“You are happy. You are brave. You can always stop.”
— Tom King, Batman Rebirth (Volume 2) I Am Suicide
Following the events of I Am Gotham, this volume builds itself around the formation of a Suicide Squad and its task of capturing a certain person of interest that can save Gotham Girl from her predicament. The last two issues also features a special two-part story that embarks in the love-hate, and very complex, relationship between Batman and Catwoman. I solemnly swear that this is a step-up from Tom King’s first volume, but I still feel like the story had issues at several moments, hence dragging my overall enjoyment downhill. Although every official website indicates that issues 9 to 15 are the only ones included in this volume, I thought I might as well throw in the Annual #1 that was released midway throughout this storyarc. I’ll rectify this, if it ends up being wrong, when Annual #1 gets integrated in a future collection (if ever).
After the disastrous (in every way possible) Night of the Monster Men crossover event, I think a lot has been learned and a completely different approach has been undertaken by Tom King. Right off the bat, the first issue lays out a brand new structure and tone to King’s storytelling. I was honestly shocked by the change, both in dialogue and artwork, but managed to find something interesting out of it. In particular, the use of a narration in the form of a correspondence between two particular characters was truly fascinating. Two issues in, I already felt compelled by the ideas that were being set up and wanted more from newly-introduced characters like Catwoman and Bane. However, there’s this use of repetition and this throwback reference to Batman: Knightfall (Part One: Broken Bat) that was oddly introduced and felt overwhelmingly uninspiring. In fact, I couldn’t grasp the purpose behind the “monologue” coming from Batman, as it felt completely out of character. Tom King also continues to use repetition in the two-part story “Rooftops” with Catwoman and Batman. I guess this can be seen as an attempt to experiment the technique and see if it fits the persona of the characters. So far, I’m not too thrilled by it and had difficulty embracing it. It honestly threw me off and made it just so hard to wrap my head around the writing at certain key moments in the story.
While the focus of this volume should’ve essentially been around the search and rescue mission, Tom King ended up taking multiple roads at the same time and tried to give us too much in too little time. From origin stories for both Bane and Catwoman, there was also an attempt to introduce and build the personalities of each of the misfits that constituted the team Batman created. Even the head of Task Force X felt absent throughout this volume, even though she’s the one that “made” this whole problem happen in the first place. It would’ve been a much more tightly-knitted story if Bane wasn’t left in the background and only served as a plot mechanism that ended up being neglected in order to put Catwoman in the forefront. I guess I can reconcile myself knowing that Bane will be put in the spotlight in the next volume and his presence in I Am Suicide was simply a teaser for bigger things along the line.
Unfortunately, the resolution we get for the whole “I Am Suicide” story was absolutely unsatisfying. You can tell that the panels that were supposed to inspire you fell short and that the words that accompanied them didn’t deliver the thrill that Tom King would have wanted for us. As I mentioned before, this volume also contains a two-part story featuring Catwoman and Batman. Honestly, this was a pretty diamond in the sea of low-karat gold in the volume, especially when you often felt like “I Am Suicide” made too many mistakes for your taste. “Rooftops” explores the relationship between Bats and Cats, and boy, was it pretty solid. The complexity of their relationship, as any fan knows, is one that can be quite tricky if not handled properly. Here, we get a really nice portrayal of their chemistry and a decent glimpse into the impossible through one dark night. Both artwork and dialogue do a brilliant job in extracting the very essence that makes these two characters so complicated. You just can’t help but be entertained by the connection that these two try to bring to life for once in their lives and wish they could have forever. As I previously mentioned, there was a particular sequence where the whole use of repetition was re-used, but it wasn’t as disturbing as it was throughout the main storyarc.
Initially, I didn’t know if Annual #1 was accidentally forgotten by everyone, but after reading it, I feel like its absence is probably due to the fact that it barely had anything to do with the storyarc. It’s a collection of short stories that go with the Holiday theme (which coincides with the time at which it was released). There are pretty amazing writers that are featured in this collection (Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Steve Orlando and Scott Bryan Wilson) and most of the stories they tell are quite powerful. I liked that the themes of peace, change and generosity were tackled in various way. This was actually much better than what we get in DC Rebirth Holiday Special #1 , and it even had some stories that were a lot darker than expected! You also get the introduction to one of the best members of the Bat-family! This character is one that you rarely see nowadays and I’ll let you discover the fellow for yourself. Or… Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «Oh, aren’t you a curious one! It was none other than Ace the Bat-Hound! »
In the end, I Am Suicide is definitely a step in the right direction. There are still issues that need to be addressed, but at the tempo Tom King and his crew of artists are going at, things should be looking good pretty soon. If there’s one solid element to this series at the moment, it’s definitely the artwork. As previously mentioned, a new style is adapted in this storyarc. It plays with the typical panel distribution, it combines a creative narrative with an ongoing sequence of actions and it establishes the right tone by toying around with the colour and the shadows. I honestly have no complaints in that department, and in fact, I hope they continue to strive for success and creativity when it comes to the design of characters and the way they want to tell the story. From the way things are shaping up, Batman (Volume 3) I Am Bane seems to be set on course to deliver something quite enthralling and worthy for fame. As always, I plan on continuing this series. So far, things have only been going swell; although a bit rocky.
Check out my review of Batman (Volume 1) I Am Gotham (Rebirth) here.
Did you read Batman (volume 2) I Am Suicide (Rebirth) yet? What did you think about it?
You haven’t read it, you say?
Let’s fix that right away!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/