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I Am Batman Vol. 1 Brings a New Kind of Justice to Gotham

I Am Batman Vol. 1 Brings a New Kind of Justice to Gotham

By Donovan Morgan Grant Friday, December 16th, 2022

Each Friday, we'll be letting a different DC.com writer share what they'll be reading over the weekend and why you might want to check it out. Here's this week's suggestion for a perfect Weekend Escape!

There are a wealth of legacy characters in DC’s superhero world—heck, DC invented legacy characters! But with I Am Batman Vol. 1, the newest Caped Crusader isn’t an adopted partner of Bruce Wayne. In fact, he doesn’t really have anything to do with the Batman Family. Nevertheless, he’s a fierce defender of the citizens of Gotham from oppressors on both sides of the law. For this weekend’s comic, we’re going to look at one of 2022’s most acclaimed titles. Let’s talk about the series that made one of the DC Universe’s most interesting heroes in years out of Lucius Fox’s wayward son.


The Premise:

Jace Fox, firstborn son of Lucius Fox, C.E.O. of Wayne Enterprises, is the newest Batman after his family acquired much of the Wayne fortune during the Joker’s war on Gotham and the Scarecrow-driven “Fear State” that followed. This was a period of citywide curfews and lockdowns sustained by Simon Saint and his Magistrate program, which unleashed armed, militarized enforcers onto Gotham City to keep everyone in line. With the original Dark Knight missing at this time and presumed dead, Jace returns to his childhood home after years of overseas training determined to instill a fresh kind of justice. Armed with a suit fitted with non-lethal, but highly effective, combat gear and weaponry, Jace sets his sights on terrorist groups such as the Moral Authority and anyone who would do harm to the vulnerable in Gotham.


Let's Talk Talent:

This series is written by the immensely talented and award-winning screenwriter John Ridley. Fresh off of the heels of the spectacular The Other History of the DC Universe, Ridley turns his attention towards the concept of a Black Batman, and explores the possibilities and realities of a war-torn, crime-ridden city being fought for by someone who does not come from a traditionally privileged background. While Jace daylights as an up-and-comer in his father’s maintenance of Wayne Enterprises, at night he scours the city for all criminal activity with the help of his cyber-hacker ally Vol—activity which is often committed by the police.

Unapologetically political, Ridley takes the Batman franchise fearlessly into new territory with his concerns about meaningful justice and the complex questions that go into achieving it.


A Few Reasons to Read:

  • I Am Batman focuses on the family of Lucius Fox and their perspectives on wealth, privilege and justice. More than just Lucius and Jace, we get to know Lucius’s wife Tanya and their daughters Tam and Tiffany. The Fox Family is caught up with the torrent of criminals and justice, just like the Bat-Family always is, only without special training or super suits. As a result, we learn more about what drives them and how they react when pushed to the edge of their convictions.
     
  • Jace is an entirely unique character to Batman’s world. Compared to his father, Lucius, or even his brother Luke Fox, who operates as Batwing, Jace is a far more troubled and ambitious character. He openly resents the history of Batman and uses the hero’s image to change things in Gotham his way. He works to have the people of the city know he’s looking out for them, utilizing social media and encouraging word of mouth.
     
  • Jace’s relationship with the police is tense and uneasy, but in a different way than the early days of Wayne and Gordon. Working with Detective Chubb, both see the other as complicit in the violence that threatens the innocent, despite their shared Black background and yearning for a better world. In Gotham, status and positions erase skin color and good intentions, or at least that’s the fear that Jace and Chubb work to conquer in themselves.

  • In I Am Batman, Ridley dedicates much of the focus to the GCPD and the city’s attempt to reform the institution of the police. Anxieties about lethal force, racial biases and who wields power are experienced by not only Jace and his family, but also Commissioner Renee Montoya and Detective Chubb, who both have extremely opposed views of vigilantes. Lines become blurred when the police begin taking matters into their own hands regarding protestors, mob violence and general resentment of authority.
     
  • This book works as a spiritual successor to We Are Robin, which was a series that examined the underclass’ approach to crimefighting and opposition from the police. The heroes of both series incorporate the image of the Caped Crusaders, deconstructing and rebuilding the good and bad of their legacy towards a fuller, more impactful future that doesn’t leave the vulnerable behind.


Why It's Worth Your Time:

Over the last couple of years, people have started rethinking many elements of the superhero genre that have been taken for granted for decades. Questions like the existence of “good billionaires,” the true purpose of policing, the ultimate role of the vigilante and how it affects people of color aren’t often written about because frankly, there aren’t enough heroes or creators of color to go around. This makes I Am Batman an essential series for the world of today, and Jace Fox a much-needed new character. He has an entire universe to not only live up to, but to question, challenge and remake into his image…but first he has to master that image in his own work. Ambitious and subversive, I Am Batman is a terrific series from a master storyteller that’s more than worth escaping into. 
 

I Am Batman Vol. 1 by John Ridley, Olivier Coipel, Travel Foreman and Stephen Segovia is available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Donovan Morgan Grant writes about comics, graphic novels and superhero history for DC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @donoDMG1.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Donovan Morgan Grant and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.