Sunday, December 27, 2009

DP07-AA Byrne Period synopsis

.....Once upon a time there was a comics fanzine called Contemporary Pictorial Literature . Like Alfred E. Neuman or Irving Forbush, they created their own mascot character, a shambling overworked robot named Rog-2000. In order to get a small self-produced publication out its contributors often have to pitch in and do things that no one could have predicted would be needed, let alone worked into their job description. Rog (possibly named after Roger Stern) was meant to be the kind of guy who sooner or later had every conceivable task fall into his lap. Sometimes attempts to give a publication or institution a face come across as cloying or calculated comaraderie, but Rog-2000 always felt like someone everybody's worked with at some time. In less than a year, in fact, the staff made the bold move of giving him his own little six-page comic format story written by Stern and drawn by a young, squeaky clean John Byrne. When CPL wanted access to the staff of Charlton Comics for a planned article, they provided a sample copy of the fanzine to show they were legit (a common courtesy) and it happened to be the issue with the first Rog story. At the time Charlton was getting some good fan buzz from an original character called E-Man (powers like Metamorpho, looks like Conan O'Brien), but even though the rotating back-up features had name creators (including Steve Ditko) they clashed with the light-hearted humor of the main feature. Rog, however, would fit comfortably. So, with John Byrne drawing from scripts provided by E-Man's writer, Nicola Cuti, he backed up four of the last five issues. By the time the title was cancelled Byrne was already working on Doomsday +1 and others for Charlton but his little robot would languish until the early 80's.

.....And this has what exactly to do with Doom Patrol? Maybe nothing. Maybe much more than is immediately obvious. The artist for the E-Man feature was Joe Staton, a comics creator with numerous credits at numerous publishers. After his book was cancelled he worked on a variety of titles for both Marvel and DC-- including the newly revived Showcase two years later. The first feature was "Doom Patrol", or rather, "The New Doom Patrol" (see DP02-AA, Gypsy Period 1 synopsis). With the original team presumed to have been in a bomb blast, the easiest character to rationalize surviving it would be Robotman. His damaged body is salvaged and renovated by Will Magnus and on the cover of the first issue, Showcase #94(8-9/77), Cliff is holding up the remains of his old Premiani-designed body. The new, Staton-designed body has twin antennae on the sides of the head, sharply sloping 'cheekbones' leading to a narrow muzzle, segmented arms and legs... well, let's face it: it's a tall version of Rog-2000. (Check out Byrne's take on the matter here: and what he's referring to here: By the time Cliff ditches the new team and guest stars in the New Teen Titans he's back in the Premiani body, courtesy of George Perez. By the time those three issues of Showcase came out Byrne was already doing extended runs on Iron Fist, Marvel Team-Up, and Uncanny X-Men at Marvel. It's doubtful he was losing any sleep over Staton finding new uses for one of his designs while he himself was drawing Spider-man and getting more positive responses to the X-men than either Steranko or Adams (who, unbelievably, couldn't manage to save the book in the 1960's from going into reprint status). Still, it started a flirtation between Byrne and the Doom Patrol that lasted a long, long time.

.....The mid-80's were a busy time in comics, both as an art and a business. The direct market had begun its gradual takeover of market share from newsstand sales and both DC and Marvel were flooding specialty dealers with Baxter paper reprints to compete with some pretty impressive stuff from the new color independents. Marvel was on the verge of the 25th anniversary of their rebirth in 1961 and DC was into the 50th anniversary of their namesake title, Detective Comics, which prompted a lot of self-reexamination for them both. Despite the fact that both were putting out some of their best work in years, the fact that they responded to the upstarts with reprints silently implied that they themselves thought that their best years were behind them. Secret Wars and Crisis were both, in a sense, a way for each publisher to focus attention on the fact that they were willing to ask "where are we now?", rather than wait for critics to read a year's worth of all their titles and then argue over what it all meant. Even newsstand readers, who didn't usually follow the then-robust fanzine presence, could be brought up to date on the most popular titles' characters. In one decade, John Byrne had drawn The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, The Hulk, X-Men, Avengers, Captain America, Daredevil-- in fact, every prominent Marvel character from the 60's (with the possible exception of Captain Mar-vell, I'll have to double check that[*]) either in their own book or as a guest star. The DC grass was looking greener all the time, since the only icon of theirs he'd worked on prominently had been Batman, and that was in a mini-series. So, he contibuted to a two-year project whose launch was coincided with Crisis, a text-and-spot-illustration monthly called Who's Who that used a variety of prominent comics' artists to provide as often as possible the 'definitive' look for a character to be matched with post-Crisis stats and bios. This was marketed as a reference point for new readers entering a new world. And what characters did Byrne provide? The Chief, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man, Robotman (Cliff, not the Golden Age one done by Howard Bender), the DP as a whole in a two-page spread and, just for good measure, Madame Rouge. Wow. He did a few others, too, but nothing that formed such an obvious pattern. Bear in mind, any editor who approved all those (and the accompanying articles) without knowing that all but one were officially dead at the time really shouldn't have been an editor at DC. Any fanboy who bought every issue and occasionally reread them should have noticed that one artist had drawn an entire silver age team at a time when DC was launching new revamped versions of their classic heroes. Something was up, or at least being kicked around on somebody's wish list. Next? Eclipse/ICG was publishing indexes to DC titles, including a two-issue set for Doom Patrol just as Crisis was ending and following a five-issue index for Teen Titans. [That made sense at the time. Despite Kupperberg's efforts, DP was remembered largely as a footnote in New Teen Titans history.] Byrne provided original art for the covers of both issues. Not George Perez or Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Next? At the end of 1986 Wolfman and Perez capped off Crisis with a two-part prestige format History Of The DC Universe. Less well known is that an 8000 copy limited edition portfolio was issued as a companion project. It contained ten plates, each by a different artist or team and each with a different subject. Plate Ten is for the LSH by Steve Lightle. According to the editors' notes, "Steve recently left the series to help launch the new DOOM PATROL series, set to premiere next summer." Ouch. Sorry, John. Plate Nine? "A bit of history-in-the-making: this piece provides the first advance look at a new super-team, part of the future of the DC universe. The creation of SUPERMAN writer/penciller John Byrne, you're looking at the cast of FREAKS-- you'll discover who they are, what they do, and why they do it in the fall of 1987". Don't bother trying to track it down. It never happened. The outfits on some of the characters turned up later in his Next Men series for Dark Horse but the characters themselves are different. So what happened? A reasonable guess would be that the success of Superman and Action Comics made him wary of spreading himself thinner with a third regular title. Byrne did, of course, draw the 30-page "Secret Origin Of The Doom Patrol" that preceded the debut of the 1987 DP series. A year later he provided the Superman half of a crossover story. It could be that he got the DP out of his system.

.....After Next Men ran its course, Byrne got the assignment to return Wonder Woman to a more classic, primary-color look. It had elements familiar to his work: Kirby characters, homage covers, old characters disguised as new ones, a supporting cast for exposition, etc. He also worked in a number of characters from the sixties, including a cameo by Sugar and Spike! Most curiously, the second arc featured a plot to collect immortal characters and he included General Immortus (see DP05-AB, The Wilderness Years). The Vertigo DP had only been cancelled for about a year and the team's existence in continuity was 'iffy' (see again DP05-AB). Was this Byrne voting 'yes, bring them back', volunteering for the job, or just beefing up the cast of characters in his own story? A peek at an interview with Craig Byrne(yeah, I don't know, either) in Krypton Club Newsletter #11(June 1, 1995): John Byrne is asked about upcoming projects and replies that he had recently got approval for the Batman/Captain America one-shot and "Paul Kupperberg and I have discussed resurrecting the Doom Patrol." Kupperberg became Byrne's editor on Wonder Woman. Their tenure lasted three years, impressive at a time when most comics' credits seemed to have revolving doors, but that and other commitments must have prevented the series from getting past the planning stage. By the end of that year Byrne took over New Gods as of issue #12(11/96). If a proposal was ever put on paper (or diskette) I'd love to see it.

