I’m taking a brief break from the world of Lanterns to publish a team guide for Pledgeonaut-level Patrons and up that will be helpful to many readers (and TV viewers) later this month…
Doom Patrol is sometimes referred to as DC’s analog for The X-Men, but really it’s a uniquely perfect example of DC’s peculiar revolving door of publishing continuity.
They began as a Silver Age team at the same time as the X-Men, introduced in the sci-fi pulp anthology My Greatest Adventure in 1963 before spinning off into their own title later that year.
While Doom Patrol’s “The Chief” was an Xavier-like figure, their members are much closer to a take on the Fantastic Four. Team anchor Robotman is as orange and inhuman as The Thing after losing his physical body in a car crash. The radioactive Negative Man shares his origin with the F4, and Elasti-Girl is like Mr. Fantastic’s powers in Sue Storm’s spot as the token female.
The original lineup was rounded out by Beast Boy, the wild young member analogous to Human Torch. He’d later be stole by Teen Titans and become a breakout star in his own right.
Like The X-Men, Doom Patrol didn’t quite have the sales to make it out of the Silver Age and into the Bronze. Their ongoing title was canceled in 1969 with the seeming death of the entire team.
It took nearly a decade before Robotman was resurrected and paired with a new trio of teammates. They made only a handful of appearances, but Robotman (and the memory of the original team) was kept alive by Beast Boy as star of the massively popular Teen Titans.
Doom Patrol returned in Post-Crisis DC in 1987, as part of the trend of DC reviving forgotten Silver and Bronze age concepts (along with Animal Man and Suicide Squad).
While the initial run by Paul Kupperberg is often ignored, it’s delightfully solid mid-80s comics – as good as the many supporting X-books springing up around that same time.
Everything changed in 1989 when Grant Morrison took over, in the middle of an increasingly-bizarre run of Animal Man. If his Animal Man flirted with the fringes of DC’s heroic universe, Doom Patrol broke through those borders entirely. It became a lasting hallmark of the intellectual side of 90s comics, and one of the most popular works in Morrison’s lengthy bibliography.
(A following run by Rachel Pollack isn’t as well-known, but is much loved by longtime fans. It’s notable for being one of the first mainstream comics to include a transgender featured character – Coagula.)
It’s after the Vertigo run ends that things get interesting.
That’s because DC tries three different times to integrate Doom Patrol back into their mainstream heroic universe. All three iterations have their own successes and failures, and they all lasted almost exactly two years. Notably, in 2004 John Byrne tried to erase the entire past continuity of the team, which was then fixed by Infinite Crisis (which resolved many continuity tangles that had accumulated since Zero Hour).
A misguided Doom Patrol revival in New 52’s Justice League was much worse, restoring the Silver Age cast but again trying to wipe the slate clean of their continuity, more necessary than ever as Beast Boy was now considered a permanent fixture of the Titans franchise.
As with many titles outside of the tight core of Justice League and popular solo heroes, it felt like Doom Patrol’s rich Silver Age and Vertigo history would never again be acknowledged. While DC’s Rebirth relaunch in 2016 was wildly popular with fans, its slightly tweaked continuity still left out dozens upon dozens of major Post-Crisis heroes whose history was still in question after Flashpoint.
Then, Young Animal arrived.
Young Animal was an alternative imprint chaired by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, who had become a popular indie comics author by way of his Umbrella Academy for Dark Horse. Way was tasked with finding a different wavelength for DC’s continuity in the midst of Rebirth. Way curated a team of authors to re-envision old heroes like Shade and Cave Carson, but he kept the jewel of the line for himself: Doom Patrol.
The ensuing series is something truly all-new, and all-different. It’s not just heroic, nor is it trying to recapture Vertigo’s magic. This Doom Patrol a vibrant tangle of familiar characters and new ideas. It’s not a continuation of Vertigo Doom Patrol – or any other prior version – but it is a worthy successor. And, it was positioned perfectly to take advantage of the altogether strange 2019 TV adaption of the team for DC Universe!
Current Exclusives For Crushing Cadets ($1/month): 20 Guides!
Current Exclusives For Pledgeonauts ($1.99+/month): 48 Guides!
DC Guides: Animal Man, Aquaman, Books of Magic, Catwoman, Batman – Index of Ongoing Titles, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Doom Patrol, Flash, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: Hal Jordan, Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner, Harley Quinn, Houses & Horrors, Justice League, Lucifer, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Omega Men , Outsiders, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing
Marvel Guides: Alpha Flight, Ant-Man & Giant-Man, Captain Britain, Champions, Darkhawk, Blade, Dazzler, Domino, Dracula, Elsa Bloodstone, Falcon, Gwenpool, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Moon Boy / Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan, Power Pack, Sabretooth, Scarlet Witch, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom, Vision, Weapon X, X-Man – Nate Grey
Indie & Licensed Comics: None right now