Tell me that’s not the coolest name ever for a team of weirdo superheroes! I dare you. I didn’t read comics a lot when I was a kid–because I spent all my time with my nose in books I wasn’t clever enough to realize were way too mature for my age–but I loved THE DOOM PATROL and had quite a stack of them after a while, mostly because I thought the name sounded cool. Of course, they also had a robot man, an invisable guy, a stretchy girl, a fiery guy, and a dude in a wheel chair.
Sound familiar?–well, the initial Doom Patrol adventure, from DC Comics, premiered a few months before Marvel’s Dr. Charles Xavier and The X-Men but…the abilities of the original DOOM PATROL had a lot in common with Marvel’s Fantastic Four, which preceded it. Hypothesize–all these comics people stole ideas from each other like madmen, both actively and passively as writers and artists shifted back and forth between publishers.
Like the X-Men, The Doom Patrol didn’t exactly enjoy being superheroes–especially the guy who got blown up and had his remaining bits plugged into the robot–lots of angst there. A lot of the people they tried to help looked down on them as freaks. Most interesting, perhaps, is that unlike most heroes, at the end of the comic’s original run, the Doom Patrol fought to their deaths to save some piece of crap little town where the citizens didn’t even like them. And unlike their Super Peers, they stayed dead.
I read these when I was about 12, having bought a big whiskey box of comics* at a neighbors’ yard sale for a dollar that included most of the original Doom Patrol and some of the rebooted series (with a new team of different but still oddball heroes) and thought the dying thing was really, really deep.
*That box of comics also included a bunch of very nice Fantastic Four issues, including the one with the first appearance of The Silver Surfer, which is worth several hundred dollars today. In the late 1980’s my sister brought home a kitten that tore into the box, shredded most of these comics into confetti and soaked the rest with urine. Today, the value of that box would, conservatively, be somewhere around $23,000. Sigh.