MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #85|
summary written by Lou Mougin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"The Furies From 4,000 Miles Below" (17 pages)
Villains: Two nuclear creatures (intro; both
The movie Rita Farr appears in, The Diminishing Lady, is almost certainly a reference to the 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking Man--and an ironic near-preview of 1981's sequel, The Incredible Shrinking Woman.
Rita Farr has originally turned down an offer to appear in a science fiction movie, The Diminishing Man, saying that she is not interested in being an actress anymore. But The Chief talks her into agreeing, with a little help from Robotman, saying that one of the Doom Patrol's main purposes is "to make the world accept us as normal people!" Rita takes the part. Then, when the leading actor apparently wrenches his leg in a stunt and cannot continue in his part, Rita offers to take his place, with the movie rewritten to feature her in the lead. She also uses her shrinking powers to do the stunts for real, on normal-sized sets. But soon she finds out that the entire affair was a plot of The Chief's, to get her away from the Doom Patrol for a short while.
While Rita is away, The Chief reveals to Cliff and Larry that two underground nuclear tests have apparently awakened some subterranean beings. Since he viewed the potential danger as very great, The Chief sent Rita away for safekeeping, and sends Robotman, Negative Man, and himself in a "mechanical mole" to a cavern five miles below the Earth's surface, to investigate.
The three heroes soon discover two powerful energy- beings, which The Chief describes as "living, nuclear reactors!" They are unable to destroy the creatures, and, when their mole-ship is damaged, they find themselves unable to return to the surface. Luckily, Elasti-Girl has followed in a converted bathysphere, and rescues her teammates.
The Chief reveals that both creatures are digging towards the surface, and, if they meet, their combined heat could set off "the Nitrogen Cycle", possibly igniting the Earth's atmosphere. When the monsters emerge, Larry, Cliff, and Rita douse their flames by pouring powdered coal onto them, dampening them as carbon rods will damp out a nuclear reactor. The two creatures die out, and The Chief confirms that the lack of similar seismic vibrations indicate that they were the last of their kind. Rita tells The Chief that if he ever pulls a doublecross on her again, she'll cut off his beard. The Chief reacts with mock horror.
Lots of nice character bits here: Rita's dedication to the team as kind of a refuge, her extreme hesitance to enter her "old life" again, The Chief and Robotman arguing that their mission is to make the public accept them as "normal" people, Negative Man sticking up for Rita, the Chief's terror and helplessness on page 10 when the nuclear creature menaces him in the mechanical mole, Rita's rescue of the guys, and her mock-serious confrontation with The Chief.
The Chief's guarding Rita by sending her away, and Larry's and Cliff's acceptance of it, may be seen in these "politically correct" days as sexist. However, in 1963, such behavior was looked upon more as "gallant", and seems to be treated as such here. But it's obvious Drake doesn't fully agree with the men's actions, and has Rita save the day for her teammates in a situation that even has The Chief stumped.
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