Duke Thomas is The Signal, a metahuman vigilante and the daylight protector of Gotham City. Following the loss of his parents' sanity at the hands of The Joker, Duke joined and led the We Are Robin movement; hundreds of civilian teenagers who donned the Robin 'R' and fought for their city in Batman's absence. Eventually, Duke left the movement and after being offered to train under Batman and join the Batman Family. Duke is now a member of the newly re-formed Outsiders team led by Black Lightning.

Chronology

Origins

Duke is the biological son of Elaine Thomas and an immortal named Gnomon. Prior to his birth, a pregnant Elaine fled to Gotham in order to escape Gnomon and the secret war between immortals. Elaine became a social worker and married Doug Thomas, a humble construction worker. Duke was born at Gotham Mercy General Hospital and the couple raised him out of their home in the Tracey Towers apartment complex, in the Gotham Narrows. Duke lived a relatively uneventful childhood, completely unaware of his mother's previous life.

Zero Year and Endgame

When Duke was 10 years old the terrorist Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler, shut off all the power in Gotham City and challenged everyone to get smart or die by natural selection. Coinciding with the villain's attack, Hurricane Rene struck the city and plunge it further into chaos. The Riddler told the city that if anyone could present him with a riddle that he couldn't answer he would restore power to Gotham. Duke, who was a confident young student at the time, accepted the Riddler's challenge and began to train his mind with brain teasers, puzzles, and riddles. Duke met Bruce Wayne for the first time when the Thomas family rescued the unconscious billionaire in the aftermath of Hurricane Rene. Thanking Duke and his family for their kindness, Wayne departed and took down the Riddler.

Several years later, the Joker enacted his Endgame assault on Batman and Gotham. Having Figured out the vigilante's secret identity, Joker kidnapped Duke and his parents in order to recreate the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents, using The Thomas's, in front of Batman. Batman managed to rescue Duke and save the Thomas family from the murderous plot, but he was ultimately unable to save Duke's parents from succumbing to the mind-controlling gas The Joker had released. Batman and Duke managed to make their way through the chaos on the streets of Gotham to the Batcave, where he left the boy in the care of Julia Pennyworth, before setting off for a fatal showdown with the Joker. Batman went missing shortly thereafter.

Becoming a Robin

Following the disappearance of his parents during the Endgame attack, Duke was placed into the foster system. Duke grew jaded as it became apparent that the authorities were not making any progress locating his parents. desperate to find them, he began regularly breaking away from his foster homes to investigate by himself. Dr. Thompkins was placed in charge of his social case and largely kept him out of any serious trouble.

After getting into yet another fight, Duke was taken into custody and came onto the radar of the Robin movement. Dr. Thompkins tried reassuring Duke that the police are still looking for his parents and they had recently found some Joker toxin victims wandering the sewer system. She asked that he stopped running the streets picking fights and try to be respectful of his foster parents, having placed Duke with Joanne and Roy Dawson. The Dawsons lived in a dirty run-down apartment and expected Duke to clean things and babysit the other foster kids. When left alone to organize his things in his new bedroom, Duke escaped immediately. Feeling guilty about letting Leslie Thompkins down, but thankful for her tip, Duke went out to search for his parents in the sewers.

While in the sewers looking for his parents, Duke stumbled into a community of homeless people who had created an underground city. There he overheard their plan to bomb different landmarks in Gotham, starting with the Hall of Records. Just after hearing this he was discovered and attacked. Luckily the Robins, who had been tailing him, sprung into action to save Duke. Together with the Robins, Duke fought his way out of the sewers, only to lose consciousness after a blow to the head. When the police came, the Robins were ordered to abandon Duke and run. Reluctantly they did as they were told.

We Are Robin

Duke awoke inside a police interrogation room to a mysterious man with facial hair and dark glasses. The man asked him what he was willing to do in order to find his parents. Duke expressed confusion and told the man that was the police's job, and the man left Duke alone the room. After waiting for a while, getting frustrated, Duke tried the door handle and found it was unlocked. When he stepped out of the interrogation room he realized that he was not in a police station at all, but actually inside an abandoned warehouse with nothing. before him was a red biker jacket with a yellow R on the breast, atop a motorcycle, and cellphone inside the jacket. The cellphone in his new jacket instructed him to go to a different location.

