Duke Thomas (comics)
From the cover of Batman and The Signal #1, Art by Cully Hammer
|First appearance||As Unnamed Child:|
Batman #21 (New 52)
As Duke Thomas:
Batman #30 (New 52)
We Are... Robin #1
As The Signal:
Batman and The Signal #1
|Created by||Scott Snyder|
|Full name||Duke Thomas|
|Team affiliations||Batman Family|
Duke Thomas is a fictional character appearing in comics published by DC Comics. He was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. He is a supporting character of Batman. His first named appearance was in Batman Vol. 5 #30, later debuting as one of many characters to take up the Robin identity in the comic book We are Robin in May 2015. He later created a new role as The Signal.
He is the latest character added to the Batman family, officially becoming Batman's newest partner in 2016.
Duke Thomas first appeared as an unnamed child in Batman Vol. 4, #21  (March 2014), being saved by Batman. His first official named appearance was in Batman Vol. 5, #30, revealing they had met before his prior appearance, as his parents saved Bruce Wayne's life.
He didn't appear in comics again until Batman: Endgame (October 2014), where the Joker abducted him and his parents in an attempt to psychologically torture Batman. He returns as a staple in DC Comics in We Are... Robin, joining the teen vigilante group and being trained by previous official Robins during Robin War. His official debut as a part of the Batman family occurred in 2016, with Batman: Rebirth #1. He later makes a new mantle "The Signal" in the mini series Batman and The Signal
He is currently a staple in Batman comics and Detective Comics.
Fictional Character Biography
Batman: Zero Year
Duke's first appearance is as an unnamed child, fishing in the derelict Gotham City. He is approached by thugs wanting to take his food, who are stopped by the sudden appearance of Batman. Duke tells him that the Riddler claims that he is dead, to which Batman replies that it means he won't see him coming.
A later issue shows a flashback, revealing that Duke's parents saved Bruce Wayne in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane caused by the Riddler. Duke tells him that he's training his mind to be able to make an unsolvable riddle that will set the city free, showcasing his heroic nature.
The Joker releases a deadly pathogen on Gotham City, which mimics his laugh gas on a much larger and infective scale. In the ensuing pandemonium, he kidnaps the Thomas family due to their connection with Bruce Wayne. He sets up an elaborate stage on which to reenact the night the Wayne's died, even going as far as to use an infected Joe Chill, the man who originally killed his parents, in order to emotionally torture Bruce.
Duke is narrowly saved by Batman, but is forced to leave his parents behind to an infected mob.
We Are... Robin
Several months later, Duke is in the foster care system. He rebels as he feels frustrated by the lack of care and empathy the city has been granting to the Joker's victims, resulting in his parents still being missing. Alongside this, Gotham City appears to have been abandoned by Batman. However Alfred Pennyworth in disguise has been supplying teens fighting back against crime and corruption with Robin insignia and instructions via an app called "The Nest," starting the group known as We Are Robin.
After assisting the group, Duke is approached by Alfred, disguised as a police interrogator. He encourages Duke to take his life into his own hands and to fight for the fate of the city, offering him help finding his parents if he helps stop a cult from detonating bombs around the city. Duke accepts, making him an unofficial Robin. He leads part of the group to the bombs inside a train station. While the rest of the group is above ground fighting off the cultists, they are able to defuse one bomb. As they debate about how to defuse the second, they are sent a message from the nest, telling them to give up and get on the next train. Meanwhile, above ground the GCPD reveals a "new" Batman, who is simply Jim Gordon in a robotic suit. He is instructed to treat the Robins as criminals. One member, Troy, stays behind, and attempts to defuse the bomb in the same manner as the first one, causing it to detonate and kill him. Duke and his new friends are devastated, and become suspicious of The Nest, until Alfred provides them gear, and draws on their individual experiences to encourage them to keep fighting for their city.
