The cover of I Am Batman #0, with Jace Fox suited up in the Batsuit, with dust and smoke surrounding him.

I Am Batman #0! Comic Book Reviews 8/11

The dominance of Batman on my tier list returns with I Am Batman and Batman: Urban Legends. They’re both excellent steps towards better representation, but I Am Batman falters a bit out the gate. It spends too much time setting up what previous Jace Fox series should have already established. But we can forgive the one disappointing issue, because it does stand alone among the others John Ridley has written.

They couldn’t all be winners like every issue of Children of the Atom. This week, we say goodbye to this touching and timely mini-series. It suffered from delays and crossovers, but overcame them to tell a coming-of-age-story that puts the mutant metaphor front and center. I unabashedly love this series, and I’m sad to see it go, but the way it leaves deserves applause.

I Am Batman #0

From I Am Batman #0, Jace walks through tear gas in one of Batman's mecha-suits.
Just put on the REAL Batsuit already!

Written by: John Ridley

Penciling by: Travel Foreman

Inking by: Norm Rapmund

Coloring by: Rex Lokus

Lettering by: ALW’s Dave Lanphear

I Am Batman picks up right where The Next Batman: Second Son leaves off. Jace has found the Batsuit, but still isn’t wearing it. This is one of those rare times where I wish the story was told out of order. It would be nice if we saw Jace in the Batsuit already, while flashing back to why he put it on in the first place. This issue, while being a #0 for the I Am Batman series, feels like filler. 

That should sound strange to anyone who reads it because this issue has a lot of important events. You need to know what happens in this issue to understand what’s happening moving forward with I Am Batman. What makes it feel like filler is how the story moves away from all the interesting subplots.

The Fox family is barely in this issue, with the cop side characters retreading plot points and motivations, and Jace still trying to figure out his identity. It felt like the creative team knew exactly what they were doing before, but this is one of those rare misses that sucks the air out of the room.

The action in I Am Batman isn’t interesting, and the reasons for why everything is happening don’t make much sense. It makes me realize that Future State: The Next Batman, and The Next Batman: Second Son didn’t do much in the way of setting up a plot. The driving force were the subplots, and the moment to moment drama. 

I was distracted from this series problems before, but now that I see how it can fail, I’ll keep an eye out for it. This isn’t the I Am Batman issue we’re waiting for, but its a step towards the one that is.

Batman: Urban Legends #6

Batman and Jason Todd Robin in their old Neil Adams designs run towards the reader.
If you love Robins, you should read this issue.

Written by: Chip Zdarsky, Matthew Rosenberg, Meghan Fitzmartin, Joshua Williamson

Art by: Eddy Barrows & Eber Ferreira, Scot Eaton & Julio Ferreira with Oclair Albert, Marcus To,  Chris Sprouse, Belen Ortega, Trevor Hairsine

Coloring by: Adriano Lucas, Pete Pantazis, Alejandro Sanchez, Rain Beredo

Lettering by: Becca Carey, Josh Reed, Pat Brosseau, Steve Wands

This is one those home run issues. Every single one of the stories in this issue hits. Yes, that means there was no Grifter story this week.

The first, Zdarsky ends the tale of Batman and the Red Hood, and does so on a satisfying note that moves both characters forward. I’m a big fan of Red Hood using his guns to murder criminals. It’s why he was my favorite DC character for a number of years.

That being said, having him give up the guns because of how he accidentally killed someone he didn’t want to, was fitting. Yes, he was the marksmen among the Robins, and he could just use rubber bullets, but this story made it clear why he should give it up. He hasn’t given up killing, just guns, a weapon that arguably no Bat-character should use. And the reveal it had about Batman, what would make him happy, is absolutely horrifying, and heartbreaking. It’s something I won’t spoil because the internet hadn’t even spoiled this for me. Just know, that its a shocker.

And the Zannah story was pretty cool, an interesting tale that seems to set up the shadow war that’s going on in the Deathstroke Inc. and Checkmate books. I theorize that it links into the Black Canary story which gives us some good classic Birds of Prey goodness from the Charles Dixon era. It’s just Black Canary and Barbara Gordon again for another secret mission, and may be connecting to the Zannah story for Shadow War. Literally, the only thing I hate about it, is that it has two characters I love, Black Canary and Talia Al-Ghul, in a solo book about Deathstroke, who I’m starting to hate. I love to hate him, but that “love to hate” is dying out.

But the cream of the crop has to be the Tim Drake story. The action is fine, and the moment to moment story is cool, but its the subtext that becomes text that makes the story great. This was a touching and realistic story of how Tim Drake would come out to like boys. Whether he’s bisexula, gay, or pansexual isn’t clear as of yet, but he’s definitely at least one of them. It’s told beautifully through his inner struggle, as he comes to piece with a part of him that he’s been denying. It ends with a kind of lesson on acceptance that people could always hear.

This is easily, the best issue in this anthology series so far.

Ordinary Gods #2

The main character of Ordinary Gods, Christopher, is at the center of a cast of characters, spanning time. Some include Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Stalin, and Queen Elizabeth I.
This series is playing a risky game.

Written by: Kyle Higgins

Art by: Felipe Watanabe

Coloring by: Frank William

Lettering by: Clayton Cowles

Okay, after finishing this comic, all I have to say is… it’s certainly a choice.

