An aging, wheelchair-bound mad scientist known as the Chief (Niles Caulder), created a super-powered team of outcasts by arranging "accidents" on people with fantastic lives. He ruined their lives by making them power-housed freaks so they’d have nothing to lose, influencing them to go on suicide missions prematurely to save the world. Caulder's first plan was to recreate the Robotman like the Mystery Man from the 1940s via implanting a human brain in a robot body. He first caused a lab explosion destroying the body of a colleague. Planning to put his brain in the robot, his plan was foiled when his colleague's brain was saved by his pet gorilla. Caulder refined his plan and struck three people:
- Cliff Steele, an international sportsman and daredevil who Caulder had burned to a cinder by causing Cliff’s race car to crash. Chief used his scientific genius to transfer Steele’s brain into the robot body.
- Rita Farr was a Hollywood starlet, and Olympic level swimmer until Caulder got his hands on her. During the filming of one of her movies, Caulder exposed Rita to strange vapors that granted her the ability to alter her size at will. Her career in ruins, she now fights alongside the Doom Patrol as Elasti-Girl.
- Larry Trainor was once a US Air Force test pilot – Caulder caused an experimental suborbital aircraft's guidance system to break down, sending Trainor into a stratospheric belt of radiation. Now Trainor exists as a living mummy, forced to wear special bandages to contain the radiation that has disfigured his body. As a side effect of the incident, Trainor can become a being of pure energy by leaving his body as a black electrical-like silhouette form, a form he calls the Negative Man.
The Chief motivated this Doom Patrol (unaware that he caused their accidents). Bitter from being isolated from the world, they use their powers for the greater good.
Throughout their career, the team would face a variety of bizarre villains. Rita married Steve Dayton , and they adopted Beast Boy (Garfield Logan) as their son. The Chief would try to rehabilitate Madame Rouge, but he fails and as a result, pushes her further into villainy. Robotman bemoaned his existence as a tin man, and Larry harbored a secret love for Rita. General Immortus was revealed as the proximate cause of the Chief's inability to walk.
Madame Rouge embarks upon an ambitious plot to avenge herself against the Doom Patrol. First though, she decides to send the Doom Patrol a message by destroying her old colleagues, The Brotherhood of Evil. Rouge and her henchmen bomb the lair of the Brain and Monsieur Mallah, seemingly killing them both.
Rouge teams up with a former Nazi U-boat commander, Captain Zahl. Zahl and Rouge pilot their submarine to the island. There, Zahl blames Niles Caulder for his disability and attempts to kill him, but Rouge wants the Doom Patrol left alive so they can continue to suffer unending humiliation. Zahl launches several weapons designed to counter each of the Doom Patrol members' special abilities. He then tells them that he has planted a bomb in a small fishing village in Maine named Codsville, population: 14. He has a second bomb ready to destroy the Doom Patrol's island. He leaves it to the Doom Patrol to decide which bomb he shall detonate – confident that they will elect to save their own lives rather than that of fourteen strangers. Surprisingly, the Doom Patrol decide to sacrifice themselves rather than risk the deaths of the people of Codsville. Zahl pushes the plunger and the island explodes, killing the Doom Patrol.
Much later, a second team calling themselves Doom Patrol was put together by a woman named Celsius, who claimed to be Caulder's widow. This team was originally established to deal with the threat of a rampaging General Immortus, although they would go on to a great number of other missions.
She enlisted two unfamiliar heroes Tempest and the new Negative Woman to her cause and they established themselves in the old Headquarters. Robotman, who had survived the explosion and been rebuilt by Doc Magnus, agreed to join as well after the team proved their sincerity.
They reveal that General Immortus is seeking a new immortality formula developed by Niles Caulder. Immortus attacks, eventually disabling them with a powerful noxious gas.
Immortus tries to take the immortality serum formula from the mind of Celsius. Using his Psycho-Probe he learns of her history with Niles Caulder. While working for the Red Cross in India, Caluder treated Arani, fell in love, but was unable to take her with him to the United States. Leaving her with a religious sect, she eventually discovered her powers.
Eventually Caulder returned to India. Immortus had, his identity unknown to Caulder, supplied him with unlimited funds to research and develop the serum. Caulder, wary of unleashing such a serum on the world until his mysterious benefactor is revealed, makes it a wedding gift to Arani.
Superman prevents a New Jersey power plant from overloading and causing a statewide blackout. After rescuing the plant workers, he notices the cause of the overload: a black energy shape in the form of a woman. The shape flies off before Superman can catch it.
Adding to the chaos, the black energy being also appears in Metropolis and begins wreaking havoc. Clark changes into Superman and begins chasing the entity all throughout the city. While doing so, he encounters the new Doom Patrol who explains to him that the energy being is actually their ally, Valentina Vostok. Robotman tells him that Vostok has absorbed the Negative being that was once a part of his late colleague Larry Trainor. Unfortunately, fusing with the entity has driven Negative Woman berserk.
Superman and the Doom Patrol attempt to contain Negative Woman. Valentina Vostok's condition stabilizes, but she laments the fact that she must wear specially treated bandages or else risk losing control of herself once again.
