A lot of content in this good setup first issue.
Ever since the yellow and black-clad sidekick of Batman showed up Gotham has felt a little bit different. Scott Snyder has infused Duke Thomas with something we haven’t seen before in a Bat-squire, which is quite exciting. Well, buckle up, because that character is now named Signal and he’s getting his own book!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Batman may own the night, but with new villains emerging during the day he needs an ally to defend the city when he can’t. Only one teen is up to the challenge, Duke Thomas. After months of training, he’s ready to step out of the shadow of the bat to become his own kind of hero. Meet Gotham City’s newest protector: The Signal! Spinning out of adventures in ALL-STAR BATMAN and WE ARE ROBIN, comics superstar Scott Snyder and newcomer Tony Patrick take our young hero to new heights in this exciting miniseries with artwork by Cully Hamner.
Why does this matter?
This is one of the more unique sidekicks to come around in general regardless of publisher. This comic also fleshes out his powers, which are a mystery worth solving. Plus, Snyder is teaming up with Tony Patrick who is a new writer to watch!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
He doesn’t quite fit in.
This issue has all the pieces in place to make a great first issue. It opens with Duke AKA The Signal at the Bat-Mansion giving the reader a clear sense of his place among Batman’s family. It then establishes the threat and conflict in play, sets up a detective character to follow along, establishes Duke’s family life, and even sets up the character’s name and lair. Snyder and Patrick have done a great job stuffing a lot of development into this issue (this isn’t a quick read) — from well written and thorough captions to interesting dialogue establishing relationships there’s a lot to chew on and roll over in your mind.
The premise of the book is quite sound too. It has a fresh sort of take on Gotham as it introduces meta-powered villains. That’s something relatively new to Gotham and the writing team points this very fact out. That makes the mission Signal is on feel more important and new to a city that’s had hundreds of stories pass through it. Signal’s powers are also explored further, which is an exciting element as it sets him apart from the usual ninja-only Batman sidekick.
The art by Cully Hamner (colors by Laura Martin) is solid. I use the word solid as it’s clean and controlled with good detail in Signal’s costume and the surroundings. It doesn’t take too many chances which gives the book a steady feel. Layouts do mix things up nicely though like a scene where Signal is going down an elevator and three small panels at the top right of the page show him using his light powers to see what floor to go to.
Bus drivers, am I right?
It can’t be perfect can it?
Remember how I said it’ll take a while to read this book? That’s because the dialogue gets pretty heavy at times and significantly reduces the pace. There doesn’t seem to be any wasted dialogue per se, but I did wonder at times if they could have shortened dialogue because it can get so slow you’ll be wishing for some action or at least some plot progression. There’s a lot of little details feeding into the mystery, hence the exposition, but it does make some pages read more like prose than a comic.
Is It Good?
I liked this first issue because the character writing of Duke is top notch. This issue establishes a lot, packing in tons of content when most first issues would only give you half of what you get here. Check this book out if you want something a little different that’s still a slice of action in the Gotham universe.