Following the instructions, Duke drove the motorcycle to the address, which led him to the Robins who had saved him earlier. While initially skeptical as to why their mysterious benefactor ("The Nest") deemed Duke so important, the team was instructed to stop the terrorist attack by the homeless Duke had overheard. The team manage to locate the bombs beneath the Hall of Record and, using instructions sent to their phones from The Nest, they were able to disable one of the bombs. The second bomb proved more difficult however, as it was on a subway train track and they had to jump out of the way of trains every few moments. The Nest instructed them to get on the next train and leave the second bomb there. However, one of the robins, Troy, determined that he could disable the bomb himself and stayed behind alone. As the others rode away, Troy failed to disarm the bomb, got caught in the blast, and was killed instantly.

Robin War

*Note: The Robin War arc takes place concurrently with ___.

After a Robin member was implicated in the accidental shooting death of a police officer and a robber at a convenience store, the entire We Are Robin movement comes under fire by the public. Councilwoman Noctua, the local government official, passed legislation that outlawed all Robin activity following the incident. The Robin Laws made it illegal for anyone in Gotham to wear robin paraphernalia and encouraged police to stop and detain anyone who might be a Robin. These actions led to Duke and his gang being persecuted by local law enforcement and targets of James Gordan, the new government appointed Batman. Duke called a meeting of all the Robins in the movement and implored the as-of-yet unknown Robin involved in the accidental death to turn themselves in hopes that Gotham would see that the Robins are more than a reckless gang of vigilantes.

The meeting is interrupted when Damian Wayne descends upon the crowd, claiming that the We Are Robin crew are frauds and challenging them all to fight. Damian fought the Robins until the meeting was further crashed by the new Batman. While Damian defeats the new Batman, shutting his suit down with an electric shock, Duke and his crew escape before they could be arrested. After they escaped, a Robin named Travis came forward and confessed to Duke that he was the one responsible for the shooting incident. While Duke says that the choice in coming forward to the police is Travis', he also lets it be known that it's the responsible thing to do-- what a Robin would do.

The heat on the Robin movement intensified and eventually the original Robins, the former apprentices to Batman, stepped in to aid the movement. Agent 37, Red Robin, Red Hood, and Robin called the We are Robin kids together to be trained in a sort of Robin school, in an effort to help hone their abilities and make them into more disciplined crime-fighters. During his one on one training with Agent 37, Duke reveals that he knows his secret identity is Dick Grayson, shocking Dick. by the end of their training Duke is recognized as one of the best to come out of the Robin school, alongside Izzy, Dax, and Dre. Grayson then split the Robins up with the four mentors and sent the different groups out to complete separate missions: Duke's group with Grayson, Izzy's with Damian, Dax's with Red Hood, and Dre's with Red Robin. What they did not know is that Dick set them up to be arrested, feeling it was the best way to keep the Robins safe while he figures out what's going on. Dick parts with the soon-to-be-arrested Duke, telling him of his intentions, saying that because Duke is the Robins' leader the others would be accept Dick's position if the news comes from him.

Whilst in jail, it is revealed that the anti-Robin legislation, arrests, and even the inciting incident were all orchestrated by the Court of Owls. Red Robin and Red Hood are made to fight to the death by the Court, which created an opening for Duke, Damian, and the We Are Robin crew to free themselves. and the other prisoners. The Courts sends an elite group of Talons to eliminate or apprehend the escapees. After beating back Talons on the GCPD rooftop, Duke and his gang of Robins, alongside the Bat-apprentices, broke off from the Robins that weren't up to the task and continued on to get to the bottom of the Court of Owls' plot. tracking the Court to a base underneath Gotham Academy, the group found the Court's Talon hatchery and destroyed it, preventing more Talons from being produced. After fighting off even more Talons, Duke and the team are made to confront Damian Wayne, who, in order to save his friends from certain death, was made to fight alongside the Court of Owls.

Even with the odds stacked against him, Duke refuses to give up and fought Damian head-on, trying to bring him back to the side of good. Duke tells Damian that he isn't Robin, nor will he or the We Are Robin crew ever be, he is; but that doesn't stop stop them from doing good. Duke eventually broke through to Damian and they re-joined the rest Robins as they fought to keep the remaining elite Talons from decimating the city. After saving the city, We are Robin movement and the former Robins are embraced by the GCPD and the citizens of Gotham as heroes. The We Are Robin crew disbands soon after, when Duke quits upon learning of Travis' death at the hands of a Talon.

