So far I’ve liked Batman and the Signal for adding a daytime Gotham hero, developing Duke’s backstory, and how it ties into Dark Nights: Metal. Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick have also integrated a superpowered force to Gotham that gives the gothic city a new spin on crime fighting. This issue is the big finale, but can Duke save the day?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
As the sun sets, chaos erupts and the Bat-Family jumps into action to help the Signal (a.k.a. Duke Thomas) against the mysterious Gnomon and his minions. While his allies keep the battle going on the streets, Duke must go above and beyond to track down the malicious man who has single-handedly caused the dangerous boom in meta-activity in the Narrows. Little does he know, Gnomon holds the key to his past and the future of heroes in Gotham City!
Why does this matter?
There’s a moral question being asked in this series since the Green Lanterns and the Darkstars are both technically forces for good. Problem is, the Darkstars philosophically think all criminals should be murdered to avoid future crimes. It’s harsh, and yet what can the Green Lanterns do when they’re outmatched?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue does three things very well. It continues to establish how important Duke’s mom is to him, introduces a new character that’ll be messing with Duke for years to come, and forces Batman to put a little more trust in the hero, further separating the two. By the end, the story is wrapped up and there’s a strong enough hypothesis made for Duke to carry on his own title. I’m not sure if there will be more — it does say “The End” on the last page — but the creators have carved out enough here to prove he’s worthy.
Much like with the last two issues I simply love the captions that probe Duke’s mind as he thinks about family. It humanizes him and makes him likable while developing the character too. It also jives well with the father like figure of Batman that’s over his shoulder and a new figure behind the conflict introduced in this issue.
Cully Hamner does well to keep the story flowing. Later on, there’s quite a bit of talk from the villain with up to eight panels on the page to break up the talk and add some action. Batman looks impressive in this one, shouting at a hooligan who touches his car and diving away from an explosion.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I understand why Batman and Signal need to split up, to serve the character journey of Signal going it alone, but it’s hard to believe Batman couldn’t think of another way. Or at the very least, Batman should be able to get to the top of a skyscraper in no time at all, yet it appears he ran up the stairs to get to the roof here. It’s a forced plot element that ignores the many ways Batman usually gets around Gotham.
Another element that bugged me was how much the villain talks. The guy goes on and on and it gets tiring to read through his postulating and preaching at Signal. It doesn’t help a little deus ex machina ends the conflict which makes all his prattling a bit cliched for an egomaniac villain.
Is it good?
Enough is done in this third issue, and the two issues before it, to warrant an ongoing Signal series. It’s a unique character within the Bat family that adds a superpowered hero to a crew of vigilante humans who wear capes.
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