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 briefly struck out on his own, before being offered to train under Batman and join the Batman Family officially. Duke is now a member of the newly re-formed Outsiders team; led by Black Lightning.


Personality[edit | edit source]

Duke's most dominant traits are his drive, quick wit, and his emotional intelligence. He's often willing to put himself on the line to figure out a way to help others. Duke's ambitions to use his intelligence 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 was studying to take on the Riddler's challenge to the city by himself directly; despite the consequences of failing Riddler’s test. His proactive and intellectually bold approach to problem solving would find him on the short list for the Gotham Genius Grant at age 12.

Going into the foster care system in his teen years marked major changes for Duke. Once he realized the police appeared either unwilling or unable to help find his parents, Duke developed a deep distrust of authority and a fierce sense of independence. Duke often chooses to rely on himself and used to regularly break out of his foster homes to find his parents on his own, refusing to stay put and be used. This habit of following his convictions, sometimes with reckless abandonment, led to Duke accruing a lengthy criminal record. * However, Duke isn't careless or rash, and has no issue walking away from a dangerous situation he knows he's not ready for.

Duke stands firm in his identity and is very emotionally intelligent. He has a talent for counseling and rallying others and his words have even moved Bruce Wayne to act when he wasn't sure of who he was. * Duke is perceptive enough to call someone’s bluff and doesn’t take others’ being untrue to themselves lightly.

His empathy and willingness to act, and stand for what he believes in, make Duke a charismatic and confident leader. When he joined up with the We Are Robin movement, he almost immediately became the de-facto leader of his faction. Under his leadership, his gang inspired kids accross Gotham and became some of the most prominent figures in the Robin movement. * Duke's Robins led the movement in the Robin War against the Court of Owls and cemented the We are Robin manifesto “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. * This would be a tactic that Duke took to heart and use often once he became the Signal. *

Since graduating into the Batfamily as The Signal, Duke has been shown to be more unsure of what it means to be a hero in relation to Batman’s philosophy. Even still, Duke stands defiant in the face of authority, aggressively bumping heads with Black Lightning and, quietly, questioning Batman's ideology.


Chronology[edit | edit source]

Origins[edit | edit source]

Duke is the biological son of Gotham City social worker Elaine Thomas and an immortal known as Gnomon. Prior to his birth, Elaine fled to Gotham while pregnant with Duke in order to escape Gnomon, as well as the various secret wars between immortals. Elaine went on to become a social worker and marry Doug Thomas, a humble construction worker, and together they raised Duke in Tracey Towers in the Gotham Narrows. Duke grew up to live a relatively uneventful childhood, completely unaware of his mother's previous life.

Batman: Zero Year[edit | edit source]

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When the terrorist Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler, shut off all the power in Gotham City, the madman challenged the city to get smart or die by natural selection during what would later be called Zero Year. Riddler told the city that if anyone could ask him a riddle that he couldn't answer, he would restore power to Gotham. Duke, who was a confident young student at the time, began to train his mind with brain teasers in anticipation of accepting the Riddler's challenge. Duke and Bruce Wayne met for the first time when the Thomas family rescued the unconscious billionaire when Hurricane Rene began its rampage on Gotham simultaneously during the Riddler's plot. Thanking Duke for his kindness, Wayne departed to take on the Riddler himself.

Several years later, the Joker had returned to Gotham with an endgame for Batman in mind. Figuring out the vigilante's secret identity, the Joker kidnapped Duke and his family and planned to recreate Bruce Wayne's parents' murders right in front of him using the Thomas family. 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 Joker had released. Batman and Duke managed to make their way through the chaos on the streets of Gotham and Batman left Duke in the care of Julia Pennyworth before setting off for a fatal showdown with the Joker; Batman went missing shortly thereafter.

Becoming a Robin[edit | edit source]

Following the disappearance of his parents after 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 for himself. Because of this, Duke was placed in home after home and perpetually circulated the foster care system. During his time in foster care Duke went from an upstanding student to becoming a bit of a delinquent, receiving poor grades and racking up an extensive police record due to his investigations into his parents.

Dr. Thompkins was placed in charge of his social case and tried to keep him out of trouble. After getting into yet another fight, she tried reassuring Duke by telling him that the police are still looking for his parents and they had recently found some Joker toxin victims wandering the sewer system. In the meantime, she had Duke placed with Joanne and Roy Dawson and asked that he stop picking fights and try to be respectful of his foster parents.