Later Duke spots Damian tracking him and invites to the movies, which Damian accepts, kicking off the start of a friendship.


Jokers

*Note: Some of the Jokers arc takes place concurrently with the events of Superheavy.

Down and out in the wake of the disbanding of the We Are Robin crew and the revelation of his parents' permanent jokerization, Duke takes solace in his friendship with Izzy. Before attending school, he gets a We Are Robin group text from Dre, warning of an upcoming plot by Duke's former bully, Smiley, and his Jokers gang. Seeking help from Riko, a fellow ex-Robin, he is denied because of her jealousy toward Izzy.

Shortly after, the school is taken over by Smiley and his gang of Jokers, and the two former Robins put aside their differences to stop him. Together, the We Are Robin crew work their way to the top floor, and successfully take Smiley and his Jokers down. Later that day, they are contacted by The Nest, and they proceed to tell him they no longer require his help, that they've got their own way of being heroes.

As one of their own commits to robbing one of Bruce Wayne's penthouse apartments, the We Are Robin crew gathers one more time to stop a friend from further descending into a life of crime. They successfully stop the crime and save Alfred Pennyworth from being held at gunpoint. As two robbers flee, the crew chases after them, base jumping from the penthouse; but before Duke departs with his friends, he tells Alfred that he looks better without a disguise, letting him know that he eventually figured out Alfred was The Nest.

Superheavy

Duke began spending his time at the Lucius Fox Center For Gotham Youth where he found himself working alongside Bruce Wayne, who had become an amnesiac since the events of Endgame. Commissioner Gordon, who had become the new GCPD-backed Batman, came to Bruce with a seeds that belonged to a new villain wreaking havoc in Gotham called Mister Bloom, hoping to spark his memory in order to take him down. While Bruce was of no help, Duke stole the seed off Bruce and took it to Daryl Gutierrez, an engineer working with the new Batman and longtime friend, to learn more about the seed and its origins. Later, Duke broke into the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge following a lead on Mister Bloom, stealing Bloom-related documents before quickly escaping the crime boss and his super-villainous associates. Duke spotted while making his escape but before he could be taken out by Penguin's armed guards, Bruce Wayne narrowly saves his life; having tracked Duke when after he stole the seed.

Although safe from the bad guys, Duke was not safe from Bruce's talking-to, where he warns Duke of the dangers of crime-fighting. In this confrontation, Duke gets a text from Daryl that his parents have been found, but Bruce won't let Duke leave, continuing his lecture. Frustrated, Duke insinuates to Bruce that he knows he is Batman, and questions how Bruce can give up that life to work at a youth center, not understanding how the events of Endgame have erased Bruce's memory of being Batman. Bruce tries to reason with Duke but Duke ultimately leaves stating he believes that Batman will one day return, but in the meantime, he recommends Bruce stay out of his way. This confrontation between Bruce and Duke would set Bruce down the path back to being Batman.

Duke finally, found his parents at a local psychiatric hospital, only to discover that it is too late to save them-- they are permanently jokerized. Meanwhile, Mr. Bloom has unleashed his grand scheme upon Gotham and the streets erupt in chaos. Duke goes to confront Daryl, using the data from the files taken from Penguin, he’d discovered that Daryl is the creator of the Bloom seeds and is the original Mr. Bloom. Daryl subdues Duke, revealing his motivations and that he doesn’t know the identity of the imposer Mr. Bloom, but Duke managed to turn the tables on Daryl before jumping from the GCPD airship. Unfortunately, a stray Bloom monster cuts his parachute, sending him free-falling until he is saved in the nick of time by Bruce Wayne as the newly returned Batman. Now secured, Duke watched as both the Batmen saved the city. Once Mister Bloom was taken into custody, and Batman finally returned, Bruce formally offered Duke a position as his new protégé.

Nameless Era (Training)

Sometime after the events of Superheavy Duke arrived at Wayne Manor to speak to Bruce about his offer. Unfortunately Bruce was out as Batman, doing battle to prevent Calendar Man from releasing deadly spores into the air. After subduing Calendar Man, Batman is informed by Jim Gordan that the spores had already been released. Two days later, Duke returned and met with Batman in the Batcave. They discuss the terms of their partnership going forward while Batman briefed Duke on Calendar Man - Julian Day.

