The Doom Patrol -- who appear in live-action for the first time in episode 4 of Titans (watch it here on Friday, November 2nd) -- have been the most famous team of freaks and outcasts in the DC Universe ever since they debuted way back in 1963. Since then, they've had all kinds of different incarnations, some weird, and some, well… even more weird. But one thing’s for sure -- no one would ever confuse these guys for the idolized members of the Justice League or the Teen Titans. Here are five must-read stories from throughout the Doom Patrol's wild and crazy history...
My Greatest Adventure #80, "The Doom Patrol!" (1963)
The very first appearance of the Doom Patrol was in issue #80 of the anthology comic series My Greatest Adventure (read it here). From day one, these were easily the strangest heroes of the Silver Age of comics. This first story is split up into three chapters, the first of which introduces us to the series' main heroes -- Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man, and their leader The Chief. It also gives us their tragic backstories.
Upon assembling his heroes, The Chief has them recover a downed alien spacecraft and fight their first major villain, General Immortus. After five more "trial" issues, the Patrol would take over My Greatest Adventure, and the book would be renamed Doom Patrol (read it here). The concept as well as the team's uniforms were slightly tweaked, but the core of what makes the Doom Patrol so distinct from all other super teams is here in the very first story.
Doom Patrol #121, "The Beginning of the End?" (1968)
Although initially a hit, after a few years sales slipped on Doom Patrol and DC decided to cancel the original comic. In an unprecedented move, especially in an era when Super Heroes walked away from every battle victorious, the final issue of the team's original series found the so-called freaks faced with an impossible choice -- sacrifice their own lives or allow the evil General Zahl and Madame Rogue to murder all the inhabitants of a tiny fishing village in New England. Without hesitation the Patrol give up their lives to save the town, making them the most noble of all the heroes of the Silver Age. Most importantly, this "death" was permanent for nearly ten years.
Doom Patrol #19-22, "Crawling from the Wreckage" (1989)
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at relaunching the Doom Patrol, the team was given a new lease on life when writer Grant Morrison (read our interview with Morrison on his run here) and artist Richard Case took over the reins of Doom Patrol volume 2 with issue #19. The opening storyline, collected as "Crawling from the Wreckage" (read it here), gives the team a new, surrealist bent, again making them like any other super team in comics.
This opening storyline finds the team rebuilding themselves after suffering many losses. The Chief convinces Robotman to rejoin, along with Rebis, an intersexed version of Negative Man, and new member Crazy Jane, who has 64 different personalities -- each with their own super power. In their first storyline, the World's Strangest Heroes fight the Scissormen, who are part of a deadly "philosophical location" that has escaped into our reality and threatens to engulf it. The greatest era of the Doom Patrol begins right here.
Doom Patrol #26-34, "The Painting That Ate Paris" (1990)
Things get even weirder in writer Grant Morrison's second big storyline for the Doom Patrol. In these issues, we see the team go up against their villainous equivalent when it comes to pure strangeness: Mr. Nobody and the Brotherhood of Dada. They also face off with a being called "The Decreator", a cosmic entity described as "the shadow of God." Cast in the very first moments of creation, the Decreator is dedicated to the complete eradication of all existence. If that wasn't bizarre enough, we see the return of the Doom Patrol's Silver Age enemies -- the hyper-intelligent ape Monsieur Mallah and the disembodied Brain -- the two of which are now romantic partners.
Doom Patrol #1-6, "We Who Are About To Die" (2009)
After several other iterations of the team over the years, the original Doom Patrol line-up returned, under the care of former Justice League International writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. Following some continuity reshufflings, Robotman, Elasti-Girl, and Negative Man are back under the command of the Chief. In this opening storyline from their 2009 series, they come face to face with the alien Green Lantern G'nort, and encounter deceased former members when DC's Blackest Night event catches up to them. While Morrison's Doom Patrol stories leaned on the surreal, this version of the team was much more about offbeat humor. This short-lived version of the Patrol was very underrated, and worth another look.
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