New York City is a lot different from Gotham, but they aren’t without similarities as Jace Fox aka Batman has learned in John Ridley’s series I Am Batman. Batman is coming face to face with a mysterious serial killer who has been turning human victims into art. Literally. I Am Batman #8 is out this week and features Batman fighting a different kind of villain, but the biggest question might not be if he can beat him, but whether he can find the strength to even try at all.
As the preview shows, Batman is coming face to face with a masked man who loves to maim and murder, but we quickly learn he thinks he’s the same as Batman. It appears the victims he chooses are bad people and likely deserve some punishment, but when does it go too far? Given Jace has typically been extremely violent, one might imagine a villain getting the wrong impression.
Christian Duce draws this issue with Rex Lokus on colors and they both do a good job keeping the world looking realistic and grounded. The city continues to peek out through windows and key backgrounds. The villain’s lair is particularly well done, made up of brick and wooden floors as if he’s in an entirely different time and place. The tactical look of the Batman suit is also well done.
This issue does a few things well, starting with the fact that Jace actually loses a fight. It’s not a huge spoiler given that it happens in the opening pages, but it kicks off a lot of self-doubt in Batman going forward. He’s still trying to be his own version of Batman and disagrees with the gadgetry. Ridley has shown Jace doing a bit of detective work, but after this issue, it’s clear he’s not as meticulous in preparing for any contingency.
Something else that works is showing Jace interact with his family. For the most part, his siblings and parents have been on their own or together, but here we get a key scene between Jace and his sister. Even though they moved to New York City together, Jace has been spending way too much time trying to perfect Batman. One can see Ridley is building a case to show how Batman can function in different ways if he’s a different person and clearly Jace needs to embrace family rather than Bruce who typically shuns it.
This issue is also political, showing the fallout of a “good guy” being revealed to be a sexist and racist. In a key scene, we get to see New Yorker reactions and they go all over the place. This leads to a major cliffhanger that might set the entire New York police department on fire.
Batman has never faced a villain like this who may not be just another thug. This book continues to do a good job blending political elements with the very real fact that Jace is new to being Batman, but he’s also empowered to do something different with the mantle.
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