He shows Duke Thomas footage of Calendar Man, showing he had aged significantly. Batman had deduced that Day ages, dies and is reborn with the seasons. He found a way, using spores, to speed up the seasons to change over the course of days rather than months; going from summer heat to autumn weather, to freezing winter, and finally spring in a matter of 4 days. Batman tells Duke that the spores Day had released will hatch during the Spring, the following day, unless they stop him. Duke agrees to help Batman so long as he does not train to become Robin, resolving to become something else. Batman conedes, presented Duke with his own yellow and black superhero gear, and began his superhero and martial arts training immediately. Duke began joining Batman in the field the next day and together the duo foiled Calendar Man's plot.[1]

Soon after, Bruce had Elaine and Doug Thomas moved into a facility on the Wayne estate and Duke was taken in as the newest ward of Wayne manor. Over the course of the next year, Bruce Wayne taught Duke everything he's learned from his years of training abroad and throughout his career as Batman.

I Am Gotham

Duke helps console Gotham Girl.


Night of The Monster Men

Duke and Alfred created a cure for the monster virus.

The Cursed Wheel (I)

While training under Batman...a program Alfred called the "Cursed Wheel". One of Duke's first missions training under Batman involved following a string of murders committed by Victor Zsasz. Though Duke was gravely injured in the process, he learned an important lesson about the psychology of criminals and who he would become as a hero.

I Am Bane

Batman, Duke, and the other batboys face-off with Bane.


Road Trip with Two-Face

The "wheel" was forced to turn faster, according to Alfred, when Duke was thrust into a real adventure after the re-emergence of Two-Face. Having heard a rumor of a cure that could fix his split personality. Two-Face initially fought, but reluctantly befriended, Batman and Duke as they tried to locate the cure together with a hoard of assassins on their tail. Once the adventure ended, Duke was commended for his actions in his first real mission as a superhero.


The Cursed Wheel (II)

*Note: The second half of Cursed Wheel takes place just before the events of Dark Nights Metal, towards the end of his training.

Continuing his training under the Cursed Wheel program, on the anniversary of Zero Year Batman and Duke investigated a string of terroristic attacks that they believed were coordinated by The Riddler from his cell at Arkham. Following the clues, Duke discovered that the Riddler had secretly allied himself with Duke's former friend and the original Mister Bloom - Daryl Gutierrez.

Due to the effects of his experiements as Mister Bloom, Daryl's physiology was permanently changed and he had retained his metahuman powers without the aid of his seeds. Using his biokinesis, Daryl took control of various people as the conduit for Riddler's schemes...

While Batman dealt with the Riddler at Gotham General Hospital, Duke came face to face with Daryl when the villain ambushed him at Wayne manor and took Duke's parents hostage. Daryl taunted Duke, telling Duke that his biokinetic powers had sensed something unusual in the physiology of Duke and his mother. He came to demand answers about what Duke and his mother are, even offering to use his powers to heal his parents if Duke could tell him. Duke didn't understand what Daryl was asking and rushed him head-on, but he is quickly overpowered. Although she's still jokerized, Elaine's began to glow and she managed to come to her son's aid, distracting Daryl for a moment before being knocked unconscious. This bought Duke enough time to rally and he take down Daryl. However, Duke is left dumbfounded, as his eyes begin to glow and he's unable to understand his new vision.


Dark Nights: Metal

Some time later, While Batman was on a mission somehow related to the mysteries surrounding Nth Metal, Duke was tasked with guard the cave. This put him in direct conflict with Hal Jordan, who had been sent to investigate by the Guardians of the Universe, who had received strange omens that pointing to that location. Together they found a secret level of Batcave and attempted to decode the clues that the Bat had collected and stored in the cave, only to discover that Bruce had captured and hidden the Joker there too. Accidentally freeing the madman, the Joker revealed he knew more about the mystery of Nth Metal, that Duke is connected to it, and that Duke and his mother are actually Metahumans, before vanishing from the cave entirely.

In the wake of Dark Days, Duke moved back to the Narrows to live with his cousin Jay but continued his training with Batman.


