Major Story Arcs
During the events of Zero Year, Duke Thomas' family found and took care of a knocked out Bruce Wayne. In the Riddler-controlled Gotham City, the only way to return things back to the way they were was to stump the city's new ruler with a riddle, so Duke spent his days solving riddles and attempting to concoct the perfect one that would save the city. While he never did, Batman admired the young boy's intelligence and determination. Batman would later save young Duke from two thugs in the savage city.
During the events of Endgame, Duke Thomas is now a teenager, and he and his parents are forced to take part in the Joker's recreation of the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. While Batman was able to save Duke and his parents from being murdered by the jokerized Joe Chill, he was not able to save Duke's parents from the flood of jokerized hospital patients and the influx of joker toxin.
After navigating the dangerous streets of Gotham, Batman leaves Duke with Julia Pennyworth to be taken to one of his new bases, where it's safe.
In the months following Joker's endgame, Gotham is left without a hero to protect it, and Duke is now a ward of the state with his parents nowhere to be found.
These events have culminated in a new, somewhat rebellious streak for Duke, that leaves him butting heads with bullies, authority figures, and his guidance counselor Dr. Leslie Thompkins as he continues to search for his lost parents.
In the search for his parents, Duke crosses paths with a group of teen vigilantes calling themselves Robins, and fights crime alongside them as their de facto leader, taking orders and supplies from a man they only know as The Nest. In these early days, Duke and the gang saw a fellow Robin fall, formed friendships among themselves, and fought a mysterious Talon known as the Dementor.
*: The Robin War arc takes place concurrently with Superheavy.
Following the accidental death of a police officer due to a Robin's vigilante actions, local government official Councilwoman Noctua, passes legislation that outlaws all Robin activity, which even includes wearing Robin colors. These actions leave Duke and the gang persecuted by local law enforcement, and targets of the new, government appointed Batman.
While at a team meeting, Duke implores the as-of-yet unknown Robin involved in the accidental death to come forward, so that Gotham can see that the Robins are more than a reckless gang of vigilantes and that they take responsibility for their actions.
This meeting soon comes to a halt as Damian Wayne descends upon the crowd, claiming that the We Are Robin crew are frauds, challenging them to a fight. Damian retains the upper-hand, but the meeting is even further crashed by the new Batman. While Damian defeats the new Batman, shutting his suit down with an electric shock, this leaves time for Duke and his crew to escape before being arrested.
Shortly after, a fellow Robin named Travis, comes forward to Duke about the vigilante 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.
Later, the We Are Robin crew is gathered by the actual apprentices to Batman: secret agent Dick Grayson, Red Robin, Red Hood, and Robin; to be trained in a sort of "Robin school" that will hone their abilities and make them into more disciplined crime-fighters. In training with Dick Grayson, Duke actually reveals to him that he knows his secret identity, and is recognized as one of the best to come out of "Robin school," alongside Izzy, Dax, and Dre.
Suspecting something larger is at play, Grayson splits the four new Robins up with their four mentors: Duke with himself, Izzy with Damian, Dax with Red Hood, and Dre with Red Robin; and sends them out to complete various missions. What they did not know is that Dick sets them up to be arrested so as to keep them 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, they will accept and understand the situation if the news comes from him.
Whilst in jail, it is revealed that the anti-Robin legislation, arrests, and even inciting incident for the legislation were all a ploy by the Court of Owls. While Red Robin and Red Hood are made to fight to the death by the Court, this leaves an opening for Duke, Damian, and the We Are Robin crew to free themselves and put an end to everyone's capture.
After beating back an elite group of Talons on the GCPD rooftop, Duke and his tight-knit group of Robins continue to get to the bottom of the Court of Owls' plot alongside the Bat-apprentices, tracking the Court to a base underneath Gotham Academy. Following the defeat of even more Talons and the destruction of the Court's elite Talon hatchery, Duke and the team are made to confront one more remaining foe: 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, fighting Damian and trying to bring him back to the side of good. Eventually breaking through to him, they fight alongside the Robins to keep the elite Talons from decimating the city. Between the two allies, Duke realizes one thing: he isn't Robin, nor will he or the We Are Robin crew ever be, but that won't stop them from doing good. After saving the city, they stand alongside one another, 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 finds himself being tracked by Damian, and extends to him an invite to the movies; to which Damian accepts, kicking off the start of a friendship.