Celsius became convinced that her long-lost husband was still alive, and she began actively searching for new heroes to expand their ranks. They gained three new members, Lodestone, Karma and Scott Fischer. This incarnation located themselves in Kansas City where they were met with harsh criticism from the local populace.
Together they fought the evils of Metallo, Shrapnel, General Immortus and Garguax. Karma would eventually leave the team because he was on the run from the law. They did eventually discover that Niles Caulder was indeed alive, although he denied that he had been married to Celsius.
This team completely fell apart during the hostile Invasion! crisis. They teamed up with Aquaman and the Sea Devils for an underwater battle against the Alien Alliance in the Arctic Circle. Celsius died sacrificing herself in an attempt to destroy the Gil'Dishpan mothership. Negative Woman lost her connection to the Negative Spirit when blasted by a weapon created by Garguax. After the war, when the treacherous Dominators launched the Gene Bomb on Earth, complications from his powers and his leukemia killed Scott Fischer... and Lodestone fell into a coma.
Back in action once more, the Chief took this as an opportunity to completely rebuild his team to their former greatness. After spending some time in a psychiatric ward, Robotman is inspired to return by Will Magnus. Larry Trainor regains his previous connection with the Negative Man, and he becomes Rebis after involuntarily combining with a female doctor named Eleanor Poole. Crazy Jane becomes their newest member, a patient at the hospital Robotman stayed with who possesses a different superpower with each of her multiple personalities. They identified themselves as the world's most qualified individuals to handle the weirdest crimes and disasters, things that nobody else could. This incarnation of the team would go on to save the universe from a number of bizarre and unusual threats on a regular basis.
Their first great challenge was the Scissormen. Beings from another world that was slowly seeping into, and taking over our own universe by literally cutting people out of reality. They came from Orqwith, a philosophical notion... a fictional city that had somehow managed to gain substance and cross over into reality. Before the menacing race of thought-people could enslave humanity, the Patrol infiltrated their top city, and Rebis confronted them with a paradox built into their system to destroy them. They were confronted with their own non-existence by questioning why there was something instead of nothing, and Orqwith crumbled down around them, stripped of its power. It was the first great victory for this new team.
Dorothy Spinner was invited to join the team, and Joshua Clay agreed to stay on in a purely medical capacity. Rhea Jones, still in a coma, was captured by the villainous Red Jack, a serial killer with supernatural powers who believed himself to be god. Red Jack was taking her for his bride. The team pursued the madman into a mystical realm where he nearly decimated them with his abilities, until Rhea awoke from her slumber long enough to plunge a knife into his back and kill him.
Mister Morden, their old enemy from the original Brotherhood of Evil became Mister Nobody when scientific experiments drove him insane and imbued him with strange powers. He formed the Brotherhood of Dada taking the themes of his older team and turning them into a more nonsensical, nihilistic group to fit his new "lifestyle." His new team, consisting of Sleepwalk, Frenzy, the Fog and the Quiz , stole a supernatural Painting said to swallow whoever gazed upon it, and used it to engulf the city of Paris. This baited the Doom Patrol into entering the Painting where they were quickly defeated by the Brotherhood in their first encounter. However, the Patrol teamed up to stop a great monster imprisoned along with them;The Fifth Horseman. The Fifth Horseman fed on ideas and was intent on consuming all of reality and then finally to kill itself. It was defeated by Nobody and Crazy Jane, who influenced the creature's mind and made it experience pure Dada... the complete antithesis to all ideas, which converted it into a small wooden hobby horse and made it useless and inert. The Patrol was unsure whether or not they should still imprison the Brotherhood after their help... but as the life of the painting collapsed around them, they had to leave and the villains went down with the ship.
Eventually, this incarnation of the team was destroyed when creations by Dorothy Spinner went out of control and killed most of the teammates. It wouldn't be until years later that they would finally experience a true revival during the Infinite Crisis.
During a battle with Superboy-Prime, Speedy fires a special Phantom Zone arrow (that she acquired from Arsenal) at Superboy. As the missile strikes him, Superboy is thrust into the Phantom Zone. However, his super-strength is sufficient for him to break free. This causes reality to change again, where the Doom Patrol remember their previous adventures, Elasti-Girl's death, and Beast Boy's time on the team. At this time, Superboy-Prime goes further into insanity and begins slaughtering heroes.
Steve Dayton, still mentally unstable, begins to use the Mento helmet once more; however, he remembers his time as the Crimelord. The Chief appears to be manipulating the Doom Patrol members once again; he claims to wish to return them to normal, so "maybe one day [they] won't be freaks anymore." After the Doom Patrol encounters the Titans, the Chief tells them that Kid Devil should be a member of the Doom Patrol instead of the Titans, since his unique appearance and nature will always separate him from others. However, Beast Boy, Elasti-Girl and Mento all stood up to the Chief and forced him to step down as the Doom Patrol's leader, with Mento taking over that role.
While fighting the Titans and the Doom Patrol, the Brain claimed that he had been the Chief's lab assistant, that his body had been destroyed in an explosion Caulder caused, and that he was to have been the original Robotman.