Enter: The Signal

Gotham by Day

One morning, Duke is called to the Lucius Fox Center where Bruce surprises him with his very own base of operation, The Hatch, and an upgraded suit. After studying under Batman for over a year, his training was not complete and he was ready for the next step. With Bruce's blessing, he took the codename ''Signal'' and was now ready to begin his mission as daylight protector of Gotham.

Wanting to help save young metahumans like himself, Signal's first solo mission was the investigation of the sudden emergence of metas in The Narrows. This led to to a conflict with a rampaging metahuman named The Null. While fight, Null gave Signal his first clue as to what's going on after repeatedly making reference to being part of a mysterious "Dial" before being defeated. After taking a sample of Null's blood, Duke takes it to Izzy and Riko help analyzing the cells for any additional leads. They learned that Null's cells were reactive to Duke, getting stronger when near him.

Realizing the city had turned the old Solarium into The Arkham Juvenile Detention Center, to house metahuman delinquents, Signal went to see if the other metas would reactive similarly and hopefully find more leads. Signal used his photokinetic vision to infiltrate Juvie Arkham and walked straight into an ambush. Luckily, Detective Aisi was also investigating the metas in the Narrows, and arrived just in time to help Signal make a narrow escape.

Later, The Signal snuck into the coroner's office to speak with Detective Aisi and compare notes. Signal uses his photokinetic sight to examine a sample of organic tissue from one of the dead metahumans and discovers trace amounts of Nth metal embedded in the tissue. The metal, and the sample, appeared to be reacting to both Duke and something in the air. That's when Signal noticed a strange solar pattern radiating from Gotham Proper, and then it clicks; Gotham is "the Dial". Someone is using Gotham Proper to direct supercharged sunlight toward different sections of the city like a sundial, creating metahumans across The Narrows.

At the Batcave, Duke accuses Bruce of being the one responsible for harnessing the sun via Gotham Proper. His theory being, Bruce manufactured his origin as a test run for a scheme to create a metahuman army. Bruce denies the accusation just as the Bat computer is hijacked by Gnomon, who reveals he is the one creating metahumans. He shows them a live broadcasts of The Narrows overrun with innumerable metahumans, all chanting Duke's name, and wreaking havoc across the city. Gnomon is making his presence known to ask Duke join him.

when Batman and The Signal arrive on the scene the Batfamily are spread thin across the borough, trying to contain the metahumans and being overwhelmed. Batman's sensors point to Gnomon being in Gotham Tower but Signal detects a light signature coming off the solar arc of Gotham Proper. Unsure which way to go, Batman reaffirms Signal's place in Gotham's pantheon of heroes and the two split up. En route, Signal recognizes the sunlight's signature, it's the signature of light reflecting off of and being filtered through 8th Metal. Signal realizes that Gnomon must have some kind of 8th Metal machine in the needle of the solar arc, which must mean that's where the villain will be. Signal arrives at Gotham Proper just as Detective Aisi and the GCPD clear the area.

Signal and the detective enter the building together and confront Gnomon in the solar observatory. Now face to face, Gnomon reveals his ambitions for Duke. Gnomon claims he is Duke's father and that years ago his mother, Elaine, fled to Gotham to hide from him. Gnomon created the 8th metal machine and the metas to take over Gotham for Duke. Signal can physically feel it's all truth but powers through to stop Gnomon.he tries to take down Gnomon but he's too quick to react for his future sight. He then went for the 8th Metal machine, but sees a vision of it exploding if he tries to stop it. Out of moves, Signal was at the mercy of Gnomon when Detective Aisi surprises and subdues Gnomon.

With no other options, Signal sent Detective Aisi away and resolved to overload the machine with his powers regardless of what may happen to him. Once Aisi and Gnomon are clear of the observatory, Signal overloads the machine and is launched from the solar arc by the explosion. Batman manages to make it in time tp swoop in and saves Signal from certain death, congratulating him on a successful first day.

