‘Doom Patrol’ are a team of misfit superhero characters, each with a unique superpower of some kind which is often more akin to a curse. They are led by a wheelchair-using professor, who sends the team on wild, wacky adventures. Sound familiar?
Even the most casual fan of popular culture will undoubtedly think of Marvel’s X-Men, when they first read of the concept of Doom Patrol. It has often been speculated that one may have ‘ripped off’ the other. Sadly, the only people who know for sure are no longer with us. For the most part, Doom Patrol were a ‘B-list’ team of characters that were underused from their inception in June 1963, while Marvel’s X-Men (which debuted three months later in September 1963) took the limelight almost immediately. The X-Men were the stars of multiple cartoons and, in more recent years, a series of highly successful movies that essentially kickstarted ‘comic book movie’ cinema and the MCU as we know it. The X-Men saw monumental success during the 1970s through to today, under superstar writers such as Chris Claremont practically inventing the comic book ‘event’. The Doom Patrol, however, were severely underused. Perhaps DC Comics execs thought the team too similar to the X-Men and didn’t wish to be accused of copying? Or perhaps they simply thought there was no room on the market for additional team of outcasts? Either way, Doom Patrol remained one of the more obscure products held by DC for a long time.
This changed when, in 1988, Grant Morrison took over writing duties in a new era of Doom Patrol. Doom Patrol volume 2 #18 saw the first issue by Morrison, who took the characters in a bold new direction. The comic was no longer submitted to the Comics Code Authority and went for a much more mature audience. Morrison, with Richard Chase, created Crazy Jane, a young woman with 64 personalities, each with their own unique super power. The pair also created Flex Mentallo, a parody of the Charles Atlas’ adverts popular in American comics, with the power to affect reality using muscle flexes, and Danny the Street, a sentient genderqueer strip of land that can move seamlessly at will. Another creation of Grant Morrison’s, this time with Vince Giarrano, was the Beard Hunter. The Beard Hunter was originally conceived as a parody of Marvel’s Punisher, except donning hair trimmers, to fight criminals brandishing beard hair.
Since Morrison’s iconic run on Doom Patrol, the team went on to enjoy moderate success with other writers, notably Rachel Pollack, John Byrne, Keith Giffen, Gerard Way and more. The comic series was retroactively made part of the ‘Vertigo’ line by DC Comics, the imprint intended for creator-owned and mature content. Vertigo found huge success in the 90s and 2000s, probably best known for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Movies and television shows based on Vertigo titles, including Constantine, A History of Violence, V for Vendetta, The Losers, The Kitchen, iZombie, Preacher and Lucifer have all been met with good to great success. The Doom Patrol, however, were in episodes of ‘Teen Titans’ and ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold’ aimed at children, with a cameo in the animated ‘Justice League: The New Frontier’ being the only appearance of the team in any mature product.
This changed in 2018, when the Doom Patrol finally appeared in an episode of DC’s Titans. The appearance was only for one episode, but they played a pivotal part. The fourth episode, titled, ‘The Doom Patrol’, introduces the team and sets about providing Beast Boy with an origin, as well as introducing the greater Doom Patrol team.
In 2019, ‘Doom Patrol’ debuted in the States on the streaming services DC Universe. The show built upon the gritty and dark premise Titans had established, but added in a fun, zany and meta undertone to create something utterly unique. Drawing primarily on Grant Morrison’s run, the show is extremely mature with profanity aplenty. There are only a few examples of over the top violence, with the majority of mature themes encompassing sex, gender identity and sexuality, and mental health.
A scene set on Danny the Street, showing the diverse residents of Danny and the Doom Patrol itself. Briefly seen is Beard Hunter. Flex ‘flexes’ the wrong muscle, resulting in everyone (Except Robotman) awkwardly enjoying an orgasm.
‘Doom Patrol’ is probably the most accurate comic book television adaptation we’ve had to date, and it’s a crying shame it’s so inaccessible in the UK. Season two has just started this week, airing exclusively on HBO Max and DC Universe in USA. There is no work on when season two will be accessible in the UK, but season one is on Starzplay (addon for Amazon prime), Google Play Movies and available on blu ray. Titans is available on blu ray and to stream exclusively in the UK on Netflix.
Titans isn’t essential to enjoying Doom Patrol, the two aren’t even in the same universe (as stated in the recent CW Arrowverse crossover). Doom Patrol stars:
- Diane Guerrero as Crazy Jane
- April Bowlby as Rita Farr
- Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody
- Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor
- Brendan Fraser as Cliffe Steele
- Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder
- Joivan Wade as Vic Stone
- Phil Morris as Silas Stone
- Alec Mapa as Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man
- Devan Chandler Long as Flex Mentallo
- Julian Richings as Heinrich Von Fuchs
- Mark Sheppard as Willoughby Kipling
- Tommy Snider as Beard Hunter
Doom Patrol season 1 trailer