.....Another paragraph, another decade. With some light hunting, I've found what purports to be Byrne's own brief recounting of the order of events that led to his own Doom Patrol series in 2004: (Hope that works.)

  • "DC starts contemplating a DOOM PATROL relaunch and asks me for a pitch. Nothing is immediately decided upon.

  • [Mike] Carlin becomes JLA editor and asks me to do an arc. I agree.

  • I work out the basics of the arc. (Vampires, 10th Circle.)

  • Carlin suggest[s] we relaunch the DPatrol thru the JLA story. I agree and rework elements of the story to incorporate the DPatrol."

.....This is consistant with what Byrne has said elsewhere, but in the course of searching for this and other material I've found persons posting arguments that hinge on Dan Didio demanding the relaunch, or Chris Claremont (who co-scripted the JLA arc, but not the DP series) or Byrne himself. In fact, it takes little time at all to notice that internet feuds over super-hero comics often require greater suspension of disbelief than the comics themselves. All of which requires me to reexamine the purpose of this blog, which is to (eventually) give a critical review of each issue of the series on its own and in its relation to the whole. A large part of both those takes into consideration the context in which it is published. Before 2000 that context was largely defined as the other comics being published at the time, fan letters, perhaps contemporary events or other media. I am forgoing reviews of the Original Period at the present time because I do not have original copies and would not be able to read the letters' pages or other editorial content. During the Arcudi Period, letters' pages went the way of the dodo for the simple reason that internet response was nearly instantaneous and theoretically without page limitations. But the context now has no concensus. Worse, it often seems as though words have been stripped of all denotation and exist purely as connotation. For the many persons I've read on numerous other sites while preparing myself for this blog, those who have said that they were confused or turned off by Grant Morrison incorporating ideas of dadaism into his stories, I have news for you-- many of you ARE dada. Or at least what you write is dada. I doubt this is intentional but I don't have the patience to put aside work that might turn out to be productive in order to gamble on an attempt to discern what (if anything) is intended by all this noise. Anyone with a desire to be heard should learn sooner or later that their desire can never be fulfilled until it is wedded to a desire to be understood. Each requires the other.

.....How these issues will eventually be reviewed if their contemporary environment has been gradually deleted bit by bit every year since their publication (and resembled Wonderland at the time) is something that can't be addressed now. Below is something concrete and finite: groupings of the Byrne issues by story arcs and other topics to be addressed in the reviews.

  1. "THE TENTH CIRCLE"-- From JLA #94(early5/04)- #99(late 7/04) and Doom Patrol #1(08/04)- #2(09/04), this is the only arc represented, in a way, by a trade. Only the JLA issues are in the trade, except the last two pages of #99, which extend the story with a cliffhanger that leads into the DP series. Half of the same JLA characters appear in those first two issues, as do resolutions of loose threads left by the JLA arc. All eight issues have 22 pages of story ( except DP#1, 21 pages and a 1p editorial) and could-- should -- be collected as a second edition. It would be a little more radical reworking than the restoration of Crawling From The Wreckage, but couldn't possibly raise objections from either JLA or DP fans since both teams appear in all eight issues.

  2. [After the first story arc, grouping the remaining sixteen issues into trades becomes problematic due to Byrne's method of storytelling. Instead of narrative omniscience, he chooses to give the reader the perspective of at first one character walking into a situation and then restart at some earlier point from the perspective of another character and show how that situation came about. When the first character stumbles in at the appropriate point the narrative then reverts to the present time until the technique is employed again. This was used occasionally in Wonder Woman but with Doom Patrol's much larger ensemble cast it has a disorienting cumulative effect. With so many more characters and no one star, in order for the reader to be equitably empathetic to their experiences the narrative line is constantly jumping back and forth in time. From #5(12/04)- #14(09/05) this not only happens within issues but across issues as well, leaving no clean breaks between stories without reordering the pages. One possible resolution is to simply make two more trades of eight issues apiece and market them in a slipcase with a 48-page prestige format book reproducing the first two issues and leave room for the existing format "JLA:Tenth Circle" trade. If a limited run of the slipcase sells through quickly enough, the two new trades could later be published separately with a new edition of the first.]

  3. The controversial move of pretending that the world had never heard of the Doom Patrol and rejecting continuity as some obstructive albatross around the creator's neck instead of a foundation or common set of reference points is something best left to the indivdual reviews. By the time they are written, Giffen will have weighed in on some of the matters they will have the advantage of noting not only what differed from the past but how much will later be retained (or if not, why).

  4. Byrne provides origins for every member but Rita Farr, who occasionally meets people who seem to recognize her from the past as an associate of Caulder, but whose memories often contradict hers on some seemingly trivial point (the length of her hair, for instance). Of the new characters, Vortex returns to where he came from by the end of the series, JLA member Faith leaves in #5, Confederate corpse Elihu Washburn and potential metahuman Gary Kwon seemed to have vanished completely, associate Metamorpho returned to his own career, and Nudge and Grunt appear only in Infinite Crisis after this series. The only contemporary appearance outside of this series is in a two-page spread in The OMAC Project #6(11/05), pp.14-15. You can see Rita (in the black-and-white X-Men uniform), Larry (with the skeleton-image N.E.B.) and Cliff. The scene must take place between Doom Patrol #14(09/05) and #15(10/05), before the "Convergence" story where the N.E.B. loses the 'electric skeleton' look and becomes more like the Premiani or Case versions.
  5. The Brain and Monsieur Mallah are fairly active during this series, appearing in Flash #214(11/04), Batgirl #60(03/05)- #62(05/05) and Villains United #4(11/05)-#5(12/05). The Original Period is relived in DC The New Frontier #6(11/04) and an eight-page Mike Allred story in Solo #7(12/05). It was also reprinted in Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 2, due out March, 2004 but shipped to Amazon in August (unless there were direct and non-direct market editions... or more likely, the date is when reorders were filled?). Other trades include two Morrison Period titles: The Painting That Ate Paris (10/04?), reprinting #26(09/89)- #34(07/90) and Down Paradise Way (11/05?), reprinting #35(08/90)- #41(02/91).

.....The next entry will be a rough draft for the outline of Gypsy Period 2 (2006-2009), but will be subject to revision if/when the current series is impacted by events during that period not previously noted here. That will be folowed by a mere place holder for the current series.

