Review – Batman and The Signal #1 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tony Patrick
Artists: Cully Hamner , Laura Martin, Deron Bennett
Release Date: 3rd January 2018

Writer Tony Patrick seemingly read my mind as I flicked through the first couple of pages of Batman and The Signal, providing us with the inner monologue of Signal as he sits down to the weekly meeting of the extended Bat family, wondering exactly why we need another new member of the fam’.

There’s a lot of them, all with their own back stories and some (in the case of the Robins, at least) with a history spanning long before the New 52. With all of this, it’s hard to see why we need another addition to the team, particularly one that doesn’t seem to fit in. He hasn’t got the dark edge that Red Hood or even Nightwing has, nor does he have that same mirror to the Bat that all the others seem to have, to the point where you could genuinely see any of them replacing Bruce one day – something I always saw as one of the main traits of the Bat family.

But Scott Snyder has invested a lot of time in the development of Duke, from Zero Year all the way to the present day, and we have seen him go from the young kid wanting to help his hero to becoming a hero in his own right in We Are Robin. And Patrick clearly knows his Bat audience well, taking this issue to try to answer some of those potential doubts we all might be having. It centres around Signal’s first day on the job, and sees him balancing his personal life while trying to find the cause of the recent surge of young meta-humans in Gotham.

The main thing which is shown, in a fairly un-subtle way, is that Signal is Batman’s counterpart during the day. I say un-subtle because there are about three other characters who make the joke about switching from the night shift, let alone the fact that he’s called Signal (named after the first knight to take the charge, apparently – but that’s fooling no one, he was obviously named after the bat light bulb on top of the GCPD.), and that his superpower is the ability to see light waves and predict the future in a fight.

All this is fine, and it even makes sense for Batman to have someone keep an eye out while he has a kip, but this storyline just seems a bit too obvious.  All of a sudden Duke is the key to everything like some random Neo from the Matrix.  It just feels like it’s all been done before and, to be honest, we don’t need yet another bloody Robin.

It’s not all bad, though. The artwork by Cully Hamner lends a brighter atmosphere to Gotham that we haven’t seen much of since the early issues of Zero Year. Gotham takes on a different feel in the daytime and the characters blend easily into this environment in a way that even makes seeing Batman smile not seem out of place.

The subplot with Detective Alex is okay, but nothing special and certainly predictable. It’s a problem that many first issues fall into when trying to slot themselves into a larger universe. They shove the setting of the scene down your throat rather than just letting a unique story unfurl at its own pace. For me it just felt like the whole issue was trying to justify its own existence at the expense of a truly interesting story.

One for die-hard Bat fans if you feel that you need to know every detail about these characters, but other than that this is little more than your standard, forgettable page turner.

Rating: 2/5.

The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy

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