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Comic book new take on Batman


Batman, the legendary DC crime fighter, has a new protege. His name is Duke Thomas, a young African-American man who becomes a vigilante when law and order breaks down in Gotham after a natural disaster.

The adventures are detailed in a new series called “Batman and The Signal.” The Signal is the name Thomas adopts. It refers to his suit, which is yellow and black like the famous Bat-signal. The new comic book shows Batman equipping Thomas with his own high-tech equipment and base, and teaching him the finer points of crime fighting.

Over the years, the Batman saga has paired the Dark Knight with several partners, both male and female. And many, like Dick Grayson the original Robin, have gone on to develop careers of their own and work alongside Batman in an informal group known as the Bat-family.

However, Thomas is different in many ways. Firstly, he operates during the daytime, unlike Batman who works at night. And unlike the previous Robins, he is a meta-human. Thomas is one of several young Gotham residents who suddenly develops superhuman powers. Thomas also has parents who are still alive, although they have been poisoned by the Joker.

This represents something different for Batman and a chance to avoid making some of the mistakes he made with other Robins, said co-writer Tony Patrick, an African American.

“I think the Signal is Batman’s opportunity to get it right,” said Patrick, who has written for TV, screen and for some independent comic books.  His short film “Black Card” aired on HBO and he also wrote “X’ED” for the independent comic book company Black Mask Studios.

“Batman and the Signal” is Patrick’s first book with DC. He came to work for the company after coming through DC’s New Writer Workshop. He co-wrote the mini-series with Scott Snyder, a veteran DC writer, who has worked on several Batman storylines, Swamp Thing and Superman. He also previously worked for Marvel Comics and Vertigo.

Patrick says he is a longtime fan of Batman, including the TV shows, the movies and the comics.

He grew up reading Batman comics.

“Since there’ve been comics, I’ve been reading Batman,” said Patrick. “For me, it’s an honor to be working on this comic.”

The Batman character has several decades of storylines and interpretations. Patrick says this can be a great creative opportunity for a writer.

“It gives space to give my interpretation of Batman,” he said.