The Dawsons lived in a dirty run-down apartment and expected Duke to clean things and babysit the other foster kids. When he was left alone for a few minutes to organize his things into his new bedroom Duke immediately escaped. Feeling guilty about letting Leslie Thompkins down, but thankful for her tip, Duke climbed out the window and in order to continue his search for his parents in the sewers. While in the sewers looking for his parents, Duke accidentally stumbled into an underground meeting of homeless people who had created a small 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, this was also when the Robins joined the fight to save him.

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 other robins were ordered by the mysterious "Nest" to abandon him and run. Reluctantly they did as they were told.


We Are Robin[edit | edit source]

Duke awoke inside a police interrogation room. There a skinny man with facial hair and dark glasses asked him what he was willing to do in order to find his parents. When Duke expressed confusion and told the man that that was the police's job, the man left the room. After waiting and then getting frustrated, Duke tried the door handle only to find it 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.

This was when he discovered the red biker jacket with a yellow R on the breast, atop a motorcycle. Inside the jacket, he found a cellphone. The cellphone in his new jacket instructed him to go to a new location where he met the robins who had saved him earlier. Together they found the bombs Duke had heard about, beneath the Hall of Record. Using instructions sent to their phones from a mysterious sender called 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.

Finally, the Nest instructed them to get on the next train and leave the second bomb there. However, one of the robins, Troy, refused to leave. Determined that he could disable the bomb himself, he stayed behind alone. As the others rode away, he was caught in the blast and killed instantly.


Robin War[edit | edit source]

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After one of the robins was implicated in the shooting of a police officer and a robber in a convenience store, the We Are Robin movement comes under fire by the public. This leads to a member of the city council, Councilwoman Noctua, implementing the Robin Laws. 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.

Jokers[edit | edit source]

*Note: Much of the Jokers arc takes place concurrently with 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[edit | edit source]

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 supervillainous 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 Bruce returned to the mantle of Batman he offered Duke a position as his new protege. Duke accepted, under the condition that he did not want to be yet another Robin. Batman agreed, revealing a costume yellow crime-fighting suit and telling Duke that he didn't want to train him to be Robin, he's trying "something new".

Training with Batman[edit | edit source]

Bruce moved Elaine and Doug into a facility on the Wayne estate and Duke moved into the manor to begin their training together. Batman taught Duke everything he learned from his training abroad and over the course of his career as 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.

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 personaity. Two-Face intially 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.

Continuing his training under the Cursed Wheel program, Batman and Duke tried to investigate how the Riddler was managing to terrorize the city from his cell in Arkham to celebrate the anniversary of Zero Year. Following the clues, Duke discovered that the Riddler had secretly allied himself with Duke's former friend and the original Mister Bloom - Daryl Gutierrez; Daryl being 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 as a civilian at Wayne manor; taking 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 and that he had come to demand answers to the same question he is; 'what are you?' He even offered to use his powers to heal his parents if Duke could tell him what he and his mother are. Duke didn't understand what Daryl was getting at and rushed him head-on, but he is quickly overpowered. Although she's still jokerized, Elaine came to her son's aid, distracting Daryl for a moment before being knocked unconscious. This bought Duke enough time to rally, his eyes began to glow, and he took down Daryl. Duke is left dumbfounded, unable to understand his new vision.

Dark Nights: Metal[edit | edit source]

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.

Gotham by Day[edit | edit source]

WIP

Joining the Outsiders[edit | edit source]

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[1], 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, with the help of Katana, Cassandra Cain, and Duke, they took down Karma and officially forming the newest iteration of The Outsiders.

Ra's al Ghul and The Outsiders[edit | edit source]

WIP


Relationships[edit | edit source]


Allies[edit | edit source]

Enemies[edit | edit source]



Powers & Abilities[edit | edit source]

Metahuman Physiology: Duke is a metahuman but is only beginning to understand his powers. Duke's physiology appears to be unique in comparison to other metahumans. In his presence, metahumans' cells react and their abilities become amplified. Gnomon claims Duke has his "infinite blood", implying Duke may potentially be immortal.

