Batman and the Signal #1 Review

Batman and the Signal #1

Story by: Scott Snyder
Written by: Tony Patrick
Art by: Cully Hamner
Colors by: Laura Martin

Duke Thomas is the newest member of Bruce’s inner bat-circle but he can’t help but feel isolated within the group. He feels that there are too many sidekicks as it is and that maybe no one wants him there anyway. He even thinks all the cool names are gone too. On top of all of this he doesn’t like his itchy new suit either, but that might be because the suit still has the tag in it. What’s the tag say I ask, Wayne’s Wardrobe? So much teen angst, so little time…

Duke is different to the others on the team though, he is a metahuman. He has the ability to see light in a very different way than we do. He can see where it has been and what it’s going to do. What does all that mean though? Keep reading to find out I guess, or ask the Joker, he seemed to know quite a bit about Duke when they last encountered each other during the events of the Forge and the Casting in the Dark Nights Metal Preludes. I recommend reading those two issues if you end up liking this book. It’s a nice peek behind the curtain.

Another big difference is that Duke is not going to operate in the shadows, when night falls in Gotham. He will be a force for good during the day operating in the light. Gotham’s citizens are not pleased with this though, they’re not used to bats coming out of their cave during the daytime and scream at him to go home. They aren’t the real antagonists though.

The antagonist in this first issue is a guy by the name of Null, who is also a metahuman. In Duke’s own words, he is able to generate and manipulate negative space and wield it as a weapon. When they first meet, Null taunts him about not understanding how to activate and use his powers. What we get out of this first encounter and the dialogue, is that Snyder and Patrick want you to know that they are linked in some way, or at least that their powers are. More metahuman activity in Gotham is shown in the other part of the storyline where Commissioner Gordon enlists the help of Detective Alex Aisi, who seems to be Gotham’s version of Agent Mulder, to try get to the bottom of a mystery surrounding ordinary citizens manifesting metahuman powers who then experience a complete system shutdown.

There are some cool moments later on when Duke starts to use his abilities, which is basically like a rewind button for real life, and there is even an Inspector Gadget line thrown in for good measure. It’s an exciting power, but will it make him a lazy detective? Probably, but there’s no shortage of good detectives in the bat family.

Moving onto the art by Cully Hamner, I was not a fan of it to be honest. I always feel uncomfortable criticizing an artist because I can barely draw a stick figure but the style is a bit rougher than I normally like, although Batman and the Signal look good in costume, which has changed by the way, Duke’s bat symbol is now white instead of black.

There is also an obvious intention to shade background characters completely black, which I can only assume is an allusion to them being in the dark and under a shadow of darkness and not yet enlightened, and it’s up to Duke and other forces of good who operate during the day, like Detective Alex Aisi to shine the light – to be their signal. I might be completely wrong about that but that’s just how I took it.

I see a lot of potential in this character if it is done right, and who better than the guy that gave us the Court of Owls and Dark Nights Metal to draw the broad strokes for Tony Patrick to fill in. Don’t let the title fool you though, this is not a team up book, Batman is only a minor part of this mini-series. It doesn’t matter though, I’m ready and excited for issue 2 and 3 of this mini-series no matter how small of a part Batman will play.

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