I Am Batman #1 Impresses as Jace Fox takes up the Cowl

Terrence reviews the new #1 from John Ridley and Olivier Coipel!

I Am Batman #1
Written by John Ridley
Art by Olivier Coipel, Alex Sinclair, and ALW’s Troy Peteri
Edited by Ben Abernathy
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: September 14, 2021

Jace Fox’s Destiny has arrived. We’ve been following the estranged son of Lucius Fox and his quiet reintroduction to the DC Universe but it’s here that he (literally) steps up to be something more real, concrete, for Gotham. The Batman, albeit differently, is already showing signs of the type of hero he’ll set out to be. I Am Batman throws Jace into the fires of Fear State in an #1 that gives an idea of Ridley’s mission statement for our new Batman.

Picking up from I Am Batman #0, Jace is moving comfortably in his Father’s world with reservations remaining given their past. It’s the work that takes place outside the offices and boardrooms that Jace is more attentive to. Coipel’s exquisite pencils sharply have Jace suit up in his freshly printed Batsuit with details that describe how grounded of an approach this Batman and the person behind the symbol will be. Ridley writes our Hero as someone who is well aware of Batman, as far as what he stood for and acted like. He doesn’t want to be that. He wants to be a man of the people and that starts in times of unrest. A Batman that is seen and heard, a vocal and physical reminder in the face of danger.

It’s a great contrast from our traditional and mainline Bruce Wayne’s characterization when it comes to being Batman and what he does with it. Ridley has been charting Jace’s character backward and forwards through time given his introduction with Future State and then working backward with the prequel series The Next Batman: Second Son and now the current present-day series. We’re understanding more about Jace through this investment in this character and it’s slowly paying off as he steps up as his own character taking on a mantle that plenty of characters have before. 

As Coipel’s pencils guide our next Batman around the Gotham City streets, he’s presented as a smaller…a more intimate figure on his cycle. A man in a suit really as he catches two kids tagging walls with graffiti. He humors but sternly attempts to warn them away from the activity and it’s the small acts that set Jace apart, the honest effort to be seen and heard as the Batman. We zip through the city streets in a widescreen page that features some stylized nightlife, pedestrians, and a speeding car giving Jace another bout with both citizens and police in his newfound crusade.

Coipel’s mastery of the page can’t be overstated as he uses both small and large panels, sometimes window-like to show actions all contributing to the overall action and always taking care to never lose the characters in the process. He’s aided by Alex Sinclair on coloring duties and even at night, the backgrounds and surroundings never make Jace a darker figure, losing him in the nighttime. Instead, he’s the focus as he rides and battles his way across Gotham with a crisp and kinetic Coipel drawn ferocity. 

While I Am Batman #1 is a first issue and I would say that it is reader-friendly to a point…it also lends itself to be read like a Part 2 or a continuing piece of a narrative given how much of Jace’s backstory and prequel series has led to this point and story threads are mentioned to give readers enough information to know what’s happening. If someone chose this as their first introduction to Jace Fox, I’d probably hand them the #0 issue as well just to be on the safe side. 

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