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"You're a metahuman hero forged in the shadows who can crack the codes of daytime. You're a gift to this city."
Bruce Wayne

Duke Thomas is a vigilante and a member of the Batman Family. He joined the We Are Robin movement and became one of hundred of civilian teenagers to don the Robin R and fight for their city. Eventually, he would leave the movement and join the Batman Family as the vigilante called The Signal.

History

Origins

When the terrorist known as 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 the 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 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 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 from the murderer, but Duke's parents succumbed to the mind controlling gas Joker had released.

Becoming a Robin

After the events of Batman: Endgame, Duke was placed into the foster system. He became desperate to find his parents after it became apparent that the authorities were not making any progress in locating them. During his time in foster care, he went from an excellent student to having a heavy police file because of all of the fights he got into. Because of this, his temporary foster parent, Raymond Mendez, sent him back into the system.

Leslie Thompkins was placed in charge of his social case and tried to keep him from getting into trouble by reassuring him that the police were still looking for his parents and would find them. In the meantime, she asked him to stop picking fights and try to be respectful to his foster parents. She then placed him with Joanne and Roy Dawson, after telling him that police had found some of the Joker's toxin victims wandering in the sewer system. Joanne showed Duke around the dirty apartment, telling Duke that he would need to babysit the other kids and clean the bathroom. Then she left him alone for a few minutes to organize his things into a drawer in the bedroom.

Feeling guilty about letting Dr. Thompkins down, Duke climbed out the window and left the apartment behind in order to go search for his parents in the sewers. As he made his way to the sewers, he thought about his mother and how she was so clean in every part of his life. It made him sad to imagine her wandering the sewers because he knew that that meant she was extremely far gone on the Joker's toxin.

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

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.

We Are Robin

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

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.

Training with Batman

Once Bruce Wayne returned to the mantle of Batman after he had previously lost his memory, the Bat offered Duke a position as his new protege, which the boy accepted under the condition that he not become just another Robin. Handing him a yellow suit instead, Batman agreed to teach him as something else.

Beginning their training together in what Alfred Pennyworth called the "Cursed Wheel", Batman taught Duke the basics of becoming a professional vigilante by first following a string of murders committed by Victor Zsasz. Though Duke was injured in the process, he learned an important lesson about the psychology of criminals and who he was as a hero.

The "wheel" was forced to turn faster, according to Alfred, when Duke was thrust into a real adventure after Two-Face's return. Having heard a rumor of a cure that could fix him, Two-Face simultaneously fought and 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 the 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. Together, Duke and Batman saw that the two villains were stopped.

Dark Nights: Metal

While Batman investigated the mysteries of Nth Metal, Duke and Hal Jordan attempted to decode the clues that the Bat had collected and stored in the Batcave, 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 and that he knew that Duke was actually a metahuman before vanishing from the cave entirely.

Batman & The Signal

After studying under Batman for over a year, Batman gave Duke an upgraded Batsuit and the Hatch, his own full stocked secret base, as a present for completed his training. Newly graduated from sidekick to full time hero. Duke took the codename "The Signal" and reunited with his former Robin gang members, Riko Sheridan and Izzy Ortiz, to aid him in his new role as Gotham's daylight protector of. For his first solo mission, The Signal had the solve the mystery of "the dail" and the dead metahuman bodies suddenly appearing throughout Gotham. This led to a confrontation with The Null, an escaped metahuman from "Juvie Arkham", which pointed him to the Arkham Juvenile Detention Center. Using his Ghost Vision, Signal infiltrate Juvie Arkham, which had been being used to house metahuman delinquents, but walked straight into an ambush. luckily, Detective Alex Aisi arrived just in time to help Signal make a narrow escape.

The Signal and Detective Aisi to compare notes, and he uses his photokinetic sight to discover trace amounts of Nth metal embedded in the skin of the metahumans. The metal, and the metahuman bodies, were reacting to both Duke and something in the air; the sunlight. noticing a strange solar pattern radiating from the Gotham Proper housing project, they theorized someone is using Gotham Proper to create metahumans using sunlight. Duke returns to the Batcave to bring his new theory to Batman when the bat-computer a villain calling himself Gnomon. He unleashes innumerable metahumans, all chanting Duke's name, to wreak havoc on the city. Gnomon created the metahumans for Duke and demands he join him. Batman and The Signal head out to stop the villain.

