If you’re following me on Twitter ( @TristanMathie), than you know there’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the “new” Batman, Jace Fox, from the Future State/ Fear State/ Infinite Frontier branding of DC Comics.
I will be the first to admit that when DC announced their new Future State brand which ran from January to March of 2021, I was hesitant. They were going to have a new Batman but yet Bruce Wayne wasn’t dead. Naturally, If Bruce gave up the title it would be assumed a Robin would don the cowl and continue Bruce’s crusade to protect Gotham. At least in my mind. You can understand that when it was announced the new Batman had no link to Bruce himself, fans weren’t happy. Not to mention that when it was revealed Jace, a black man, was going to be the new Dark Knight, there were some racist fanboys who took to social media to voice their outrage.
“Bruce Wayne is Batman. End of Story.”
“DC just lost a longtime fan with this PoC agenda.”
“I’m not racist but, the whole story of Batman is based on his privileged white upbringing. Making him a black man on the streets won’t work.”
Those aren’t direct quotes. I’m paraphrasing because some of the language that was used wasn’t very politically correct and I don’t care to promote hate speech. So… moving on…
I AM BATMAN
The first solo title, other than “The Next Batman“, for Jace Fox was I am Batman. Currently there are 5 issues released with some more on the way which I have been ripping through like no tomorrow. There is also a second title called The Next Batman: Second Son which I have yet to get into.
I am Batman, was the title that I chose to dive into to get some exposure on this new and street level take on one of my all time favourite superheroes.
Timothy “Jace” Fox is the second son of Lucius Fox, the (now) CEO of Wayne Enterprises (Thanks Joker War). Lucius is famous for developing and testing pretty much all of the amazing tech that Batman uses on a regular basis. While Bruce does make some of his gadgets and tech himself in the cave, for the most part, Lucius is the point man for all gadgets and suits for Batman and the Bat-family as a whole. Lucius was brought to the big screen during the Dark Knight Trilogy when he was played by the great Morgan Freeman.
Tim was always the trouble-maker and “slacker” of the Fox family. He was born to Lucius and his wife Tanya, and was raised along with his older brother Luke and his younger sisters Tam and Tiffany. When he was younger, Tim was responsible for a car crash that ended up killing someone as a result. He never spent any time in jail because Lucius and his mother bailed him out, but his guilt over the incident still haunts him. Due to his actions, hedonism and his “rebellious attitude”, Tim was sent at a young age to a military boarding school because he was a “screw-up” and became estranged from his family, especially his father. Following his graduation from boarding school Tim did some form of clandestine military work and trained with several notable teachers, one of whom was Katana, in hand to hand and armed combat. He worked for several years in the world though not much is known about his life before he returned to Gotham.
Upon his return to “the most dangerous city in America”, Tim took a position at Wayne Enterprises working under his father to provide himself a cover. Thought he tried his best, Tim had an ulterior motive for returning to Gotham to work at Wayne Enterprises; he needed tech to make himself someone to fear. Right under his father’s nose, Tim appropriated some state of the art fabrication equipment and various other pieces of machinery to make himself a Batsuit. Lucius, who is unaware of Tim’s late night activities, sees his son missing deadlines and meetings which reflects poorly on the Fox name. Despite his gruff exterior, Tim is still trying to prove to his father that while he may have made some bad decisions in the past, he is trying to be a better person. But all Lucius sees is his disappointment of a son “backsliding” into his old antics.
Jace was a name that Tim chose as his “Nom de Guerre” to make sure that people wouldn’t be able to trace his identity back to his family and their company.
As I said already, there are only a few story arcs that detail Jace and his war against the corrupt “Big Brother” style of government the Magistrate and Gotham have fallen under.
THE NEXT BATMAN
This is the title that started the run of Jace Fox as the Caped Crusader. Gotham has fallen under the purview of the Magistrate and his lethal police force, the Peacekeepers. The Magistrate and the governing body of Gotham have outlawed “masks” and anyone caught wearing one will be shot on sight. This has caused large crime from supervillains to take a backseat; however, everyday people who are down on their luck and forced into criminality wearing a mask to hide themselves are being killed without remorse by the drone force operated by the Peacekeepers and the Magistrate. Jace vows to end the corrupt system that is designed to target the disenfranchised and the downtrodden to keep them in line while the wealthy and better off elite relish in their ivory towers.
