This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on January 5, 2018.
Batman and the Signal debuted on Wednesday and shone a spotlight on one of the newest members of the Bat-family. Just 5 years after being introduced by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, Duke Thomas is now headlining this mini-series that will reveal his role within Gotham City. The 3-issue series is also written by Snyder who is now joined by Cully Hamner in a very strong debut issue that focuses on the need for a hero that works in the daylight.
This concept of short mini-series showing off the excellent supporting cast of the Batman comics line is one that shouts for repetition. Duke Thomas and his new alter-ego are far from the only heroes surrounding Batman who could use additional definition. A 3-issue series provides the perfect opportunity for a great story featuring excellent talent without demanding too many resources. If a specific team-up really sparks reader’s interest, these sort of series could offer a sort of pilot season to B-list sidekicks ready to start their own series.
With any luck Batman and the Signal will find its audience and encourage more series in the same format. We’ve already imagined 5 different team-ups that would fit the concept perfectly…
Batman and The Orphan
One of the most exciting returns during the five-year New 52 period at DC Comics was that of Cassandra Cain. Her unique place both within the Batgirl line and the Bat-family played left a real absence at the time of relaunch and her return as The Orphan has been embraced by fans, new and old. Cain is essentially the same character, even if she has a new title. Her deadly training, lack of speech skills, and uncanny ability to bring out the best in companions all remain present and deeply endearing.
In the pages of Detective Comics, Cain has encouraged the rest of the team to be better by showing them just how much good she can do in spite of having an awful childhood and every reason to not be a hero. A team-up with Batman would focus on the paternal role he plays to so many heroes and how it is often his sidekicks that bring out the best in him. It would also offer a great change for Cain to take up more panels and make the case for another solo series filled with martial arts actions and a truly irreplaceable heroine.
Batman and Clayface
The other breakout star of the Rebirth run on Detective Comics has to be Clayface. Many readers were unsure why the longtime Bat-foe was part of the core family when the series began. Yet over the past couple of years writer James Tynion IV has shown Clayface has been overdue for a redemption arc. His abilities serves both as a perfect device to explain his criminal tendencies and a foil for his redemption.
Clayface is struggling with his slow loss of humanity and doing everything in his power to become (and remain) a hero. Batman sets a high standard for his companions and Clayface’s struggle is likely to elicit empathy from the typically stoic hero. More importantly, Clayface looks up to Batman and having the two teamed up provides an opportunity for the villain-turned-hero to push himself to his limits. He is both a visually and thematically versatile character deserving of more space on the page. We can only hope he sticks around as a hero and finds space beyond Detective Comics to grow.
Batman and Anarky
Anarky is a character that has remained great in concept, but never really spread his wings in execution. He was originally conceived to contrast Batman’s sense of law and order with a younger generation’s view of the world. While there’s still an element of detection and possible fisticuffs, Batman and Anarky conflict best when it comes to ideas. That concept is still packed with potential, now more than ever.
Anarky is an anti-hero and it is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which this pair would be forced to team up. Following that premise would allow creators to examine whether Batman’s idea of justice best serves Gotham City or if it needs to evolve (or at least be challenged). The two could foil in both a funny and meaningful manner. Ultimately a great Anarky team-up could provide the grounding for an Anarky series. If that’s the case, we just hope it’s drawn by Nick Derington who seems to have a real understanding of this underutilized character.
Batman and Batwoman
One of the key sources of tension in Detective Comics remains the different styles of leadership between Batman and Batwoman. Batman selected Batwoman to lead the team for her unique skills and worldview, elements he knew would differ from his own. It’s a great part of the series and one that could be fleshed out better in a single adventure.
In the right circumstances, the normally tight-lipped Batman might be forced to delve into why he trusts Batwoman and brought her into his confidence. She challenges him in a way none of his other companions do and serves as a peer much more than a sidekick. They bring out the best in one another, especially when they don’t agree on a solution. Batwoman may already have her own series, but this is a duo that simply deserves some solo time together.
Batman and Alfred
The indisputable highlight of Tom King’s run on Batman thus far is the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. For every insane plan or absurd request, Alfred has a response that balances humor and love as well as a tray of freshly prepared sandwiches. He has become the humorous chorus to Batman’s life while remaining an inexhaustible source of support.
For all of the great Alfred moments in Batman, he has remained in the background of the series. It’s time to see King show off his obvious love for the character in a big fashion, and hit on the best elements of his run, sincerity and humor, in a story featuring this duo. Alfred has skills and experience that make him perfectly fit to headline a big DC Comics adventure and there has never been a better writer for the project than the one leading the line at this very moment. We need more of King’s Alfred, and we need him as soon as possible.