The next day, after a breakfast with the Batfamily and seeing his still jokerized parents, Duke meets up with Detective Aisi and is ready to get back on the job as the Signal

The Unexpected

Duke and Huntress helped Neon and Firebrand fight Onimar Synn

Joining the Outsiders

Sometime after the Justice League broke the Source Wall and saved the earth from the threat Omega Titans during the events of Justice League: No Justice[2], Batman approached Black Lightning about the development and re-formation of the Outsiders. This team became active after the villain Karma lured Duke into a trap, blowing up a building and killing a civilian in the process. This attack left Duke in critical condition and kicked off a series of terroristic attacks by Karma's in order to isolate Batman him from his allies. Fearing he might compromise the team, Batman conceded leadership of the Outsiders to Black Lightning and enlisted the help of Katana, Cassandra Cain, and Duke. Together, they took down Karma and officially forming the newest iteration of The Outsiders.

Ra's al Ghul and The Outsiders

still traumaized from the Karma attack, Duke and the Outsiders find themselves in a proxy war between Batman and Ra's al Ghul over Sofia Ramos.

Ra's Al Gul manipulates the Outsiders, planting Kaliber in their ranks in order to get to Sofia. He's messed with the team and managed to split them apart.

With Katana and Black Lightning preoccupied by Sofia Ramos and Kaliber, Duke was captured by Ra's' acolyte, Ishmael. Ishmael reveals he was reborn in the Lazarus Pit, changing his initial ability to steal metahuman powers into the ability to evolve and change metahuman powers. Ishmael and Ra's see potenial in Duke and plan to use Ishmael's powers to evolve his powers for Ra's ends. With Duke chained and beaten, Ishmael tells him he intends on giving him a true purpose, by turning his light into the dark, and changes Duke's metahuman abilities. Cassandra Cain tracks down Ishmael, defeating him in single combat, and rescuing her partner. Duke tells her he is no longer able to see the light and all he can see is darkness.


Death Metal

Duke fought alongside the Batfamily and the heroes of the Multiverse against The Darkest Knight and his forces, during the events of Death Metal.

Robin King

Characterization

*Note: Duke's significant Relationships

Duke's most dominant traits are his emotional intelligence and his drive to help others, often willing to take calculated risks and put himself on the line in order to help those in need. Duke's ambition to help others started from an young age, often citing his mother's social work as an inspiration. At age 11, during the Zero Year, Duke took it upon himself to take on the Riddler's challenge and save his city, impressing a young Bruce Wayne with his courage and sharp mind. Following the disappearance of his parents, entering the foster care system in his teen years greatly shaped Duke's worldview. Feeling police were either unwilling or unable to help find his missing parents, and realizing the exploitative motives of his foster parents, Duke developed a deep distrust of authority and a fierce sense of independence. This led to Duke going from a promising student to somewhat of a delinquent during his time in foster care, receiving grades below his ability and accruing a lengthy criminal record due to regularly breaking out of his foster homes to search for his parents. [3]

Duke's habit of following his convictions, sometimes with reckless abandonment, often led to him defying Batman, during his training, by going out in the daylight to chase leads (All-Star Batman #). This philosophy of operating in the daytime eventually evolved into a point of distinction between Batman's and Signal's particular brand of heroism. Since graduating into the Batfamily, Duke often ponders what it means to be a hero in relation to Batman’s philosophy (Batman and The Signal #1) and began to seriously question Batman's ideology during his time on the Outsiders (Batman and The Outsiders #14).

Duke is very emotionally intelligent. Inspired by his mother, he is an active member of in his community and regularly mentors troubled youths in need of guidance at the Lucius Fox Community Center. Duke's experience as mentor and a leader has made him one of the most social members of the Batfamily and the one who can be relied on to console, counsel, and relate to those in need. His a talent for counseling and rallying others has even moved Bruce Wayne to act when he wasn't sure of himself (Superheavy) and is a skill Batman has relied on Duke for in the field.(I am Gotham #5) His empathy, willingness to act, and resolve to stand for what he believes in make him a charismatic and confident leader. When he joined the We Are Robin movement, he naturally arose as the de-facto leader of movement and led them in the Robin War against the Court of Owls, cemented the We are Robin motto “Robin doesn’t need Batman”.

Duke has a healthy, somewhat dark, sense of humor and is quick to joke around. He's typically seen trading barbs with Jason Todd, who taught him to use his quips in battle to throw off his opponents (New Talent Showcase). This is a tactic that Duke took to heart and often use in his superhero career.[4]

Powers & Abilities

Metahuman Physiology: Duke is a metahuman with the photokinetic ability to manipulate, absorb, and redistribute both light and shadow. Duke's metahuman abilities come from the metagene, a genetic variation caused by naturally occurring traces of Nth metal in the bloodstream. Duke inherited this genetic trait from both of his biological parents; Elaine Thomas and Gnomon. Duke's physiology appears to be unique in comparison to other metahumans. In his presence, metahumans' cells react and Gnomon claims Duke has his "infinite blood", implying Duke may potentially be immortal.

