The Signal has finally got his own book and that has allowed for more fleshing out of the character Duke and for Tony Patrick and Scott Snyder to bring in a brand new element when it comes to Batman. The character and his sidekicks have always been humans with incredible training, but Duke actually has powers. His understanding of said powers continues today.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
As Bruce Wayne fulfills his corporate duties at Wayne Industries, Duke Thomas (a.k.a. the Signal) embraces his role as Gotham City’s daytime protector while battling a deadly new rogues gallery. Could these teenage villains be connected to the recent metahuman population boom in the Narrows? To find out, the Signal must learn to work with a different kind of ally…the GCPD!
Why does this matter?
The first issue was incredibly dense and well worth the price of admission. It introduced supporting characters, a larger problem Gotham has never faced, and developed the lead well. This issue aims to further reveal how his powers might work and a character who waits in the shadows who may know the truth.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The message behind the opening flashback is a good one.
This issue opens with a flashback to when Duke was a baby and how his father worked on skyscrapers in Gotham on night shifts. The symbolism adds an interesting layer to Duke’s upbringing and his new place as a hero in the light. This cuts directly to where the last issue left off, with Duke getting his ass beat by villains who only gain more power near him. There’s something going on with Duke’s powers that connect to a larger mystery and that keeps your interest all the way through.
Outside of this physical conflict there are emotional conflicts Patrick and Snyder drop in this issue. The first involves those who backup Duke as they fight over the danger Duke is in as a hero. A suitable argument can be made here and it helps add an emotional layer to the story. Then there’s the big conflict between Batman and Duke and a reminder that Batman can’t have easy relationships. Ever. It adds a new wrinkle to their relationship that should be fun to watch. Batman always seems to have a strategy but when it involves people’s lives is that okay?
Cully Hamner draws this issue using layouts that use a lot of panels. That may be due to a heavier use of dialogue and captions. It does, however, keep the action moving and the camera spinning about so you’re pulling in or pulling out as needed.
A bright yellow suit may make no sense, but it does look pretty cool.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The final cliffhanger page is a bit silly and while the point is made that superpowered civilians are cropping up it’s way over the top. I may be extra sour on this image due to a villain hacking Batman’s Bat-Cave computers. It’s a quick way to get information across to the reader, but if this guy can seriously hack Batman we have bigger problems.
This issue is also lighter on developing Duke’s character. Instead it focuses on his powers and while his powers seem to have a deeper connection to a history still to be uncovered it’s still an element missing.
Is It Good?
A good issue that focuses on The Signal’s powers and a possible past Batman has been hiding from him all along. There isn’t a Batman sidekick who hasn’t dealt with his bullshit, I guess!