Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Batman The Secret Files: The Signal #1 Review


Written By: Tony Patrick
Art By: Christian Duce, Luis Guerrero, Andworld Design
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: July 6, 2021

Let me tell you right from the get-go........ I love Duke Thomas. I love the character so much that I'm been dying because he hasn't had a proper shake as part of the Bat-Family except for an adventure here and there before it feels like he's completely forgotten about, which is odd because each time the character pops up somewhere, it seems that they give him a new power but never use the time to explain it or even fill people in on who Duke Thomas is and where he's come from over the years. I hope that with this new Secret Files we get the full lowdown on where Duke has been, what he's doing now with his light and dark powers, and seeing where the Signal is going to go in the future. Let's jump into this issue and see The Signal.  

Now, with all my love for The Signal aside, I have to say that I'm not the biggest fan of the way that this story was told because while I've read everything that Duke Thomas has ever been in, I found myself a little lost in some of the story details because of how far removed we've been from them, with the We Are Robin characters showing up, having problems with Duke out of nowhere, Reestablishing Duke's work in the daytime even though I don't know why it was shut down to begin with and just a myriad of elements that are just thrown at us and then we're quickly moved on like Duke's powers. Again and again, we're told that he has light powers, we saw some of that in Duke's previous mini, and then we saw him get powers of darkness in the Batman and the Outsiders run and while they are both present here, besides for invisibility and being able to see invisible things, I still have no idea what his power set is and by the end of this we're even told that it seems that if Duke combines his light and dark powers, he may have healing powers as well...... I don't get it.

Beyond not getting what I want out of Duke because of how fast we have to move past things in Duke's life, we're given a villain by the name of Xander Pearl who has recruited the former We Are Robin characters who are still active and for whatever reason, they think that Batman and Duke aren't doing things properly and want to take the protection of the city away from our title heroes but all I got out of this is I hate Xander Pearl and I never want to see and or hear him talk again because he's so fucking annoying. That being said, I feel like this book didn't go as far as it could with the teenage billionaire angle of Xander Pearl because it would have been cool to tie him into the Green Team aspect of DC Comics.  

All in all, I did really enjoy the art in this book and seeing familiar We Are Robin characters even though they're barely recognizable anymore in both look and feel, but characters will progress whether we're reading about them or not and it's not always for the best but the biggest thing that I wanted out of this book was Duke Thomas and even though his superhero name is on the title and he's our hero throughout this book, it never really feels like Duke has time to really show us who Duke Thomas is at this point in his life and the only personal thing I could really take away from this issue besides that he wants his parents to be okay again..... since they've just been in the background, jokerized for years with barely any progression, is the fact that Duke has feelings for Cassie Caine. That's great to see but ultimately I want more from this book and I don't know what casual fans will get out of this for how it's presented.  

Bits and Pieces:

While I'm happy that Duke Thomas is getting some spotlight, I need this series to do more than rush by everything that has happened to Duke since he's come into Batman's life because even though Duke shows up in things here and there, his story feels really undefined.  I don't know how many people know the ins and outs of the character and we just move forward at breakneck speed in this and I found myself feeling lost. Thankfully, the art is great and we're moving to an interesting area for our hero. I just hope that we can calm down and pace the book out better.


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