I AM BATMAN Series

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?

From the September 2021 solicitations in DC CONNECT #14:

I AM BATMAN #1

  • Story by JOHN RIDLEY
  • Art by OLIVIER COIPEL
  • Cover by OLIVIER COIPEL
  • $3.99 US | 32 PAGES | FC | DC
  • Variants by GREG CAPULLO and FRANCESCO MATTINA
  • 1:25 Variant by KAEL NGU
  • Team card stock variant by GABRIELE DELL’OTTO
  • $4.99 US
  • ON SALE 9/14/21
  • 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 have to say, his costume rivals Sister Night’s, from HBO’s Watchman, as my favorite super-hero costume.

Watchmen: Dave Gibbons Illustration (Promo) | HBO

“In the TV series, the one who really speaks to me is Sister Night. She’s a wonderful character and a great costume. It’s got such nice flowing lines and nice areas of solid black. The telling little details like the sheriff’s badge and the crucifix. She was the character that I felt most drawn to draw.”
-Dave Gibbons

As ever, Trevante Rhodes would be my choice to play Tim “Jace” Fox if HBO Max were to ever do an I AM BATMAN-type of series…

He starred in the Academy Award for Best Picture winner Moonlight.


Anyway, the #0 issue to kick things off…

I AM BATMAN #0

I Am Batman #0 – The age of a new Dark Knight begins! On August 10, picking up immediately from the events of The Next Batman: Second Son, Jace Fox begins the march toward his destiny when he fights to protect Alleytown against the oppressive forces of the Magistrate, using Batman armor and tech he’s found in Bruce Wayne’s old base of operations, the Hibernaculum!

  • Written by John Ridley
  • Art and Main Cover by Travel Foreman
  • Card Stock Variant cover by Dave Wilkins
  • Card Stock Variant cover by Derrick Chew
  • Card Stock 1:25 Variant cover by Riccardo Federici
  • 40 Pages; $4.99 ($5.99 card stock variant cover)
  • On Sale Tuesday, August 10, 2021

This does literally pick up right after the last issue of THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON.

See also: THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON Digital Series

I believe it was the weekly grind of THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON that kind of burnt me out on all things Bat. Because I see after a bit of break I do want to see what happens next in the life of Jace Fox. The other Bat-people I can take or leave, but Jace is interesting to me.

Speaking of which, it was kind of funny to see that the November 2021 DC solicitations were basically DC saying that, “Yeah, we’re the Batman comic book company.” :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I believe almost 60% of the books were Batman books. So they’re not going to even pretend anymore; and are probably not going to even bother wasting money on much of anything else anymore. It’s Batman, and then there’s everything else.

I feel that they could probably cut the number of Bat-books in half, if not more, but I’m sure they’ve looked at the numbers and the Bat is pretty much all the sells at DC. And it’s worked for almost the last 40 years, since THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, so the Bat it is. It’s what the people want. (BATMAN: THE IMPOSTER even got my attention.)

Batman feels like a really good fit for Warner Bros. to me, as well. It fits the brand. Yes, it’s really their only successful movie super-hero property (added because I think that the Joker is the greatest comic book movie ever made, and that The Batman will be their next hit movie), so I’m sure that factors into the overall perception that I have on the matter, but it is what it is…

Briefly on the art for this issue, Travel Foreman was fine for a weekly digital series, but I don’t really care for his style for a monthly series; and I also believe it was the art that attributed to my Bat burnout. It was just a bit too “basic.” Thankfully, Olivier Coipel is on for at least the first issue of I AM BATMAN, and I see that Stephen Segovia will be doing the art for issues two and three, and I presume he may be the regular artist going forward.

We’ll of course see how it all shakes out, but so far so good.

As for the #0 issue, more of the nice, slow burn that we got in THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON.

I would hazard to guess that some may not care for that storytelling style. Because I know reading SECOND SON it felt almost like a Vertigo series (and I mean that in a good way), and this is just more of the same.

A couple of things that stood out for me was seeing the purpose the suit of “Bat-armor”, and seeing Jace with the Jace-cycle again…

This is a fairly grounded take on the Batman idea, which of course is already pretty grounded to begin with. And Jace’s raison d’être is a bit different, but I’m onboard.

