The Chief

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CHARACTER

The Chief

A brilliant scientist, Dr. Niles Caulder founded the Doom Patrol to help people who felt outcast from society because of their super powers.

Introduction

Aliases: Dr. Niles Caulder
First Appearance: MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #80, 1963

 

 

 

Dr. Niles Caulder, better known by his nickname "The Chief," is one of the world's foremost scientific minds, and the founder of the Super-Hero team known as the Doom Patrol. Although ostensibly a hero, the cold yet brilliant mind of the Chief has resulted in several disastrous actions on his part, as well as heroic ones, making him one of the most complicated figures in the DC Universe. It was the Chief's scientific genius that allowed for him to save the members of the Doom Patrol from the horrific accidents that disfigured them, but it was later revealed that Caulder was the man behind those accidents in the first place.

 

Despite being a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, and once not even having a body to speak of, it is the Chief's incredible mind is that makes him such a formidable figure. While there are several other genius intellects in the DC Universe like Lex Luthor, Mister Terrific and Batman that could arguably rival the Chief, it is his knowledge in nearly all fields of science, from medicine to nanotech to chemistry and robotics, that make him both admired and feared. Unfortunately, the Chief lacks the moral compass to ever fully be the hero he think he is, but nevertheless, his actions have resulted in saving the world on more than one occasion. 

 

Origin

Silver Age (1963-1968) 

Niles Caulder was an exceptional genius from a very young age, and used his vast knowledge to create several inventions that made him independently wealthy. One of his earliest discoveries was a mysterious formula that could prolong life. After he made this discovery, Caulder began to receive funding from a mysterious benefactor. Thanks in part to his unlimited cash flow from this mystery source, Dr. Caulder succeeded in making a new formula which could grant near immortality. But when Caulder learned that the benefactor was an evil would-be dictator named General Immortus, who wanted Caulder to invent a new formula to replace the one that had been using but was no longer working, Caulder refused to help him any longer.

 

Immortus got his revenge on Dr. Caulder by implanting an explosive device in his upper torso, which he could set off remotely any time he wished. If Caulder ever attempted to remove it, it would automatically detonate. Caulder eventually used his genius level intellect to find a way to remove the device, but it cost him his ability to walk, and he was now a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. Instead of seeing this as a setback, Caulder saw that his tragic circumstance made him a stronger, better individual. He then sought out several people who were disfigured by various "accidents," all of which left them with freakish powers. He recruited three of them -- Robotman, Negative Man and Elasti-Girl -- into his team of outcast heroes he named the Doom Patrol.

 

Owing their lives to Dr. Caulder, who either helped save them or helped to control their powers, the Patrol gave their leader the name The Chief. Together, the Chief and the Doom Patrol had many adventures together, fighting enemies like his old benefactor General Immortus and the Brotherhood of Evil. Those adventures came to an abrupt end when the evil Captain Zahl forced Caulder and his team to choose between saving their own lives, or those of the tiny town of Codsville, Maine. The Doom Patrol valiantly sacrificed themselves to save the townspeople, and all members, including the Chief, were thought to be killed in the resulting explosion. But despite appearances, that would not be the end of Caulder's story. 

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The Bronze Age (1977-1985)

Although Robotman was quickly discovered to have survived the explosion, thanks to his robotic form, Caulder and the others all seemed to have been killed in the blast. Then, a mysterious woman from India named Arani Desai approached Robotman with a stunning revelation -- not only was she the Chief's long lost wife, she also believed him to still be alive. Along with Robotman, who did not believe her claim at first, Arani Desai formed a new Doom Patrol, partially in part to locate the Chief.

 

According to Desai, Caulder met and fell in love with her in Calcutta years before, and sensing danger from his enemy Immortus, he experimented on her and gave her powers over heat and cold to defend herself, and renamed her Celsius. The two were then married, but he subsequently abandoned her for her own safety, or at least that's what he told her. After his demise, Celsius became obsessed with the idea that he had faked his own death, as he was too smart to be killed by a simple explosion. Despite her belief in his having survived, the new Doom Patrol could not find the Chief, and eventually went their separate ways.

