Comic Review – Batman and The Signal #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“So you go to electrical…. And you find a passage behind a light panel…. And you head downstairs… to your secret base and… Wait, your secret base?” – The Signal

Happy new year! We’re into 2018 now and I’m back onto the comic reviews. First up this year is Batman and The Signal Issue #1. This caught my attention due to its inclusion of Duke Thomas, who you may have spotted around some of the various Batman tie ins. It had been a while since I checked in with him and I wanted to see what DC had in store. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Story – Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick
  • Writer – Tony Patrick
  • Artist – Cully Hamner
  • Colourist – Laura Martin
  • Letterer – Deron Bennett

As with all things Batman with Scott Snyder’s name on it I opened this up with high hopes. Duke is an interesting character as well – he’s been written as a kid being shaped into ‘something different’ rather than a standard Robin or Bat-family side kick and this comic begins to explore what that will ultimately mean for Duke. He’s named himself as well now – ‘Signal’, after the Signal knights who were the first to venture out into the day during medieval times and a key point in the early plot is how he finds his place in the Bat-family proper. Even if he is something different he still has the Bat emblem on his chest.

The plot focuses around Duke beginning the journey of learning who he will end up being. This includes a new suit, an introduction to the rest of the family and his very own secret lair (as a side note, surely in both Marvel and DC there must be some secret, super highly capable super hero architects, engineers, builders, electricians and other contractors who build these damn things for them… and must have copies of all of the designs, know the locations etc…). Duke’s journey to self-discovery is a little on the nose, as he has developed meta human powers and is trying to learn where exactly they came from.

As for the art, Hamner’s work presents us with a detailed world, with over exaggerated positions and expressions during dramatic moments and combat. Martin’s colours add to the aesthetic, with the yellow of Duke’s costume jumping out of the page with how vibrant it is. Duke appears to have picked one of the least stealthy colours for his suit, but we’ll have to see how he makes it work in the issues to come. Bennett has done a solid job with the lettering. The issue is a little dialogue heavy at times (not a bad thing, there’s a lot of good stuff in there!) and Bennett works well with the space available to still allow Hamner and Martin’s work to do its thing.

Still, as far as I’m concerned the real test is how well the team drew hands? We have a very hand prominent issue, if hands are your thing, this is a good comic to see them in. For the most part they’re used to communicate body language in conversation and during individual scenes. I like what the team have done in this issue and they definitely pass this made up, arbitrary test. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

An interesting start. The team work well with a character who I could see going either way right now – someone special to find their footing as part of the Bat family or someone a little forgettable. This isn’t the fault of the team behind this comic, they did a very good job with it, but I simply did forget about Duke before I saw this issue! I think this could bring him into his own though.

Score: 8 Secretly Built Lair’s out of 10

Comic Review – All-Star Batman #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor Spoilers

“I just wanted to say… I’m so sorry I had to do it.” – *******

Another new DC Rebirth Comic this week! It’s another Batman run DC are kicking off with All-Star Batman #1, written by Scott Snyder, with art by John Romita Jr., Danny Miki and Dean White for the main story, and Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire on the backup story, with Steve Wands lettering both parts. I wasn’t sure what to expect with All-Star Batman as opposed to more traditional Batman comics. The only version of this to come out before was All Star Batman and Robin in 2005-2008, and all I know about that is Dick Grayson gets abandoned in the Bat Cave and has to eat rats to stay alive. What I got here was a comic where Scott Snyder, who lead the outstanding New 52 Batman run, really strutting his stuff.

All star batman cover

Cover art by Romita Jr., Miki & White

Snyder has been let loose to do what he does best: character interaction. The plot of issue #1 focuses on the relationship between Batman and Two Face, interestingly quite a line is drawn between Two Face and Harvey Dent in this case. The two are off to ‘burn out’ Two Face once and for all. Two Face of course isn’t too keen of the idea and has put a huge bounty on the both of them. It isn’t all talking though, we get a wonderfully over-the-top fight scene as mercenaries try to bring the Bat down. Batman manages to switch things up and the whole thing takes on a cheesy horror movie-esque feel to it while Bats takes on his attackers.

