Duke of Oil (Outsiders enemy) (DC Comics)

Duke of Oil


The Duke of Oil is a semi-obscure DC Comics super-villain, who appeared in 1986 and laid thankfully undisturbed for 20 years after that.

He’s essentially a killer robot, and not a weak one by any means. He also has an over-the-top caricature Texan thing going, for some reason.



  • Real Name: Earl “Duke” J. Dukeston.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: One-time agent of Skull, one-time mercenary for the Riddler.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 6’6” Weight: 270 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Red

Powers and Abilities

The Duke of Oil is a powerful robot. He’s strong enough to beat up Geoforce in a brawl or to throw cars. He’s tough enough to withstand massed fire from the original Outsiders.

He can also reconfigure himself on the fly. His plasticity is not unlike that of the Elongated Man, and most parts of the Duke are flexible and stretchable.

Dukeston also seems to be a reputed specialist and inventor in oil extraction technology. He masters both the heavy engineering of the prospecting and drilling equipment, and the heavy chemistry of processing. He’s handy and deft with all sorts of technology.

As an AI, “Duke” could not be detected or telepathically “touched” by Looker. However, one imagines that he’s affected by powers manipulating computers and machinery.

Duke’s Who’s Who entry mentions the ability to take mental control of machines, which he did not actually demonstrate in his 1980s appearance. But sure enough, in his 2005 return, he could take mental control of a nearby car.


History (part 1)

20 years before the first documented appearance of the Duke of Oil, there was Earl “Duke” Dukeston. Mr. Dukeston built his own oil company using inventions of his, his own sweat, his own money and his own lack of scruples.

Hoping to succeed on a budget, he cut many corners when it came to drilling equipment construction. He was sure that he knew better. He did not – one of the accidents at Dukeston Oil engulfed several men in a fiery explosion, including the owner.

Robot rock

When he awoke, Dukeston was occupying a crude humanoid robot body, perhaps based on the Robotman technology of the 1940s. Going crazy, he attacked two nearby men, who stopped him cold using a remote control.

One of the men was the scientist who had built the body. The other was an investor who had previously been rebuffed by Dukeston when he inquired about buying shares in Dukeston Oil.

They told him that they had saved his brain and implanted it into a robot body. They also stated that the other scraps of tissue they had found after the explosion where being grown into a clone. Since this was real-time growth, the whole process would take 20 years, at which point Dukeston’s brain could be transferred into the clone.

In the meanwhile, Dukeston would give them a cut of all his profits, and full access to his oil drilling technology.

You can’t handle the truth

The whole deal was a lie.

Duke of Oil (DC Comics) at full size

There was no organic brain within Dukeston’s robot body – though “Duke” did not realise it at first. Thus, his nature a bit of a mystery. The Duke may be a pure AI who was duped into thinking that it was human. Or perhaps Dukeston’s brain was read and copied into software (a “ghostcomp” ) using a tissue-destroying technology.

The second hypothesis makes more sense. If so, Dukeston may simply have been deceived into believing he still had a human brain so as to preserve his sanity without extensive psychiatric care. The incentive would have been to cut corners just like he did with his oil drilling rigs back when he was human.

In 1986, “Duke” was hired by the minor criminal organisation Skull. He was to steal the cutting-edge technology developed by Dr. Helga Jace for Markovia on an high-tech experimental oil platform.

Using his or Skull’s contacts, he arranged for his visit to be requested by oil lobbies in Washington, D.C.. Thus, Baron Brion Markov (aka Geoforce) would have to accept for diplomatic reasons to maintain a good relationship with the State Dept.

Soon, the genial though over-the-top Texan was visiting the automated platform and learning about Dr. Jace’s amazing tech.

During the evening, Dr. Jace detected that “Duke” was transmitting data from his room. Brion Markov came to see what he was doing. Geoforce was defeated in a brawl by the tall Texan. Dukeston then used the platform’s electronic systems to seemingly drown and incinerate the other Outsiders in burning oil.

Dukeston then kidnapped Dr. Jace. She threw a beaker of acid into his face (environment alteration !), revealing that he was some sort of robot or cyborg.


The Outsiders managed to rally and counter-attack. Though the Duke turned their own HQ against them from the control centre, he wasn’t a match for the entire group. Still, he managed to throw himself out of the rig and into the sea before he was too massively damaged.

However, during the fight, his metallic skull was cleft open. Duke thus realised that he had been deceived for 20 years – there was no brain inside.


Given how heavily Texas-themed (and 1980s-themed) Duke is, it seems necessary to invoke the aw aw aw aw clause of the Constitution of Texas.

Available for download on Amazon .