His first act as Batman is to stop a mugger who is fleeing in an alley while wearing a balclava over his face. Jace subdues the criminal with ease but takes the mask off his face before the police show up so they wouldn’t shoot the man on sight. Despite the atmosphere in the City, Jace refuses to give up and vows that Gotham is his to protect now that Peacekeeper-01 has killed the original Batman.
The first issue of this run released on 5 January 2021 and the last issue released on 16 February 2021.
The Collected Edition is available for purchase.
I AM BATMAN
This title picks up following the Future State printing and is titled “Fear State”. Due to the popularity of the new character, DC decided to expand on his story and his actions by fleshing out the Fear State that caused Jace to don the suit.
This arc revolves around a radical group known as the Moral Authority who’s objective is to rid the City of Gotham of the “Shadow Government” ruling by their “Hidden Agenda”. The run starts with a young white kid, under the age of 18, gunning down Anarky in an alley. The young man is apprehended and taken into police custody at the Juvenile Detention Center where he explains that an individual named Seer told him he was special and chose him for this mission.
Jace is investigating the link between Anarky’s death and a botched warehouse explosion that torched six already dead criminals when the name Seer keeps popping up. Unsure of the connection, Jace and Vol (his guy in the chair) set to work trying to figure out Seer’s identity and take them down. Seer and their Moral Authority attack the Juvenile Detention Center in an attempt to liberate the young “freedom fighter” from police custody, though it is implied they want to kill him to make sure he can’t talk. The attacking force are fairly well armed with automatic weapons and explosives while the defending guards and police are only armed with handguns. Tanya Fox (Jace’s mom) is at the center to offer his assistance pro-bono to the young murderer despite the obvious hostility from some of the coloured members of the GCPD. When Jace finds out his mother is in danger, he races off to the Juvenile Detention Center to stop the attack before anyone gets hurt. When he arrives, and despite their standing orders, the Police and guards provide him with cover fire so he can stop the attack and then proceed to let him go afterwards as a thank you for his assistance.
Jace then uses a message board where he lures all of the Moral Authority to an open battleground to take them all out in hand to hand combat.
And that’s as far as I am in the story…
The first issue of this run released 10 August 2021 and is an ongoing run.
THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON
This is the title I discovered the other night while I was looking for more comics featuring Jace as Batman.
Apparently this title details the work that Jace did in his intervening years between graduation and returning to Gotham. When he returns, his mother and sisters welcome him but his brother Luke is apprehensive of what the prodigal son wants. Luke is the hero known as Bat-Wing and, like his brother Jace, uses Wayne-tech and a few inventions of his own to fight crime as a member of the Bat-Family and Batman Incorporated.
The first issue of this run released 23 February 2021 and is an ongoing run.
I’m going to say it outright, I love this story and this character. Speaking to a friend of mine, Malcolm, I sent him some of the panels from I Am Batman to show him the new direction they’re taking with this character. We both agreed that the art and style of the run harkens back to the days of old Batman, when he focused on street crime.
Recently, Batman has become too big for his own title. New 52, Rebirth, Dark Knights Metal and Darkseid War have all given Batman this standard operating code of huge city-wide and multiversal threats. He no longer fights to protect the everyday people in his City. I loved the comics, shows and games where he was a literal wraith in the night. He was the boogeyman that criminals told stories about to scare each other. He would appear out of nowhere and lay a beatdown before disappearing just as quick. I’m going to be honest, I miss that type of hero. That’s probably why I love Moon Knight, Daredevil, Green Arrow, etc., they’re all street level heroes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big events and the universal story arcs that deal with Fifth and Sixth dimensions and Element X and everything, but at his core, Batman is just supposed to be one guy trying to protect his City.
John Ridley and the fantastic artists helping to bring the character to life understand the core of the character and have taken him back to his roots. Jace isn’t perfect. He gets hit. He gets shot with guns and sliced with knives, but he doesn’t give up. He’s also very physically imposing. In his first comic he was built but also toned, in the cover for I Am Batman #3 he looks like a brick shithouse. Like if Bane had put on the suit and decided to not be a dick and cause trauma to the Bat-family. ALFRED DIDN’T DESERVE THAT!
If you like street level stories and a good dystopian setting, then this is the character for you! I am very eager about getting some more comics when I can and continuing to read about Jace and his crusade to dismantle the corrupt system in place in Gotham.
Here’s some great panels from I Am Batman #3
The Multiverse awaits…