Batman, along with Catwoman and Arnold Wesker, The Ventriloquist, attempts to break into Arkham Asylum, in order to extract the Psycho Pirate. But Bane has seized control of the asylum and oversees all who enter and exit. In the middle of all of it, Punch, Judy, and Bronze Tiger all have their own agenda. And the deadly and addictive enhancement drug “Venom” is part of it all. So continues “I Am Suicide” the second arc of DC’s new Batman, part of the Rebirth relaunch of all of its books.
Full disclosure, I have not kept up with the Rebirth storyline overall. I read the Rebirth special that started it all, but didn’t follow up. That being said, I was a huge fan of Tom King and the work he did on both DC’s The Omega Men and Marvel’s The Vision, so it was only a matter of time before I checked him out writing Batman.
Circumstances made it that I started halfway through a second arc, so I had very little background on what was going on. But King is a good enough writer that I was mostly able to follow the story, but I could have used a recap page or a little bit more revealed from the dialog. He certainly brings a new feel to Batman, though, as what I read as an overall creepiness to it that really does harken back to the original, Golden Age Batman comics by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Back then, the Batman books were almost hallucinatory in their narrative, with plenty of weirdness hand in hand with the superheroics. That is also present here.
King’s characterization of Catwoman is great too, and she is written as a much darker (and morally questionable) character than she has been in ages. Punch and Judy are also unique, and the whole thing reminds me (positively I should add) of the stuff Grant Morrison was doing with Frank Quietly in Batman & Robin a few years ago. Still, some of it is a bit too ambiguous, and I can’t say a lot happens plotwise.
The art, colors, and layout here are all pretty great. Thumbs up must be given to Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus, and June Chung. There are a couple of moments where movement is implied without panels (the characters just drawn at different points along one location in the background) that I found inventive. The figures and faces are also drawn with great detail and expression and are more realistic than some of the looks the Bat-books have had before.
Also, the coloring is crisp, with a few solid colors as background at key points to really emphasize a character. There’s also a refreshing lack of “computerized” look to the art in general (and keep in mind I read mine digitally). Overall it’s a great looking book.
Although the book was a good read, it perhaps wasn’t the best place to start fresh. There seems to be a lot going on, and it’s a bit off-putting for new readers. Still, there is a strong atmosphere and great looking art, so that definitely holds an interest. At the very least, this issue makes me want to go and pick up King’s first arc on the book and play catch up. As I have no doubt he has a good story planned for Batman and his rogues’ gallery.