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Doom Patrol Annual #2 (1994): "The Wild, the Good, and the Grown-Up"

Rachel Pollack - writer
Mark Wheatley - penciller/inker
Stuart Chaifetz - colorist
John Workman - letterer
Tom Peyer and Lou Stathis - editors
Michael Uman - cover artist

Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine, two undead boy detectives who are investigating the recent mysterious disappearances of children throughout the world (see The Children's Crusade #1), discover a couple named John and Arthur who are mummifying dead children. (They claim they are eternally preserving the innocence of the dead children.) Edwin and Paine don their "disguises" (plastic Groucho Marx spectacles) and attempt to place John and Arthur under arrest, but are surprised to find that they are no longer intangible and that John and Arthur are able to grab them. John and Arthur know that the two boy detectives have been dead for some time, and, deciding that it's too late to try to preserve the boys' innocence, are just about to kill the two detectives a second time (if this is even possible) when help suddenly arrives in the form of a supernatural entity who resembles a giant pink-skinned, fiery-orange-haired girl in a red dress, with streams of flowers for legs, who zaps John and Arthur with bolts of lightning.

She then tries to dissuade Rowland and Paine from continuing their investigation by explaining that the missing children have been sent to an otherdimentional realm called Free Country, where they will remain eternally youthful and safe from the likes of John and Arthur and other abusive adults. In fact, she was the one who temporarily made the boys tangible, in order to show them how threatening adults can be. She gives Rowland and Paine a brief glimse of Free Country. Rowland thinks that she is simply demonstrating her powers in an attempt to scare the detectives off the case and becomes even more determined to find the missing children, while Paine begs the unnamed supernatural entity to let him stay in Free Country. She explains to him, however, that only living children are allowed in Free Country, and that when all the Earth's children have finally been gethered in Free Country, Rowland and Paine will have to be left behind on Earth. She then apologizes and departs.

Meanwhile, it's Dorothy's time of the month again, and she has to be extra careful not to let her powers get out of control. But during a visit with the Wild Girls, some "cultural archetypes" emerge from her subconscious and menace the Wild Girls, and Dorothy has to summon two of her imaginary friends, Pretty Miss Dot and Heart-of-Ice. The evil spirits prove to be too powerful fo Dorothy's imaginary friends, but fortunately the same agent of Free Country who had visited Rowland and Paine arrives. By clapping her hands and reciting the children's poem "Ring Around a Rosy", she is able to transform the nasty archetypes into posies.

The unnamed entity invites Dorothy and the Wild Girls to return with her to Free Country. The Wild Girls will be safe from grownups in Free Country while Dorothy's power is needed for the forthcoming "crusade to save the children". The Wild Girls are enthusiastic about visiting Free Country but Dorothy is reluctant. She feels it's her responsibility to remain on earth with her friends in the Doom Patrol, and is also afraid that the children in Free Country will tease her about her unusual physical appearance, just as children on Earth have always teased her. But the Wild Girls insist on visiting Free Country, so the unnamed entity shows them how to transport themselves to Free Country by playing a special game of hopscotch while improvising a poem. Even as the portal to Free Country opens and the Wild Girls leap into it, Dorothy still hasn't made up her mind to go with them, but then the "cultural archetypes" from her subconscious reappear and chase her into the portal. (This time they were probably summoned by the agent of Free Country.)

Once they are in Free Country, the unnamed entity shows the Wild Girls the territory that has been set aside for them--an idealized version of the forest near Violet Valley, with apple trees and treehouses and rope ladders and a mixture of strawberry and pinapple juice that flows from a stream--and then takes Dorothy to a meeting at Free Country's playground, where the "crusade to save the children" is being planned. But Dorothy has to leave during the meeting because she feels one of her menstrual periods coming on. Fortunately, she's brought a spare tampon with her to Free Country.

Meanwhile, even in Free Country the Wild Girls manage to get themselves into trouble. The trees are too easy to climb, the flowers smell too pretty, and the Wild Girls are bored. So they leave their own allotted territory and discover Maxine's Animal Land, where they see a lion eating a pumpkin and lying next to a sleeping lamb. (Maxine is the daughter of Buddy Baker, a.k.a. Animal Man, and has inherited her father's ability to control animals. She was transported to Free Country in Animal Man Annual #1.) The Wild girls are contemptuous of the lion because he isn't eating the lamb, so they yell at the lion and the lamb and chase them away. Maxine arrives in time to see the Wild Girls tormenting the animals, and is sickened when she realizes that the girls are wearing animal skins. She uses her power to animate the Wild Girls' animal skins, so that they are attacked by their own clothing. Some children wearing sheriff's costumes and with aged-looking wrinkled faces arrive, and chastise Maxine and the Wild Girls for fighting. The Wild Girls decide they've had enough of Free Country and want to return to their own woods near Violet Valley.

Some children from the meeting at the playground discover Dorothy while she is crouched behind a tree with her pants down, changing her tampon. Oddly enough, someone who appears to be an adult is with them, even though there aren't supposed to be any adults in Free Country. The adult is unable to prevent the children from teasing Dorothy, who summons two of her imaginary friends, Paddle in the Sky and Dark as Morning, to distract the children while she runs away. Dorothy has also had enough of Free Country. She tries to recreate from memory the hopscotch diagram that was part of the ritual that transported her and the Wild Girls to Free Country, but ends up making up her own diagram. As she hops from square to square and improvises a poem, the imterdimentional portal opens, but suddenly Dorothy's way is blocked by one of the archetypes from her subconscious. Also, the children from the playground catch up with Dorothy and throw rocks at her. Fortunately the Wild Girls arrive and fight off the children. Dorothy's archetype disappears, and she is able to leap into the portal and return to Earth. The Wild Girls leap in after her. The portal sends Dorothy to the kitchen of Doom Patrol Headquarters, where the other members of the Doom Patrol happen to be gathered. They are happy to see her, and although Dorothy's adventure in Free Country seemed like only a few hours to her, they claim she has been gone for weeks. Meanwhile, the portal has returned the Wild Girls to the nearby woods. They miss Dorothy, their "Story Lady", and decide they will look for her the following day.

NOTES:

Doom Patrol Annual #2, along with the other 1993/1994 Vertigo Annuals, is part of "The Children's Crusade", a crossover storyline which consists of The Children's Crusade #1, Black Orchid Annual #1, Animal Man Annual #1, Swamp Thing Annual #7, Doom Patrol Annual #2, Arcana Annual #1, and The Children's Crusade #2.

Dorothy is absent from issues 73 and 74, which probably take place during her visit to Free Country.

Although the Crow promised to look after the Wild Girls in issue 72, she does not appear in this story.

Summary written by Tom Hartley.
Email: rlripley at yahoo.com
Website: Bullwinkle's Eyes

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