When they arrive on the scene the Bat Family are spread thin. The duo split up and Duke makes his way to confront Gnomon on the solar observatory at Gotham Proper. When face to face Gnomon reveals his plans. He reveals that he is an immortal being and that years ago Duke's mother, Elaine, fled to Gotham to hide Duke from him; he is Duke's biological father. Signal's metahuman powers can sense can sense that everything Gnomon says is true, due to their genetic connection, but he summons the strength to stop Gnomon anyway. Signal is initially outmatch but, with some surprise assistance from Detective Aisi, he's able to subdue Gnomon and survive his first day.

The next day, after a breakfast with the Bat Family, Bruce congratulates Duke on a successful first day. Duke then goes to see his still jokerized mother, hoping to get some answers to no avail. Duke then meets up with Detective Aisi to start a new day as the Signal.

The Outsiders

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 the villain to demoralize Batman. Seeing the villain wants to isolate him from his allies, Batman re-formed The Outsiders and, fearing he might compromise the team, conceded leadership of the group to Black Lightning. Enlisting the help of Katana, Cassandra Cain, and a recovered Duke, the Outsiders took down Karma and officially forming the newest iteration of The Outsiders.

Still traumatized from the Karma attack, Duke and the Outsiders find themselves in a proxy war between Batman and Ra's al Ghul over the metahuman Sofia Ramos. Ra's Al Gul manipulates the Outsiders in order to keep them busy and disrupt their teamwork, planting the cyborg Kaliber in their ranks in order to get to Sofia and plotting to recruit both Duke and Cassandra. With Katana and Black Lightning preoccupied by Sofia Ramos and Kaliber, Duke was captured by Ra's' acolyte, Ishmael, who has the ability to steal metahuman powers and vitality or evolve and change metahuman powers. Ishmael and Ra's, seeing potential in Duke, sent Ishmael to evolve Duke's powers for Ra's ends. Tortured, chained, and beaten by Ishmael, Duke's powers are modified from being light-based to manipulating darkness. 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.

Following the transformation of his powers, Duke defied Batman's instruction and starting going out with Cassandra to test his new abilities on the streets of Gotham. After Kaliber's ousting, and Sofia and Lady Shiva joining the team, Shiva took Duke under her wing and took over guidance of his and Cassandra's training from Katana. The Outsiders eventually re-group and defeat Ra's before pairing off and going their separate ways. Duke is seen taking to Lady Shiva about the duality of his new abilities, feeling his light powers coming back, before meeting up with Cassandra to head back to Gotham.

Death Metal

Batman is proud to see Duke and the rest of the Batfamily pushing beyond their limits fight against The Darkest Knight and his forces, during the events of Death Metal.

Powers and Abilities

Powers

Metahuman Physiology: Duke is a metahuman with the photokinetic ability to absorb, redistribute, and manipulate both light and darkness. Duke's powers 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 parents, Elaine Thomas and Gnomon, and his powers are photokinetic in nature. His powers were originally limited to manipulating the way he processes light, but have since evolved to manipulate light and darkness more abstractly. Gnomon claims Duke has his "infinite blood", implying Duke may potentially be immortal.

Photokinesis:. Duke's powers are photokinetic in nature. Due to the photokinetic nature of his abilities his eyes possess a superior sensory array that can detect variations in light invisible to the naked eye. He can process light faster than humanly possible and can even track the movement of light. Duke can also manipulate light and manipulate the way he processes light for a variety of visual tasks.

  • Ghost Vision: Duke's most notable ability is what he calls his "Ghost Vision", the ability to perceive the "ghosts" of where light has been or will be. By seeing the "ghost" of where light has been, Duke can look a few minutes into the past to see the history of a given area. By sensing the "ghost" of where light will be, Duke can look a few seconds into the future to see danger before it happens.
  • X-Ray Vision: Duke can see through walls, ceilings, smoke and most other materials.
  • Telescopic Vision: Duke can focus his vision to see things at great distance, even at high speeds.
  • Microscopic Vision: Duke can see extremely small objects down to the subdermal level.
  • Cosmic Perception: Duke can perceive the entirety of Electromagnetic Spectrum and perceive light beyond the known spectrum. Duke can even perceive light across dimensional and temporal boundaries, into the history of a previous universe, under the right conditions.
  • Light Bending: Duke powers can be used to manipulate light to illuminate himself, and reflective surfaces, or to achieve complete invisibility.

