THE DOOM PATROL #90
summary written by Lou Mougin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"The Enemy Within the Doom Patrol" (25 pages)
Villains: The Brotherhood of Evil (The Brain, Mallah, Madame Rouge)
Madame Rouge is released from jail on a technicality and goes back to the Brotherhood of Evil, and to her "cover" job as headmistress of a girls' school. The Brain has a new role for her in their group, however. To that end, he subjects her to a ray-treatment that gives her elastic powers, enabling her to stretch her body to great lengths and to reshape her features so that she can mimic the appearances of others. When Cliff and Larry are called on to repair a sabotaged dam, Madame Rouge imitates the visage of Elasti-Girl and shoves Robotman into the waters below. The real Elasti-Girl arrives minutes later and saves Cliff's human brain from drowning, though Rouge is long gone. When the threesome report to The Chief, he deduces that an impostor is among them. He gives them code words by which to identify themselves. Rouge next mimics the form of Robotman when the Doom Patrol go to rescue trapped miners at the site of a cave-in. She contrives a trap which pins the real Cliff under tons of fallen rock, and then attempts to kill Larry and Rita by cutting the cables of a mine elevator. Negative Man averts disaster, and Elasti- Girl saves Robotman. Together, Cliff and Rita rescue the miners. Once again, Rouge escapes.
When all four Doom Patrollers are at the scene of a blazing ship full of explosives, Rouge imitates Larry Trainor while Negative Man's abscence renders him inert, but she is unable to bring herself to shoot him while assuming his form. She breaks away and confers with The Brain, who tells her she has a psychosomatic block against murdering a person whose features she is wearing.
Minutes later, after their mission is accomplished, the Doom Patrol meets, and Cliff and Rita give their codewords to their leader. When Larry says he cannot remember his, the person in the wheelchair points a gun at him, calls him the impostor, and declares he will die. Larry knocks the gun-wielder out of the chair. Angrily, Robotman grabs Larry and begins to crush him with his metal hands. But Rita points out that "The Chief's" face has been distorted by Larry's blow, revealing that "he" is really the impersonator. Rouge returns to her normal form and uses her elastic powers to battle the Doom Patrol, but is accidentally thrown to freedom by Elasti-Girl and makes a getaway. Larry locates The Chief, tied up and left in a phone booth. He tells the others that he had pretended to forget his code word, "just to see how far she'd go!" Finally, the Brain tells his two aides that Rouge will need more treatments to remove the block against killing her targets from her psyche, and The Chief realizes that sooner or later, he will have a final encounter with the Brain--and only one will survive.
A good story, particularly in the granting to Madame Rouge the powers used in the same way by Plastic Man of Quality Comics. Ironically enough, Arnold Drake was the scripter of DC's first Plastic Man revival in 1966. Fun scene of Rita in giant-size at the zoo, playing with lions and tigers as if they were kittens, and of Robotman, complaining to the Chief that he feels stupid talking while his head is being installed on another body.
Nice character bits: Robotman's loyalty to The Chief, underlined by his fury at Larry hitting Rouge in The Chief's form. To this day, it makes one wonder if he would have killed Larry, had not Rita stopped him. Also Rita's anger and the boys' laughter when she learns that Madame Rouge has called her "a Hollywood has-been and [an] overgrown Campfire Girl" in print. I also have a special fondness for this issue. Since 1964, I've owned the original artwork to page 14. (And I intend to keep it!)
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