  • Photo-Umbrakinesis: Duke's powers are essentially photokinetic in nature. His photokinetic powers typically allow him to take in light through his eyes and manipulate the way he processes light. Having experienced the touch of Ishmael, Duke's abilities have "evolved" to manipulate both light and darkness.
    • Photokinetic Sight: Due to his body's unique photokinetic properties, Duke's eyes possess a superior sensory array than normal humans. Duke's eyes can absorb and process light faster than humanly possible and can detect changes or variations in light invisible to the naked eye. Particularly powerful forms of Nth metal can amplify Duke's sight, allowing longer more vivid visions and he can even hearing some audio. Duke's visual capabilities include:
      • Retrocognition[2]: Duke can see a few minutes into the past by looking at the "ghosts" of where light has hit the objects in his vicinity.
      • Precognition[2]: Duke can use his powers to not only see where light has been, but also see where the light will be to glimpse into the future.
      • Cosmic Perception[3]: Duke's vision can perceive the entirety of the electromagnetic spectrum and can even see beyond the known EM spectrum. He's able to see across dimensional, spatial, and temporal boundaries into the history of a previous universe; under the right conditions.
      • X-Ray Vision[4][5]: Duke's ability to see the entire electromagnetic spectrum allows him to follow and detect someone through walls, ceilings, smoke and most other materials.
      • Telescopic Vision[3]: 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.
      • Microscopic Vision[6]: Duke also has the ability to see extremely small objects and images down to the subdermal level.
    • Darkness Manipulation: Ishmael's touch expanded Duke's photokinetic abilities to include command over shadows and darkness. Duke describes his new abilities as "behaving like a tide" being able to pull shadows into himself and spread shadows from himself.
      • Shadow Generation[7]: Duke can spread shadow from himself, he often uses the shadows to envelope an enemy in darkness as a scare tactic.
      • Shadow Absorption[8]: Duke can pull shadow into himself from an external source.
      • Shadow Solidification: Duke can use his shadow as a physical entity to defend himself from attacks, augment his melee combat, and even charge and throw at an enemy.
        • Umbrakinetic Combat[9]
      • Shadow Cloaking[10]: Duke can also use shadow to cloak his allies, allowing them to traverse the battlefield quickly and discetely to coordinate attacks.
    • Illumination[11][8]: Duke has demonstrated the ability to illuminate an area using either light or shadow by drawing darkness into himself or, on occasion, expelling light from himself.
  • Power Amplification[2]: 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[edit | edit source]

  • Charisma: Duke's charisma is his defining attribute, able to regularely gain the trust and loyalty of others and win them over to his cause. His ability to coordinate and rally those under his command makes him an formidable field commander.
    • Leadership: Under his leadership, Duke's faction of the Robin gang rose above the others and were the driving force behind the entire We Are Robin movement.
  • Creative Writing: Duke is a talented writer, specifically with poetry, although he'd never admit it.
  • Genius-level Intellect: Duke figured out that Bruce Wayne was Batman, Agent 37 was Dick Grayson, and Damian was Robin. Duke was also up for a Genius grant at the age of 12, competing against the likes of gifted engineer Daryl Gutierrez.
  • 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.
  • Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Duke started fighting without any training and demonstrated considerable skill. Duke later received training, alongside the We Are Robin crew, from the "original" Robins Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne. He went on to receive further training from Batman, learning everything Bruce learned to become Batman. Since his time on The Outsiders, Duke has begun training and sparring with Cassandra Cain on a regular basis.
    • Heightened Combat Awareness[2][6]: Duke's precognition and enhanced visual senses make him uniquely perceptive in a fight, making it possible for him to react to attacks faster than normally possible, detect weak points, and catch flying projectiles.
    • Martial Arts:
      • Muay Thai
      • Stick Fighting
      • Nunchaku


Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • 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 training with Batman, Duke was given an upgraded version of his costume. The new suit is a slightly heavier plated version of his previous suit with some new technology updates. The suit has a reflective bat insignia that can blind or confuse an enemy as well as change color depending on the lighting. His suit also has a built-in defensive electrical grid and a stealth mode that makes him invisible.

Transportation

  • Motocycle: Originally a yellow version of Batman's batcycle, Duke has upgraded to a more streamlined motorcycle that can also cloak itself with Duke's suit; rendering it completely invisible.

Weapons

  • Eskrima Stick: 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 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[edit | edit source]

  • Duke began dating Isabella Ortiz some time after leaving the Robin movement to train under Batman.[2]
  • 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.[12]
  • Duke doesn't like heights.[12]
  • Duke shows potential as a writer, with a talent specifically for poetry, although he'd never admit it.[12]
  • Duke's hobbies include collectible card games, puzzles, and film; particularly Quentin Tarantino films.[12]
  • Duke Thomas is a childhood fan of MMA, Luke Fox in particular meant a lot to him growing up.[13]


Wikitorial Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Duke appears to have relatively good luck with the ladies. When we first see Duke after the events of Endgame, he is in a confronation 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 Thomas, 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 possible common ancestry or relation between the three.


Essential Reading[edit | edit source]


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