[*] = I haven't looked too thoroughly, but I managed to find one by looking backwards, chronologically. I knew Byrne never did Mar-vell's 1970's series, so I tried Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One-- nothing. The closest is MTU #62(10/77) with Ms. Marvel, who remembers CM. An actual CM/Byrne appearance is in Avengers #181(03/79), but it's only a few panels. The whole issue is the follow-up to the "Korvac War" story, where the numerous characters who were brought into it the previous year each decide what to do next and the Avengers chose a new roster. I haven't yet found my Marvel Spotlight Vol2, but I'm pretty sure the CM stories are by Pat Broderick, Frank Miller and Steve Ditko.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

DP06-AA Arcudi Period synopsis

.....One lasting memory I have of late night television is from David Letterman's NBC days. It's of a very old Danny Thomas teaching a very young Macauley Culkin how to set up and then execute a 'spit take'. Even people who've never seen "Make Room For Daddy" probably know what this means; a person is about to drink from a glass while someone else is speaking and takes their first sip while the conversation is mundane and predictable, but when the speaker says something unexpected or alarming the drinker sprays a fine but voluminous mist to signify their surprise, the further the funnier. Thomas arguably perfected this schtick. That (very) oddly touching 'passing of the torch' moment springs to mind on the rare occasion when I find myself in or near a real-life 'spit take' of my own. Such a moment came in the summer of 2000 when I turned on my TV and saw an ad for the Olympics. Actually what nearly sent Coca-Cola through my nostrils was not what I saw but what I heard: Iggy Pop and the Stooges' "Search And Destroy" playing over footage of the U.S. Swim Team. You should understand that I am an ardent Iggy listener ( in the neighborhood of 80 CD's), but my first thought was "I hope the Viet Namese team doesn't take that line about 'a heart full of napalm' the wrong way. We're friends now." My second thought was pure rage. Not at Iggy 'selling out' (good lord, no; it was lo-o-ong past the time he made something back for years of effort), but at a music industry that had spent the previous 25 years telling critics and fans who knew better that such music was not "commercially viable". There were plenty of phrases, all used interchangeably, all meaning "this doesn't sound like last year's hit" or "I didn't get my bribe". Sometimes it was "no commercial potential" or "no mainstream appeal" or my favorite, "we can't play this because it's not well known enough". Yet for the next few years, there was Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" selling Volkswagons and Iggy solo with "Lust For Life" selling cruises, The Ramones, Syd Barrett, Joy Division... someone was looting my music collection and using the appeal of this music to sell their products. TV commercials were full of songs that Americans were always told couldn't sell themselves and shouldn't be given the chance.

.....It was into this climate that John Arcudi gave us Thayer Jost, the billionaire who had the brilliant idea to market The Doom Patrol. Actually, his original idea was a Monkees- style team called "Jostice Incorporated",

possibly with apologies to the Ernst estate, or maybe Kyle Baker. (Actually, Arcudi's editor for the entire run was Andrew Helfer, who wrote the 1989 Justice Inc. mini-series drawn by Baker. That sounds pretty unapologetic.) Jost only gets the idea to co-opt the Doom Patrol name when Robotman appears to resurface while saving lives from a traffic accident. I say 'appears' because we learn nine issues into the new series that the Robotman from issues #1(12/01)- 5(04/02) was one of Dorothy Spinner's projected imaginary friends. The head of the real Cliff is recovered by Jost's four young recruits aided by Changeling.

.....Speaking of young recruits, all but three of the 22 issues are drawn by newcomer Tang Eng Huat, a Malaysian Helfer met at the World Manga Summit in Hong Kong. Although presumably a manga fan because of that, Huat's own style is closer to Korean action comics than Japanese, but even that is an inadequate assessment of his grasp of Western conventions and ability to make them appear fresh. The panels flow smoothly, the word balloons are all given the space they need-- no more, no less. There's also a range and subtlety to expression that works well. As a bonus, he provides all the covers, including the three fill-in issues.

.....Also keeping a consistancy to the visuals is Bob Lappan, who lettered the entire series. Curiously, there are no credited inkers. Huat and the others (more on them below) ink themselves and the book keeps to a monthly schedule for nearly two years. The colorists varied but were generally Dave Stewart, then Dave McCaig. Every issue had a cover price of $2.50. The whole title had a reliability and stability not seen since the Drake/Premiani days. And it failed. Why? It could be that the comics-buying public was burned out after a decade of teams of all-new characters. At DC alone Sovereign Seven, Psyba-Rats, and Young Heroes In Love all came and went since the Pollack series ended. Anyone who didn't look closely at this new DP title might have been forgiven for confusing it with the umptenth reiteration of Gen13. Another possible explanation for the title's failure may be that during that time since the Pollack run the comics market had been consistantly shifting from individual magazines towards paperbacks and hardcover trades. There seemed to be an emphasis on story arcs plotted to run six to eight issues (or consecutive arcs of three to four issues) with the anticipation of an entire series being compiled. Although Arcudi was able to provide the four new heroes with distinct personalities almost from the first issue, it took nine to explain Cliff's (and the rest of the previous team's) absence from and then reintegration into the DC Universe. At that point he had introduced Kolodenko (the scientist who rebuilt Cliff's robot bodies in the absence of Magnus or The Chief) and had not had time yet to flesh out his background, or Jost's for that matter. In fact, the series ended without any of the new members being given any substantial origin story. It would have been difficult to look at this series and see clear demarcations of arcs that could be read and enjoyed independent of the issues before or after. Because of this I've proposed below two trade configurations which could be marketed as a slipcase or separately.

  1. FIRST STAGE -- Doom Patrol #1(12/01)- #12(11/02) makes for a single story running 264 pages, which should fit neatly into a 272-page format color trade if the covers are relocated to the second volume. During the entire series there were only seven letters' pages, all of them within these issues. If you eliminate the 'next issue' blurbs and the redundant DP logo graphics, all of these comments would fit onto four pages (less with a slightly smaller font). The first issue contains the only editorial, one by editor Andy Helfer explaining how the creative team was assembled. Combine those with a title page , new indicia/printing history and creator bios and that should neatly make up the eight page difference. Helping matters is that throughout the series all issues contained exactly 22 pages of story and all four instances of two-page spreads of artwork occur across pages 2 and 3 of their respective issues. This means that if you simply compile the stories consecutively you will always get the first page of a story on the right hand side (as it appeared in the comics) and the spreads will be maintained without having to add blank pages. Hopefully that would help readers plow through to the explanations for the following: After the Vertigo run ended, Cliff Steele and Kate Godwin learn that Dorothy Spinner's biological mother is still alive. Leaving George and Marion in Violet Valley they drive Dorothy to the Smoky Mountains in Kentucky on the pretense of a camping trip to convince her to stay there with her mother and give up the Doom Patrol, that life in the group isn't the dream come true she seems to think it is and would in fact cheat her out of any chance of a healthy adulthood. Given her history, Dorothy is unable to interpret this as anything other than the latest in a lifetime of rejections and panics, causing an explosion that (presumably) disassembles Cliff, evaporates Kate and leaves herself in a coma. Somehow she wound up at St. Aloysius Hospital in long term care paid for by a very realistic psychic projection of Cliff which took on lucrative industrial work and laid low until making news when it reflexively saved bystanders from a runaway car (because that, and all of his subsequent behaviors, conformed to what Dorothy's idealized vision of Cliff needed to be). The act attracts the attention of billionaire Thayer Jost whose own fledgling super-hero team could use Cliff's experience and, after investigating his personal finances, offers to pay for Dorothy's escalating expenses in exchange for the rights to the name 'Doom Patrol' and retaining Cliff as an advisor. This works until a Jost-initiated mission to save Americans endangered by a hurricane overseas doesn't extend resources to save the natives as well. Cliff resigns and the younger heroes follow him. Jost, with a DP web-site and a warehouse of licensed merchandise to move, forms a new Doom Patrol: Changeling, Elongated Man, Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi), and Metamorpho, who was believed deceased a year earlier. The two groups investigate the same crime and after succeeding Metamorpho reveals that JLA records carry Cliff's obituary, prompting the imaginary Cliff to realize his true nature and disappear. This nullifies Jost's contracts, dissolving both groups. Changeling stays on long enough to help the kids find the real Cliff (his head, anyway) and a black-market ex-Soviet neuro-engineer who can reconnect him to a new robot body. The real Cliff eventually finds the comatose Dorothy and learns what I've just detailed above, albeit in reverse.

