MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #80, June 1963|
summary written by Lou Mougin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"The Doom Patrol" (25 pages)
Intro: The Chief (Dr. Niles Caulder; origin and real
name revealed in DOOM PATROL (I) #88)
This is the first Doom Patrol story.
Chronologically earlier appearances of the Doom Patrol members can be found in flashbacks or flashback stories in DOOM PATROL #88, 100, 101, 103, 105-107, 109, and 111 and SHOWCASE #95. This story takes place shortly after the Robotman story in DOOM PATROL #105.
Murray Ward's OFFICIAL DOOM PATROL INDEX (Independent Comics Group) has been used as a corrobarative source in this index.
In SHOWCASE #94, the Doom Patrol is revealed to be based in Midway City, home to Hawkman and Hawkgirl. This story is reprinted in BATMAN #238 and DC SPECIAL BLUE-RIBBON DIGEST #19.
The Chief, a red-bearded mystery man, summons three reluctant guests to his home and headquarters building in Midway City. All three are victims of fantastic mishaps. Rita Farr, a Hollywood actress, inhaled strange volcanic fumes while on location in Africa, imbuing her with the power to grow to gigantic size or shrink to a mite. Larry Trainor, a test pilot, flew through radiation belts in the upper atmosphere, became radioactive himself, and found he had the power to release a strange, black-hued being of radio waves from his body. This being, which was dubbed Negative Man, could move at the speed of light. But if it remained outside Trainor's body for over 60 seconds, both Trainor and Negative Man would die. (As a result of his mishap, Trainor has to be swathed in specially- treated mummy-like bandages to protect others from his deadly radiation.) Finally, there is Cliff Steele, adventurer and race-car driver, who was critically injured in a racing accident. Only Steele's brain was salvageable, and, to save him, it was placed within the head of a powerful, orange-hued robot. The Chief reveals that he is the surgeon who performed the brain transplant.
He also reveals to them that he is crippled in both legs, a paraplegic who relies on a wheelchair for mobility. "I, too, have a handicap! But I conquered it with my brain by mastering every field of knowledge! In these rooms I go on my own adventures...adventures with my mind!"
Cliff, Larry, and Rita have become outcasts of society due to their fates, but The Chief offers them a chance "to cheat that fate". He will remain within their headquarters, monitoring world events and disasters. They will act as his agents, attacking evils and disasters around the world when the latter arise.
Before much more can be said, the foursome learn from a TV news bulletin of a bomb planted on a pier. The Chief has Negative Man locate the bomb and bring it to their headquarters. While Cliff holds the bomb near his metal body to shield them from the possible explosion, the Chief directs Rita to shrink to tiny size, enter the bomb, and disarm it as per his instructions. In the aftermath, Rita admits that "The experience has given me hope for the first time!"
"Well, boys, what do you say?" asks the Chief. "Are we a team dedicated to adventure...anywhere...anytime?" Larry and Cliff agree to throw in with The Chief, as does Rita.
Directly afterward, the Chief sends his three charges to investigate an unmanned alien spacecraft that has landed on Earth. Unknown to him, his headquarters is being monitored by the evil General Immortus, The Chief's greatest foe. Clint, Larry, and Rita go to the site of the ship, use their powers to combat its defensive devices, and are soon confronted by General Immortus. The ancient villain uses his own superscientific gimmicks to put the trio at a disadvantage. The heroes manage to strip an "atomic converter" from the spaceship and escape. General Immortus, still within the ship, is caught inside when its automatic controls cause it to take off in an attempt to return to its homeworld. Immortus fools with the controls, and the ship crashes into a mountainside. Immortus is believed to be killed.
Later, Cliff, Rita, and Larry reunite with The Chief. A newspaper headline, above a story which praises their performance, reads: AMAZING VICTORY OF DOOM PATROL. The Chief suggests that "Doom Patrol" be adopted as their team name. The foursome thus begin their career as a team.
This is one of the true DP classics, and the writing by Haney and Drake is certainly better in terms of characterization than the usual 1963 DC drivel. The Doom Patrol was one of the first and most successful attempts to transplant "Marvel characterization" to DC. Premiani's art is also offbeat and fine, and he will continue as the artist on almost all subsequent issues up to #121.
Though Robotman has an origin similar to the Golden Age Robotman of STAR-SPANGLED COMICS and DETECTIVE COMICS, Arnold Drake claims that he was not aware of the earlier character when he created Cliff Steele.
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