*: 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.
During the events of Superheavy, Duke is seen spending his time at the Lucius Fox Center For Gotham Youth around the amnesiac Bruce Wayne and trying to solve the mystery of Mr. Bloom. After stealing one of Mr. Bloom's seeds off of Bruce, he goes to Daryl Gutierrez, a longtime friend and engineer working with the new Batman, to learn more about the seed and its origins.
Following a lead on Bloom, Duke breaks into the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge, stealing Bloom-related documents before quickly escaping the crime boss and his supervillainous associates. Before Duke can be taken out by Penguin's armed guards, Bruce Wayne narrowly saves his life. Although safe from the bad guys, Duke is 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. Duke then surreptitiously hints that he knows Bruce Wayne 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. Duke stands on the train tracks, waiting for Bruce to save him, to see if any of what made him Batman still remains. Saved from the oncoming train, Duke believes that Batman can one day return, but in the meantime, recommends Bruce stay out of his way.
Duke, at long last, finds his parents in a local psychiatric hospital, but only to discover that it is too late to save them-- they are permanently jokerized. He later goes on to confront Daryl, learning from the files taken from the Penguin, that Daryl is the creator of Mr. Bloom and his seeds. After handling Daryl, Duke jumps from the GCPD airship amidst the Bloom-caused chaos, but free-falls as the villain cuts his parachute. He is then saved in the nick of time by the newly returned Batman, and stands by as both Batmen save the city.
Duke is later approached by Bruce Wayne, who recognizes his heroic efforts and extends an offer to let Duke both live with and train alongside him, as a new ally to Batman.
Taking him up in his offer, Duke moved into Wayne manor and began training with Bruce under a regiment Alfred called "The Cursed Wheel". Over the next year, Duke will undergo a refined and condensed version of all of Bruce's training abroad to become Batman. Each "color" on the wheel is meant to test a different aspect of Duke's psychology to see what kind of hero, or villain, he will become.
Duke's first lesson came in the form of a quintuple homicide in a fabric warehouse while out in the field with Batman. Batman and Duke examined the bodies and found that the victims have multiple knife wounds and no ID's. They deduce the murders to be the handiwork of Victor Zsasz and discover one of the victims is still alive.
With it only being a matter of time until Zsasz returns to finish the job, the duo begin their investigation into the identities of the victims; looking for a motive. They learn that one of the deceased, a woman named Rita Noles, had previously escaped Zsasz. They also noticed the disparity between the survivor, an up-and-coming fabric import businesswoman named Diana Boone, and the other victims who appeared to have had shady and likely illegal backgrounds. Their investigation leads them to Boone's apartment where, just as Duke has a revelation, he is ambushed by Zsasz; incapacitating Duke before fleeing.
While recovering from Zsasz's attack, Duke couldn't shake the feeling that they are missing something and ventured out in broad daylight to question Diana Boone himself. Duke reveals that it wasn't Rita Noles who had survived Zsasz but Boone; who'd hoped to lure Zsasz into killing off potential competition. While Boone is confessing, an unassuming windowcleaner reveals himself to be Victor Zsasz and attacks Boone. Duke is able to subdue him with help from Batman.
Duke goes on to assist Batman on many missions, facing various criminals in Batman's rogues gallery: from Two-Face to Hugo Strange to The Scarecrow to Man-Bat. On the anniversary of Zero Year Riddler, with aide from the original Mr. Bloom - Darryl Gutierrez, begins terrorizing Gotham. This leads to a confrontation between Duke and Daryl, who (now permanently altered by the effects of his experiments as Mr. Bloom) had kidnapped Duke's parents. Darryl tortures Duke using his control over living tissue, teasing that there is more to Duke and his mother than meets the eye. After being backed into a corner, Duke's Mother's eyes begin to glow and in a brief moment of sanity, was able to help Duke overpower Darryl.
*Note: Dark Days is a prelude to Dark Nights Metal
After hearing rumblings across the universe of a stirring in darkness, the Guardians of the Universe sent Hal Jordan to investigate it at it's source; Wayne manor. When Hal arrived in the batcave he came face to foot with Duke Thomas, who was charged with standing guard. Hal easily captures Duke and after questioning why Bruce continues to recruit teenagers to his cause, teams up with Duke to figure out what Batman has gotten himself into. They come across a secret batcave hidden within the batcave and once inside, Duke and Hal came across numerous Nth metal artifacts, and information on secret black-ops teams working for Batman. A mysterious voice leads them deeper into the cave to a gate at the end of a tunnel. Behind the gate they find cell and sealed within behind a forcefield the mysterious voice reveals itself to be The Joker.