  2. THE APOCRYPHA-- As the series begins there is an unrelated concurrent mini-series called Joker:Last Laugh in which Original Series villain Mr. 104 appears two years after being revived (see DP05- AB, The Wilderness Years). A year later he'll appear again, in Superman #189(02/03). [Both to be confirmed.] A profile of the DP appears in Secret Files & Origins Guide To The DC Universe 2001-2002 #1(02/02). Then, in March or April the first Doom Patrol Archives ships. Outside of continuity, Brain and Monsieur Mallah appear in the animation-style Justice League Adventures #6(06/02) and in the Elseworlds' title Planetary/JLA:Terra Occulta #1(11/02) on pages 40-46 there are four panels in which either Cliff or the Golden Age Robotman is exhibited as a trophy in a display of defeated heroes. [Curiously, the Victor Stone/Cyborg exhibit has a miscolored red tunic that makes him resemble Marvel's Deathlok.] The only in-continuity guest spot of the actual DP team (in a way) came on page 33, panel 1, of the original graphic novel JLA/JSA:Virtue And Vice , the hardcover of which shipped at the same time as DC's December cover date titles. Fever and Kid Slick are shown on a monitor screen with Cliff in the body he was in at the end of issue #12, the month before. They don't appear in the prequel story in JLA/JSA Secret Files & Origins #1(01/03), but Metamorpho's revival is retroactively explained in a five page back-up story. At about that time, Brain and Monsieur Mallah show up in Young Justice #50(12/02)- #51(01/03), just before Mr. 104 resurfaces (see above), and again in Outsiders #4(11/03).

  3. SECOND STAGE-- Doom Patrol #13(12/02)- #22(09/03) shows that for any incarnation of this series eventually, perhaps inevitably, the weird will out. The first stage, by contrast, was at its core a super-hero comic book even as it acknowledged its unorthodox source material/history. The villains may have had obscured motives and mysterious objectives, but they provided clearly delineated conflicts in issues #3-5 and #10-12. In the second stage the conflicts are largely internal, both for the group and its individual members. One of those earlier villains returns to reconvene the group for his own purposes after they've split up, but the actual confrontation is largely in #'s 19 and 21 with the other issues devoted to soul-searching, literally in Cliff's case. Issues #13-14 are drawn by Seth Fisher (see and introduce a nameless character Cliff suspects may be God. He appears to Cliff before and after an adventure in which the minds of the current group are sent back in time to the bodies of the Original Series team. The original team also become the basis of a Jost-produced TV series (0n WGBS) because they poll better than the current unknowns. However, by the time the finished product goes to air the focus-group tinkering and network tampering result in something unrecognizable anyway, in #20, drawn by post-underground giant Rick Geary (see; seriously, if you don't recognize the name then you owe it to yourself to follow the link. He almost never works in super-hero comics, yet you know that cute little toucan mascot the San Diego Comic-Con has been using for 30+ years? The Barnes & Noble audio-book icon? Countless issues of Heavy Metal and National Lampoon ? Yes, that Rick Geary.). In #18 the series' primary antagonist relates a Chinese fairy tale (which may or may not expand on his backstory) replacing its characters with the contemporary DP cast. Even though he is eventually defeated, Kolodenko is killed, Dorothy has contracted viral meningitis and is taken off life support, Cliff has one last exchange with 'God' and Jost evicts the four younger members from the building they've been living in. On a brighter note, the Doom Patrol TV show gets renewed.
  4. WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMINE SAN VICENTE-- After Crisis DC took a page from Marvel's playbook and increasingly used real cities as the settings for their stories. For most of their history, though,before and since, DC has famously created fictional cities for each of their major heroes. The Doom Patrol has occupied some of both in its time, but the Arcudi Period stubbornly defies location. In issue #10(09/02) Ted tries to find "412 South" on a map to get downtown. That would suggest Allentown, PA. They get sidetracked to the Tribro Rubber Factory, which seems more like Ohio, but could still be in Pennsylvania. Also, the numerous references to WGBS may not be to the one in Metropolis, but to one that had once been in Philadelphia. In our world, Earth-Prime, it was acquired by Viacom and renamed WPSG in 1995 before the Pollack Period group disappeared, but in the DCU that might not have happened. However, in issue #8(07/02) Cliff causes a commotion by running through the downtown area when he learns about Dorothy from a newspaper article. When a TV news van arrives at St. Aloysius to investigate, the call letters on the side start "KX--", which suggests a station west of the Mississippi. The rare exceptions to that rule include two in Pennsylvania: KYW (Philadelphia) and KDKA (Pittsburgh), neither of which have an"X". Curiously, many "KX--" stations are CBS affiliates: KXD and KXLJ in Alaska, KXLF and KXLH in Montana and KXII in Sherman, Texas. The Texas location might explain the occasional Spanish names such as the San Vicente Zoo (issue #3) but not the fact that it snows (issue #15). Further confusing matters is that there is an actual St. Aloysius Hospital in the District Of Columbia (that other DC). It was built during the Civil War and is also relatively small. This factor might be discounted though, since the St. Aloysius in question was likely Aloysius Gonzaga, patron saint of Catholic youth, to tip off that the mystery patient (Dorothy) was a child we knew.
  5. The whereabouts of the actual team is mostly a matter of speculation. Ted Bruder/Fast Forward (who referred to himself as 'Flash Forward' in issue #3) tried to extend his ability to see into the future beyond his sixty second limit and wound up seeing parallel worlds. At the end of the series he's taking Zanax to stay sane. He had been growing closer to Ava/Freak, but the symbiote she contains seemed to be combining with her to form a variety of intermediary states as the series ended. Vic Darge/Kid Slick seems to have dropped off the hero grid, despite being romantically linked to Shyleen Lao/Fever, the only character to appear prominently beyond the series. In the "Titans of Tomorrow" storyline in Teen Titans #51(11/07)- 54(02/08) she appears as Pandemic, one of a future group of Titans who return to our time to avert some tragedy that would prevent them from later forming. However, after being reintroduced as her present-day self, Fever, in Teen Titans #60(08/08) she is murdered in the mini-series Terror Titans #1(12/08), preventing her future self from existing. If I can learn anything more about this I'll include it in DP08-AA Gypsy Period 2.
  6. An alternate way to group the stories would be for one paperback to include issues #1(12/01)- 9(08/02), the second to include #10(09/02)- 14(01/03) and #20(07/03) and the third to include #15(02/03)- 19(06/03) and #21(08/03)- 22(09/03). I prefer the two stage format I detailed earlier because the three-issue arc with the devil Raum (issues #10-12) would remain with the forsadowing pages in the earlier issues.

.....If you have any corrections or additional appearances I may have missed, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you are, or know anyone who might be, John Arcudi or Andrew Helfer and would like to shed some light on the geographic location of the series or the fates of its members, feel free to comment below. When the time comes to review the individual issues I will try to consolidate any updated information on a DP06-AB page.

