Batman & The Signal #1 (of 3)
Duke Thomas adjusts to his role as the newest member of the Bat family, particularly by being the first one of them to operate in the light of day. The city is not quite acclimated to having a hero operating during the day. We get a glimpse of Commissioner Gordon during the daytime interacting with a detective. We also see what Duke’s life is like outside of the Bat life. He gets a new base of operations from Batman, who is minimally in this book. Then he falls into a trap set for him by some characters who may or may not have a connection to Duke.
The open of the issue is Duke having a recurring dream about a weekly check in with the Bat family. He knows it’s off and he’s not completely confident in his ability to be The Signal. His dreams usually end with some type of omen, which they do this time, with demon bats.
Duke is in a fight with a meta named the Null and can’t get his powers to activate. The fight isn’t going his way at all, until he looks a little deeper and sees an opening via his powers. The Null keeps referencing something called the Dial and calls Duke the Dial’s center. As he triumphs in his fight, Gotham citizens yell at Duke about how bad guys don’t come out during the day and how everything is changing.
Commissioner Gordon checks in with a detective named Aisi. He gives her a case based on kids who start manifesting metahuman powers that are overwhelming their bodies and killing them. Aisi notes that two dozen kids have had this happen over the last couple of months and that the Solarium is now a juvie Arkham.
Back in Duke’s world, he is testing a sample he got from Null, while also trying to figure out how to activate his powers. We discover that he’s living with his cousin who is his legal guardian until his parents recover. As he talks to his cousin, his results come back and they determine that Null’s powers get stronger by Duke.
Duke is summoned by Batman to what is now Duke’s new headquarters called The Hatch that houses his equipment. Batman admits to needing help, since something different was happening during the day. This is also the first time that Duke tells Bruce that his codename is The Signal. Back at his cousin’s Duke is alerted to the Solarium, putting him on a collision course with Aisi.
Speaking of Aisi, she goes to the Solarium in search of a water sample based on a report that was at her desk in the precinct.
Minutes later, we see Duke who has figured out how to use his powers like replay using the light in the area. Duke follows his new power down into an area lined with empty cells. A voice comes over the intercom saying that they are the person behind the mystery and that he’s walked into a trap. Duke is ambushed and left at the mercy of 3 metas as the issue ends.
Reflections, Impressions, and Predictions
This series capitalizes on years of story telling and it really feels like it pays off.
I LOVE Duke’s costume design. He’s definitely a Bat, but he’s clearly different.
I’m really intrigued by exactly what and how Duke’s powers manifest.
It will be interesting to find out more about Aisi and why she’s important.
It feels like Batman knows more about Duke and his powers than he’s letting on.
Batman looks really proud of Duke’s development throughout his parts in his portions of the book.
What other Metas are in Gotham and where are they coming from?
Is the person behind it all a character we’ve seen before or someone completely new?
Will this connect more to Metal and/or Doomsday Clock?
I hope that we get more of Duke after this mini series ends.
Story – Great introduction to a character finding their place in the Gotham hero scene. 8/10
Art – Excellent action pieces, character/costume designs, and power manifestations. 8/10
Continuity/Character Consistency – A lot is happening in the DCU, so it’s hard to place exactly when this is happening. Batman also comes off as more of a proud parent rather than a hardened mentor, which is an interesting change. 7/10
Twist Factor – Knowing that Batman designed someone’s HQ. What secrets does that thing hold? I bet it’s awesome. 8/10
Final Score – DC Book of the Week. 8/10