After the events of Robin War, most Robins go back to their normal lives. Duke resumes his search for his parents, and finds them in a temporary shelter. But, due to long exposure to the Joker virus, they will suffer from the effects permanently. Meanwhile, John "Smiley" Bender jr., a teen with Möbius syndrome, who's parents forced him into surgery that left him with a permanent smile, kills them after getting out of juvie. Holding the Joker as an idol, he starts a gang and begins terrorizing Gotham. Smiley invades Duke's school, forcing him and his friends to take action. After taking him down, they are approached by Alfred once more, where they officially renounce being Robins, instead deciding to rely on themselves and each other.
Shortly after the death of Troy, a Robin outside of Duke's group accidentally kills a robber and police officer. Combining the two with public push, the Robin laws go into effect, making it illegal for teens to wear the Robin colors and insignia. It's quickly revealed that this is the result of manipulations by the Court Of Owls, as the councilwoman who headed the legislation, Noctua, wishes to earn a place in the society.
Duke hosts a meeting of the remaining Robins, calling for whoever accidentally committed the crime to come forward. However the real Robin, Damian Wayne, crashes the meeting. Objecting to the use of his title while he was away, he challenges the Robins to prove themselves in a fight against him. The commotion is noticed by the GCPD, who send "Batman" to deal with them. He is quickly struck down by Damian. But before the fight can resume, Red Hood and Red Robin put a stop to it. They calm Damian down and call the first Robin, Dick Grayson.
Afterwards, Travis, one of the Robins, tells Duke that he was the one who killed the officer and robber. Duke seeing that it was an accident and that Travis is burdened by the guilt, encourages him to turn himself in. Travis agrees. While on his way, Travis is killed by a Talon in order to sow more public unrest. The official Robins train the group. Despite having faked his death and using a face changer, Duke recognizes Dick Grayson an reveals this during a training session. Duke and his friends are chosen as the best of the group, and are taken on a mission to try and get information. However Dick has been feeding information to the police, as to have the Robins arrested and safe from the Court Of Owls.
The original Robins, with help from Duke and his friends, manage to break out and free the rest of the Robins. They tell the others to go home, as the Court Of Owls is too deadly of an enemy for them. Thanks to information from Duke's friend Riko, they make their way to Gotham Academy. On the way, Damian sneaks away and is manipulated into joining the court in order to protect Gotham. He, alongside several Talons, fight against the others once they reach Gotham Academy, seeming to take them out with ease. Duke refuses to believe that Damian has genuinely joined the court, getting back up to continue fighting him. He calls Damian by name, saying that he knows of Bruce Wayne's amnesia as the result of sacrificing himself, and how Damian doesn't need to live up to that. This causes Damian to snap out of the Court's manipulations. The Robins that went home see the destruction throughout the city, they decide to rally once more and the tides turn against the Court, temporarily sending them back underground.
Batman Vol 9: Bloom
After Robin War a new threat arises in a man who is doling out devices that give powers, however, they are experimental and are just as likely to kill their host. He calls himself Mister Bloom.
After overhearing a conversation between Bruce and Jim Gordon, Duke becomes drawn to the mystery. He steals a neutralized device given to Bruce, as Bruce is reluctant to be involved in the case. He first shows the device to his older friend, Daryl, a tech genius working for the GCPD, he is unable to identify it.
Duke turns to other sources, tracking a trail to the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge. He finds a book containing information on Penguin's own investigations on Bloom. The Penguin and his gang find Duke in the study, nearly capturing him. He barely escapes, only to be seemly apprehended by guards outside. Until Bruce Wayne takes them down. Bruce had discovered the device missing, and since Duke had used the Fox Center's computers for his research, was able to deduce what he was doing and follow him.
He expresses concern for Duke, he continues to press when Duke tries to avoid the conversation, asking why Duke has treated him coldly. Duke becomes upset, as he is aware of Bruce's former identity as Batman while Bruce is not. He tells Bruce that he doesn't take a real look at his life, saying that his denial is based in selfishness. He tells Bruce that anyone can be who he is now, but in his old life only he could be him, and that he used to inspire the whole city. He continues with his speech, causing a spark in Bruce's memory when he saves Duke from an incoming train. Duke, feeling no better, tells Bruce to stay away.
