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Doomed From the Start: A Look Back at DC’s Doom Patrol

by  in Lists, Comic News Comment
Doomed From the Start: A Look Back at DC’s Doom Patrol

You can’t keep a good team down, even one with “Doom” in the title.

In September, writer Gerard Way and artist Nick Derington will revive “Doom Patrol” as part of DC ComicsYoung Animal initiative. “The first step is honoring everything that came before it — and then completely fucking it all up,” Way, who’s overseeing the imprint, told Comic Book Resources. “That’s the idea! When you’re writing ‘Doom Patrol,’ I think it’s your job to go in and do your take, and completely throw it in a blender and fuck it up in the best possible way. That book is weirdness and chaos, and all that stuff.”

Way is certainly right about that: Since their 1963 debut, the Doom Patrol has gone through several incarnations, some successful, some not — and some even redefining what comics can be.

In honor of “everything that came before it,” here’s a look back at the different eras of the World’s Strangest Heroes.

The Birth and Death of the Doom Patrol

5. The Doom Patrol Lives Forever

4. The Morrison Revival

3. Rachel Pollack and Vertigo

2. Back to the DCU — and a Reboot

1. “Infinite Crisis” and Restoring the Past

The “reboot” proved to be temporary. In the pages of “Infinite Crisis,” the Doom Patrol joined other superheroes in a big battle against the crazed Superboy Prime. During that fight Robotman and the other members of the team regained their memories of their previous adventures, going all the way back to the 1963 debut, effectively rendering all past Doom Patrol stories part of continuity. They’d appear again in the pages of “Teen Titans,” along with new member Vox and Bumblebee, and a returning Mento and Beast Boy.

2009 brought the most recent attempt at a Doom Patrol series, this time by writer Keith Giffen and artist Matthew Clark, both of whom said they had always wanted to work on the book. Their take focused on the original core members — Robotman, Elasti-Girl (now Elasti-Woman), Negative Man and the Chief. But their run would also include appearances and references to other runs of the book, with appearances by Nudge and Grunt from Byrne’s series, as well as Crazy Jane and Danny the Street from Morrison’s issues. Based on Oolong Island, the team would face both new and familiar faces (including a new take on the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man). One of Giffen’s signature creations, Ambush Bug, even joined the team. Like the Arcudi/Huat run, this one lasted 22 issues.

The New 52 gave DC the option to pick and choose from previous continuity, and when the Doom Patrol first appeared in the new reality, they resembled Kupperberg’s team from the 1970s and 80s. They all apparently die during the “Forever Evil” event, causing Caulder to form a “new” Doom Patrol consisting of Robotman (who had appeared in an anthology series previously, written by Matt Kindt), Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Element Woman. Caulder sends his team to recruit Jessica Cruz, the new Power Ring, but the Justice League beat them to her.

And in September, the Doom Patrol returns once again, with a lineup that includes such familiar faces as Robotman, Niles Caulder, Negative Man, Flex Mentallo and Crazy Jane, and introduces new characters as well.

Way has said he was heavily influenced by Morrison’s take on the book (you can also see those influences in his Dark Horse series “The Umbrella Academy”), so no doubt this new approach will be closer to that era than others. “It gets weirder from here,” he promises.

“Doom Patrol” #1 goes on sale Sept. 14.

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