Fresh off the heels of The Night of the Monster Men crossover (a six issue tale many felt was unnatural, unnecessary, and, simply put, uninteresting), we dive into the first of the five part I Am Suicide storyline. Writer Tom king reunites with former Grayson collaborator and artist Mikel Janin, as well as colorist June Chung and letterer Clayton Cowles as they set Batman off on a wild and somewhat unorthodox journey to save the life of an ally.

This issue begins with Bane narrating his seventeen year incarceration down in Santa Prisca. While appearing slightly over-expository, it comes to light that Bane is in the middle of a conversation with none other than Psycho Pirate. King doesn’t dive too deep into the Bane/Psycho Pirate connection just yet, but during the conversation Bane’s motives surface and it is revealed that Psycho Pirate is essentially the surrogate for Bane’s venom addiction.

Immediately following their exchange, we take a hard cut to Wayne Manor as we see Bruce Wayne caring over Gotham Girl Claire Clover. Aware that Claire’s symptoms will continue to worsen without Psycho Pirate in close proximity, Bruce decides to embark on a journey to track him down, but not before notifying Alfred that he or Duke Thomas must attend to Gotham Girl in his absence. The entire rest of the issue follows Batman as he takes the advice of Amanda Waller and accepts her offer to form a Suicide Squad of his for this mission. Batman combs the dregs of Arkham Asyluum for the perfect candidates, ranging from The Ventriloquist to Kite Man, Day to Turner, and finally ending with **HOVER MOUSE OVER FOR SPOILER***. We even get a nice little homage to The Killing Joke, which my guess would be to throw readers off the scent.

Now early in his career Tom King has proven to be a capable writer. Both Vision and Grayson have both taught me that he has the chops, but both of those titles also educated me on how he likes to play the long game. I think one of King’s strengths is a longer story arc, which we have yet to see in Batman. I am aware that I Am Suicide is going to play out in five parts, but I hope King doesn’t lose focus on where he excels as a storyteller, which is something I fear happened in his shorter opening Batman arc.

While it was thrilling to see Mikel Janin back on art duties, I truly grew to love David Finch on the first five issues of this Batman run. Finch had refined his style and greatly benefited from Jordie Bellaire’s colors, which is something that was lacking from this issue. June Chung’s colors, while appropriate for the story, did not pop the way that Bellaire’s colors are known to do. Janin’s pencils are as jawdropping as ever, but the flat coloring style hindered taking his visual storytelling to the next level.

All gripes with coloring and the concern over the previous arc aside, I enjoyed this introductory chapter. Overall this is a solid start to I Am Suicide, and I believe Batman #9 to be the strongest issue of the series since the first issue post-Rebirth. This is a great jumping on point, and I highly recommend you do so!


    

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