History (part 2)

In 2005 — 20 years later — the Duke of Oil and several other deadly enforcers, including the dreaded Constantine Drakon, were hired by the Riddler.

Duke’s role was to conduct a highly visible bank robbery in Star City to draw in “Team Arrow” in (Green Arrow (Queen), Arsenal, Green Arrow (Hawke) and the new Speedy (Mia Dearden)). He was to engage them by creating complete chaos.

The Duke of Oil (DC Comics) blabbers about his powers

Dukeston seemed to relish in this, throwing cars at the archers, taking mental control of more cars to create a “demolition derby” around them, grabbing a TV ’copter to make it crash in the street… Eventually Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen) somehow noticed a weak spot at the base of Duke’s skull and took him out with a well-placed arrow.

The Duke of Oil had accomplished his mission, however. Arsenal had been separated from the others and kidnapped by Drakon already, as per the Riddler’s plan.

Duke has not been seen since (as of this writing).


“Duke” is very tall, very loud – and outrageously dressed, unless the action is taking place on a Texan ranch. But he looks human unless he suffers significant damage, especially from fire, corrosives or explosives. At this point his artificial skin and hair start being destroyed, revealing a gleaming metallic robot underneath.


In case the hat, outfit and thick accent were not enough to scream “Texas”, the Duke seems to greatly enjoy peppering his speech with a number of supposedly Texan expressions (many of them not actually used by any significant percentage of Texans) and an impressive number of rustic references about running a ranch.

Duke of Oil (Green Arrow enemy) (DC Comics) ripping a bank vault open

Sometimes it feels that every other sentence he udd… utters is a metaphor involving bovines.

He’ll also throw in some stuff about baseball or barbecue for good measure. Had he had further appearances, I am certain there would be material about dogs, shotguns and pickups. It’s so over the top, and yet one cannot be entirely certain he’s doing it on purpose since he seems so earnest.

(If you want to use that but it feels awkward, we could imagine that Dukeston used to be on a The Apprentice-style reality show. So him speaking that way would be identifiable as cultivating his persona’s brand as a has-been celeb.)

Ghost in the shell

During his first appearance, he repeatedly denied that he was a machine. He was desperately clinging to the notion that, as long as he had a human brain, he was a human being.

When he appeared again, he seemed more violent, more irrational and in fact somewhat insane. He was manic, he was hyper, he liked to kill all sorts of random people and enjoyed creating complete chaos and toying with his preys. He seems to have accepted to some degree that he is a machine, and often boasts about how indestructible he is.

In his 2005 appearance he was chiefly making Criticals when throwing cars (so he was unlikely to hit, but a hit would have been fatal) and likewise tended to play with “team arrow” (for instance grabbing them instead of just smashing them into street pizza).

This might be a consequence of his insanity… or maybe he was just cheerfully following orders to just run a huge diversion and keep everybody busy.


“Now I feel like I could lick my weight in bulls !”

“No wonder Washington’s jitteriers’n a cow with a new calf…”

“No problem, boss. They took to me like a hog to slop.”

“A right good tussle, Brion, I’ll give you that ! But now, it’s my turn at bat !” (KRRRUUUNG !!)

“Just like one of my big barbecues, down on the ranch !”

“I am the real Earl Dukeston, d&lrquo;yuh hear ? Don’t call me no machine !”

“I ain’t a machine ! I ain’t !‘

“Okay, porkchops ! Let’s get this two-step started ! Yaaah !”

“Whoop ! Now you’re cooking with diesel, boy !! You having fun ?! ’cause daddy is having a whole lotta fuckin’ fun !”

“Yeeeeehhaaa ! I’m feeling hotter than a fat lady in Puerto Rico ! And daddy… that’s hot !”

“That’s right, brothers and sisters ! The Duke of Oil ain’t just a iron-sided killing machine ! I’m also the Doctor Dolittle of all manners of mechanised beasts ! They do whatever I tell them !” (takes mental control of a car)

Marvel Universe History

In the MU, he would likely be a Secret Empire special operative. They had a brief flirt with cyborgs, and the Duke’s oil and funds would be a good addition.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 07 Str: 12 Bod: 12 Motivation: Psycho/Mercenary
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Mercenary
Inf: 05 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 020 HP: 020

Interface: 04, Running: 06, Self-Link (Gadgetry): 12, Stretching: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Stretching has no defensive function (it’s already accounted for in his BODY).

Gadgetry: 05

Expertise (oil drilling equipment), Lightning Reflexes.

Oil industry (Low).

Minor Psychological Instability, Attack Vulnerability (- 4CS RV for attacks directed at a tiny hole in the rear base of his skull (which is a -2 CS target)).

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe.

Helper(s): Darci, Capita_Senyera, Ethan Roe.