It’s a historic day for Batman this week as he returns to New York City after 84 years. Jace Fox and his family are moving to the Big Apple thanks in part to the many traumas his family has faced in Gotham. NYC now has a protector, but in this first issue by John Ridley and Ken Lashley, the question is, do they want one?
If you like your superhero comics with a heaping dose of politics, you might just love I Am Batman #6. This issue is largely about the politicians and big wigs who aren’t so sure about a vigilante hero in their city. Fairly early on, Ridley and Lashley check in with the mayor and commissioner, among others, are debating what they should do.
Should they arrest him, or bring him into the fold? There are some rather modern outlooks from these characters, some of whom hate what they call SJWs while others see a benefit in joining forces with Batman. The politicizing of a vigilante for their own good is a major element of this series.
Ridley does well to catch readers up on Jace and his family members. If you’re going in blind, this is a good jumping-on point for that reason. We also get to see Jace with his now-iconic motorcycle as well as a clearly more brutal way of taking on bad guys. The book is certainly verbose, maybe too much at times, but it’s getting a lot of information across about the character through the dialogue.
Most exciting might be the opening and closing pages. Every superhero needs a supervillain, but the one shown here is a bit different. A bit more realistic. A bit more brutal is not common in the brighter and more hopeful Batman comics we know. The villain is shown doing some rather gory and gross things to a victim. It spells out to the kind of villain who isn’t super strong or able to shoot lasers out of his eyes, but someone Batman needs to use his wits to bring in. Jace is a brutal Batman who is uncompromising, but he hasn’t faced a villain like this.
Lashley pencils and inks the issue quite well, keeping the talking heads scenes moving along. The brutality of Batman is captured well too, from Batman facing an entire gang with ease to taking out one way-too-confident bad guy with a gun. The city is prominent in a lot of shots and it looks incredibly modern and clean. Very few real locales are shown from NYC, and but it quickly has an identity all its own.
Colors by Rex Lokus add to the modern feel of the city with many background buildings cast in a cool blue. You can see how Lokus’ colors bring out the city in this background for instance, which adds layers in a cool way.
I Am Batman #6 is a good start to a fresh start for Jace as well as the big New York move. Ridley allows Batman to fight, and a villain to emerge and draw the reader’s attention, while also supplying an interesting political element. All told, I Am Batman is exciting, brutal, and unnerving as Batman navigates NYC as its most powerful ready to use him for their own means.
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