Batman, now alone, 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.
Without a doubt, Batman continues to be my favorite of the all the Rebirth titles from DC. This issue continues the “slow burn” pacing of the previous installment, but adds one of the deepest and darkest Batman voice overs I have ever read. The subtitle of “I Am Suicide” finally comes into play, and its true significance is finally made known. With this, writer Tom King reveals a side to the caped crusader that plunges him into even darker territory. SPOILERS – It seems that shortly after his parents’ death, a young Bruce Wayne held a razor to his wrist, seconds away from ending his life. And it was then that he had his revelation of fighting crime, something Bruce sees as some kind of long-form suicide. What this means to me is that Batman now has every intention of dying on his never ending mission. This notion also makes him much more dangerous to his enemies, and even perhaps his allies. It’s something that adds a new psychological depth to the character. END SPOILERS.
The narrative style of having all this revealed as a letter to Selina Kyle/Catwoman also makes it tragic and heartbreaking. The voice over makes up the bulk of the issue, which is juxtaposed with the action of Batman continuing his fight toward Bane and Pyscho-Pirate. That juxtaposition makes the narration stand out even more. I swear I could hear Bruce’s words in my head. This is excellent stuff.
Now, not a lot ties this issue to the over-all Rebirth event, save for the presence of the Psycho-Pirate. Since the Pirate has always been the one character who remembers ALL continuities, I do believe that is where the connection will play out. And from this issue’s ending, we can certainly see that revelation will be coming soon.
Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus and June Chung are simply destroying on this book. This is some of the best Batman art I have seen. It not only perfectly fits the somber, more serious mood of the story, it also is inventive as hell. The continuing use of single page backgrounds with multiple renditions of Batman moving throughout the page to convey action is simply stunning. The level of detail is incredible and begs for multiple readings and flipping through. And the panels where colorist Chung uses that shade of yellow to highlight moments of action are especially effective. They pop too, giving the feeling of a cinematic “quick cut”. And that’s the key word for the art here: cinematic. This book reads like a serious Batman film.
If you have been hesitant on picking up something from Rebirth, don’t be and start here. It’s not as deeply connected (at least not yet) as some of the other titles, and can be enjoyed on its own. I can tell you now that this run on Batman will go down as one of the greats for years to come. Do yourself a favor and read it as it happens.