• Tony Patrick Explains the Importance of Duke Thomas in Today’s Climate
    Feb 21, 2018

    Relative newcomer Tony Patrick has joined forces with industry stars Scott Snyder and Cully Hamner to tell the adventures of the DC Universe’s latest member of the Bat-family Duke Thomas in the pages of Batman and The Signal. And when you consider Patrick’s past as a youth mentor in east New York, readers should understand very quickly why he is absolutely the right choice for the job.

    An alumnus of DC’s Writers Workshop in 2016, Patrick made his big break in comics in 2015 with X’ed for Black Mask Studios. Patrick has now transitioned to one of the Big Two and he told CBR that he didn’t want to throw away his shot at writing a young black character finding his way as both a superhero and a man. Beyond his proven track record, Patrick’s extensive experience working with teens leaves him well equipped to understand decisions, right and wrong, being made by fictional adolescents whether they are being trained by the World’s Greatest Detective or left to their own devices in the newly created Arkham Juvenile Detention Centre.

    RELATED: The Signal: Duke Thomas Proves He’s Gotham’s Perfect Daylight Protector

    CBR: It seems strange talking about Batman and The Signal a day after 17 children were killed in their classrooms. As a storyteller, how does this level of violence affect how you portray youth in comics?

    Tony Patrick: I think you have to be very aware of violence in any media. I think when we are talking about the writing process, I’m also very mindful of how much violence there is in my narratives, and how much of that violence is essential to good storytelling – that’s the focus. How can I find the most powerful way to tell story and I can do that without weapons? Can I do that with combat? Can I do that with words? It really pushes you towards a better and more powerful form of storytelling. But it’s definitely something to be mindful of, especially when you see all of the violence that is happening all over our news at the moment. It’s our job to tell the best story that we can, as carefully as we can and as powerfully as we can.

    And the level of violence that Duke Thomas requires to fight crime is, in fact, lessened because he also has such a high intellect. Does that then become the balancing act, Duke’s brain versus his brawn?

    Page 2: The Signal Is More About Brain than Brawn

    With full thanks to Alexa, I now know that Gnomon is Greek for “one that knows or examines” and is also the part of a sundial that casts a shadow. What else can you share about your new Gotham villain?

    [Laughs] There you go. You’re doing your research. [Laughs] There is a lot I can’t say. But what I can say is that it’s pretty ballsy to highjack the Batcomputer to deliver a message to Batman. Hmm. We’ll how that plays out. This is a new villain that is obviously connected to some of the metas popping up in Gotham and I am thrilled to be able to help generate a new baddie for Batman and a new big bad for the DC Universe.

    RELATED: Batman Explains Why ‘Lark’ Was the Wrong Superhero Name for Duke Thomas

    And here is my highlight for Batman and The Signal #2. It starts off with an Arkham juvy. To me, that is something that I would love to play with in the future beyond this book because there are so many opportunities there. Circling back to your initial question, when we talk about the current ills of society and teenage communities, I think Arkham juvy is an opportunity to see if some of our teens can be rehabilitated if there are opportunities for them to become a part of our New Age of Heroes. Or if some of them are going to turn into the next Joker or Two-Face.

    Art from Batman and the Signal #2

    Duke Thomas isn’t the only black superhero making headlines right now as Black Panther is also getting incredible reviews. Have you had a chance to see the film? And more importantly, have we finally arrived at a time when representation, diversity and inclusion are taken seriously by Hollywood and other entertainment industries?

    I think we have a reached a time when there is a huge opportunity here and I hope people are smart enough to fully embrace it and follow through on it with all of these new IPs and creative opportunities that present themselves. I feel like I am the pun guy, but this weekend is definitely the signal of new things to come. [Laughs] And when we talk about Batman and The Signal, specifically, this is the opportunity that DC has created to do diversity and inclusion correctly. You have a homegrown character, built over the last few years, that we have watched evolve from a minor character into an autonomous Robin being trained by Batman into his own hero. And we’ll get a chance, and hopefully I’ll be a part of it, to see him evolve into one of those top-tier heroes.

    And yes, of course I am going to see Black Panther. And of course, I am very proud of some of the work that is out there. And proud of people who have dared to take those risks. And it’s an honor to be able to contribute to it, in particular to DC’s canon, and generate more stories that might resonate with people, who have been waiting for these stories forever.

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