Demythify: Diversity Vs. Fandom? Doom Patrol & Others Set For Forever Evil #3 DC Comics New 52 Full Debut? (Justice League #24 Spoilers)

Justice League #24 hit stands last week and had some interesting spoilers and developments that directly lead into Forever Evil #3.

One of those nuggets was the debut of a classic DC Comics team in the New 52: The Doom Patrol.

This debut is timely since DC Comics New 52 is actually the DC Comics New 44 in January 2014. DC Comics needs at about 7 more ongoing books so it can live up to its self-identified New 52 branding signifying 52 ongoing series. However, I understand writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained ongoing series is on hiatus in January 2014 returning in February, so if that’s true, DC Comics only needs 6 new ongoing series to fulfill its New 52 branding.

Anyhow, with regards to Justice League #24 and its Doom Patrol reveal, some eagle-eyed fans noticed this subtle reveal too and many have taken to social media. Their main issue is their surprise that this particular version of the Doom Patrol is making its DC Comics New 52 debut. Afterall, this red-uniformed version is the second incarnation of the team from the 1970’s; not its classic 1960’s line-up or beloved 1980/90’s Vertigo Comics roster.

Despite DC Comics being accused of being dogmatically attached to and inspired by the 1960’s Silver Age of Comics, DC actually went with the late 1970’s early Bronze Age incarnation of the team for its New 52. Before we get to that, and the “why” of it, let’s go through a bit of history so you know who we’re dealing with.

The 1960’s

The Doom Patrol debuted in 1963’s My Greatest Adventure #80. The team was made up of misfits who gained super-powers via tragedy. Their powers were a blessing and a curse. Sound familiar? Yup, Marvel’s X-Men debuted around the same time leading to lots of speculation of corporate espionage between the two comic book companies or just coincidence. No one has been able to determine which idea was conceived first, but clearly the X-Men have become a pop culture juggernaut while Doom Patrol has had a more checkered history.

The Doom Patrol in its Silver Age beginnings was created by writers Arnold Drake and Bob Haney with artist Bruno Premiani.

The team was made up of wheelchair bound genius Niles Caulder, whose alias was The Chief, who convinced his tragic teammates to do good: Robot Man, Cliff Steele whose brain survived a race car accident and now animates a robot body; Negative Man, Larry Trainor is exposed to radioactive atmospheric field while a test pilot allowing him to launch a separate negative energy being or soul from his body; and Elasti-girl, Rita Farr an Olympic swimmer turned starlet who was exposed to Volcanic gas on an African film shoot that give her the ability to expand and shrink her body.

There were others that were hangers-on with the team including one character who has actually become more popular and recognizable than the rest of the team from the 1980’s onwards: Garfield Logan, Beast Boy or Changeling of the (New) Teen Titans who could turn into green animals.

The classic 1960’s Doom Patrol’s adventures ran 41 issues ending with My Greatest Adventure #121 in 1968 where all members of the Doom Patrol appeared to die.

The 1970’s

This is the incarnation of the team that inspired the current version of the Doom Patrol that made their partial DC Comics New 52 debut in Justice League #24.

In 1977, writer Paul Kupperberg and artist Joe Staton created a new incarnation of the Doom Patrol that debuted in Showcase #94, a comic book series that showcased different characters and teams in each successive arc.

The team was made up more misfits: Celsius, Niles Caulder’s secret East Indian bride Arani Desai who could generate powerful heat and cold blasts; Negative Woman, Russian cosmonaut Valentina Vostok had possession of the presumed deceased original DP Larry Tarinor’s Negative Energy being; and Tempest, Vietnam war deserter Joshua Clay could fire blasts from his hands and even used the blasts to fly. In the Showcase arc, Robotman re-emerged with a new body and joined the scrabbling new Doom Patrol team.

This incarnation of the team continued into the 1980’s, despite not having its own ongoing series, and appeared in other titles such as in DC Comics Presents, Superman’s team-up comic book, in its issue #52.

The 1980/90’s

In 1987, writer Paul Kupperberg returned and relaunched a new super-heroic Doom Patrol series with artist Steve Lightle and later with an unknown up-and-coming artist named Erik Larsen. The team was made up of the 1970’s Doom Patrol team, plus Larry Trainor from the 1960’s presumed dead team, and a few new “edgy” 1980’s recruits: Lodestone, Rhea Jones who gained electromagnetic powers from an Artic explosion that killed her father; Karma, mohawked Wayne Hawking whose psychic powers essentially made folks fall over themselves; and Scott Fischer who could generate tremendous amounts of heat through his hands requiring protective gloves to be worn at all times.

