Overview: IN I’m Batman # 11the heads are chopped in the wake of the Manray saga and the question comes to New York!
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): As I’m Batman # 11 begins, investigators tell Keenan and Chubb their account of the events leading up to Manray’s capture and Chubb shot Keenan. Afterwards, Keenan “advises” Chubb to leave New York City and return to Gotham.
Next, we see Mayor Villanueva and his adviser Carmichael holding a meeting with none other than Commissioner Renee Montoya of Gotham City. Renee says clearly that their proposal that she should take up the commissioner’s job in New York is a cynical move after the former police chief was proclaimed a bigot. Nevertheless, the two men state that she still traveled to the city for the meeting and doubt that it will be the last thing they see of her.
On Billionaire’s Row in Manhattan, Tam Fox comes home to his mother, Jace, and Tiffany. She uses a cane to walk, and she declares that she would rather stay in New York than return to Gotham. Tanya wishes father Lucius and brother Luke could complete the family with their arrival, but Tiffany storms off at the mention of them.
Chubb is met by Renee in the park, and the two walk over Chubb, who is being transferred from Gotham to New York. Renee admits she feels like her time in Gotham is coming to an end and she wants to start things on a fresh start with Chubb. Whitaker calls Chubb to get a tip about gun smugglers, forcing the conversation to end.
Tanya meets with the mayor, who is unhappy that Tanya does not find that her instructed cheerleading of his administration is a useful use of her time. He tries to explain that his progressive policy is vulnerable to a tougher candidate if he is ousted from office. Tam and Tiffany look at their mother, and Tiffany reveals that she blames herself for what happened to Tam. Tam assures her that nothing was her fault and the two promise to live their lives no matter how they choose to live them, fearlessly.
Whitaker and Chubb meet and are instantly attacked by snipers. Batman arrives in time to rescue them, and Chubb goes straight back to headquarters and covers Keenan for not responding to her calls for backup during the shootout.
In the Bronx, the mayor meets with Rafael to discuss why he was a target for Manray. They are spied on by Batman, who is then greeted by the Question, who wants to learn the identity of Anarchy’s killer.
Analysis: In the wake of the Manray story, John Ridley gives us interesting turning points for the characters and intriguing introductions of new characters in the pot, such as Renee Montoya. The outline and structure of all the events is good, but the script fails it in my opinion I’m Batman # 11.
First, there is a real DC CW vibe in the construction of these scenes. Everyone wears their armor and behaves hostilely towards each other. More than fair, it’s a political story involving the police and guards, but this is a problem where scenes end up with people roughly just stepping out of the panel with a crooked or insidious remark, as their backs are to the other character (and us). This is something that got old for me when I saw Lightning, with characters so completely up in their emotions that the resulting line would reliably always be “I go and talk to him / her / them.” We do not get that line here, but in every (non-action) scene, the concluding panel is a distant shot of someone walking away while the recipients of their insults watch.
It’s demonstrative of a communicative filter between what Ridley puts on the page and how we – or I – receive it. Everyone is so tense, and the things that are going on are so important, but it’s all in the same emotional register, so there’s a calming effect when I read it. Chubb has every right to be summoned to his officers, and Keenan is a piece of junk, but at the same time it feels too easy. Tiffany is going through a tough time, but she storms away from a scene meant for her sister, who is coming home from rehab. That scene in particular struck me because she is only a child and yet she is treated as if she is as action-free as the rest of the family. Where exactly is she going when she leaves the room, and what is her mother and siblings’ reaction to her storming out? It’s a placeholder scene of drama that does not take into account the age or character dynamics of our cast, so it sounds like a scene that anyone could be in. It applies to the rest of I’m Batman # 11. Chubb beats Keenan out eventually and gets to walk away. None of the remaining racist officers attack her, nor do the senior officers try to fix things. No, the status quo was never in danger, it’s just a scene where Chubb is tough.
I resent such a melodrama and the scene with Tanya and the mayor because they feel half-hearted. We know that these black women are not pushovers and will certainly fight back in the face of adversity, but all are trapped in the system they are fighting against. There are no visible boundaries, only scenes that talk about the boundaries. Tanya tells the mayor that he “helped maintain a biased system because it served his needs,” but she really speaks to the reader and not Villanueva. He will not respond to that accusation with any emotion (in fact, if you read the scene, he does not even look at her), for perhaps he sees her as beneath him. It does not matter, for the stage is set up for Tanya to go beyond him. Perhaps the lack of her public support would make him more vulnerable, but we do not get a sense of it unless it is explicitly said out loud. And if that were to be the case, it would be put into clumsy dialogue. Stories about the “system” should be about the work and the struggles and the efforts to change it, not just about the “system”. It’s literally “We live in a society” meme, it tells, does not show, and when it tells, it does not say anything interesting.
It’s hard because this is John Ridley – author of the best DC miniseries in decades with The second story of the DC universe. Nothing can take it from him. IN I’m Batman, the same political interests control the storytelling, but it’s really in the rhythm of falling down the stairs. Characters speak to each other, not to each other, and the politics are so pretentious that it is read as less realistic and more foreboding for the modern left-leaning reader. I do not believe any of this is backward. I think Ridley is making the best story he can, but the desire to write is just not being used here.
Kudos to Tom Derenick for the second half of the artwork in I’m Batman # 11However. The image of Batman falling into the alley was amazing.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally at Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title throughout Things from another world.