Doom Patrol Comics Guide, Part 3

By @Kimota1977Welcome back for the third and final installment of the Doom Patrol Comics Guide. With the remainder of the series, I am not going to make recommendations on runs to read. The more recent Doom Patrol series have lasted two years or less, and should really just be read in their entirety.

That said, – let’s see what they did to our favorite group of strange heroes after they said their last goodbyes….

Doom Patrol Volume 3

The Morrison run created a Doom Patrol unlike anything we’ve seen before. It was existential, horrifying and showcased incredibly flawed characters. Rachel Pollack took those flawed characters and returned to them a sense of humanity while still maintaining the surreal world the Doom Patrol lived in. After the team rode off into the sunset in Doom Patrol #87, the characters sat relatively unused for six long years. Eventually, the franchise returned as a somewhat standard superhero book once again in December of 2001.

The new book came from the creative team of writer John Arcudi and newcomer to the North American comics scene – Tan Eng Huat. This new Doom Patrol was a continuation of the Vertigo run, but it was not labeled a Vertigo title. As with every incarnation of the team, the original member Cliff Steele returns and is recruited to lead a whole Doom Patrol, backed by Thayer Jost, CEO of the Jost Corporation.

  • Fast Forward (Ted Bruder) – Has the ability to see 60 seconds into the future. He was typically surly and mean leading the new team to nickname him “Negative Man”

  • Kid Slick (Victor Darge) – Surrounded by a frictionless force field Darge was capable of super speed and the ability to prevent others from hitting/touching him.

  • Fever (Shyleen Lao) – Ability to increase her molecular vibration which she harnessed into heat based powers. While all the new members of the team were new and untested; Shyleen struggled most often with controlling her powers.

  • Freak (Ava) – Living with a symbiotic alien inside her body; her powers manifested as super strong prehensile hair.

The storyline focuses on Jost purchasing the copyright of the Doom Patrol name from the only known surviving member – Cliff Steele. He recruits the other members and hires Steele to lead the team as a sort of corporate backed team of enhanced humans.

Providing us with a sense of closure to the classic Vertigo run, it is revealed that Cliff, Kate (Coagula) and Dorothy Spinner lived as a family for several years. Eventually Cliff and Kate decide Dorothy should meet her birth mother. Unfortunately this revelation upset Dorothy, who had a massive meltdown and caused an explosion that killed Kate, destroying Steele’s robotic body and leaving her in a comatose state.

The Robotman in the first several issues of the series was actually one of Dorothy’s imaginary friends, manifesting itself to protect her as she lay in the coma. Once this is revealed, the imaginary Robotman simply disappears never to be seen again. The remaining team members take it upon themselves to find the real Cliff Steele and set out to locate the broken and shattered head of their former “teammate”.

Finding and returning with Cliff Steele’s still living brain, the team has him rebuilt only to realize – he has no idea who they are. The Cliff they knew was an imaginary friend of a comatose girl and they had never actually met him. During this run we get a brief return of Beast Boy as leader of a replacement team of Doom Patrol members, a team consisting of himself, Dr. Light, Elongated Man and Metamorpho.

Sadly – as is all too common – this Doom Patrol series suffered from low sales and was cancelled in September 2003 with issue 22.

Doom Patrol Volume 4

Deciding that the Doom Patrol property needed a fresh start, a brand new series began in August 2004 with legendary creator John Byrne at the helm, providing both writing and penciling. This series was treated as a completely fresh take – retconning our heroes back to their roots and making them a brand new team in the DC Universe. Our original team of the Chief, Robotman, Elasti-Girl and Negative Man were joined by three brand new heroes.

  • Grunt – A four armed ape who was found in a circus by future teammate Nudge. Later revealed to possess the brain of one of Nudge’s classmates – Henry Bucher.

  • Nudge – A young woman with the ability to coerce or “nudge” people telepathically into doing what she wanted. With her abilities she was able to calm and soothe Grunt and the two shared an almost symbiotic relationship.  

  • Vortex – A being from the future composed of chronal energy – he was from the same species of creature as the Negative Energy being trapped inside Larry Trainor.

Trying to divorce itself completely from all the previous storylines did not work very well. It removed Beast Boy/Changelings origin and had several unintentional ripple effects throughout the DCU.

After only 18 issues, Doom Patrol once again found itself cancelled in January 2006.

Infinite Crisis and One Year Later

DC’s big event of 2006 was Infinite Crisis. As part of the event, an all-powerful McGuffin (in the form of an alternate universe Superboy-Prime) was used to explain away recent continuity errors. This included the retconned Doom Patrol. Apparently, the alternate universe Superboy-Prime was such an angry super powered boy that he punched the universe into changing key elements of the DCU.

