Friday, March 16, 2007

Lame-ass villain #18 - Signalman

Back in the day, all you needed to be a Batman villain was a gimmick, an ugly-ass costume, and a wildly unrealistic sense of confidence.
Signalman is a classic example of this forgotten strata of comic book villainy, and is therefore today’s Lame-Ass Villain. I could have gone with Calendar Man, Spellbinder, The Spook, Crazy Quilt, or Cluemaster, but Signalman easily has the worst costume of the lot.
I mean, look at that outfit. That is not a subtle color palette. If I were him I would give up crime and just focus on marketing Signalman Brand safety vests and cycling jerseys.

Signalman perpetrated elaborate crimes with a signal motif – hence the name. He was always incorporating Morse code or smoke signals or sky writing or whatever into his heists, and he used clever signal gadgets to defend himself against Batman. Well, clever might be too kind of a term. Signalman often resorted to shooting people with flare guns or smacking them with stop signs. I guess it depends on who was writing the comic.
Today’s uber-competent Batman, the guy who Superman described as “the most dangerous man on Earth” would make short work of Signalman, a relic from a gentler time. He’d appear in two panels, max.
Panel 1: Signalman begins to explain his elaborate plan to disable the radar at Gotham Airport.
Panel 2: Batman, while eating a sandwich, chops Signalman in the throat.

27 comments:

Jason said...

In Crazy Quilt's defense, he did beat the ever living crap outta Jason Todd before the Joker did, although it was pre-Crisis Jason Todd, who wasn't quite the jerk that post-Crisis Jason Todd was. Also, Crazy Quilt was drawn by Jack Kirby in Who's Who, which is more than I've ever accomplished.

I can't believe I just typed the words 'in Crazy Quilt's defense.' I think I'll go die now.

Erin Palette said...

Ahem.

"Subtle Color Palette" is the name of one of my toys slated for Christmas '07 release, and thus is Trademarked.

If you do not cease and desist, I shall be forced to unleash Corporate Lawyer Palette.

;P

Anonymous said...

...he did beat the ever living crap outta Jason Todd before the Joker did...

Yes! And if memory serves, he didn't even use a crowbar. Although I'm half-remembering a trash can lid. Is that right?

Ah, pre-crisis. How I miss thee. Sometimes.

R

Anonymous said...

Dave, you've spell it "Singalman" a few times.

Of course, I often mis-type my own last name.

Jason said...

Rande said...

Yes! And if memory serves, he didn't even use a crowbar. Although I'm half-remembering a trash can lid. Is that right?

You are correct. He did use a trash can lid, which is actually pretty impressive. If he'd just dropped the whole 'Crazy Quilt' nonsense and the ridiculous costume and just focused on beating sidekicks with a trash can lid, we'd all be singing his praises today.

Anonymous said...

Jason said...

You are correct. He did use a trash can lid, which is actually pretty impressive. If he'd just dropped the whole 'Crazy Quilt' nonsense and the ridiculous costume and just focused on beating sidekicks with a trash can lid, we'd all be singing his praises today.

Somebody call Marvel--I think he has a future as the replacement Captain America.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to the Signalman, while he may have failed against Batman, he did manage to steal the Phantom's pants to use as his very own.

Anonymous said...

I liked Crazy Quilt.

And, you know, Signalman is pretty high on the list of "loser characters who could be made incredibly cool by Grant Morrisson". It would probably involve lectures about semiotics and Foucault and Derrida. But, hell, in a good way.


Doug M.

Jason said...

I actually think there's a good story to be written about "today's Batman" having to run around all night dealing with lame villains that want to be his arch nemeses.

Also, I thought Long Halloween and Dark Victory did help un-lame Calendar Man.

Anonymous said...

Crimes Batman can solve while eating a sam'ich....

...Tupac and Biggie's Murders

...What happened to Crystal Pepsi

Anonymous said...

Personally, I like the "Lucky Charms" style cape...I see horseshoes, moons and diamonds. Maybe he should have gotten an endorsement deal for the kid cereal.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of lame-ass characters in the DCU… Professor Radium in Battle for Bl├╝dhaven. Genius Jones, Infectious Lass, Dr. Thirteen, etc in Tales of the Unexpected. Egg Foo, Dr. Tyme in Fifty-two…

Bring back Signalman! :-D

And these guys too.

