THE DOOM PATROL #88|
summary written by Lou Mougin (email@example.com)
"The Incredible Origin of the Chief" (25 pages)
Origin: The Chief (real name, Niles Caulder, revealed)
A monocled villain named The Baron begins a crime- spree, even looting a bank which the Doom Patrol is protecting and escaping through a bomb ruse. When Cliff, Larry, and Rita return to headquarters, The Chief informs them that his computer indicates General Immortus is the power behind the Baron. Robotman asks for an explanation of The Chief's fear of Immortus. Reluctantly, The Chief divulges his origin. His real name, he says, is Niles Caulder. At age 22, he gave up a promising engineering career to concentrate on life-prolonging experiments. The destitute Caulder got a $2,000,000 grant from a mysterious patron to continue his experiments, with the stipulation that, once he was successful, the patron would be the first man to receive extended life. Gratefully, Caulder accepted the money. Soon he was able to restore a dead rabbit to life with a ray of his own devising.
But Caulder's curiosity led him to track down his benefactor. He was General Immortus, head of an international crime syndicate. Immortus had survived for centuries by using a life-extending potion, but not even the greatest chemists could duplicate it, and it was running out. Angrily, Caulder refused to supply Immortus with his ray-treatment. Immortus had Caulder overpowered, anaesthetized, and operated upon, with a small bomb placed in his chest. The bomb was powered by electricity from Caulder's own body, and could not be safely removed while Caulder was still alive. Satisfied that the scientist was under his control now, Immortus set Caulder free.
But the future Chief executed a plan of his own. First, he tricked Immortus into mortally wounding him with gunfire. Then he made his way back to his laboratory, activated a robot surgeon, RA-2, and instructed him to operate on his body after he had been dead for 30 minutes. RA-2 did manage to remove the bomb and the bullets, but the operation went slightly longer than expected. Thus, when the robot restored life to Caulder's body with the ray, the scientist's legs remained dead, forcing him to use a wheelchair. Caulder had RA-2 destroy his equipment, and then destroyed RA-2 himself.
Larry, Cliff, and Rita now know Immortus's true objective: to force The Chief to divulge the knowledge of the life-restoring ray. In a subsequent clash, the Baron traps the threesome, unmasks as Immortus, and offers The Chief the chance to save their lives by revealing his ray's secrets.
The Chief pretends to agree, but, once in close proximity to his three teammates, uses a secret device to free Robotman. Cliff liberates Larry and Rita, and Immortus appears to attempt an escape in a rocket, but Negative Man destroys it. Later, The Chief admits that Immortus haunts him, dead or alive.
Possibly the best Silver Age DP story of all. A well- thought-out origin of The Chief, real suspense during the "death" and restoration of Niles Caulder, and even a sympathetic moment when Caulder is forced to destroy his robot aide. Weak points: The Baron's use of a bomb threat to escape from the DP, a plot device Drake has used too many times already (and will use again).
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