Review: I Am Batman #6

“Empire State of Mind” – Part One
Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Ken Lashley
Color Artist: Rex Lokus
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Review by Derek McNeil
Minor spoilers ahead

With I Am Batman #6, John Ridley shifts the series’ setting away from Gotham to New York City. Thus, much of the issue is taken up with establishing the new status quo.

Moving to the Big Apple

Some members of Jace’s family move to the Big Apple with him; Tanya Fox has taken Tamara to New York to get the best treatment available for her daughter and Jace and Tiff have elected to go with them. However, Lucius remains in Gotham, where his company is based. Thus, Lucius might still figure in the Gotham-based titles and I’m also guessing that Luke’s staying in Gotham too, as he doesn’t appear to have moved with his mother and siblings.

We also see that much of Jace’s supporting cast has moved to New York along also. We previously learned of Detective Chubb’s transfer to the NYPD, but she also arranges for her partner Whitaker to join her Special Crimes Unit. Also, Jace brings Vol to New York to continue serving as his “Oracle”. For once, we got to see Vol in person, rather than as a disembodied voice.

Batman’s Relationship with the Authorities

On that topic, Ridley spends much of I Am Batman #6 establishing Jace’s working relationship with New York’s police and city government. Everything looks to be pretty rosy at first but then becomes fraught with peril. The mayor sees a political benefit in supporting the new Batman, but it’s evident that it will last only as long as it’s politically expedient.

Add to this the fact that the deputy mayor and police commissioner are uncomfortable with this support, to the point where they actively undermine it, by making Chubb, a known Batman detractor, head of the new Special Crimes Unit. On the other hand, we see evidence that Batman has a fair bit of backup from the street-level cops. Clearly, Jace will have his hands full managing an uneasy truce with the authorities.

The New Direction is a Wise Choice

Overall, I think the choice to move the title’s location was a good one. It’s important that Jace differentiate himself from the original Batman because he would always be in Bruce’s shadow if he’d remained in Gotham City. It’s also probably better to keep the rest of the Bat-Family at arm’s length for now. If Jace was operating in Gotham, you’d expect him to be constantly crossing paths with Bruce and the others. Being in a separate city gives Jace more opportunity to establish himself on his own before mixing it up with other Gotham-based heroes.

Batman or The Batman

With The Batman about to release in theatres, an old debate has re-emerged in online forums: “Is it Batman, or The Batman”. I liked seeing that Jace gives his own opinion on the question: “I’m not particular”. Now, Jace doesn’t speak for Bruce, so this answer isn’t definitive, but I would like to think that Bruce would concur. Bruce is very pragmatic. While he is conscious of having an image, I doubt that he’d feel that the definite article adds or detracts from the effectiveness of the image. This probably means that he’d consider the whole debate irrelevant.

Conclusion

Ridley spends I Am Batman #6 re-establishing the title’s status quo. Usually, it’s not a great sign for a series to have to do so this early in the run. However, it seems necessary in this case, and I suspect that little, if any, of the fault is Ridley’s. My guess is that DC’s plans for the title changed with the retooling of 5G and Future State and that Ridley was informed of this too late.

This left him scrambling to make I Am Batman fit properly into the Infinite Frontier-era continuity. Moving Jace to a new city allows for a way to rebuild the status quo that can repair or cover a lot of the continuity problems. So, the move to New York was probably a wise decision in the long run.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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