Feb 20, 2019

The Doom Patrol: The True Original X-Men

In the summer of 1963, emerged a team comprised of misfits with special powers. Abilities that make them outcasts in normal society, united by their loss, and led by a wheelchair-bound man with extraordinary mental powers. If you thought I was describing the X-Men, then you were wrong, my friend, because today we’re digging in the back issue bins for the Doom Patrol.

The Doom Patrol: The True Original X-Men
Ben Smith

The Doom Patrol debuted in My Greatest Adventure #80 in June of 1963, created by writers Arnold Drake and Bob Haney, with artist Bruno Premiani. Three months later, the X-Men burst upon the scene. There has been much speculation as to if Marvel copied the concept of the Doom Patrol for the X-Men, or if it was creative coincidence. Three months isn’t a lot of time in the comic publishing world to develop and execute a comic, so I’m going to chalk it up to them tapping into the same artistic hive mind. (Editor's Note: It's possible the Doom Patrol were based on the Fantastic Four.)

Either way, as much as the X-Men have billed themselves as freaks hated by society, the members of the Doom Patrol were much more believable as social rejects than the X-Men ever would be in actuality. The original members of the team consisted of Elasti-Girl, Negative Man, and Robotman, along with The Chief.

Elasti-Girl was former movie star Rita Farr. Rita made the unwise decision to try and outswim a real crocodile while filming her latest movie, for realism’s sake. It didn’t go well for her, so she had to go over a waterfall to escape, bringing her into contact with naturally occurring gas vapors that granted her the ability to enlarge or shrink her entire body.

Larry Trainor was a test pilot flying an experimental rocket plane. The controls failed, taking him into suborbit before crashing down in a dry lake bed. Immediately after the crash, a duplicate of Larry made out of energy emerged from his body, thus was born the Negative Man. The Negative Man is capable of fantastic feats, but can only remain separated from Larry for 60 seconds before it kills them both.

Cliff Steele was a daredevil race car driver before getting into a devastating accident driving a car of his own design. Doctors were able to transplant his human brain into a robot body, making Cliff Steele a literal Robotman.

These three amazing individuals were brought together by the Chief, a man who decided to overcome his physical handicap by “mastering every field of knowledge.” He uses that knowledge to monitor dangers from all across the globe, but until now had no means to intervene when disaster struck.

The Doom Patrol’s first adventure brought them into conflict with General Immortus, who in case you were wondering, is an evil immortal General. He was after a machine that can transmute any material into atomic energy, which was inside a crashed alien ship, obviously.

The adventures that followed were just as insane, with all manner of giant creatures and nazi war criminals. During one mission, Elasti-Girl throws a torpedo at a giant sea monster.

While in another, Robotman’s face melts as he endures extreme heat to save the day.

However, this all pales in comparison to the greatest villainous organization in comic book history, the Brotherhood of Evil.

The Brotherhood consists of The Brain—

—who is, predictably, an actual human brain floating in liquid hooked up to a voice transmitter.

Not to be outdone is Monsieur Mallah, a super intelligent gorilla wielding machine guns.

The Brain’s “assistant” is Madame Rouge, she doesn’t do much in this initial appearance, and The Brotherhood is recruiting a mustached man that operates a giant robot he has named Rog, because of course.

The Doom Patrol defeat the Brotherhood, despite how awesome they are, which is a shame.

The Doom Patrol comics are not the most sophisticated in terms of writing or art, even by Silver Age standards, but they definitely make up for it by being weird or even downright disturbing. And you really can’t beat an evil brain floating in a jar of liquid flanked by an evil French gorilla.

Comics are a glorious thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments on The Comics Cube need approval (mostly because of spam) and no anonymous comments are allowed. Please leave your name if you wish to leave a comment. Thanks!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.