Jace Fox is the new Batman in a city that no longer accepts superheroes as protectors, but laments them as criminals. He still goes out into the night to help those who can’t help themselves, is defiant against his father in his own way, and lives with a mask all the time. It’s a compelling take on Batman that John Ridley and Olivier Coipel kicked off with I Am Batman #0 back in August. The first issue is out this week and I am here to answer the age-old question: Is it good?
The answer is a strong yes, especially if you’re looking for a different kind of Batman book. For all intents and purposes, Jace is Batman: he has no family to back him up and he’s going out there alone. From that perspective, there’s a Year One vibe here that’s unmistakable. The creators have disassembled this character to the point where there’s a feeling as if anything can happen. That goes from entering a fight with a muscular dude on the street to what Jace puts in his utility belt.
The answer to the latter is a lot of burner phones, which is an example of how Ridley and Coipel add wrinkles to this Batman that makes him feel unique.
The book opens with Jace’s captions talking about how he wears a mask even when he isn’t Batman. It’s something many of us, especially younger people, can relate to. Ridley does a good job catching us up to speed on Jace’s relationship with his father Lucious Fox and then getting him into the Batman suit for some night patrol.
Interwoven with that patrol are two detectives who work the night shift, seem legit in doing a good job, but also a bit wartorn. Cutting between Jace as Batman and these cops helps define their lives in a single night unifying their cause but also showing how they’ll be crossing paths soon.
The scenes with Batman are electric thanks to Coipel’s amazing art. Gotham is lit up with bright blurry lights and the streets have a warm summer feel. Batman drives what appears to be a common motorcycle, which adds a street-level vigilante feel. The costume itself has the high-tech look we’ve come to expect, but everything else has a get-your-hands-dirty vibe.
This version of Batman covering his face is also an intriguing element since it makes him even more inhuman. His fighting style is also a bit more brutal as he uses batons and seems to fight with precision to beat people into submission. The title may be I Am Batman, but there’s a different vibe reader will cling to as different and new which makes it extra exciting to read.
I Am Batman #1 is hard-hitting, offering a different kind of Batman that has the rogue DNA of Collateral or a John Woo action-adventure.
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