Mike Haseloff said...

I like Calendar Man.

Anonymous said...

Infectious Lass? I think a buddy of mine dated her. Poor bastard.

Of course the updated Signalman would be able to use his phone and laptop anywhere. With unlimited minutes and no roaming charges.

Anonymous said...

Batman beats someone up while eating a sandwich ... that would put him in league with the Magnificent Don Muraco who is famous for eating a sandwich while wrestling. They could be a tag-team together: their finisher would have to be the double piledriver, even though it's a difficult, and somewhat unpleasant, move to imagine being executed. And Batman's cape would get in the way.

Anonymous said...

He is indeed lame. Looks like Signalman made his costume from old 70's tablecloths he bought at the Goodwill. Does an origin story exist?

Joe said...

Whoa, we don't talk bad about Cluemaster in these parts.

And the first comic I ever read was Jason Todd getting revenge on Crazy Quilt using a hand fan.

Anonymous said...

Signalman stands out as especially bad in that list because all of the others have at least had a halfway-decent and/or competent story written about them since. Signalman's recent appearances involve a) Adam Beechen using him in an off-handed remark that was actually a major continuity error in ROBIN and b) Brad Meltzer using him as a drug addict addicted to something really stupid in JLOA.

Calendar Man's appearance in Alan Grant/Tim Sale SHADOW OF THE BAT arc "The Misfits" is the best Calendar Man story. It's basically just Catman making fun of him with terrible puns, like adding "Calendar man said in a daze," after everything Calendar Man says.

Anonymous said...

I think the characters being used in the backup feature in Tales of the Unexpected -- Genius Jones; Infectious Lass; I, Vampire; the Nazi gorillas, etc. -- are in the story because they're lame.

They have no place in the modern DCU, so the "architects" of the DCU want to write them out of existence. It's one of those stories that breaks the fourth wall, which I usually find irritating but is absolutely necessary for the type of story they're telling.

(Though, I must say, the juxtaposition of Architecture & Morality against the very grim Spectre stories is a bit jarring.)

Anonymous said...

I feel a comic coming on....

Anonymous said...

Ugly costume, yes. Still not as bad as Wonderman's. You know the one I mean.

Mister Sinister said...

Crazy Quilt was recently replaced by an insane woman. Insane enough to want to become the Crazy Quilt. Ironically, he has little to do w/ quilts at all. I remember a sucky villain...

Chemo.
He is an idiotic (somehow living) tub of chemicals w/ a terrible origin & no thoughts other than to mindlessly destroy.

Anything artificial brought to life should automatically become evil.

I'm talking long mustache twirling evil.

Mister Sinister said...

Cluemaster has been retconned on "The Batman" as a morbidly obese man who lives in his mom's basement & eats only generic brand Oreos. He somehow has trained 4-5 circus midgets to do his bidding while he tries to eat as much butter as there is in his fridge.
The Batman defeats him by giving him the question he can't answer his secret identity (Batman's).
Cluemaster's mother is a stroke victim who seems as if drool would flow out of her mouth at any time & constantly feeds him Oreos

Cluemaster is every trivia-geek plus little bombs & crappy gimmicks.

That's like sticking up for Chemo. Or his better counterpart the Riddler.

Mister Sinister said...

Signalman after pooing himself at seeing a picture of Batman

Runs off screaming

*comes back crying softly w/ a football jersey on*

HEY GUYS, i'm the new guy, Brian, "I like to skateboard"

reference:http://derrickcomedy.com/jerry.htm

no verif needed

Ernest said...

"Does an origin story exist?"

Yes. In Batman #112, small-time punk Phillip Cobb breezes into Gotham and tries to recruit a gang-o-thugs, only to have them laugh in his face because he has no street cred. ("Get a rep first" is the exact quote, I believe) Wandering the streets in humiliation, Cobb believes that he needs a "gimmick" to get attention and make his bones. After noticing that modern life is regulated and shaped by signs & signals, he decides to become the Art-Deco Umberto Eco of Gotham City. It goes as well as you'd expect.

Anonymous said...

calender man was redeamed by the long haloween. the scene with him is my favorite in the whole long haloween

Peregrine said...

Pretty helpful data, thank you for the article.
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