There’s more to the relationships than only Batman and Two Face though, we get an additional story attached to the main one, from Duke Thomas’s perspective where he and Batman try to save victims of Zsasz. There’s again a focus on their relationship, emphasising that this is not Duke as Robin, it is not Batman and Robin (Damian still holds that title) but something ‘new’. It feels like the pair of them are finding their feet a little with this relationship. While I always like the idea of Batman having a side-kick or similar I’m not sure DC know quite where this one is going. I hope they do and it’s only the character’s uncertainty but I can’t quite tell what it’s meant to be yet.

All star interiors

Art by Romita Jr., Miki, White & Wands

As for the art, overall it was solid. Romita Jr. and Miki team up to create stunning moments, particularly in the fight scenes and a certain silhouette of Batman with a chainsaw looks awesome, though if I’m honest while the over the top imagery suits the big panel images it sometimes looked off in some of the smaller interactions. White’s colours for the main story are somewhat subdued and more of a desaturated palette, which works well to show the passing of the time of day throughout the start of the road trip, and makes the field scenes look particularly impressive. In the back up story, Shalvey’s art is a nice contrast to the brighter outdoor aesthetic in the main arc, with a more ominous feel that is simultaneously highly detailed, particularly with the contrast of the geometric shapes forming ‘The Cursed Wheel’ and the crime scene. Bellaire’s vibrant colours help to further distinguish the back up not only from the main story but from different scenes in the same short tale, with dim Batcave clashing nicely with the bright colours on the Batcomputer.

Speaking of smaller interactions, can Romita Jr. draw hands? There were less examples of actual hands than I was expecting as so many of them are covered by chunky gloves or armour. While gloved or armoured they do look good, though naturally a lot of the detail in the fingers and joints is simplified somewhat. There is one trucker with very stubby fingers, but they are used well in gesture when they are in panel, covered or not. Romita can, though didn’t get to show off properly in this issue, which is why they’ll get a 7.5/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I like how different this feels to the main Batman run. I am a huge fan of Snyder’s past work on Batman so I have high hopes for this. It looses a point for some of the art and the uncertainty over Batman and Duke, but those are issues I’m sure many will disagree on. If you like them this would be a 9.5, though in my opinion it drops to:

Score: 8.5 Stilling Cuts out of 10

Comic Review – Batman: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Like I said, I’m trying something new.” Batman

Rebirth – DCs attempt to fix some of the perceived flaws in the New 52 and start a fresh. Geoff Johns, who is spearheading it, has said he wants to bring back two things that have been missing from DC – hope and optimism. Batman tends to be associated with the dark and gritty. It was also one of the best, consistently fantastic series in the New 52. Will Rebirth keep up the high standard? Time to find out.

Bats rebirthBatman: Rebirth was co-written by Scott Snyder and Tom King, with art by Mikel Janin, colours by June Chung and letters from Deron Bennett. Tom King will be taking over writing duties entirely once the new series properly relaunches with Batman #1 in a few weeks, while Scott Snyder drove the writing of Batman throughout the New 52, and isn’t exactly moving away from the character as he returns with All-Star Batman later this year. Anyway, Batman: Rebirth kicks off with Duke Thomas turning up at Wayne Manor about the ‘offer’. He’ll be working with Batman in this new take on DC. Not only does Batman have another partner, but he’s back in charge of Wayne Enterprises (thanks to Lucius Fox).

Their first opponent will be Calendar Man. The seasons have been sped up dramatically and they’re cycling through an entire year’s worth in a single week (we have to assume this is local to Gotham, would hate to think what it would do if the planet’s orbit of the sun was sped up 52 times over!). He’s seemingly a single issue villain, although the comic reveals he lives in a cycle of rebirth which he comes back smarter and stronger from each time. Which of course is very thematic with DCs ‘Rebirth’ series. Duke and Bruce agree they’ll be ready and waiting for him and will hit him back stronger and smarter as well.

