Lucas Fox is having a bit of a moment. As a mixed martial arts fighter, tech business magnate and one of Gotham’s few flying superheroes in his cutting edge batsuit, it’s easy to see why. Luke is the wealthy and powerful Fox family’s favorite son—and one which New York City’s Batman, Luke’s own brother, has a long shadow to rise above. Comic readers have been getting to know Luke since he first appeared in 2013. Animation fans first saw him on screen in 2016’s Batman: Bad Blood. And DCTV viewers have been forming their own ideas on Luke as portrayed by Camrus Johnson on Batwoman. But who exactly is this favored Fox son, and how does he figure into the larger Bat-Family dynamic? We’re here to give you the rundown and shed some light on his past partnerships in crimefighting.
Just as Jace Fox has become a Batman of his own, Luke Fox wasn’t the first Batwing. That title originally belonged to David Zavimbe, a Congolese crimefighter funded by Bruce Wayne’s globalized “Batman Incorporated” initiative. After David hung up his cape, Bruce sought an ally closer to home to help finish the fight that the first Batwing started against Africa’s vilest super-villains. He found his new Batwing in Luke, a competitive fighter and brilliant engineer in his own right looking to make a bigger difference.
With a Batsuit designed by his father, Lucius Fox, the mantle of Batwing came with stronger armor, more advanced combat and detective technology, and even powered flight. After putting away the likes of Lion-Mane and Lady Marabunta across the Atlantic, Luke returned to his home city, where he found his legs as a Gotham crimefighter against more established underworld figures like Lady Vic and Ratcatcher. He also made a few enemies of his own. If Batwing could be said to have a nemesis, it would be his own childhood best friend, Russell Tavaroff, who after years of bullying and drug abuse became the “Snakebite” super serum-empowered villain, Menace.
Luke Fox was introduced to his own series at the end of Batwing #19 and remained at the forefront of the title until its conclusion in Batwing #34. Like practically all heroes present in Gotham at the time, Luke got involved in the sprawling, citywide case of Batman Eternal, forming an unlikely partnership with Detective Jim Corrigan—a man better known to Justice Society followers as the Spectre. With Corrigan, Batwing helped take down a doomsday cult run by Deacon Blackfire underneath Arkham Asylum, destroying the building above in the process.
But that wouldn’t be Luke’s last tangle with the supernatural. In Detective Comics #943, Luke would join the “Gotham Knights,” a team of Batman’s allies led by Batwoman. There, he would form a close bond with Jean-Paul Valley, a hero who once wore a high-tech Batsuit like Luke’s during the Knightfall saga, but whom today we know better as the sometimes religiously zealous Azrael. Together, Luke and Jean-Paul’s contrast of pragmatic science and pious faith was one of the most interesting dynamics of the Gotham Knights era of Detective Comics. And although that incarnation of the team has since disbanded, we like to imagine that Luke and Azrael still keep in touch.
Gotham’s Most Eligible Bachelor
In between his own series and his tenure with the Gotham Knights, Luke took some time off his busy crimefighting schedule to start his own tech company, FoxTek. It was through FoxTek that Luke first met Barbara Gordon, with whom he struck up a romantic relationship. (At the time, Barbara and her steadier beau Dick Grayson were on a break.)
Across the multiverse, Luke’s intelligence and charisma has made him a desirable catch among Gotham’s leading ladies. In Catwoman: Soulstealer, part of the DC Icons line of young adult novels, a younger Selina Kyle finds her equal and opposite in the Wing, as opposed to the Man. And as Ryan Wilder’s support on TV’s Batwoman, Luke’s been striking up sparks with the CWverse’s own take on Stephanie Brown.
In Future State, we see that Jace Fox is eventually accepted as the Batman of the Justice League and becomes a savior of Gotham in his own right. But what of Luke?
2014’s Futures End, and the subsequent Batman Beyond series, give us a glimpse of what might be in store for Batwing in the years to come. In his civilian identity, Luke has moved on from the tech industry into local politics, leading Neo Gotham as its least corruptible mayor yet. By night, Luke ensures that the initiative his own Batwing identity was created for lives on…as the new leader and organizer of the global Batman Incorporated. It’s quite the journey for a hero who originally stepped into his own title more than halfway through its run. But it’s one that ensures Luke a pivotal, influential and bright future within the DC Universe. One that’s only now starting to take “wing”!
Luke Fox’s early adventures are collected in an all-new softcover, Batwing: Luke Fox, now available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and digital retailers.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.