Exploiting Duke's anger, Joker coaxes Duke into attacking him, which causes the forcefield to have an abnormal reaction to his body and short out. Now free, the Joker begins ranting and destroying the machine used to restore Batman's memories after the events of Endgame. Hal and Duke attempt to stop the Joker and in the scuffle, the Joker reveals that there was a reason he targetted Duke's family and that there is more to why Bruce chose to take in Duke. He explains that Duke is a metahuman and refers to him as "The Signal" that will allow Batman to see in the dark. Hal Jordan, piloting one of Batman's batwings, is finally able to subdue the Joker. However, suddenly Duke's eyes project an intense burst of light and in the confusion, the Joker vanishes.
Batman returns to the cave but before he could answer Duke and Hal's questions, Batman brandishes the Nth metal dagger of Shazam. In the presence of the dagger, Duke's powers manifest again and his eyes release another explosion of light, shattering his helmet and revealing the machine the Joker destroyed to Duke; exactly how it was before Joker destroyed it. Hal conjures Duke up a loaner power ring and Duke reconstructs the machine from what he sees. Batman uses Duke's construct to activate the machine but he only sees darkness. In actuality, Batman opened the door to the Dark Multiverse.
Powers & Abilities
Photokinetic Vision: Duke is a metahuman with the power to take in more light than regular humans, faster than regular human beings and manipulate the way he processes light. This gives Duke the ability to preceive light differently and see things other people can't. He can see changes and distortions in light such as light being filtered or absorbed, as well as detect the minuscule reflections of light from trace amounts of Nth Metal embedded in the organic tissue of dead metahumans. Duke can also see a few minutes into the past by seeing the "ghost" of where the light had been in the area. Duke also uses this ability in combat, seeing where light will be to look moments into the future and predict his opponent's next move
Highly Intelligent: Duke proved to be an intellectually gifted individual from a young age. At the age of 12, Duke was up for a genius grant alongside the original Mr. Bloom - Darryl Gutierrez. Duke continued to show high intelligence before being taken under Batman's wing when he was able to deduce the identities of Batman, Nightwing and Robin. After the events of Robin War and Superheavy, Duke received training from Bruce Wayne. Under Bruce Wayne's tutelage Duke, as all Bruce's allies do, studied all the necessary disciplines Bruce learned abroad to be Batman.
Skilled Combatant: Duke is a skilled fighter, having been trained by Dick Grayson and the original Robins before going on to be taught by Bruce Wayne. He's shown to be particularly skilled with nunchucks as well as a pair of bladed eskrima.
Weapons & Equipment
Signal Armor: After completing his training with Batman, Duke was gifted new armored suit as The Signal. The armor is an upgraded version of his tactical suit worn when he was training with Bruce. The suit has a reflective bat insignia that can blind or confuse an enemy as well as change color depending on lighting. The suit also has a stealth mode that allows Duke to become completely invisible and has a built in electrical grid to taze/repel close quarters enemies.
Modified Eskrima Sticks: Before joining Batman's inner circle Duke showed a affinity for nunchaku and blunt weapons. To compliment these skills, Duke was given Eskrima sticks that can connect and function as nunchaku as well. They also come with spring loaded "batchet" (hatchet) blades that allow them to be used to grapple.
Motorcycle: Duke's primary mode of transportation is his motorcycle. Originally just 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 invisible as well
Official We Are Robin Profile
“My shoe shines in your eye accurate, you never seen a leather jacket with lights in the back of it.”
- Age 16. Currently a student at West Robinson High. Subject to change. GPA does not reflect potential. Needs to be challenged frequently.
- Hobbies include collectible card games, puzzles, and film. Shows potential as a writer. Poetry, although will never admit it.
- Ran track first year. Tried out for soccer, but disagreement with strength trainer resulted in expulsion from the team. Athletic, but not driven by competition. Motivations are internal.
Duke Thomas is mentioned as a possible candidate for Robin in Titans, a picture of him appears in the episode Barbara Gordon.
Duke Thomas is Robin in Batwheels.