Yes, Superboy-Prime punched the very real barrier between universes until he changed the entire history of the Doom Patrol and erased everything that ever happened to them. While assisting the Teen Titans in battling Superboy-Prime members of the Doom Patrol had flashbacks to their original history. After the battle, the entire team began to recall their previously forgotten history including the death of the now living Rita Farr.

After the events of Infinite Crisis, the core team was seen again with two new former members of the Teen Titans who were dramatically altered during the course of the story.

  • Vox (Mal Duncan) – Previously known as Herald and as a new Guardian Vox lost his voice and was only able to communciate with his horn.

  • Bumblebee (Karen Beecher-Duncan) now permanently shrunk too and trapped in her bee sized state.

Doom Patrol Volume 5

Deciding to give the heroes another chance and a new series, the team was returned in October 2009 with a brand new run from Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire.

This version of the team represented all of the previous incarnations and the same level of insanity the Doom Patrol were always known for. Elements of every previous incarnation were represented. Starting with the death of Nudge and disappearance of Grunt, the team relocates to Oolong Island (of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle fame) and sest up operations as the resident super team on an island filled with mad scientists.

This is (in my opinion) one of the most underrated runs of the Doom Patrol’s long and storied history. With an eye on expanding the Doom Patrol universe, Giffen provided an expanded team roster of new additions and most of the surviving former team members. Joining the core team of the Chief, Cliff Steele, Larry Negative Man Trainor, Rita Elasti-Woman Farr and Bumblebee were newcomers from almost every corner of the DCU.

  • Ambush Bug (irwin Schwab) – A long loved character of Keith Giffen’s the Ambush Bug was added to provide the teleport ability that Danny once provided.

  • Rocky Davis – Former member of the Challengers of the Unknown Davis acted as a spiritual advisor to the damaged and broken heroes.

Throughout this run, we see the return of Thayer Jost, Mr. Nobody, Animal Vegetable Mineral Man and a host of new villains and scientific experiments gone wrong.

Once again – the Doom Patrol were doomed, though, and the series was cancelled in May 2011 at issue 22.

Doom Patrol Volume 6

Gerard Way and Nick Derrington created a new Doom Patrol title that debuted September 2016. This run is a true labor of love, with every possible element of the Doom Patrol has returned. It also headlined a pop-up imprint at DC, called Young Animal, which is made up of other like-minded titles, all of which are curated by Way.

This new team roster consists of returning team members Cliff Steele, Larry Trainor, Rita Farr, the Chief, Danny the Street (now living as both a brick, a street, an ambulance and eventually as an entire world), Flex Mentallo and Crazy Jane.

New Team Members

  • Space Case (Casey Brinke) - A fictional character that Danny the World created in order to communicate with people through comic books. Initially she had no ideas she was any different from anyone else in the world.

  • Fugg – A small alien looking creature created by Danny the Street

  • Lucius Reynolds – Young son of Valerie and Sam Reynolds. Upon the return of Mr. Nobody the reformed team of the Brotherhood of Dad (Now Nana) attempt to recruit him as he is a powerful wizard.

  • Valerie Reynolds – Lucius very normal mother who is swept along during an adventure to a Dungeons and Dragons style realm.

  • Sam Reynolds – Casey Brinke’s partner who drove along with Casey in Danny the Worlds ambulance manifestation.

  • Ricardo - Beach bum and massage therapist resident of Danny the Street/World/Land originating from the Doom Patrol's time on Oolong Island

  • Lotion - Cat of Casey Brinke turned anthropomorphic member of the Doom Patrol

  • Terry None – Daughter of Mr. Nobody and Casey Brinke’s roommate.

Casey was created by Danny to first appear in comic books that Danny offered on his world. She was sent out into the real world to find and join the Doom Patrol when Danny came under attack by beings that wanted to control his world-creating abilities.

The team joins together to save Danny from the reality-changing business that was attempting to control him. Afterwards, they hunt down Crazy Jane and save her from a more evil cult-y version of one of her personalities (the TV show kind of borrows from this in episode 4 “Cult Patrol”). From there they allow the Chief to rejoin only to almost immediately expel him for falling back into his old manipulative habits.

The team even gets the opportunity to join with the main DCU and fight back against the evil reality changing company in the Young Animal crossover event Milk Wars. Using their reality changing powers, the corporation turns Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman into wholesome versions of themselves. Confusing, but fun in every single issue.

Coming this summer!

This series—and, indeed, Young Animal as a whole—is coming back this year. Gerard Way is now co-writing the book with Jeremy Lambert. A new artist will be joining them for every issue. It is, in other words, a great time to be a Doom Patrol fan. This new run has great potential with all the elements existing fans have come to know and love.

My parting words are simple: I encourage you to try out the new title Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds, when it comes out this summer.

Thank you for joining me as I discussed the World’s Strangest Heroes. If you like the show – please BUY the COMIC! It’s the only way we keep getting new Doom Patrol stories.

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 here!

Check out more great writing from the Batman’s Bookcase crack team of contributors here!