By @Kimota1977 — Welcome back to our Doom Patrol Comics Guide. You can click here to read the Doom Patrol Comics Guide Part 1, or you can forge ahead with us now, inching closer to the present day. Anyway, the modern era of the Doom Patrol began in 1987 with a revitalized series from the same creator of the Bronze Era team - Paul Kupperberg.
This series began as a fairly standard superhero adventure, but it had hints of elements that would become mainstays of this odd comic in the future. Paul created a team made up of members of previous incarnations as well as all new characters. Beginning with Secret Origins Annual #1, Kupperberg began crafting a tale that would eventually lead to the most of the original Doom Patrol returning from the grave.
Doom Patrol Comics - 1987 and the New Doom Patrol
The series begins with an emphasis on locating the secretly surviving members of the original Doom Patrol. Both the Chief and Larry Trainor were shown to have survived the trap set by General Zahl and Madame Rouge, eventually being rescued by the new New Doom Patrol.
The new team eventually included all the original surviving members (Elasti-Girl being the only death that seemed to stick), the “New Doom Patrol” from Showcase, and some all new heroes.
New Team Members:
Lodestone – Rhea Jones; the daughter of an Air Force official who had magnetic powers.
Karma – Wayne Hawkins; a troubled youth with the power to generate bad luck in others. He eventually leaves the team as he is on the run from the police. Eventually being caught and assigned a mission with the Suicide Squad.
Scott Fischer – Scott had a burning energy touch radiating from his hands. He suffered from leukemia and became the only casualty of the Dominators gene bomb in the “Invasion” crossover event.
Returning Team Members:
Robotman – Cliff Steele is once again the bedrock and strong man of this team and returns in all his self-deprecating glory.
Celsius – Arani Caulder rebuilds the team to search for her husband and hires on new team members.
Tempest – Hiding under an assumed name Joshua Clay begrudgingly returns.
Negative Woman – Valentina Vostok returns as part of the initial lineup only to lose her powers later in the run
Larry Trainor – Revealed to be alive and in a coma. Held captive by Arani Caulders supervillain father; Kalki
The Chief – Revealed to be in hiding since the explosion and – once found - insistent he was not married to Arani.
This iteration had most of the classic Doom Patrol villains return, including Immortus, Garguax and Reactron. Most issues were filled with standard team strife and fisticuffs with little time left to character development or mythos building narrative.
NOTABLE APPEARANCES & MUST READS
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #1-3 – The return of the Doom Patrol and the search/discovery of Larry Trainor.
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #17,18 – The death of Arani Caulder and the defeat of the team by Garguax.
This more light-hearted and traditional approach to the Doom Patrol (again treating them like a more or less standard superhero team) struggled to find an audience. This led to Grant Morrison taking over as series writer with issue 19, and a story entitled “Crawling From The Wreckage”.
Now we get to the REALLY weird stuff.
Doom Patrol Comics and Grant Morrison
As per request, Kupperberg removed most of the new characters and killed off Arani Caulder at the end of his run. With “Crawling From The Wreckage”; Grant Morrison begins a significant departure from all the previous iterations of the Doom Patrol. Fully embracing the “World’s Strangest Heroes” moniker, Grant deconstructs our heroes and delivers bold new directions in storytelling. His villains were also a cut above anything the Doom Patrol had faced before, and the stories focused as much time on existential threats as they did on this peculiar gallery of rogues.
Morrison quickly sets a new status quo that returns our main cast while allowing for the addition of some of the oddest “heroes” in comic book history.
New Team Members:
Danny The Street – As mentioned in the previous article Danny is a living sentient street who can teleport and enjoys gender non-conformity. He acts as a home to the lost and broken of the world.
Flex Mentallo – The Hero Of the Beach; revealed as a homeless man hiding on Danny the Street. Flex was a comic book hero version of the skinny guy in the Charles Atlas full page ads that ran in comics throughout the 60’s.
Dorothy Spinner – A throwaway character in Kupperbergs run; Morrison made her part of the “home team” for the Doom Patrol. Cursed with a physical deformity she possessed the ability to bring her imaginary friends to life.
Crazy Jane – Much like her TV version Jane suffered from multiple personality disorder due to traumatic events from her childhood. After the Invasion miniseries “gene bomb” was deployed each and every one of those personalities got their own superpowers.
Returning Team Members:
Cliff Steele – Now dealing with the trauma of being a human brain trapped in an unfeeling robotic body; Cliff returns only to insist on being referred to by his human name only.
