Monday, February 21, 2011

The Doom Patrol

We were just talking in a comment thread about things that can shatter sanity in a comic book universe.  Of course, the minute you mention sanity shattering I immediately think of the Doom Patrol.  The Doom Patrol is a DC imprint that started pretty much as a second stringer.  That's ok though, the second string often is given the liberty of being weird and even in the early days the Doom Patrol took that license and ran with it, and remember that the early days would have plots like Jimmy Olsen being turned into a Gorilla by a Jerkish Superman so when I say weird I mean WEIRD.

The original roster of Elasticgirl, Robot Man, Negative Man, and the Chief have been compared to the early X-men.  There are some likenesses but really they are more aligned with fellow DC group Challengers of the Unknown.  They even had several interesting cross overs one involving atlantean zombies.  The early Doom patrol fought weirdo villains like the Animal-Mineral-Vegtable Man or the Brotherhood of Evil which was lead by a brain in a jar and his french talking gorilla.  Their biggest claim to fame was their death where they bravely sacrificed themselves to save a small town.

As per usual (DAMN you DC) death was not the end.  But at least it took several decades for the group to fully resurrect.  Before that Robotman let a rather boring group of second stringers as the second and third versions of the doom patrol. 

Then things got interesting.

Grant Morrison was basically given free reign (and maybe a barrel full of LSD) to work on the Doom Patrol.  In the first couple of pages of his run we get a taste of things to come as we are introduced to Crazy Jane who had a different super power for each of her multiple personalities.  Robot Man, Crazy Jane, and a freaked out Negative Man/Woman renamed Rebus plus the Chief would form the core of the new Doom Patrol.  This time they would fight villains that wanted to rewrite reality itself.  The best being the Brotherhood of Dada who almost ate all of paris with a painting and freaked out all of Venice with Albert Hoffman's bike.  They also had to fight the thing under the pentagon and stop a war between feuding aliens.  During this span they would make friends with Danny the Street who was a sentient transvestite street and Flex Mentallo who was a comic book character come to life who's greatest claim to fame is that he made the pentagon into a circle just by flexing his muscles.

Are you getting a contact high yet?

Even the quieter moments were just screwed up.  One famous issue had Robot Man's head in a jar as his body was being repaired.  His robot body wakes up and decides you know I don't want a brain in me.  So he drills a little hole in robot man's bottle so he'll slowly die.  Just then the old brain in a jar and his talking ape break in.  They take down the robot body not knowing that it just booby trapped itself so it will never have a brain in it again.  The gorilla puts his master's brain in the robot.  And then THEY KISS finally able  to have the love that can't be named and shouldn't be thought of.  Then the robot blows up.  Robot man is saved because the gorilla had put the gum it was chewing over the hole in the jar just before the mind (and body) blowing kiss.


Well no one can top Morrison's run for sheer whatthefrackery but they managed to keep the weirdness up.  The doom patrol is the only group capable of dealing with a sentient blackhole that wants to discuss how many millions it can kill. 

Sadly, the grape vine says the Doom Patrol is to be cancelled which makes me sad, but that's life and death and rebirth in the comic book universe.  No doubt they'll be back again slightly changed but always odd.

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