The first issue created a character that felt incredibly human, in a world utterly fantastical. This second issue explains just how this fantastical world works, and what we can expect from it. Specifically, it finally explains why the main character was side-by-side with several historical figures on the cover of the first issue. 

Reincarnation is the name of the game, and its an interesting concept. If used right, it can allow the creative team to touch on multiple cultures, and connect them to each other and us. This then works to bring diversity to every part of the book.

But only if done right.

Connecting the main character to the historical figure it does, is a risky move. So far, I have hope that the creative team can handle it, but I’m not absolutely sure. There is a great risk to this, so here’s hoping they make the most of it and bring us a new perspective on the world. If they fail, they’ve just about created one of the most offensive books of all time.

Children of the Atom #6

Carmen walks away from the rest of her team to enter the gateway to Krakoa.
I’m sad to see them go, but I love the way they walk away.

Written by: Vita Ayala

Penciling by: Paco Medina

Inking by: Paco Medina, Walden Wong

Coloring by: David Curiel

Lettering by: VC’s Travis Lanham

This whole series has been very on the nose with its subtext to the point that it’s text, but in this issue, it’s just text. In this mini-series, we’ve had a deep tale about hero worship, self-acceptance, coming out, being othered, and being hated, all in six issues. The writer tells this story through these kids coming into their ow and trying to live up to their heroes.

This series feels like the ultimate conclusion to a superhero’s story. They live long enough to inspire others, and these others will spread their ideology of love and justice. It’s really hard to talk about this issue without spoiling it, because so many wonderful things happen. We have Carmen coming out as a mutant, and her friend coming out to her.

This is just a feel-good issue, in a feel-good week. It’s all about telling people the things they needed to hear when others weren’t willing to. 

What we have with this issue, is the end of one of the greats. If this issue weren’t such a good ending, it would be a sad day.

Daredevil #33

Daredevil, Matt Murdock, stares at us as fire razes around him.
Oh, he’s pissed.

Written by: Chip Zdarsky

Art by: Marco Checchetto

Coloring by: Marcio Menyz

Lettering by: VC’s Clayton Cowles

The two stories going on in Daredevil would separately make for the best comics several years in a row. The two of them together in one is starting to feel like overkill.

Elektra as Daredevil has been a delight, and Matt Murdock in prison has been terrifying. Then sometimes Elektra as Daredevil is horrifying, and Matt Murdock in prison gets the blood pumping. There’s some kind of magic behind this book. 

This issue continues to push the story forward, while also making sure that it’s playing out in an exciting way. When Elektra fights Bullseye, it’s not just to stop a psychopath, its to also get that catharsis that comes from defeating her killer. We feel our hearts beat in our chests as she finds herself outnumbered, facing death at his hands once again.

Then there’s Matt Murdock, who we just want to love himself. We want him to be able to accept his punishment and what he’s done, but also be out of prison. Instead, he walks further into the darkness, to fight the system as he hasn’t before. He’s tearing it apart brick by brick, coming to understand the people he’s fought for so long.

Elektra and Matt Murdock have come to understand that when you fight with monsters, you risk becoming one. Elektra doesn’t want to be a monster anymore, but maybe Daredevil is ready to become one again.

Infinite Frontier #4

Flashpoint Batman throws a batarang at the reader.
He’s a dick but boy is his Batsuit pretty.

Written by: Joshua Williamson

Penciling by: Paul Pelletier, Jesus Merino, Xermanico

Inking by: Norm Rapmund, Raul Fernandez, Xermanico 

Coloring by: Hi-fi

Lettering by: Tom Napolitano

First off, this books cover is one of my favorite covers of all time. While I don’t harbor much love for Flashpoint Batman, I love his suit, and I love President Superman, and I love Mitch Gerards. 

This cover is perfect for me.

But this issue was made for people who like meta-textual stories that we usually see from Grant Morrison. The way it wraps around the multiverse, and builds conflict as the crossover to end all crossovers is pretty magnificent. This series, save for a few bumps here and there, is building up to what feels a special event. That’s something we haven’t had in ages. 

The heroes of Earth-0 have cracked open the multiverse, now constantly crossing over…

And everyone else is getting sick of it.

As we head into more TV shows and movies talking about the multiverse, this comic feels especially timely. The characters are warning us that some of them are meant to be separate from each other and that’s okay. Not every event needs to be huge and world spanning, and that’s okay.

But they need to do one last world spanning event to make sure we understand that.

There are a lot of reasons to love this series. While I didn’t love the last issue, I do this one.

I Am Batman Disappoints and We Say Goodbye to the Children of the Atom

It’s bitter sweet to say that I Am Batman is the worst issue in John Ridley’s tale about Jace Fox as Batman. They did not tarnish my faith in the series, but they did throw a little dirt on it. I know that it can’t be terrific all the time, and that’s okay. We have to have weak issues like I Am Batman #0 to get the really good stuff later on.

But the same cannot be said for the Children of the Atom. This series was always good, all the time, and its a shame to see it go. At the same time, I love to watch it walk away, because it has a great ending. I got what I wanted, or really, want I needed from the series. I hope everyone else did too.

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