The series lasted 18 issues before converting to a Vertigo mature-readers series written by Grant Morrison. Many concepts and characters from Morrison’s quirky Doom Patrol run have already made into the DC Comics New 52 as we reported on several months ago among them being Danny The Street, NOWHERE and more. Morrison’s Doom Patrol run will get the Omnibus treatment in 2014 similar to his 1980’s Animal Man run.

Morrison’s Animal Man’s Omnibus is available for purchase at comic shoppes and finer book stores everywhere. Grant Morrison left the Doom Patrol title at issue #63 and the series ultimately ended with issue #87 in 1995.

The 2000’s

Three ongoing series debuted and were cancelled in the 2000s with the name Doom Patrol.

Writer John Arcudi and artist Tan Eng Huat launched a very different Doom Patrol in 2001 that lasted 22 issues. It was a corporate team bought and paid for by Jost Industries. Robotman was on the team surrounded by new characters: Fast Forward, Ted Bruder could see 60 seconds in the future; Kid Slick, Vic Darge could be encapsulated by a frictionless force field that can repel attacks; Fever, Shyleen Lao could control fire and had molecular vibration powers; and Freak, Ava had an alien inside of her that made her hair super-powerful and a dangerous weapon.

Writer-artist John Byrne tried its hand at the Doom Patrol even getting to launch it from the pages of the Justice League of America then called simply JLA. This was a brand new series and a reboot of all previous continuity. The core 1960’s characters were the nucleus of the team alongside: Nudge, Mi-Sun Kwon who had superior will power to control others; Grunt, Henry Bucher who became a four-armed super-strong dim-witted ape; and Vortex, a blue-skinned alien with powerful blast and flight powers. The series lasted 18 issues and was undone by the Infinite Crisis mini-series that restored all previous incarnations of the Doom Patrol.

Writer Keith Giffen and artist Matthew Clark had a memorable Doom Patrol run that lasted 22 issues from 2009 to 2011. This series also focused on the 1960’s nucleus of the team joined by: Mento, Elast-girl’s estranged husband Steve Dayton who was a powerful mentalist; Bumblebee, Karen Beecher whose suit granted her several super-powers including size manipulation, flight , etc.; and Vox, Bumblebee’s husband Malcolm “Mal” Duncan who had a sonic scream via his Gabriel Horn among other powers. They were located on Oolong Island which became a vacation destination but still maintained its role as super-science hub of the DC Universe.

The DC Comics New 52

Unpacking 2013’s Justice League #24 page of panels we included at the opening of this column, we have an image and a line that together show such promise for Doom Patrol fans.

I’ve seen many fans wonder why the 1970’s version of the team appears to be the new nucleus of the Doom Patrol. The panel above appears to include Celsius, Tempest and Negative Woman. First, I’d say it makes sense to use this version of the team as DC Comics New 52 needs some more diversity and that team fits the bill. Second, while we only see three Doom Patrol members in that panel, we don’t know if they’re the only members of the team.

With that stated, Niles Caulder has already made his debut in the pages of the now shuttered Ravagers series. He started off able-bodied and, in a look into the future, is destined to have spinal damage (a la his pre-Flashpoint self).

Niles Caulder is seemingly missing in DC Comics New 52 after being stabbed by Teen Titan’s villain Harvest’s magic blade at the hands of Deathstroke as the Ravagers series was winding up. Where he, and others stabbed such as Terra and Rose Wilson, is unknown at this time.

Beast Boy was also a core DC Comics New 52 member of the Ravagers, but a red/brown character – who grew at one point into a dinosaur – rather than his classic green.

Robotman has also made his DC Comics New 52 debut looking very much inspired by his 1970’s incarnation. He was joined by Madame “Maddy” Rouge in the My Greatest Adventure mini-series and she sported a costume reminiscent of the 1980’s pre-Vertigo Doom Patrol team.

Also, since DC Comics New 52 has deviated from the old school aspects of some of its super-teams, we really don’t know how DC will handle the DP. That said, history buffs will recall that Robotman joined the 1970’s Doom Patrol after that team had formed. Maybe he’ll do the same in the DC Comics New 52 in Forever Evil #3 since he wasn’t in the Justice League #24 panel?

We know that Justice League #24, which included the Doom Patrol reveal leads directly into Forever Evil #3. We’ll see the continuation of the Injustice League’s Black Adam vs. the Crime Syndicate’s Ultraman battle as well as it seems more of the new Doom Patrol.

What other reveals and characters do you think are coming in Forever Evil #3 and beyond? Probably the identity of the masked prisoner from Earth 3, but who or what else beyond the Doom Patrol?

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome. 🙂

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