02 September 2009
Arnold Drake: THE DOOM PATROL ARCHIVES, VOL. I
There are, to my mind, only two manifestations of the unique superhero team known as the Doom Patrol that really matter. Obviously, there's the original DP, the one created for "My Greatest Adventure" by Arnold Drake in 1963, killed off by Drake five years later, and whose earliest exploits are chronicled in this book, The Doom Patrol Archives, Vol. I. Then there's Grant Morrison's wind-warping late-80s version, the only one Drake has certified as legit. Now, we're not going to discuss Morrison's version of the DP, although I'd love to, because I was reading Drake's. While Drake's stories do seem a bit campy by the standards of today's darker, more serious comics, they also just seem really weird--which is their appeal, in the end. The Doom Patrol is not your ordinary band of superheroes; they're freaks, rejected by the rest of human society because they just don't fit in. Elasti-Girl, a former movie star who can grow or shrink on command. Negative Man, the negative spirit that inhabits the body of former pilot Larry Trainor and can only leave for 60 seconds, tops. And Robotman, the human brain of daredevil Cliff Steele, inside a marvelous robot body. They take their orders from the mysterious Chief, a wheelchair-bound supergenius/millionaire. They are, in short, the X-Men, before the X-Men existed, and twice as weird. They are awesome, and so are their enemies: General Immortus, the Brotherhood of Evil (in Morrison's incarnation of the DP, they become the Brotherhood of Dada), Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, countless other weirdos. Why read these comics? Because they're everything comics are supposed to be, that's why. Grade A material.