The Doom Patrol now work out of a base on Oolong Island.
Equipment: None known.
Transportation: None known.
Weapons: None known.
- No special notes.
- No trivia.
Origins and X-Men
In his foreword to the Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 1, Arnold Drake relates how the anthology titles that DC was publishing at the time were floundering and he was asked to come up with a new superhero title. Drake jokes that he was told this on a Thursday and was to present his idea on Tuesday. Developing the basic concept and two characters (Elasti-Girl and "Automaton" (later Robotman)) that night, he enlisted fellow writer Bob Haney, and they, 90 miles apart, finalized the concept.
The first appearance of the Doom Patrol pre-dated that of the X-Men by a scant three months. The vague similarity in concept (group of misfits led by a mysterious wheel-chair bound genius, and similarly named enemies (Brotherhood of Evil and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)) has led to speculation as to the relation between them, if any.
According to Comic Coverage: Which Came First: The Mutant or The Freak?, creator Arnold Drake felt:
- "...I’ve become more and more convinced that (Stan Lee) knowingly stole The X-Men from The Doom Patrol. Over the years I learned that an awful lot of writers and artists were working surreptitiously between (Marvel and DC). Therefore from when I first brought the idea into (DC editor) Murray Boltinoff’s office, it would’ve been easy for someone to walk over and hear that (I was) working on a story about a bunch of reluctant superheroes who are led by a man in a wheelchair. So over the years I began to feel that Stan had more lead time than I realized. He may well have had four, five or even six months."
My Greatest Adventure and Doom Patrol Vol 1 1963-1968 (Arnold Drake, Bob Haney, Bruno Premiani)
The group debuted in My Greatest Adventure #80 in 1963. By issue #86, the title was renamed Doom Patrol and lasted until #124. Issues 122-124 were reprints, the team having been killed off in #121. Both Murray Boltinoff and Bruno Premiani appear in the final tale, saying that only the readers can save the Patrol from their fate.
Doom Patrol Vol 2 1987-1995 (Grant Morrison)
Doom Patrol (Volume 2) began publication in 1987 and continued until 1995 spanning a total of 87 issues, 2 annuals and a collaborative special edition (with the Suicide Squad). For the first 18 issues, the series writers crafted the book in the style of a traditional super-hero comic. With issue #19, writer Grant Morrison further developed the team in an effort to expand upon their reputation as "misfits". New characters were added and the overall dynamic of the book evolved, encompassing a more mature and esoteric tone. With issue #64, the Doom Patrol became part of the Vertigo family of titles and remained as such until its cancellation.
Doom Patrol Vol 3 2001-2003
Doom Patrol (Volume 3) was published from December of 2001 until September of 2003. The team was revived with a completely new cast of characters and a slightly altered version of the classic Robotman character.
Doom Patrol Vol 4 2004-2006 (John Byrne)
This series, written and illustrated by John Byrne ignored previous continuity and introduced some new characters.
In an interview at UGO Byrne discusses the changes:
- UGO: The initial press releases about Doom Patrol created a lot of angry responses because you were sidestepping established continuity. When you were doing Fantastic Four for Marvel, you could create a story around an obscure character or continuity point, but with Superman you began to move away from continuity. What's made you move in that direction? And what draws you to a group of characters like Doom Patrol if you strip away their history?
- JOHN: Doom Patrol and Superman are the only titles, out of dozens I have worked on, that I have "rebooted." This is not my first choice. In fact, in both cases, the suggestion came from the editorial level. Dick Giordano wanted me to start Superman from scratch, and it was Mike who first invoked the words "Man of Steel" in reference to the Doom Patrol. Stripping away history is never the goal, in any case. Digging down and finding history that has often been buried or lost is more the issue. Doom Patrol, for instance, had drifted far, far, far from its roots. If the object was to get back to them, we reasoned, we could spend six issues undoing a lot of what had gone before, or we could spare potential new readers all that and just hit "rewind." So we end up with the book I am doing, which has much more in common with the Drake/Premiani version that what followed.
Doom Patrol Vol 5 2009- Present (Keith Giffen)
Series debuts August 5, 2009.
Keith Giffen discusses his approach on the new series at Newsarama:
- The Doom Patrol are heroes in spite of themselves. They're heroes who gained their powers through tragic circumstances. They do not look at themselves as superheroes. They view themselves as freaks and outcasts. They're the ultimate superhero dysfunctional family. They didn't make the leap from, OK, I've got these powers so I'm going to be a superhero. They were kind of forced into making that leap. One of the hardest things for me is always to make that jump from, OK, Tim you've got superpowers and you can fly, so now you're going to spend all your time fighting crime. I wouldn't be out there fighting crime if I could fly. I'd be making millions, making personal appearances around the country. I'd do the Spider-Man route, or I might stop the burglar, but then I'd soak in the limelight.
- I'm just going to keep using new characters as much as I can. I'm not going to be the guy who just pages through the DC Encyclopedia and chooses a villain of the month. I want the character to have some kind of resonance with the Doom Patrol.