Batman and The Signal #1
Not that every comic needs to be a derivative of the classic 60s titles with characters that are still beloved today, but DC has always had a Spider-Man sized void in its lineup. There’s been some books like Blue Beetle (Jamie Reyes) version that have come close, but they haven’t lasted. With The Signal, DC might just organically found that ideal everyman character with the bonus that he hangs with Batman.
Batman and The Signal is essentially a test-drive for Duke Thomas. If this three-issue mini-series does well, the odds are pretty good we’ll see an ongoing Signal title.
Scott Snyder created Thomas and it’s obvious Snyder wants to do right by Thomas thanks to his featured role in All-Star Batman. Now, to take Duke to the next level, Snyder and scripter Tony Patrick to establish him as a viable solo character. And maybe DC’s brightest 2018 breakout star.
Patrick takes a funny, Internet worthy tone with Duke cynically referencing the lack of good available Batman related names, the need for another Bat family member and the odds on Signal lasting. It’s a similar approach to how Geoff Johns handled Aquaman. Johns addressed the fan/critic commentary directly in the title and use that as acknowledgement of previous failures so readers would approach it with an open mind. It worked then and it works here too.
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Signal’s big twist from the rest of the Bat family is his workspace — more specifically his working hours. Signal operates in Gotham, but it’s when Batman, Batwoman, Robin, etc. are catching some much-needed rest. It’s a fun shakeup with Commissioner Gordon shying away from coffee at 8 in the morning so he can get some sleep. Snyder and Patrick give Duke his own GCPD contact and it already looks to provide a fresh perspective on the usual dynamic.
Cully Hamner’s art is a great fit for the book as it doesn’t look like anything else currently at DC. Hamner does a better job with Signal’s costume in showing the Batman influence, but also not making the cowl/helmet look too much like Wolverine. Hamner conveys a ton of emotion from his characters and the action sequences also looked solid.
I’m still not entirely sold on Duke’s name. Patrick tosses out some other interesting choices including First Knight, which is great, but lacks the one simplicity of a one word moniker. Signal’s powers add a new element to a Bat family member and it should lend itself to some interesting investigations. The book may prominently feature The Signal, but there’s no bait and switch as Batman appears as well.
I’m already not satisfied at the prospect of just two more issues for this initial run. It forces Patrick to set up an easily resolved quickie conflict instead of establishing an elaborate foundation. Hopefully, there’s enough interest to light the way for an ongoing title very soon. This book and character deserve it. –Jeffrey Lyles
Rating: 9.5 out of 10