After a text from Daryl, he visits his parents. Devastated by their mental state. Afterwards he sneaks onto the GCPD blimp Daryl was piloting, he informs Daryl of their condition.
He tells Daryl that it almost made him give up hope and vigilantism entirely, however, he went over the evidence he stole from the Iceberg Lounge one last time, and noticed that it contained the names of the nominees for the grant that Daryl won years before. He asks Daryl what's going on, Daryl snaps and his form begins to mutilate to where he looks eerily similar to Bloom. He reveals that he was the "original" Bloom, having initially created the devices after Zero Year. Believing that with powers people would band together to protect each other. But his first test with his cousin yielded fatal results. Which made Daryl burn the remaining devices.
However, after Batman's disappearance after Endgame, he turned towards his experiments again. This time using unidentified and near death patients. There was only one success, who became horrifically deformed, and slaughtered the other patients. The patient somehow recognized Daryl as the source of what happened to them, and decided to take the Bloom moniker, along with the rest of the devices.
Daryl insists that he can stop Bloom and perfect the devices. Duke tries to reason with him, saying that powers aren't necessary and all you need is good people. Daryl mocks him and the Robin movement. He moves to take and dispose of a Robin pin that Duke gave him, but Duke takes advantage of his distraction to incapacitate him and take control of the airship.
During Daryl's confession, Bloom has begun widespread havoc across the city. Introducing handpicked convicts they have used the devices on. They inform the populace that they have hidden devices all over the city, and that they now have a programed thrall to encourage their use, as the use of them makes Bloom stronger. Along with sabotaging the GCPD's atom collider, which could cause a black hole.
Duke directs the airship to where Bruce, having remembered being Batman, is struggling to hold them off. Duke uses the high powered magnets in the ship to grab onto Bloom. The more Bloom struggles, the stronger the magnets get, this also disables the thrall, leading to people removing their devices and diverting power from Bloom. Gordon uses a dampener on the collider, and the resounding shock wave kills Bloom. Leaving Gotham in peace once more.
Afterwards, Duke is approached by Bruce, who offers to train him as an official vigilante.
Duke becomes an official member of the Batman Family. Accepting Bruce's offer of training, he begins working alongside all of Gotham's vigilantes.
In 2018, Duke starred in his own mini-series, Batman And The Signal. Where he learns more about his metahuman powers and struggles to solve a mystery involving his past.
He is currently apart of the Outsiders team in Batman and The Outsiders
Powers and abilities
Duke Thomas is a metahuman, he possesses photokinetic vision. It allows him to see into the past, spot weak points on enemies, and see several seconds into the future. Due to training from previous Robins, and Batman himself, he has incredible hand-to-hand combat skills. As a child he mentally trained himself with riddles and puzzles, in an attempt to one day be able to give the Riddler a riddle he couldn't solve. Because of that, he has deduction skills that rival Batman's.
- "WE ARE ... ROBIN: Reinventing the Sidekick Concept". Newsarama.
- Keith, Jed W. (February 23, 2018). "Tony Patrick on an Emerging Hero in BATMAN AND THE SIGNAL". Freaksugar.
- "Batman: Rebirth Reveals The Dark Knight's New Sidekick". ScreenRant. June 2, 2016.
- "Interview: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Revisit Batman's ZERO YEAR". August 22, 2013.
- Batman #21
- Batman #30
- Batman: Endgame #3
- We Are Robin #8
- Robin War #1
- Francisco, Eric. "Scott Snyder Says Duke Will Get His Own Name in 'All-Star Batman'". Inverse.
- "BATMAN AND THE SIGNAL #1". DC. August 21, 2017.
- Batman and The Signal #1
- All-Star Batman #1