.....The Byrne Period is next, men.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DP05-AB The Wilderness Years

.....Why choose a designation like 'The Wilderness Years' for that intermediary time between the Pollack and Arcudi Periods? Why not simply use the term 'Gypsy', as I have for two other periods in this study? That's because this stretch of time, 1995 to 2000, has several distinguishing complications. What it shares with either 'Gypsy' is that there are new guest appearances of Doom Patrol team members in other titles owing to the absence of a regular DP title. There are not, however, any new team appearances... exactly. There also doesn't appear to be a consistant creative or editorial team trying to work the DP back into circulation by using them in regular ongoing projects. Yet they keep appearing, often in wordless cameos. There is also a phenomenon not seen previously: newly created stories taking place in much earlier periods in the group's history.

.....For quick reference, period pieces listed below will be preceded by "[P]", prose-and-illustration articles by "[art.]", reprints by "[R]" and anything else will be explained at length. Before I launch into the chronology I should point out that while Caulder and company were temporarily sequestered from DCU continuity while being published under Vertigo (they would be reintegrated, inevitably) the same was not true of the characters used by Marv Wolfman for New Titans and its spin-off titles. Gar Logan and Steve Dayton continued to appear in them until the last of the mini-franchise was cancelled in early 1996 (to be rebooted just before "Final Night" later that year with Dan Jurgens steering). In fact, while Pollack was trying to tie up the last of the loose ends in Happy Harbor there was a story called "The Darkening" in New Titans #97(5/93) -100(8/93) in which Gar sees Rita Farr, alive and well, joining the Brain and Monsieur Mallah in The Brotherhood of Evil. We discover in a later story that all three were shape-changing A.I. aliens from a hive-mind called the Technis. This and Gar's ill-advised use of the Mento helmet lead to "Terminus" in #104(12/93)- 107(1/94) in which Cyborg loses what's left of his body and joins the Technis. After "Zero Hour" comes "Deathstroke the Hunted", a storyline that lasts just under a year and ends with the revelation that Dayton had been Crimelord, the villain operating under an assumed name, the entire time. That story, ending in Deathstroke The Hunted #50(8/95), overlaps the end of the Doom Patrol title and the list below.

  1. Guy Garner, Warrior #29(3/95) - Coming right on the heels of the end of the regular DP title (see DP05-AA) this issue is known to have dozens of cameos (Guy owns a bar for meta-humans) including Cliff, Swamp Thing, Constantine and possibly other DCU characters who became the basis for Vertigo. [ I need to confirm this appearance.]

  2. New Titans #127(11/95)- 130(2/96) - "Meltdown", the final story of the series shows Cyborg transformed into Cyberion and Changeling, feeling partly responsible for his fate, following him into space. Gar remains AWOL for two years.

  3. The Vertigo Tarot (shipped in December 1995) - A limited edition gift box (which has since been reissued more than once) containing a hardcover book written by Rachel Pollack and a tarot deck illustrated by Dave McKean, this shipped several months late (the poster included in the last issue of Sandman cites the release as April 1995). Card 16 depicts The Tower Of Babel from "The Teresias Wars" as The Tower for the Arcana. Astrologically, The Tower card is placed in Mars according to the text, making it even more appropriate to have been taken from a story with 'War' in the title.

  4. Wonder Woman #105(1/96)- 108(4/96) - "Lifelines", a story in which Morgaine Le Fay attempts to steal the immortality from Arion, Vandal Savage, General Immortus, Wonder Woman and The Phantom Stranger. What Le Fay didn't know (and the Stranger did) is that Wonder Woman had previously renounced her immortality when she left Themyscira. This botched the process somehow, turning Le Fay to dust and allowing General Immortus to slip away unnoticed. While the obvious tie to The Doom Patrol is Immortus, there are more. This is only the second arc of John Byrne's three year run on Wonder Woman , which was edited by Paul Kupperberg. The two worked in a lot of 1960's DC references, such as Sugar & Spike and Egg Fu, who resurfaced in Infinite Crisis. This is also the story that introduced Cassandra Sandsmark, the next Wonder Girl, who'll show up later in Young Justice.
  5. Flex Mentallo [LS] #1(06/96)- 4(08/96) - Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, before turning their sights on the X-Men, did this brilliant, though extremely challenging, mini-series spun off from Morrison's run and focusing on Flex and his creator Wally Sage from Doom Patrol #35(08/90)- 46(08/91) and not seen since. There were a lot of rumblings about legal problems stemming from the fact that Flex is obviously a parody of Charles Atlas' comic-format advertisements which ran in comic books for decades. To date there has never been a trade or reprint of any kind. I have my own copies but when I poked around on e-Bay, fishing for foreign editions, I found the standard U.S. series going for upwards of $100 last December. Should this ever overcome the legal hurdles (it's been solicited and cancelled several times) the must include the faux-historical text pieces about the character's fictional publisher.

  6. During 1996, author Steve Shaviro publishes "Doom Patrols: A Theoretical Fiction About Post-modernism". Often described as a novel, it is in the form of a series of essays, including one in which the narrator describes the experience of reading Morrison's version of DP. Caveat Emptor.

  7. Tying into "Final Night", Legion Of Super-Heroes relocated to the 20th century while Legionnaires remained in the 30th century. This is significant for two reasons: while they try to get back to their own time, Superman sets them up in the recently deserted original Justice League headquarters in Happy Harbor, RI, and secondly, the writer who put them there was Tom Peyer, former editor of Doom Patrol #44(5/91)- 71(10/93). While he was editor the DP's inner team had moved onto Danny the Street while the outer team remained in the old JLA clubhouse, unaware that Caulder was developing his catastrophe-generating Think Tank. It would have been awfully tempting for Peyer ( who was a year-and-a-half into what would be a five-year stint writing LSH ) to drop hints of something 'left by the previous tenants' so that they could be brought into play when a story idea was needed or just as easily forgotten without anyone noticing. During their time in the 20th century, in Legion Of Super-Heroes #85(10/96)- 100(1/98), they make guest appearances in nearly two dozen other comics, including "Final Night", "Genesis", Showcase and various Superman-related titles. Anyone who can confirm a DP-related sighting from this period in the comment area will be greatly appreciated since I haven't budgeted to acquire all these. Anything might qualify: a tricked-out wheelchair (remember, Caulder was a head in an ice-tray when he left); Mallah's beret, lost in DP #34; Rebis' teardrop sunglasses or nesting dolls; any of the Kupperberg Period uniforms, which, after all, are identical to the ones worn by Changeling, Impulse and the Legionnaires; used white candles; Crazy Jane's paintings; Cliff's jazz records, etc.

  8. JLA #1(1/97)- 4(4/97) - "New World Order", also available as a slender paperback. Possibly taking place before "Final Night" (Superman had not yet turned Electric Blue, as he was when LSH left the 20th century), the Justice League satellite is destroyed by White Martians who also disguise themselves as Earth's new saviors. A new League forms resembling the pre-Crisis 1960's line-up, but they need a meeting place the Martians wouldn't be aware of... gee, with Grant Morrison writing this, where do you think a 1960's-style JLA should meet? Happy Harbor, of course. At the end of the story the JLA builds a new Watchtower facility on the moon.

  9. Teen Titans #15(early 1/98) The Titans face realistic illusions of past enemies, including Brain and Mallah in a two-page spread.

  10. The Book Of Fate #12(1/98) - Cliff makes a cameo [ I need to confirm this appearance]

  11. [P] JLA Year One #5(5/98)- 6(6/98) - This was a year-long mini-series that should have been published a decade earlier when DC rewired its pre-Crisis history. The Original Period Doom Patrol appears and is confirmed to have been active shortly before the Justice League.