Duke's powers are essentially photokinetic in nature. His photokinetic powers originally allowed him to manipulate the way he processes light but, after experiencing the touch of Ishmael, Duke's abilities have since "evolved" to manipulating light and darkness.

Duke Thomas Photokinesis 0001.jpg

Photokinetic Sight: Due to his body's unique photokinetic properties, Duke possesses enhanced photo-sensory abilities. Duke's photokinetic senses can detect changes and variations in light invisible to the naked eye, and he can absorb and process light faster than humanly possible. Duke can manipulate the way he process light for a different of visual tasks:

  • Ghost Vision:[4] Duke's sight is atemporal, able to see across time. By manipulating the way he processes light, Duke can perceive the "ghosts" of where light has been in his vicinity, allowing him to see a few minutes into the past. he can also glimpse into the future by sensing the "ghosts" of where light will be, before it gets there.
  • Cosmic Perception: Duke can perceive the entirety of the Electromagnetic Spectrum and can even see beyond the known EM spectrum. He's able to perceive light from across dimensional boundaries and see the history of a previous universe; under the right conditions.[5]
  • X-Ray Vision: Duke's able to follow and detect someone through walls, ceilings,[6] smoke[7] and most other materials.
  • Telescopic Vision: Duke has the ability to focus his vision to see things at great distance, even at high speeds. Duke is capable of tracking the movement of light (or a person moving at light-like speeds) as it passes over the horizon.[5]
  • Microscopic Vision: Duke also has the ability to see extremely small objects and images down to the subdermal level.[8]

Duke Thomas Umbrakinesis 0002.jpg

Darkness Manipulation: Duke's photokinetic powers include command over shadows and darkness. He can absorb and redistribute darkness, describing the ability as "behaving like a tide" that pushes and pulls shadows.

  • Shadow Absorption: Duke can pull shadows toward and into himself, revealing more light in his vicinity.[9]
  • Shadow Generation: Duke can expel darkness from himself, enveloping everything in a tide of darkness.[10]
    • Photoelectricity: Occasionally the darkness Duke generates have a photoelectric effect.[11]
  • Shadow Bending: Duke can shape and move shadow like a physical object.
  • Shadow Cloaking: Duke can also use shadow to cloak his allies, allowing them to traverse the battlefield quickly and discretely to coordinate attacks.[12]

Power Amplification[13]: Metahumans in Duke's presence react on a cellular level and their powers begin to increase. We see this while examining Null's blood cells and later confirmed by Gnomon; however, it is unclear how much he affects their actual powers.

Abilities

Charisma: Duke's charisma is one of his defining attributes, regularly able to gain the trust and loyalty of others and win them over to his cause.

  • Leadership: Duke's ability to rally and coordinate people under his command makes him an formidable field commander. Under his leadership, Duke's faction of the Robin gang rose above the others and were the driving force behind the We Are Robin movement. As Signal, Duke is known to take the lead even when working with more experienced heroes like Orphan (Cassandra Cain) and Red Robin (Tim Drake).

Creative Writing: Duke is a talented writer, specifically with poetry, although he'd never admit it.

Genius-level Intellect: Duke is exceptionally intelligent and was even up for a Genius grant at the age of 12. While his academic performance did not match his potential in his later school years*, Duke's quick thinking and intellect made him a natural fit for detective work, able to easily deduce the identities of Alfred Pennyworth as "The Nest"*, Bruce Wayne as Batman*, Dick Grayson as Agent 37*, and Damian Wayne as Robin*.

  • Polymath: as a protégé of Batman, Duke is a skilled detective with a diverse skillset, capable of observation, forensic investigation, inductive and deductive reasoning of the highest caliber. Through Batman's "Cursed Wheel" program Duke learned all of the fundamental skills Bruce Wayne studied in order to become Batman, such as: Escapology, Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Criminal Science, Mathematics, Physics, etc.

