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Issue 57, "The Nature of the Catastrophe"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Layouts: Richard Case
Finishes: Richard Case, Stan Woch and Mark McKenna

Summary:
written by William Sherman (sherman@netcom.com)

This issue is double-sized.

The Chief can walk, it seems; Cliff is too stunned to believe that the Chief has killed Josh. The Chief takes Cliff up to the lab where the Think Tank (his giant liquid computer in a swimming pool) is kept. He reveals to Cliff that he has mastered nanotechnology: he can make self- replicating machines on the molecular scale, and use them to alter reality.

In her mind, Dorothy refuses to let the Candlemaker out. In reality, she finds Josh's body, and decides to release the Candlemaker, who promises to bring Josh back to life.

Cliff finally clues in and tries to attack the Chief, who stops him with some sort of electronic failsafe mechanism. Cliff is frozen in mid-dash, able to see and hear as usual, but paralyzed.

The Candlemaker revives Josh and then immediately kills him. Dorothy has been swindled.

The Chief has created life. This, it seems, has been his overwhelming obsession all his life. He has built an artificial man, which looks like a muscular white mannikin. In the following dozen pages, the Chief tells Cliff his life story, in which Morrison seriously retcons the Chief and much of Doom Patrol history. The Chief is revealed to be a cold manipulating genius who tinkered with people's lives simply to satisfy his curiosity.

It seems that the Chief created the Doom Patrol in order to study the effects of catastrophic change on the lives of its members: Cliff, Rita and Larry, all of whose lives changed completely with the accidents which gave them their powers. When General Immortus blew up the island where the team's history ended, the Chief could have saved Rita's life, but simply didn't feel like it.

He did indeed marry Arani, using her as one more test subject for his longevity serum.

Now, he plans to use his nanomachines to remake the world, after transferring his mind into the new artificial body. First, however, he plans to test the process with Cliff, and he attaches various probes and electrodes to Cliff's brain.

Suddenly, the new body attacks the Chief and decapitates him. It is the Candlemaker. It turns to Cliff and pulls out his brain, crumbling it like clay. It now lives in the artificial body, and is free to bring about the end of the world.

Annotations:
written by William Sherman

p. 9: Eric Drexler is the author of several books about nanotechnology. He describes it as the revolutionary technology of the near future. He enumerates possibilities slightly more modest than those described by Caulder, and postulates that the technology will be available before the current generation is gone. His books include _Engines of Creation_ (1986), _Unbounding the Future: the Nanotechnology Revolution_ (1991), with Chris Peterson and Gayle Pergamit, and _Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing and Computation_ (1992).

p. 18: The Frankenstein references are, as Caulder says, to the many films which used the character. The monster (and its inventor) were created by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in her novel _Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus_.

p. 22: Ra is the Egyptian sun god.

p. 27: This is an accurate retelling of Cliff's original reaction to his mechanical body.

The Doom Patrol is a licensed trademark of Jost Enterprises and, of course, DC Comics.
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