  12. Teen Titans #21(6/98)- 24(9/98) - "Titans Hunt", in which Changeling returns from space.

  13. JLA:World Without Grown-Ups #1(8/98)- 2(9/98) - Also available as a trade paperback. A magical entity slowly gains possession of a child by granting his wishes (hence the title). With all the adults on a conjured duplicate Earth, the most experienced heroes left were Robin, Superboy and Impulse. Tracking the problem to the source brings them to the original JLA headquarters in Happy Harbor. According to dialogue this is after the LSH have left. There are only a handful of pages showing crates and sheet-covered items being stored in the facility, but most (all?) of the items are identifiable JLA memorabilia. On the last page, after the boys agree to form what will become Young Justice, the android Red Tornado reactivates. There's also a "special thanks to Grant Morrison", which probably has more to do with coordinating the appearances of the JLA than any connection to DP.

  14. JLA 80-Page Giant #1(7/98) - On the final page of a Red Tornado story written by Todd Dezago (who also wrote JLA:World Without Grown-Ups), the recently reactivated Red Tornado returns to the cave at Happy Harbor, but there is no DP paraphenalia visible.

  15. [P] Legends Of The DC Universe 80pg Giant #1(9/98) - "Lights, Camera And Too Much Action" is a newly written (James Robinson) and drawn (Dave Gibbons and Sal Buscema) story of the Original Period Doom Patrol. This issue is a multi-creator anthology with a framing sequence in which Rip Hunter (in disguise) guides Chronos (Walker Gabriel) through different points in DC history. The DP get ten pages. The story is both written and drawn in the style of the period (and according to a footnote, that's recently after My Greatest Adventure #85, the last issue before the name change to Doom Patrol.)

  16. [art.] JLA In Crisis Secret Files #1(11/98) - The DP is mentioned in a two-page recap of "Invasion!". That's it. No new material. No art.

  17. JLA/Titans #1(12/98)- 3(2/99) and Titans Secret Files [and Origins] #1(3/99) - Cyberion follows Changeling back to Earth and wreaks havoc with the world's electrical systems until he can be restored to a humanoid form with Victor's consciousness. Before that can be done he kidnaps as many former Titans as possible including Impulse, which brings not only the JLA to the rescue but Young Justice, too (except Superboy, who might have been in the Hypertime storyline at the time, and Red Tornado who had ties to both groups). Devin Grayson wrote both as a bridge between the recently cancelled Jurgens Titans title and the one soon to be launched so that there would be an event to rationalize reforming the group in the mini-series and a selection process in the one-shot. Despite the presence of both JLA and Young Justice, the DP tie here is not the cave, but that Changeling opts, for the first time in 19 years, to formally leave the group with the telling phrase "...everyone's gotta leave their family some time." His numerous families (his biological parents, the original DP, Titans West, the TV series he worked on and several permutations of the Titans) always left, broke up or died for reasons beyond his control. (While kidnapped by Cyberion the former Titans were all kept sedate with VR fantasies tailored to make them happy. Gar's was being with Cliff, Rita and Dayton in his old black-and-purple Mento suit on a film studio set. He wasn't happy, he was upset.) Because the fate of the Violet Valley crowd had not yet been revealed, Grayson opened the possibility of Gar seeking them out as an adult peer rather than the nuisance he was to the original group.

  18. DCU Heroes Secret Files #1(2/99) - "Lost Pages: Above Top Secret" is a four-page segment presumably dropped from a story published not long before. This should contain a Cliff cameo, but until I pick up a hard copy to confirm it I can't tell if the scene was dropped for page-count restrictions or a need to rewrite it for continuity reasons. [Need to confirm this.]

  19. [P] Legends Of The DCU: Crisis On Infinite Earths #1(2/99) - This story happens concurrently with issues #4 and 5 of the famous 1985-1986 limited series, COIE. On the final page there is crowd scene on the Monitor's satellite including Cliff, who was in the original.

  20. JLA #27(3/99) - Also available as part of the trade, "Justice For All". On page 18 Oracle informs the team that she has alerted other hero teams, including the Doom Patrol, who are on stanby when Amazo is on a rampage. I'm not sure how this is supposed to square with the Arcudi Period in which the team learns that Kate and Cliff were believed killed by the accident that put Dorothy in a coma. Cliff's gravestone puts his 'death' at 1998. Of course, Barbara could have been talking to George and Marion. And I would have loo-o-oved to see Amazo trying to mimic the SRS's.

  21. Martian Manhunter Annual #2(10/99) - "JLApe" ends with Monsieur Mallah. Between Technis impersonations and projected illusions, this just might (I could be wrong) be the first confirmable appearance of Mallah since he and the Brain 'repurposed' Cliff's experimental black body in Doom Patrol #34(7/90).

  22. Legends Of The DC Universe 80-Page Giant #2(1/00) - "Passenger 15B" is a ten-page story leading into the Beast Boy limited series. The villain is Mr. 104, an old DP villain who last crossed paths with Gar in Teen Titans Spotlight #9(4/87). Beating out Mallah for obscurity, he had not appeared since the Doom Patrol And The Suicide Squad Special at the beginning of 1988 in which he was shattered by a Rocket Red while in the form of Uranium (an incident to which he refers indirectly).

  23. Totems (2/00) - Published under the specially created Vertigo/V2K sub-imprint, this prestige format one-shot written by former DP editor Tom Peyer features DCU characters who dropped out of continuity after coming under the Vertigo imprint in 1993, including five of the original six: Shade, Animal Man, Cliff (representing DP), Swamp Thing and the only one with a title at the time, Constantine. Also prominent was Black Orchid and in lesser roles were Zatanna, Phantom Stranger, Brother Power and others. We can assume that this is a point shortly after the comatose Dorothy created her own Cliff in the Arcudi flashbacks. This book was obviously cashing in on millenium fever (the plot involves a 'Y2K' virus of sorts which alters reality instead of shoddy software) but was also drawing attention to the fact that some intriguing characters were abandoned when their imprint shifted focus to original projects. In regular DCU continuity when a character like, say, Damage or Black Canary loses their solo title they might resurface in a year or two in a team book or in an anthology or back-up feature. After the "Children's Crusade" there were precious few crossovers in Vertigo. (Two involved the Golden Age Sandman and the other involved two characters here: Shade and Constantine.) In the years just preceding this story Daniel (the Sandman's successor) appeared in JLA and Swamp Thing popped up frequently after his cancellation in 1996, including in Batman and Aquaman. And Zatanna and the Stranger never really left, keeping a foot in both worlds (appropriately). But there were indications that writers and/or editors were getting antsy about returning these super-heroes, however oddball, to their native soil.

  24. Secret Files & Origins Guide To The DC Universe 2000 Vol. 1(3/00) - "Valhalla" is a two-pager in which three teen heroes (Damage, Argent and the Star-Spangled Kid) visit a cemetary for heroes that includes a statue of Rita Farr-Dayton and a headstone for Scott Fischer. "Robots In The DCU" is a three-pager following the Brainiac-13 storyline. It shows Metal Men and other heroes stopping Cliff when his robot body rampages out of control. (This might be non-continuity because it features Doc Magnus as Veridium from the 1993 mini-series. I think he went back to flesh and blood a year after this.) Both stories are written by Scott Beatty. There's also a text piece ("Timeline") by Robert Greenberger and Phil Jiminez that implies that the JLA had already incorporated when the DP formed.
  25. Young Justice #18(3/00) - The top of the mountain is blown off the old JLA headquarters, exposing the cave. [I need to confirm this.]

