issue but what it doesn’t do is this– it doesn’t fuck around. The question permeating the air is whether or not the old style of Batman mission– striking in the dark, mobilizing fear, maintaining status as urban legend– is what the world needs right now. Ridley and Coipel waste no time in showing that Jace Fox is a Batman that is looking to step into the light but the darkness of the world around him threatens to swallow him whole.
That darkness takes many forms in this issue and in our own world. The vastness of internet conspiracy, the loss of faith in law enforcement agencies to administer justice rather than vengeance, government games of “cover your ass”, and of course the fabricated lines of division we paint across society like a line splitting a bedroom between siblings in a bad sitcom, it’s all here staring down Jace Fox as he contemplates the role of Batman in this city. He talks about the lost art of community connection, something currently looming large in our national discourse. Strangers rarely instill confidence, after all.
The artwork by the exceptionally talented Coipel actually stands in near contradiction here. Jace wants to be in the light (not quite like Duke operating in the day time but more visible than Bruce ever was) but the darkness of Gotham as put forth by Coipel and Sinclair is smothering. It creates a true sense of tension in the narrative as you hope for escape but it feels impossible. Also of note is the character design here. The cowl covers full-face for Jace’s suit which, for me, is interesting on multiple levels. Aside from the obvious “why not just aim for his mouth?” jokes we’ve heard over the decades, the choice to fully mask is an issue we’ve seen come up for Marvel’s Black Panther a number of times over the years. This full masking not only masks identity but racial identity as well. In contrast, you see the opposite in a character like John Stewart/Green Lantern who refuses a mask because he wants to be seen specifically as a black man in America being a hero. I have a feeling based on what I know of Ridley’s work and what we’ve seen in terms of political cache so far that this conversation will almost certainly have to emerge at some point.
I Am Batman #1 is an extremely thought-provoking and exceptionally beautiful comic that should be on every reader's radar. From #DCComics #JohnRidley #OliverCoipel @sinccolor @troy_peteri
I Am Batman #1: Community Patrol
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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