Doom Patrol #19 with Kate (and Dan)

Kate is sitting at the kitchen table, head in her hands, pouring over DOOM PATROL #19. She slams the cover on the book shut and looks up at Dan, brow furrowed.

D: ::looking very uneasy:: Er, easy on the book there, Red. That Grant Morrison DOOM PATROL trade collection came out in 1992. The pages are very fragile and I’d be quite sad if you bent the cover. It’s been with me longer than you have.

K: ::distractedly:: Ok fine. I won’t put your book on a spinner rack, ya’ weirdo.

(sigh) I…I have no idea what I just read. There was a gold guy that looked like a poor man’s C2PO. A group leader guy in a wheelchair that wasn’t Professor X. Some spirit-thing that talked in truncated sentences without punctuation. And then there was the crazy lady painting in the rain. I…huh…wha’?

D: Um, I believe the robot in question is actually “Cee Three Pee Oh.”

K: I hate you sometimes.

D: I know. You tell me every other week when we write the blog. Try reading it again. All the crazy will fall into place the second time around. Trust me.

K: ::takes deep breath:: OK. If you say so.

….

Kate carefully closes the cover of the DOOM PATROL trade.

K: ::shaking head:: Yup. Still confused. I was able to put a few more pieces together, but there is a lot, I mean A LOT, going on in that book. I have no idea where to even start.

D: ::Lights go dark. Spotlight shines. Steps on box:: So here’s the dealio for those of you following along at home.

::points finger at YOU::

The year is 1960-something. The DC superheroes are busy saving the day. They were Boy Scouts with spit curls and square jaws. For the most part it was pretty white-bread bland all around. Then DC comes out with MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #80, and suddenly the DC heroes aren’t quite so safe. The Doom Patrol was the first super group that didn’t WANT to be superheroes. This was decades before angst was commonplace in funny books. This was new. This was weird.

K: This was a brain in a robot body! ::shows off sweet dance moves by doing the Robot::

D: Flash forward a bit, and the Doom Patrol became one of the first super-groups to go out with a bang.

K: A bang? Really?

D: Yes, really. They blew up saving an island from… blowing up. Fast forward some more, and we find this version of the DP. DC had tried a few relaunches of the book, and it never really took off. Well, this version was played as a straight-up super book and you know what?

K: It stunk like bad eggs?

D: Bad eggs, INDEED. And you know who bought it?

K: You?

D: Me.

K: HAH! Egg sucker!

D: What did you say?

K: Nothing.

D: That’s what I thought. The Doom Patrol pre-dates Marvel’s X-Men. Like I said, this is the “superhero” team that didn’t want to be superheroes. They really aren’t superheroes as much as people that are overcoming extraordinary circumstances.

K: It’s starting to come together now. The poor man’s droid is really a guy who lost his entire body and had his brain placed in the robot-y body. And that spirit-thing that speaks weird is an otherworldly being that possesses some poor guy and a nice doctor lady. And possesses them at the same time! And the crazy lady, well…she’s just got mental problems.

D: You’re getting it. Grant Morrison started writing the Doom Patrol with issue #19. Previously,  an “Invasion” and a “gene bomb” had shattered the team. These were both big events in the DC Universe proper at the time. But even though this was before DC started shunting their more mature books off into the Vertigo corner, Grant Morrison chose to touch these events very lightly.

The individual members of the team, the robot guy and the team leader in the wheelchair, are trying to pull their lives together. The Doom Patrol leader, The Chief, is plotting to get the team back together.

K: To go on a mission from God?

D: Not exactly. The Chief finds that not everyone is keen on getting the band back together. Then a car crash happens and a victim mentions that some bad dudes are coming.

K: The Fiskar Men? I didn’t understand why we should fear men with safety scissors, but then again there was a lot I didn’t understand.

D: They’re the Scissormen. These are bad dudes. We learn that the Doom Patrol will be needed, but will they answer the call?

K: I dunno, do they?

D: Red, the Doom Patrol debuted in 1963. This very issue #19 came out 24 years ago. Morrison’s last issue was #63. The most recent Doom Patrol relaunch was in 2009. Blow up the Doom Patrol on as many islands as you want. They’ll keep coming back weirder than ever.

K: You know, I’m getting it now. The Doom Patrol is a place for everyone who doesn’t fit into the norm. They’re like the BREAKFAST CLUB of super teams. As a redhead, I feel like I’ve found my tribe. Maybe The Chief will write my essay?