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Review: Batman and the Signal #3

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!

I like Duke Thomas as a character. What has been set up, and the potential teased, he’s a great character that really exemplifies the “light” that a sidekick is supposed to juxtapose Batman’s “dark.” The concept of a daytime vigilante to protect Gotham is something that’s long overdue. And, the introduction of metas to Batman’s rogues gallery is also long overdue. With that said, I’ve been reading Batman and the Signal with both interest and frustration.

Written by Tony Patrick, with concepts by Patrick and Scott Snyder, Batman and the Signal #3 feels like a finale that never quite delivers everything it sets up. We get a lot of teasing but never to the point. We get a lot of interesting concepts that are never fleshed out. And, it doesn’t look like we’re getting anything more in the near future. So, it’s a series that promises to set Duke up and make him his own but never quite gets to the point.

With the Narrows burning and metas running amok, Duke must face the villain behind it all while team Batman is called in to help contain the mess. There’s some references to Dark Nights: Metal but even that is just a line or two. The logo on the cover makes you feel like this should be a direct continuation but, like “The Button” we’re left with a narrative that never quite stands on its own. It launches from what came before but never quite leads us anywhere specific. And while it’s a piece of the bigger puzzle we’re never directed where we should look next for pieces. It’s frustrating in that way.

The art by Cully Hamner, with color by Laura Martin, and lettering by Deron Bennett is also just ok. While the characters look decent enough, something doesn’t click. The issue, and series, plays with that concept of light and dark, and never quite delivers on it. It’s all light with little dark. It’s an issue that was also present in Batman v Superman. There’s also a lack of spreads and moments that jump out to me. None of it looks bad, it services the story and never transcends it. The spreads are standard. The fight scenes generally average. Moments, that should be dynamic and exciting feel like a comic strip. There’s a lack of excitement much like the comic itself.

The three issues series feels like there’s something missing. It wanted to do some reveals and explore some concepts but it never makes those concepts and reveals interesting. They tend to land as standard comic tropes and in just three issues it feels like it wraps up quickly leaving us with nowhere to go next. While none of it is bad, it’s also not all that great, especially when compared to the excellent work being done in other Bat series. Duke Thomas is a character with great potential and by the end of three issues it feels like he was done a disservice.

Story: Scott Snyder, Tony Patrick Art: Cully Hamner
Color: Laura Martin Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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