 

 

Post Crisis (1986-2011) 

After the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Doom Patrol reformed, and continued their search for the Chief. Eventually, Celsius' theory proved correct, and the Chief was revealed to have survived the blast that killed his teammates, thanks to the advanced technology in his wheelchair. He went into hiding, and never told Robotman he had survived. However, once revealed to be alive, the Chief claimed that although he had indeed given Celsius her powers years ago, the two had never been in love and were never married. Celsius claimed he was lying, but soon after she died defending the Earth from an alien invasion. Later, the Chief admitted he had married her, but had manipulated her for his own reasons. 

 

Now a part of the Doom Patrol again, the Chief embarked on many surreal adventures with this newest incarnation of the team, which once again included Robotman, but also new members like Crazy Jane and Dorothy Spinner. But the real truth about who Caulder was would soon be discovered, and devastate the team. The Chief is revealed to be working on a nanotechnology bomb that will destroy half the population of the Earth, and replace it with people transformed into freaks, believing that from this destruction a new and better humanity would emerge. In another bombshell reveal, the Doom Patrol learns that Caulder himself was behind all of the "accidents" that cause the original Doom Patrol members to gain their powers, adhering to Caulder's belief that true greatness is only achieved by overcoming tragic events

 

When the Doom Patrol's resident physician Joshua Clay discovers the truth, the Chief murders him in order to protect his secrets, but the Doom Patrol find out anyway, and succeed in putting an end to his plans. Soon after, he is decapitated by a creation of Doom Patrol member Dorothy Spinner called The Candlemaker. But the Chief has a knack for surviving almost any attempt at being killed, and this is not the end of him.

 

Doctor Will Magnus, another genius when it comes to robotics, then builds a whole new body for the Chief, with the idea that he needs to begin making amends to the team for what he's done. Becoming suicidal and overcome with guilt, the Chief believes that there is nothing he can do that will make up for his actions, and uses his new body to remove his own head. Magnus finds a way to save Caulder by getting the head to a cryogenic chamber, but after this the Chief exists only as a severed head in a bucket of ice, living on a diet of nothing but milkshakes. Now trying to atone for his horrible actions, he then rebuilds the Doom Patrol. 

 

After many adventures as a disembodied head, the cosmic manipulations of the being known as Superboy Prime alter the history of the universe, allowing all the original members of the Doom Patrol to be reintroduced into the DC Universe, with all their past history now seemingly erased. This means a new, younger version of the Patrol is introduced to the world, with the Chief in charge once more, and with his body intact. It is unknown if this version of the Chief was responsible for the accidents which caused the creation of the team, but eventually all of his memories from the previous timeline were restored thanks to Superboy Prime punching himself out of the Phantom Zone, causing ripples in reality.

 

 

Post Infinite Crisis (2006-2011)

After the Multiverse was reborn due to the events of the Infinite Crisis, the Chief   reappears leading a new incarnation of the Doom Patrol once more. It is revealed that in this new reality, had somehow managed to salvage a piece of Elasti-Girl's skull from the explosion that killed her years before, and used his scientific skills to regrow her entire body, which was possible due to its malleable form. This new version of Elasti-Woman is very subservient to Dr. Caulder, and was reluctant to ever question him in any way. It turned out that this Elast-Woman was actually not the original returned from the dead, but a clone of her.

 

After the Doom Patrol relocated to Oolong Island, Dr.Caulder was able to transfer the powers of a Kryptonian captured during the War of the Supermen into himself. With all this new power, he was able to disarm most of the world of its nuclear arsenal, and then attempted to instigate a forced world peace by hiding all the nuclear weapons at the former location of the Justice League of Antarctica. He then started making demands to the United Nations. His dreams of a forced global peace were crushed when the Doom Patrol was able to disarm him by shutting down his nervous system, leaving him powerless once more and in a coma.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

New 52 (2011-2016) 

thechief-essential5-new52-RVNGERS_Cv5-1-v1.jpg In the wake of the Flashpoint event, the DC Universe timeline was greatly altered once more. In this new reality, Dr. Caulder first appeared operating an underground science facility located deep beneath Los Angeles, where he provides headquarters and combat training for the team known as the Ravagers in their ongoing fights against the organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E.