  26. [R] Crawling From The Wreckage - A new edition of the trade (shipping April 2000) restores the pages removed from the 1992 edition that gradually introduce the characters who will form the Brotherhood of Dada. It is retroactively placed under the Vertigo imprint although neither the original issues or first editon were.
  27. Young Justice #20(6/00) - After the "Sins Of Youth" story, Young Justice moves out of the cave at Happy Harbor.

  28. [art.] Silver Age Secret Files [& Origins] #1(7/00) - Originally solicited May 3rd but shipping May 17th, this was the first chapter of a dozen one-shots to be released that month under the umbrella title "Silver Age". Some issues are concurrent to others but all form a single story set in a post-Crisis revision of pre-Crisis history, as in JLA Year One but with a Gardner Fox-style plot in which a god-like alien causes each of the Justice Leaguers' minds to switch bodies with that of a corresponding villain. It's as good/bad as it sounds. The more squeal-inducing moments include Gil Kane pencilling the Green Lantern cover and Carmine Infantino pencilling the Flash cover. This double-length special includes a two-page pin-up of the Silver Age Justice League by long-time DP letterer John Workman doing a very convincing Mike Sekowsky imitation. Kevin Maguire, drawing the Metal Men back-up feature in the current DP title, here draws them in a "Facts and Fancies!" page (he also draws them in the entire Bob Haney-scripted Silver Age: The Brave And The Bold issue). Ramona Fradon (inked by Dave Gibbons) was an inspired choice to do the DP profile page (she also does a Metamorpho "Chemical Curiosities" page-- one of those 'squeals' mentioned earlier). Dick Giordano draws the two-page profile for the Seven Soldiers of Victory (see the Showcase issue, below).

  29. [P] Silver Age: Doom Patrol #1(7/00) - Written by Tom Peyer, this chapter in the crossover (see the Secret Files, above) has Superman (trapped in Lex Luthor's body) pitting the original DP against General Immortus and Garguax in a race to find a cache of weapons custom designed to negate each Justice Leaguer's powers and which the real Luthor has hidden.

  30. [P] Silver Age: Showcase #1(7/00) - Geoff Johns writes, and Dick Giordano draws, this penultimate chapter in the crossover (see the Secret Files, above). The featured heroes are a group called The Seven Soldiers Of Victory, but bears no relation to either the pre-Crisis group or the Grant Morrison project from a few years later. The DP connection is Mento, here in his original black costume, still sane and not yet married to Rita. The other members are Deadman, Batgirl, Adam Strange, Blackhawk, Metamorpho and 'Shining Knight' (actually Gardner Grayle, the Atomic Knight, who wouldn't be introduced until the 1980's [*]and not Sir Justin who actually was one of the Soldiers). It's also confusing that the Metal Men appear in the Brave And The Bold one-shot and the hodge-podge team appear here rather than the other way around. Yes, the Metal Men are second only to Batman and Hawkman in B&B appearances, but their first four appearances were in Showcase. Of this team, only Adam Strange has appeared there (in #19 and again in the 1970's Hawkman revival). The planned Deadman issue (#105) was never published.
  31. [P] Silver Age: 80-Page Giant #1(7/00) - The characters all converge for a finale. [I need to confirm any and all appearances]
  32. Young Justice #23(9/00)- 24(10/00) - Arrowette joins the U.S. Archery Team for the 2000 Summer Olympics and the gang finds out Zandia has sent its super-villains (including The Brain and Monsieur Mallah) to compete. A Peter David script, so hijinks appropriately ensue.
  33. [art.] Titans Secret Files [& Origins] #2(10/00) - A one-page profile of Beast Boy flashes back to his time in the original DP. [I need to confirm this.]
  34. [P] Superman And Batman: World's Funnest (11/00) - Evan Dorkin provides the script for this Elseworlds one-shot in which Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite plow through one DC universe after another and at one point cross paths with a COIE- period Negative Woman and Robotman. [I need to confirm this appearance.]

.....Aa-a-a-and scene.

.....Obviously with the number of listings above where I don't own a copy of the cited work, it would be worthwhile to check any comments that might be listed below. If and when I can confirm the appearances followed by the bracketed notes, I will re-edit this entry. Until then feel free to confirm or dispute what you can from first-hand witness.

.....After this, outlining the Arcudi Period will feel like a vacation. Then Byrne, Gypsy 2, and then I'll be caught up to the present series. With the outlines done I can begin reviewing individual issues starting after Crisis. My intention is to view these stories both in and out of the context of what was published at the time. Contemporary advertising, editorials and competitors will go into the mix. I will also try to dig up old fanzines and any relevant interviews with pertinent creators. (Recommendations are appreciated but cannot always be acted upon.) The next post will be in five to seven days (barring accidents).

[*]= That's not entirely true. The original version of the character appeared first in Strange Adventures #117(06/60) and in every third issue after that until #156(09/63) and ended in #160(01/64). All but the second story were reprinted in Strange Adventures #217(3-4/69)- #231(7-8/71). As the real world caught up to the 'future' described in the long defunct feature, DC decided to 'introduce' a revised version of Grayle in DC Comics Presents #57(05/83) and this version was the basis for the post-Crisis Atomic Knight.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

DP05-AA Pollack Period synopsis

In the last few months of Grant Morrison's tenure on Doom Patrol the letters' pages carried increasingly strident and stalker-like letters from a fan named Rachel Pollack. Of course, it was all a joke between Grant and Rachel (and/or editor Tom Peyer-- good lord, I hope Tom was in on it...). The first letter mixes praise and kibitzing, the last (in #63) threatens to put sugar in the editor's gas tank if she isn't allowed to write the book herself. That one is immediately followed by a note announcing that she is, in fact, the new writer. In a pre-Google world it might have been forgivable if most fans of a super-hero team comic book were not aware that Rachel Pollack was already a published novelist and non-fiction writer noted for bringing an unusually high degree of interdisciplinary scholarship to the study of Tarot. If you give it a moment's thought, pulling off the prank described above would have heavily depended on most readers not being so aware. The good news is that the prank worked. The bad news...

The Pollack Period (1993-1994) was part of the Vertigo Launch in which six existing Mature Readers titles were simultaneously converted to a new imprint, to be joined each month by any two of the following: a new ongoing series; a new mini-series; a one-shot or graphic novel; a trade collecting compatible features published prior to the launch or premiere licensed merchandise (statues, watches, et al). By any objective measure, the Vertigo launch was a success. Within a year publishers big and small were launcing new imprints and trying to establish brand identities and replicate the manner in which DC was able to lead an existing audience for established titles to new titles that had a comparable mood or approach to storytelling. Fifteen years later Vertigo is still here and the others are not only gone but at least ten years cold. The reason, I think, has less to do with the fact that Vertigo published some great comics (it did) and more to do with the fact that it didn't need to establish a brand identity. DC had spent the five years since Alan Moore left Swamp Thing doing exactly that until the only thing remaining conspicuously absent was a name that distinguished these titles from the others they published. Perhaps both Green Arrow and Hellblazer were Mature Reader titles but even people who enjoyed both would never confuse them. Yet, while Green Arrow and Hawkman were a change of pace from Superman or Wonder Woman, titles like Sandman and Shade seemed like a change of medium. DC's previous attempt at an imprint targeting a decidedly adult demographic, Pirhana Press, launched in the middle of 1989. A contemporary Jenette Kahn editorial describes it as two years in the making, placing the idea roughly at the time that Alan Moore left Swamp Thing. However, Pirhana was meant for non-continuity projects. Placing titles with numerous ties to DC continuity under a separate imprint (as they would with Vertigo) raised questions among long-time readers: would the new stories be in continuity or be considered divergent?; if they are no longer in continuity, would the previous issues be 'retconned out', as were many stories published before Crisis?; if these characters are ever again used in mainstream DC titles, will the events they experience under the new imprint have a noticeable impact on their personality since their last 'pre-imprint' appearance? Vertigo, with its implied prediliction for disorientation, began with a greater emphasis on making its new name and more clearly focused identity known than with placating anxieties such as these. As a result, Rachel Pollack, a comics fan since childhood and well-versed in the particular title she became involved with, was mischaracterized in some quarters as some sort of outsider to comics in general and approaching her assignment to DP as an onus to change for change's sake. Worse than being unfair, it's inaccurate.