Duke Thomas Umbrakinesis - Robin King Vol 1 1.jpg

Umbrakinesis: Having experienced the touch of Ishmael, Duke's photokinetic powers "evolved" to include the ability to command, absorb, and redistribute darkness. He describes the ability as "behaving like a tide" that pushes and pulls shadows.

  • Shadow Absorption: Duke can pull shadows toward and into himself to reveal more light in his vicinity.
  • Darkness Generation: Duke can expel shadows from himself, enveloping everything in a wave of darkness. He can also charge up the darkness he generates before sending it at an opponent.
  • Shadow Bending Duke can shape and manipulate shadow like a physical object.
  • Shadow Traversal: Duke can move though shadows and darkness to traverse distances quickly and discretely. he can also use this ability on his allies to safely retreat or to perform coordinated attacks.

Photo-Umbrakinesis: Duke can combine his light and darkness powers. Envisioning a path, Duke can then travel through light and shadow simultaneously to follow it. While traversing through light and shadow, everything around him appears to stand still.

Power Amplification: 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 it's later confirmed by Gnomon; however, it is unclear how much he affects their actual powers.

Healing Factor: it has been discovered that Duke's powers allow him to heal rapidly in dire situations

Abilities

  • Creative Writing: Duke shows potential as a writer, with a talent specifically for poetry, although he'd never admit it.
  • 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 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.
  • Genius Level Intellect: Duke has been shown to be exceptionally intelligent even from a young age, having trained his mind as a child to challenge the Riddler. Duke was exceptional enough to go on to qualify as a finalist for the Gotham Genius grant at the age of 12. While his academic performance did not match his potential in his later school years, Duke's sharp mind and intelligence made him a natural fit for detective work, able to figure out the identities of Alfred Pennyworth as "The Nest", Dick Grayson as Agent 37 Bruce Wayne as Batman and Damian as Robin.
    • Polymath: as a protégé of Batman, Duke is a skilled detective with a diverse skillset, capable of forensic investigation, observation, inductive reasoning 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. and has also studied records of every contingency plan and personal insight created by Batman throughout his years as a vigilante.
  • Leadership: greatest asset is his ability to lead. Over the years Duke has developed into a charisma leader who is able to easily gain the trust of others and inspire loyalty from those that follow his cause. 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 were the driving force behind the We Are Robin movement. Batman also recognizes Duke's leadership abilities and has trained Duke for Justice League-level leadership. Duke has been known to take the lead even when working with more experienced heroes like the Batgirls, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, and Red Robin, Tim Drake.
  • Martial Arts: Duke has had multiple martial arts instructors and has become a seasoned combatant over his career as a hero. He demonstrated a natural skill for fighting prior to his vigilante career, able to take on multiple opponents at once without any training. During the Robin War, he and the rest of the We are Robin gang received a crash course in combat and tactics from the "original Robins": Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne. He went on to receive formal martial arts training from Batman as well as training from Red Hood, Black Lightning, Katana and was even briefly mentored by Lady Shiva. Duke also trains 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, and slow down his perception to catch flying projectiles.
    • Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced)
      • Tae Kwon Do
      • Umbrakinetic Combat: Duke can incorporate his command over shadows with his martial arts to augment his melee combat.
    • Eskrima
    • Stick Fighting

Paraphernalia

Equipment

  • Robin Costume: (Formerly) After joining the We Are Robin movement, he was given a red leather jacket by the mysterious "Nest". The jacket proved to be bullet proof, even against multiple bullets at close range.
  • Unnamed Costume: (Formerly) 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 technological updates. The suit has a reflective bat insignia that can blind or confuse an enemy as well as change color depending on lighting. His suit also has a built-in defensive electrical grid and a stealth mode that render him totally invisible.

Transportation

  • Signal-cycle: 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

  • Bat-chat Sticks: Duke's primary weapon of choice are a pair of modified Esckrima sticks that connect to function as nunchaku. The sticks come with spring loaded hatchet blades that allow them to be used as slashing weapons or as a grapple hook.
  • Nunchaku (Formerly)
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