Indomitable Will: Duke's proven himself to be an exceptionally strong-willed individual. During the events of Robin War, Duke was the one to face off against a rogue Damian Wayne and, despite Damian's best efforts, refused to go down until he convinced Damian to fight alongside him and the other Robins. Duke was also able to create a complex construct of Batman's machine using a power ring loaned to him by Hal Jordan on his first try.

Duke Thomas Umbrakinesis 0001.jpg

Martial Arts: Duke has had multiple martial arts instructors and has become is a seasoned combatant. He began fighting without any training before receiving a crash course in combat and tactics, alongside his We Are Robin crew, from the "original" Robins: Agent 37, Red Hood, Red Robin, and Robin. He went on to receive formal martial arts training from Batman, learning the skills Bruce Wayne had mastered over the years. After joining The Outsiders, Duke's combat training was overseen by Katana and Lady Shiva, and he began training with Cassandra Cain on a regular basis.

  • Enhanced Combat Perception: His precognition and enhanced visual senses make him uniquely perceptive in a fight, able to react to attacks faster than normally possible, detect weak points,[13] and slow down his perception to catch flying projectiles.[8]
  • Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced)
    • Umbrakinetic Combat: Duke can incorporate his command over shadows with his martial arts to augment his melee combat[14] and ensnare opponents*.
  • Stick Fighting
  • Nunchaku

Weakness

Heavy Metals: 10th metal and it's various forms, as well as other heavy metals, can alter and otherwise affect metahumans in a variety of ways and Duke's lineage appears to be intrinsically connected to the heavy metals. Duke appears to have a sensitivity to various the heavy metals, with his powers reacting unpredictably depending on the metal. Duke's powers seem to be particularly attuned to 8th Metal.


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Equipment

  • Robin Costume (former): After joining the We Are Robin movement, he was given a red leather jacket by the mysterious "Nest". The jacket proved to be bulletproof, even against multiple bullets at close range.
  • Unnamed Costume (former): When Duke went to live with Bruce Wayne, he was gifted a new yellow and black costume. It included a yellow helmet with a black bat-shaped visor.
  • Signal Armor: After completing his training with Batman, Duke was given a new lightweight armor plated version of his previous suit. The suit has a reflective bat insignia that can change color depending on the lighting and can also be used to blind or confuse an enemy. The suit also has an built-in defensive electrical grid, that can shock threats in close proximity, and a stealth mode that renders the suit invisible.

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Transportation

  • Signal-cycle: Originally a simple yellow version of Batman's batcycle, Duke has upgraded to a custom motorcycle that can become completely invisible along with his suit.

Weapons

  • Bat-chet Sticks: Duke's primary weapon of choice is a pair of modified eskrima sticks that connect to function as nunchaku as well. The sticks come with spring-loaded "bat-chet" blades (bat wing shaped hatchet blades) that allow them to be used as a grappling hook.
  • Nunchaku (formerly): While a Robin Duke's weapon of choice was the nunchaku. Duke became relatively proficient with them, able to successfully defend, strike, and even deflect incoming projectiles with his nunchaku.


Trivia

  • Duke began dating Isabella Ortiz some time after leaving the Robin movement to train under Batman.[13]
  • Duke went to West Robinson High School. He ran track his first year and tried out for soccer, but was expelled from the team after a disagreement with the strength trainer.[3]
  • Duke doesn't like heights.[3]
  • Duke shows potential as a writer, with a talent specifically for poetry, although he'd never admit it.[3]
  • Duke's hobbies include collectible card games, puzzles, and film; particularly Quentin Tarantino films.[3]
  • Duke Thomas is a childhood fan of MMA, Luke Fox in particular meant a lot to him growing up.[15]


Wikitorial Notes

  • Duke appears to have relatively good luck with the ladies. When we first see Duke after the events of Endgame, he is in a confrontation over two-timing allegations.* Both Riko and Izzy developed feelings for Duke over the course of their time as a We Are Robin unit.* Gotham Girl even envisions a future where she and Duke are married, after spending time together in the Batcave.
  • Duke's birthday has never been revealed in continuity but some Duke fans have taken to using August 13th, derived from the cover date of his first appearance: August, 2013
  • Gnomon, Duke, and The Constant all heavily play into the sun and light as a visual motif, and all are connected to the secret link between metahumans and Immortals in the DC; implying a common ancestry or relation between the three.


Essential Reading


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