OK, so it’s not often that I write about super heroes. But the Doom Patrol is no ordinary group of comic book capes. I mean, that’s pretty much their whole thing. Being weird, you know? Now, usually, I talk about some aspect of making comics, or the business stuff, or some such thing, but today, I’ve had the Doom Patrol firmly on my mind.
I was introduced to the Doom Patrol at a young age, probably 10 or so. I didn’t know anything about them, but I found an old issue in the back of a video rental store. It was cheap, so I asked my dad to buy it for me. I was unaware at the time, but I was looking at the second lineup of members, and not the first. But that overwhelming sense of strangeness was still there. They were being eaten by these brightly colored (what might have been putty?) monsters. And there was this girl who looked like a neanderthal version of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. And as it turns out, her name actually was Dorothy. Anyway, I didn’t know anything about these people besides this: they were weird. And that stuck with me for years.
Later on, I figured out what the Doom Patrol was all about. The original team consisted of Robotman, Elasti-Girl (not from the Incredibles), Negative Man, and the Chief, their mysterious wheelchair bound leader. This team of super misfits would just happen to appear in 1963, the same year as the X-Men. Hm, also a group of misfits lead by a man in a wheel chair. Don’t worry, I’m not saying the idea was stolen, but team creator Arnold Drake seemed to think so. But what can you prove? Nothing. NOTHING! And it doesn’t matter anyway, because the teams turned out to be pretty different. The thing about Doom Patrol was that they weren’t all bound together by being mutants (in fact, are there any mutants in the DC universe?) but simply because they were odd. Misfits. Weirdos. And that only made them better. They felt so out of place in the DC Universe, and in a sea of bright spandex, that’s something that I wanted to read. Something that felt unique and fresh in the super hero market.
Another few years later, I would discover that Grant Morrison, the most insane genius to write comics (well, besides Alan Moore), had a run with the team. That’s right, the insane wizard of writing took on DCs crazies team of super heroes. Of course, by the time I was aware of A) who Grant Morrison was, and B) he had written the Doom Patrol, the series itself was over. But this is the magic of the comic book world: trades. Years after the series was over, I jumped into Morrison’s world of madness. Now, I haven’t finished his run, but I can already tell you that this is one of my favorite comic series of all time. ALL TIME. But let me back up.
The series that I had discovered the Doom Patrol with (the second one, remember?) was written by Paul Kupperberg. It was when he left the title that Morrison took over. He killed almost everyone on the team, minus Robotman (that’s the story of Robotman’s life, though) and a few others, and reformed the team. He gave us characters like Rebis (Negative Man and Negative Woman in the same body), Crazy Jane, and Danny the Street. Seriously, check out Danny the Street. He also gave us villains like the Scissormen and, a personal favorite of me of any book, the Brotherhood of Dada. Not to mention the gay francophone gorilla/brain in a jar love story. Morrison’s run, with stories like, “The Painting that ate Paris,” which is literally about a painting that ate Paris, amplified all the gonzo insanity of the Doom Patrol. Seriously, it was a perfect fit. It took the weirdest super hero team around and embraced all the oddity it could. Sometimes with comics, they don’t acknowledge what makes a character or team stand out. But this was one of those cases where Morrison got it right and the Doom Patrol lived up to its potential.
OK, I know I’m gushing about Morrison’s run. Sorry. I think it is the best one, though, and will likely remain that way. Gerard Way is doing a damn fine job, though. You can tell he was a fan of Morrison’s run, and the Doom Patrol in general, growing up. He’s doing well in the balance of writing a new story, while bringing in elements of the past. There is also the run by John Arcudi, but I’ve never read that. I can’t find it anywhere! Plus there’s Rachel Pollock who took over after Morrison. That stuff looks really good, and that’s when they officially switched it to a Vertigo title, I think. But I haven’t got there yet. John Byrne had one too. John Byrne! But I haven’t found that either. Then Keith Giffen had a run, right before the run of the New 52, I think. I have all of that one collected somewhere. It was weird, but more of a straightforward comedy. Which is fine, because it’s Giffen. Plus, I really liked the art on that one. AND Ambush Bug joined the team. Boy, I like Ambush Bug. But that’s besides the point. I’m just saying that the Doom Patrol has had a lot of action in the DC Universe, and they deserve it.
This is a team that has died and come back more than any other (maybe?). And usually, that would be annoying. But there’s something that makes sense about that with the Doom Patrol. They are pretty much set to die. In a way, they’re like the Suicide Squad, except you know they’ll always come back to something bigger, weirder, and more…Doomier?
SO WHAT I’M SAYING IS, IF YOU NEVER CHECKED OUT THE DOOM PATROL, YOU BETTER GO READ IT NOW!