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When Commissioner Gordon was removed from his charge, his replacement destroyed the Bat-Signal using an axe and ended the GCPD's connection with Batman. However, when Batman uncovered a large criminal network behind Gordon's demotion, the Mayor reinstated Gordon as Police Commissioner and the Bat-Si

Quote1 When you light that beacon, Commissioner-- I'll come! That's the way it's always been, and the way it'll always be! Quote2

The Bat-Signal is a large projection lamp that casts the silhouetted shape of a bat across the sky of Gotham City. Commissioner James Gordon incorporated it as a means of contacting Batman, whenever he was needed and it was placed on the roof of the headquarters of Gotham City Police Department.[22] As Batman's existence is not officially recognized by the Gotham City authorities, the Bat-Signal is explained as a method of using the "urban legend" around Batman to terrify the criminal class of Gotham.



When Commissioner Gordon was removed from his charge, his replacement destroyed the Bat-Signal using an axe and ended the GCPD's connection with Batman. However, when Batman uncovered a large criminal network behind Gordon's demotion, the Mayor reinstated Gordon as Police Commissioner and the Bat-Signal was repaired.[1]

The Bat-Signal played a very important role on Batman's crime-fighting career and soon it became a tool besides a summoning beacon. During it's early days, some criminals shot the Bat-Signal and others stole it to prevent communication between Gordon and Batman.[2] For this reason, Batman designed a new Bat-Signal with the following features:

Bat-Signal 09

Improved Bat-Signal

  • Super Carbon Arc Filaments to produce a beam 100 times brighter than a normal searchlight
  • Bullet-proof glass; handground for clarity
  • Outer casing of duraluminium covered with bullet-proof glass
  • Yellow fog filter
  • Batslide
  • Larger, changeable and more powerful carriage

Some time later, an elderly police officer, Sergeant Harvey Hainer, who was no longer capable of patrolling the streets or going out on missions, was placed in charge of activating the Bat-Signal. For this purpose, a small light bulb and a phone connected to Commissioner Gordon's office was installed in order to notify Hainer the times when he had to activate the Bat-Signal.[3]


The Bat-Signal was the main contact method between Batman and the GCPD and Sergeant Harvey Hainer was in charge of activating the signal. However, this Bat-Signal was largely replaced by Batman's Hot-Line, which was a direct telephone between Gordon's office and the Batcave. The Bat-Signal was then used as the last resort to get in touch with the Caped Crusader.[4]

With time, the Bat-Signal became the primary way to contact Batman, as the Dark Knight tried to avoid being at everyone's reach. Knowing of the importance of the Bat-Signal, the Signalman captured Batman and tied him inside the giant searchlight, in hopes that he would be burned alive when Commissioner Gordon activated the signal. Fortunately, Batman managed to break free before the signal could be activated, but he had to break through the glass to escape. With the Bat-Signal broken and damaged, Gordon had to use public funds for the repair.[5]

Bat-Signal 13

Bat-Signal's Glass Lamp

During a re-election campaign for Police Commissioner, Gordon and Batman were attacked by Gordon's current enemy who sought to eliminate them both. The first failed murder attempt on Batman caused the shattering of the glass lamp of the Bat-Signal, which Gordon soon had repaired. However, the repair people were hired thugs by Gordon's opponent who placed a bomb in the Bat-Signal, which would explode with the heat of the light. Gordon was saved by Batman just as the bomb exploded, destroying the Bat-Signal.[6]

Commissioner Gordon also included a mobile Bat-Signal on his police car, which he used to summon Batman to different locations around the city, where his quick assistance was most needed.[7][8] When Sergeant Harvey Bullock was granted permission to the rooftop of the GCPD HQ, he caused minor and major damages to the Bat-Signal as he once accidentally spilled coffee on top of it[9] and later smashed half of the signal's glass, while putting his usual clumsy act.[10]

New Earth

The Bat-Signal was a large searchlight located on the rooftop of the GCPD Headquarters.

Origins Controversy

There have been many accounts of the Bat-Signal's first appearance and the circumstances in which this happened. Since it's hard to tell which one is canon and which isn't, this section will provide all instances for a historical perspective.
  • One account explains that the Bat-Signal was first thought of by James Gordon during Batman's early years in Gotham as a way to contact the vigilante. Gordon had the signal placed on the rooftops of the GCPD. Some accounts note that this happened when Gordon was appointed as Police Commissioner;[11] while other versions mark this event while Gordon was still a captain.[12] In the latter, the signal was simply a piece of clothing shaped as a bat that was placed on top of a big searchlight.
  • After Batman's unofficial collaboration with the GCPD on various cases, the Mayor of Gotham told Commissioner Grogan to place the Bat-Signal as an official method of contacting Batman. Since James Gordon was the only member of the GCPD who had closely worked with Batman, he was in charge of operating the Bat-Signal.[13]

Notable Events

Gordon Breaks Batsignal

Gordon breaks the Bat-Signal

Eventually, the Bat-Signal was broken by Sarah Essen during an outburst of rage after which she shot the signal. Whenever it was lit, the shape of the bat appeared to be broken.[14] It was soon repaired and fully operational. However, the Bat-Signal would soon be broken again, this time by James Gordon. After Jean-Paul Valley took the mantle of the Bat, Gordon became suspicious of the Batman's identity. His worries proved true when Batman let Abattoir die, causing the death of the killer's last victim. Gordon's trust in Batman was totally damaged and after an unsuccessful discussion with the new Batman, Gordon smashed the signal with his gun, breaking it as a symbol of his disconnection from the vigilante.[15]

When Gordon learned that the original Batman had returned to claim his rightful position, he had the Bat-Signal repaired and used it the first night to summon his trusted friend.[16]

Following No Man's Land, a new Bat-Signal was given to the GCPD, which had a number of additions, including a laser writer, built into it. The laser writer was used to skywrite directional arrows and street addresses to guide Batman straight to a crime scene, without the Caped Crusader wasting time stopping off at police headquarters.

After Batman defeated The Body, he asked the new Police Commisioner Michael Akins to keep the signal on as a way to send a message to his enemies.[17]

However, when Akins declared vigilantes illegal, he removed the Bat-Signal, though it ended up self-destructing in the process. The original one was returned soon thereafter.

During a brief period when Batman was out of the country, The Question replaced the bat shape on the front of the signal with a large question mark.

Bat-Signal RIP

Modified Bat-Signal

When Batman went missing after his confrontation with the Black Glove, Gordon activated the signal hoping to summon Batman, but he is disappointed when Geo-Force and Katana arrive, looking for Batman as well.[18]

When word about Batman's death spread, a Bat-Signal was turned on with the letters "R.I.P." engraved in it. Gordon followed the source of this signal to Arkham Asylum, where he found a makeshift signal left behind after the whole place was destroyed.[19] After learning of a new Batman, whose methods included murder and torture, Gordon decided to keep the signal off until it was safe to use it again.[20]


  • As official proven police interaction with the Bat-Signal and Batman himself can lead to cases against criminals arrested by Batman being dismissed, it is up to the civilian employees of the Gotham police department — including the Major Case Squad's civilian attache, Stacy — to operate the signal officially.[citation needed]



The S-Signal

See Also

External Links