 

During the events of Forever Evil, in which the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 takes over the world, it is revealed that Niles Caulder has created a Doom Patrol in this new timeline as well. This version of the Patrol was unfortunately killed by Crime Syndicate, with the exceptions of Celsius and Joshua Clay who apparently faked their deaths to escape Caulder, which allowed for him to create a second iteration of his team. The second membership of the post Flashpoint Doom Patrol actually is made up of the team's original lineup with Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man. It is revealed that, just as in the previous reality, Dr. Caulder was responsible for all the accidents that initally gave the Doom Patrol their powers.

 

The Doom Patrol is once again contacted by Niles Caulder, who then partake in a new mission with him the group once again. When the mission goes south, the Doom Patrol sees this as a failure of leadership, and they vote to remove him as team leader, resulting in the Doom Patrol embracing a new beginning for themselves as a team.

 

Powers and Abilities

thechief-powers-DPA_7_P.9-v1.jpg Dr. Niles Caulder has no superhuman meta abilities to speak of, and is only armed with a genius intellect that included extensive knowledge in the fields of biochemistry, robotics, and engineering. He is also a skilled surgeoun, having been the one who transferred Cliff Steele's brain into a robot body. He created the bandages the protect the world from Negative Man's radioactivity, and he even once devised a ray that could bring someone who was recently deceased back to life. His wheelchair is also no ordinary wheelchair, as it is armed with several weapons, including laser guns and a force field. It was this force field in his wheelchair that allowed him to survive the apparent death of the original team years before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Storylines and History

"The Incredible Origin of the Chief!" (DOOM PATROL #88, 1964)

Almost a year into the Doom Patrol's existence, the backstory of the Chief is finally shown, and we see how Niles Caulder became a prominent scientist, and how he became the lifelong enemy of General Immortus, ultimately leading to his creation of the Doom Patrol. It's also the first time we are given an explanation as to why The Chief is confined to a wheelchair. 

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“The Beginning of the End” (DOOM PATROL #121, 1968)

 

The Chief and his Doom Patrol sacrificing their lives to save a small town full of strangers was a watershed moment in Super-Hero comics, as back then heroes never lost their battles. In this story, the Chief comes across at his most heroic when he and his team choose death over allowing people they've never met to perish, although later stories in subsequent decades would paint him out to be far more sinister.

 

 

 

 

"The Nature of the Catastrophe" (DOOM PATROL #57, 1992)

thechief-essential3-thetruthrevealed-DoomPatrol-#57_CVR-v1.jpg This story from the more surreal age of the Doom Patrol's adventures revealed who Niles Caulder really was, and showed him to be a murderer and a master manipulator. His history is fully laid bare before the team, and everything we thought we know about Niles Caulder is called into question. This is also the story in which the Chief is decapitated, although he manages to survive even this.

 

 

 

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Back In Charge (TEEN TITANS #36, 2006) 

With the Doom Patrol's original history restored due to the aftermath of the Infinite Crisis, the Chief is once again the leader of the team, and more importantly, he once again has a body. In this new version of the group, which features all the original members of the team, we learn that the Chief brought back Elasti-Girl, using the original's DNA, and re-growing her. In an eerie development, she has far less of a strong personality this time, and seems almost like a science experiment of the Chief's gone wrong. 

 

 

"Unchained" (THE RAVAGERS #4, 2012)

In the post Flashpoint timeline, before Niles Caulder lost the use of his legs, he first appeared as a brilliant scientist who was assisting the team of young heroes known as the Ravagers. Caulder helped provide sanctuary and special training for the Ravagers in order to help them fight off the forces of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Caulder finds himself captured by the mercenary Deathstroke for the villainous Harvest, but later escapes, and ends up founding the Doom Patrol. 

 

Team Affiliations

  • • Doom Patrol
  • • The Ravagers

Appearances in Other Media

Television

Main Character Appearances

 

Live Action:

  • • Titans 
  • • Doom Patrol (2019)

 

Animation:

  • • DC Nation Shorts

 

Guest Appearances/Cameos

 

Animation:

  • • Batman: The Brave and the Bold