There are some key differences to the old status quo though. Despite being a ‘Robin’ Duke will not become Robin. He’ll be something new. We don’t know exactly what yet, another Batman? Batboy? So far all we have is his suit,  yellow with the Bat symbol on it. Their exact relationship will be confirmed in the coming issues, although Bruce does seem to be mentoring Duke.

As for the art, the level of detail is fantastic, everything from Bruce’s nearly entirely naked body to the background in the Batcave feels alive and action packed.

 

Final Verdict

Batman: Rebirth proves to be exactly that, a new beginning. It may have been a little heavy handed in the metaphors throughout the issue but it does the job well. I also like this take on Calendar Man. He isn’t a villain I’m too familiar with, but I don’t believe he was reborn with the seasons before. It’s a cool new power. I’m interested in seeing where they go with the Bruce/Duke relationship as well as apparently it’ll be something new we haven’t seen before.

Comic Review – We Are Robin! #1

Kit fills in for this week’s comic review!

“We’re not sidekicks. We’re an army! Are YOU ready?”

Seems there are a few new comics on the block this week and We Are… ROBIN! caught my eye, especially as it follows on from the outstanding Batman Endgame event. Lee Bermejo, Jorge Corona, Khary Randolph and Rob Haynes pick up Gotham where the Joker left it to give us a tale about many of those affected by Endgame.

With Bats busy working with the cops right now for reasons (read Endgame to find out why, it’s seriously worth it) and the rest of the Bat Family otherwise indisposed, crime in Gotham rages on. Especially after Endgame, so many lives were disrupted or destroyed during the event and things are very far from back to normal. So who’s going to tackle all this crime? Deal with the chaos and try to restore some kind of order? Not even the Bat can be everywhere at once.

We are Robin follows the lives of a group of teenagers whose lives have been turned upside down by the events of Endgame and Gotham generally being attacked every other Wednesday. Each of them has some sort of talent that can be put to use crime fighting. What I like about this is it seems that not one of them is amazing at everything, like most ‘human’ vigilantes (especially the Bats and Robins) are but they can all add something to the group. Together they coordinate vigilante justice around the city; using laptops, smart phones and every day tools everyone has to manage their city, each donning the colours of our favourite sidekick – Robin.

The story follows Duke Thomas, a youth who was separated from his parents thanks to the Joker’s shenanigans and hasn’t been able to stabilise his life since. He’s in and out of school and foster homes like they have revolving doors and goes out at night to look for his family. He’s also apparently a closet geek, which I always approve of. After getting into a scrap at his new school a teenage girl grabs a picture while the fight is broken up. She communicates to the ‘Nest’ (via whatsapp) that they’ve found him. Duke briefly met Batman, so Robin have been tracking him, they like his skills and want them to join their ranks.

After his next foster home doesn’t work out Duke goes out like normal, after accidentally stumbling onto what will probably be the series villain ruling a hobo commune in the sewers the Robins step in to kick some ass! A mysterious figure at the end seems to have been planning for something like this, he’s been watching their movements and appears to be ready to back up and supply the Robins with what they need. Their identity isn’t revealed… But I have a suspicion that it’ll be someone we’re already familiar with…

ImageProxy

Each of the Robins looks very unique; they’ve all put their own spin on the costumes to give a colourful group that’s full of character. I personally really like the angle of seeing how the fallout of a major event affects people who were just going about their lives before.

Overall I really enjoyed this comic. It’s a fresh take on the Robin idea outside of the kid adopted by the Bat. I also like the way Duke is recruited as such. It makes sense the city will eventually choose who will fight for it and not the other way around.

I’ll certainly be carrying on the series myself and want to see where it goes!

Score: 8.6 Robins out of a Nest