Rebis – An amalgamation of the Negative Energy being, Larry Trainor and his doctor Eleanor Poole. Rebis is a creature that exhibits the traits of all three beings within one body; presenting as both male, female and strange energy being.
Josh Clay – “Tempest” agrees to return under the condition he act as the team doctor only. He (along with Dorothy) represent the main portion of the Doom Patrol home team.
The Chief – Returning with an even bigger chip on his shoulder; the Chief rebuilds the team with an eye on discovering more of the strange and weird in the world.
Notable New Villains
Mr. Nobody – A Brotherhood of Evil underling who only appeared in Doom Patrol #86; this initially powerless thug for hire undergoes experimentation to give himself superpowers and in the process goes completely mad. He leads a reformed Brotherhood now calling it the “Brotherhood of Dada” with a role call of extremely odd villains.
Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E. – A group dedicated to the extermination of eccentricity and difference. They are responsible for Flex Mentallo’s mental breakdown that leads to him living on Danny the Street.
Beard Hunter – A mentally unstable psychotic who could not grow a beard and therefore hunted down those who could. Yes. I am serious.
Scissormen – A race of reality warping creatures with scissor like hands that cut non-fictional beings out of reality. Their dialogue is really something else as it was written by Grant typing random characters on his word processor and allowing the built-in spellcheck to correct.
Red Jack – A mad and nearly omnipotent being that wanted to marry a comatose Rhea Jones. He claimed to be both God and Jack the Ripper and had a fixation on butterflies.
Candlemaker - A thought form removed from the physical plane of existence centuries ago; Dorothy Spinner eventually imagines him back into reality to save a fallen teammate.
The Morrison saga came to a head with the revelation that the Chief caused the accidents of the original Doom Patrol as he felt they were narcissists and the accidents would somehow improve them. This was hinted at several times throughout the series and has served as a point of motivation for future iterations of the team.
By the end of this run, most members of the team leave to enjoy a simpler life on Danny the Street.
NOTABLE APPEARANCES & MUST READS
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #19-22 – The new status quo for the Doom Patrol is set by Morrison in this initial story arc. First appearance of Rebis and Crazy Jane.
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #26-29 – First appearance and battle with Mr. Nobody and Brotherhood of Dada.
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #35,36 – First appearance of Danny the Street and Flex Mentallo.
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #42 – Flex Mentallo origin
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #45 – First appearance of the Beard Hunter
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #55,56 – Death of Joshua Clay and reveal of Niles Caulders involvmenet in the original Doom Patrols accidents.
Doom Patrol Comics - The Rachel Pollack Run
Beginning with issue 64, Rachel Pollack took the helm as series writer and began to take the team in a direction that offered a new and unique look at topics like transgenderism, sexuality, and what humanity really means.
Left with only the disembodied head of the Chief, Cliff Steele, and Dorothy Spinner as active team members, they relocated to Violet Valley's Rainbow Estates. This new base of operations was a house haunted by ghosts of people who died in sexual accidents.
New Team Members:
The Bandage People – The ghosts of a couple; George and Marion - who escaped a government organization called the Builders.
Teiresias - A god-like being part of an entire race of Teiresiae. Ever-fluid in gender, form, language, and other such aspects, the Teiresiae do not involve themselves much in the rigid human world.
Coagula – The first transgendered superhero Kate Godwin received her powers from a sexual tryst with Doom Patrol member Rebis. She gained the power to turn solids into liquids, and to coagulate liquids into solid.
The Builders – Similar to the Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E. the Builders were a government agency that enslaved Teiresias and the Bandage People.
The False Healers – a group of Hassidic healers who followed the Rabbi of Darkness.
Fox and the Crow – a pair of animal spirits whose personal feud eventually involved both Cliff and Dorothy
Eventually a small family unit begins to form around Dorothy, Kate, and Cliff before Rachel Pollack’s run comes to an end with issue 87 and the final chapter in the story, “Imagine Ari’s Friends”. The series ends with the Chief’s disembodied head leaving this plane of reality strapped to the groin of Teiresias and Cliff, with Dorothy and Kate walking off together.
It was the most uplifting end to any Doom Patrol series, giving us the hope for Cliff, Kate, and Dorothy to go on to a normal life together.
NOTABLE MUST READS
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #67 – First appearance of the Bandage People and the team moves to their new headquarters.
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #70 – First appearance and origin of Coagula.
Doom Patrol, vol. 2 #84-87 – The final story arc.
Phew, that was a lot! But please join me next week as we discuss the Doom Patrol post-Vertigo and find out just what happened when Cliff and family walked off into the sunset.
Check out more great writing from the Batman’s Bookcase crack team of contributors here!