With Doom Patrol getting a second season and moving to HBO Max, it’s probable that many more tv viewers will have access to this weirder-than-you-could-possibly-imagine show than they had on the fading-fast DC Universe streaming service. Before we start reviewing season 2, to help you decide whether to jump into an existing show midstream, and to make you more comfortable with Who’s Who in the Doom Patrol, we thought we'd provide a kinda-short crash course on the team, both in comics and on tv.
The Doom Patrol is another of those quirky DC Comics properties, like Suicide Squad or Animal Man, that is a lot older than people may realize. “The World’s Strangest Heroes” debuted in June 1963, appearing in the pages of My Greatest Adventure #80. The first six stories of wheelchair-bound genius The Chief (Niles Caulder), size-changing Elasti-Girl (Rita Farr), a living mummy containing a radioactive Negative Man (Larry Trainor), and a Robotman (Cliff Steele, pun intended) with a human brain were so successful, the title was renamed The Doom Patrol. Popular though it was, the series didn't last much longer before being cancelled.
If a wheelchair-bound leader and a group of misfit superheroes sounds familiar, then you realize how much rival comic publishers influence each other: Marvel’s The X-Men debuted a few months after The Doom Patrol in September 1963. If it weren’t for the success of The Justice League, The Fantastic Four, or The Avengers may never have been created, either.
Since then, The Doom Patrol has been revived in a new comic series six times, and the team’s line-up has often changed, mainly including updated versions of the original team, with Cliff Steele/Robotman being the only original member as mainstay.
In the 1989 Vertigo imprint version of The Doom Patrol, writer Grant Morrison created the character Crazy Jane, a young woman with 63 other personalities, each with a different superpower.
Add the Justice League’s Cyborg, and you have the current line-up featured in the Doom Patrol tv series.
With all the properties DC has to choose from, picking the Doom Patrol for a big budget tv series is a curious one, especially for a property that has rarely been a big seller. However, though the Doom Patrol may predate The X-Men by a few months, the recent success of Marvel’s mutants in theaters indicates the public’s interest in a similar kind of team may not have been so risky, and actually paved the way. Especially when many of the tv show’s storylines are based on the wildly imaginative concepts of Morrison’s wildly-imaginative and critically-acclaimed Vertigo run.
The Doom Patrol may not be everyone’s cup of tea—you will either absolutely love this show or absolutely hate it—but if you like to be constantly surprised by a very adult (F-bombs galore, violence, sexual situations) superhero tv show, then give it a look.
Doom Patrol, season two airs on HBO MAX. The pay channel is offering the first episode of season two for free at this link
Season one of Doom Patrol is available on Amazon Prime Video.
The Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 1 (2002), collecting My Greatest Adventure #80-85, Doom Patrol #85-89
Doom Patrol Book One and Two (2016), Collecting Grant Morrison’s Vertigo run
Doom Patrol by John Byrne: The Complete Series (2020)
MOST RECENT APPEARANCE:
Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1-7 (2019)