Also, the ending with the “beginning”…

Thankfully the “Bat-armor” was just used for a few panels, because, oh boy, any more of that and I would have been gone in an instant. So John Ridley’s sensibilities and mine are simpatico, it would seem. And I would be fine without the cape and cowl altogether, but it’s naturally understandable for it. And the aforementioned Olivier Coipel designs from above for this Batman I like well enough, so no complaints.

Ironically, the costume is really the deal closer on this for me. Because if I didn’t like it, then there’s no way I would be able to read the comic.

With that said… it “begins.”

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I AM BATMAN #1 preview from CBR:

Pretty cool.

And Jace’s Batman suit I think is very cool.

The whole covering up the face aspect is what sells it for me.

It’s a small thing, but it makes all the difference in the world to me. It takes me from not liking “Batman’s” costume, to liking it a lot; and making it actually look cool to me for the first time ever.

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Just to add, a bit of “Gotham Gossip” if you will…

So rumor has it, the reason for the full mask:

  • Jace Fox’s Batman has no batarangs or grappling guns, he’s not that kind of Batman. He does wear a full face mask against Joker toxins. Much like the rest of Alleytown.

That is in fitting with the scene from I AM BATMAN #0

So in Gotham City, some of the citizens wear masks because of A-Day.

I suppose that’s also a somewhat clever way to bring in current events without actually bringing in COVID-19.

Moreover, again, this Batman that John Ridley has written thus far has really been grounded in this aspect. There’s been a little “Luke Fox Batwing” action, but that’s been about it. Everything else involving Jace has been fairly realistic; no colorful, “clown-ish” criminals so far.

Granted, some may find that a bit boring, but I love it.

Eventually, I guess the “clowns” will have to be brought in, but I’ll be interesting to see how this Batman will be done in the meantime…

And how John Ridley will handle Tiffany Fox: The Kid Sister Wonder™.

Also, if the preview for I AM BATMAN #1 is anything to go by, I’m assuming the Hibernaculum will serve as Jace’s “Batcave”…

At some point I’m assuming Lucius is going to find out about all of this…

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Must say, I enjoyed Second Son and the first issue of this series more than the Future State stuff. Nice to see where Tim/Jace got his skills and what his motives are. The writing is deliberate, but fleshes out the characters pretty well. Curious to see how they’re going to handle having two Batmen (Batmans?) operating at the same time in the same city. Will they meet? What will Bruce’s reaction be like?

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Future State was okay but nothing great or groundbreaking in my opinion. Second Son is where Jace’s world got a chance to breathe. I Am Batman 0 was excellent and I am all in on the character. With all of that said, I have enjoyed the organic world-building and characterization of Jace and the supporting characters that started in Future State. When all of it is read in one sitting it feels like 1 comic and not 3 different series.

Hmm, this is a great question and I think they will meet in Fear State, maybe even giving room for Bruce to leave Gotham as Joshua Williamson has teased.

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@darkstarz

Future State was okay but nothing great or groundbreaking in my opinion. Second Son is where Jace’s world got a chance to breathe. I Am Batman 0 was excellent and I am all in on the character. With all of that said, I have enjoyed the organic world-building and characterization of Jace and the supporting characters that started in Future State. When all of it is read in one sitting it feels like 1 comic and not 3 different series.

Yeah, Future State had a really odd feel about to me.

In an interview back in February, John Ridley talked about how this all came about in general…

Den of Geek: As soon as I saw that Tim Fox was the Next Batman, I was really excited to talk to you about that choice. You’ve spoken before about other lesser known Black heroes that meant something to you, who you’ve then later explored in your DC stories. Was Tim another one of those characters or was he someone who came up as you were researching and planning the series?

It’s been a really interesting journey getting to The Next Batman. I was working on The Other History and the second series of The American Way and I just felt very fortunate to be doing any of that. And at first I got these emails that Dan DiDio wanted to talk to me but I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. But there was some weird thing where they were having trouble emailing it and this was prior to the pandemic, so finally they got all frustrated and were like, “Dan wants to have lunch with you.” We sat down and he said, “Oh we want you to write Batman.” That would have been tremendously cool in itself, but they said, “We want to approach Batman in a different way. We want Batman to be a character of color. But he’s going to be Batman. It’s not going to be an Elseworlds story, it’s not going to be, you know, the Dark Knight having his back broken. It’s not going to be temporary.”

