THE DOOM PATROL #93|
Summary written by Lou Mougin (email@example.com)
"Showdown On Nightmare Road" (24 pages)
The origins of the Doom Patrol members are briefly recapped on page 1.
Cliff, Larry, and Rita stop an assassination attempt and capture the would-be killer. But when Rita kisses Larry afterwards, the incident makes Cliff more resentful of his robot body, since no woman would kiss a man of metal. He delves briefly into biochemical studies, learns that a biologist named Dr. Wilder is visiting, and offers himself as a guinea pig to him. If Wilder can build a new human body, Robotman will supply the brain...his own.
Along the way, Wilder shows Cliff a horrific, green- furred monstrosity, living but without intelligence, the results of his first experiment. Cliff recoils, but Wilder asserts that he can do plastic surgery on the creature to make it human in appearance. With a sketch pad, Robotman indicates the face he wants to wear--the one he used to have when he was Cliff Steele, race-car driver.
Unbeknownst to Cliff, "Wilder" is actually a disguised Madame Rouge. Once Cliff is hypnotized into slumber, Rouge and Mallah transfer Cliff's brain to the Brain's holding tank and the Brain is inserted into Robotman's body. The Brain is thus able to infiltrate the Doom Patrol, and has Mallah lure Elasti-Girl and Negative Man into captivity by trapping them in a battle with Rog, the giant robot.
While this is going on, Cliff calls stridently for help through the Brain's audio apparatus, and is lucky enough to get a blind man who is not repulsed by a disembodied brain he cannot see. The man puts Cliff in touch with the Chief, who learns what has transpired. The Brain in Robotman's body broadcasts a challenge to the Chief to meet him on Knight's Moor ("Nightmare") Road, where he intends to kill him with Robotman's metal hands.
At that point, Cliff reenters the battle, having been transplanted by The Chief into the body of the green- furred super-strong monster of the Brain's creation. He rips the leg off his old robot body to immobilize the Brain. Larry and Rita have managed to free themselves from the Brotherhood's trap, and arrive to fight off Mallah and Rouge. The Brain distracts them by sending a car speeding towards a natural gas tank. While the Doom Patrol averts disaster, Rouge snags a passing plane and enables herself and her teammates to make a getaway.
Finally, the Chief gets Cliff back in his robot body, tells him that the monster body has died, and learns that Cliff is glad to be back in his metal corpus.
A lot to like about this story. The "musical brains" number probably derives from old Frankenstein movies and was played again by Steve Gerber in his "Headmen" opus of The Defenders (#31-40 and Annual #1). Gerber would have been an excellent choice to script a Doom Patrol revival in the Seventies, but such was not to be. Also touching is the plight of the blind man who wears a sign around his neck asking for money to buy a seeing-eye dog. One can only hope that The Chief gave him enough cash to buy a whole kennel!
Also very eerie in this issue is the attempt to assassinate a foreign head of state. The Kennedy assassination had happened just about a year before this comic was published (probably in November of 1964). Given the several-month lead time for production, it's possible to speculate that Drake might have been using the DP to stave off that tragedy--even if by proxy.
The monster is really gross, like something out of the early-Sixties Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Also nice to see Rog back again, in its final appearnce. One wonders where Morden, its original pilot, went to. Then again, considering the Brain's ruthless nature and the fact that Morden had screwed up, one doesn't have to speculate too much...
Nice character bits: Robotman's Thing-like jealousy over Rita and Larry's kiss and his contempt for his own body. The DP really was the closest thing DC had to their own Fantastic Four...and, sadly, they never seemed to realize it.
Lastly: after an eight-issue abscence, Bruno Premiani is back on the cover, even if it's only on inks. He won't return to do a full cover job until #98.
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