Batman and the Signal #1
Story: Scott Snyder & Tony Patrick
Writer: Tony Patrick
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Publisher: DC Comics
Review by Evan Maroun
For those that have followed Scott Snyder’s numerous arcs on Batman, even periodically like me, you no doubt have some familiarity with the character of Duke Thomas.
Introduced all the way back in Zero Year, Duke has since gone through his own share of ordeals: including losing his parents to the forced insanity brought on by the Joker toxin, acting as a leader to a group of Robins, and more recently in Dark Days, learning he has some sort of biological powers.
Now, Batman believes Duke is ready for “something new”: a position other than a Robin, and an official seat at the already over-crowded bat family table. That is exactly where Batman and The Signal #1 kicks off, starting with a smart choice by Patrick to narrate most of the book in first person POV via Duke’s thoughts. This allows for some funny musings but also lets us, as readers, get some real insight into how he feels about his new position. His self-doubt perhaps mirrors some of the comic community when it comes to his perception.
“Look, point is, you’re thinking this isn’t going to work,” he thinks at the reader.
So, of course, I immediately want this to work, for both the overall book and character.
Fortunately, it does.
Although the book is called Batman and The Signal, this is primarily The Signal’s book. Batman only shows up for a couple pages, as the spotlight is firmly placed on Duke. It’s also slightly shared by a GCPD Detective named Alex who is investigating people with metahuman powers. We follow Duke for most of the book as he tries to deal with the pressure of being a part of this family now, while also attempting to get a grip on his powers. What they can do, it’s still a little hard to say, but we definitely get a clearer picture of the potential they could hold.
The book cuts back and forth between the two characters, with Patrick giving Duke a fun, consistent voice to relate to. It was harder to get fully into Alex’s story just yet. If I have any gripes, it’s more of a slight pacing issue than a writing issue. We get this interesting blossoming power aspect with Duke, before cutting back to Alex whose segments are building to something but so far are a bit slow-feeling and too wordy, leaving a few pages feeling crowded and slowing down the momentum. Overall though, the story is working well, with a conclusion that invites you back next issue.
Cully Hamner brings this issue alive. He utilizes negative space on the borders of a page to really draw your eye into the action. Each page is also outlined in such a fluid way that makes even the busy pages easy to read. Since we’re talking art, I have to say that I’m torn about Duke’s new costume design. I don’t really like the metal look of it, yet I dig the more bat-like faceplate of the helmet. The reflective bat symbol on the chest is a fantastic change as it’s an interesting addition to a hero that’s meant to fight in the daylight… however, the golden yellow hue of the old costume seemed more fitting. Do you see my dilemma here?
Buy it. Patrick, Snyder, and Hamner all contribute to a quality issue that kicks off a new beginning for Mr.Thomas. Seeing him learn to utilize his new powers while simultaneously learning to accept his earned role within the bat family will prove to be the highlight of the book going forward. Or so I predict. What I am saying is, if you are a fan of the bright character, Batman and The Signal #1 is a no-brainer. Even if you aren’t, or are indifferent, it’s still worth a look.
What do you think of the new redesign? Will you be adding this to your pull list? Let me know in the comments below!