Everything about it was trying to find the right way to express Batman. Who is Batman who’s a person of color? Not replacement Batman, not fantasy Batman, it’s going to be Batman. Going back a little bit, everybody in DC was very excited about The Other History. And initially the approach was, “Well, we’d love for you to create the next great DC comic book character.” That was the initial conversation before it became about Batman as a person of color. Initially, when Dan and Jim Lee approached me with that idea I was like, “Wow, I don’t know if I want to do that.” I know it sounds like a great opportunity, but I sincerely felt like, “Well, I’m too old to be writing a character that hopefully the next generation of comic book readers are going to want to be involved with.” Honestly, I think trying to create the next great character is a great way to fail. Anytime anybody in any space says, “I’m gonna do the next great whatever,” it’s just an opportunity to embarrass yourself.

So when they first approached me, I said, “I don’t know if I’m gonna be the right person.” And ironically both Jim and Dan said to me, “John, because you have that attitude, that’s all the more reason we feel like you’re the right person.”

That was that. And then, you know, months later Dan sits down and says, “Hey, we want you to do Batman. But we want you to do the next Batman.” We didn’t even have that title at that point but that was the phraseology he used. Then there were all of these things that happened with what people thought or what was meant to be 5G, and then Dan leaving the company and all of these changes. But what never changed was the desire to have a next generation of heroes. And one of them was going to be Batman and he was going to be a person of color.

Then we really got into who this person was going to be. Ben Abernathy is the group editor and I have a long history with him. Frankly, I wouldn’t be writing comic books if it weren’t for Ben, so I was very excited when he was going to be the group editor. He really was instrumental in saying, “I think that the right character should be Tim Fox.” The idea that one of the Fox sons should be Batman was a no-brainer. The conversations were out there and they were unmissable. But for me and Ben, Tim was the correct way to go.

He was always the second son. He was always this kid who just did not get along with his father. Who had divergent views about the family and the family status, and concepts of money and wealth and society. But also he disappeared for a long period of time. One of the things that was really fun for me on The Other History was leaning into things that happened in the DC Universe that may have happened because a character’s book got cancelled or that storyline just dropped away. And instead of ignoring it, how do you embrace things that happen in real life but really turn them into narrative arcs? And with Tim disappearing from the DC Universe for decades, why was he gone? Why did he go away? So using all of that negative space and saying, “Okay, we’re going to fill that void.”

But yep, THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON and I AM BATMAN are seamless from a story telling standpoint.

Good stuff.

And I guess I’m onboard for however long it lasts… 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, however long, until the end.

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I really cannot stress, up to this point in time, the best thing they are doing with this series is taking it slow. Show the mistakes, warts and all, and create a hero’s journey. Too often, we get a new character and that character just is, they do heroic stuff but it often seems like we are in the middle of the story. Superman actually had that strike against him and someone realized we needed an origin story which fleshed him out.

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The Digital First Series as a vehicle for telling an origin story is something that they might want to consider and use again in the future, because it worked wonders for Jace.

We essentially got his “Year One” story… or “Zero Year,” I guess. And now I AM BATMAN will be his “Year One.”

Interesting.

Since they had the preview for issue #1, here’s their review:

So, with that said, issue #1, “The Beginning.”

Jumping right in, and…

A bit of a flashback to Jace’s younger self.

And the end of the issue is hopefully the tone we’ll get for this entire series.

(Cool shot of Jace.)

On the whole, just a solid and really grounded Batman story.

I am pleased. It was what I was hoping for, and sort of expected, and it’s what I got.

This feels almost like a Black Label series, it has certain aspects about it on that front, but it’s fully integrated into the current continuity. So it’s the best of both worlds I guess in that sense. Although, a full-on Black Label series would have been fine by me, but I’ll take it as is…

Next issue Stephen Segovia will be taking over the art. I wasn’t familiar with his work so I did a little digging and he should be fine. The overall tone of the book art-wise shouldn’t shift too much I don’t think. And Olivier Coipel may come back at some point too, because going back to when this Batman was part of the 5G plans, Olivier Coipel was the artist attached to it.

Anyway, yep, nothing too crazy and out there in this issue. Just simple, grounded, goodness.

Good.

EDIT:

Quickly going back to what was said in the review:

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.

And this is precisely what I’m looking for, a different kind of Batman book.