The elements Pollack brought to the table that Morrison didn't (or didn't consistently) were, in no particular order: the ancient historical origins of beliefs in mysticism, gender identity politics, Judaica, the need for and inevitability of generational schisms and probably more I didn't pick up on. In cases where existing characters had a stake in these topics they would come into play accordingly. Where this wasn't the case, rather than drop the topic or radically change a known character for the sake of it, she took the best possible route, which was to craft characters needed to illustrate given ideas and plot out the flow of the series so that they could be introduced in advance of their need. That way they would already have a relationship of some kind to the existing cast and the topic of the moment would show its impact by the manner in which the relationship is changed. This is the opposite of 'topical' stories that lecture you with expository dialogue and far more interesting than 24 pages of fist-fights. Pollack had done for novelists what Harlan Ellison had done for essayists for over twenty years -- proven that prose writers working in comics were not necessarily dilettantes. She plotted Doom Patrol like a novel and wrote it like a serial. And therein lies the problem. I bought every issue when it came out, although by the end it was more out of habit. I was initially carried along by the sheer funkiness of it but am forced to admit that by the end I not only didn't know what was happening but couldn't recognize the cast members. I reread the Vertigo issues largely to prepare for this blog and was shocked not only by how good it was but by how easy it was to follow when read in sequence. Much of my earlier confusion, I suspect, lies in the fact that many characters have several names or designations and that often a little judicious exposition is used to explain not what is at hand but what occurs in a different issue. That's hellish if you're reading month to month but just a matter of style if read in a few sittings.

I would suggest that this run be reprinted as three paperbacks: (I)"The Fox And The Crow"; (II) "The Teiresias Wars"; and (III) "Imagine Ari's Friends". The contents would be...

  1. (I) "The Fox And The Crow" - The first issues of Pollack's run are Doom Patrol #64(3/93)- 66(5/93), aka "Sliding From The Wreckage". This brief arc is an epilogue to the Morrison Period. Dorothy Spinner is trying to simulate a normal life in an apartment in town, but her only friends are her imaginary creations, including a half-human version of Cliff. Will Magnus builds a body for Niles Caulder's head in the hopes of using Caulder's Think Tank. Caulder tells Magnus the device is still dead (...?) and tears his own head off the new body, forcing Magnus to return him to cryogenic storage where he communes with the Book Of Ice... [I'm going to hold off on details until I review the individual issues because an awful lot of continuity is tied up in these three issues and further continuity has its start; the most important development is that African archetypes that haunt Dorothy deliver an organic brain to her to be used for Cliff (it is likely taken from Josh; he was shot in the chest but in future dream sequences he is depicted with a bullet hole in his forehead).The digital format is then rewritten over the new brain in a reversal of the method that saved him.] The new direction really starts in Doom Patrol #67(6/93)- 69(8/93) where Cliff, Dorothy and Caulder's head (in a tray of ice) relocate to suburban Rainbow Estates in Violet Valley. The mansion Caulder bought was still occupied by George and Marion (known locally as the Bandage People), The Inner Child (whom Dorothy renamed Charlie) and numerous Sexually Remaindered Spirits (or SRS, the ghosts of autoerotic deaths). The readers also get their first glimpse of Foxfur and Crowdark. A side trip into Vertigo Jam (one-shot) (8/93) has an 8-pager in which George and Marion take Dorothy into town to retrieve two errant SRS's: Feathered Jonathon and Alice-Wired-For-Sound. Finally, in Doom Patrol #70(9/93)- 72(11/93) the team meets Foxfur and Crowdark, who turn out to be cartoonish incarnations of native American creation mythology. Here's where the problems begin. There was a big build-up for these characters (four issues in the background then a two issue story). Backtrack further and one of those 'crazy fan' prank letters threatened to burn Morrison's collection of The Fox And The Crow comics, an old DC humor comic that obviously lifted its motif from Aesop, but like most of these titles going back to the 1940's played out like Spy Vs. Spy. Readers who had followed from before the Vertigo launch and had spent four months seeing hints of the anthropomorphic pair were probably preparing for a revisitation of the old series, especially in light of Flex Mentallo, the two Ken Steacy stories in #53 and the Doom Force Special, and one more thing that was entirely out of Pollack's control. During the four months prior to this arc and concurrent to the earliest Vertigo comics there was a Stanley And His Monster limited series. Although not designated Vertigo it contained many supporting characters familiar to those titles (the angels Remiel and Duma, the Phantom Stranger and Ambrose Bierce, whom everyone mistakes for John Constantine) and a plot with close ties to Sandman and Hellblazer. Compounding matters the original The Fox And The Crow series changed its title after issue #108(2-3/68) to Stanley And His Monster for #109(4-5/68)- #112(10-11/68), when it was cancelled one month after... Doom Patrol. As good as Pollack's story was, there was perhaps an expectation at the time of its publication for some kind of pastiche or a parallel to Aesop instead of the wholly original story they got. In the meantime, the introduction of Kate Godwin/Coagula was overlooked.

  2. (II) "The Teiresias Wars" - Every year since Crisis ('85-'86) (except 1990?) DC coordinated multi-title crossovers among their in-continuity monthlies, often anchored to a mini-series. From 1991-1993 they added separate crossovers among their annuals. That came to a halt after the "Bloodlines" annual crossover, a bloated 25-title, 6-month morass that was often poorly drawn, rarely continued from one title to the next and promised a new character be introduced in every chapter (except the two-part conclusion). Three years later those 23 new characters were thin on the ground. Vertigo's first and last multi-title crossover began as "Bloodlines" ended. "The Children's Crusade" was a trim 7-title, 2-month coherent story coordinated with the parent titles. It included Doom Patrol Annual #2([1]/94), drawn by Mark Wheatley (at this time the monthly was being drawn by pre-"Castle Waiting" Linda Medley) . Because Dorothy's participation was limited to this issue and a few panels in the other chapters I'll reserve the details of the crossover to an individual entry. While she was occupied there, Doom Patrol #73(12/93)- #74(1/94) took place without her. In #73, Caulder has a revealing dream and in #74, Cliff and Kate investigate the piracy of Cliff's abandoned digital download which has been mass-reproduced as a video game. At about this time, Wheatley was also art director for a promotional comic entitled, The Vertigo Encyclopaedia [sic], contributing a two-page spread that describes the cast and plugs issue #76. "The Teiresias Wars" storyline itself is in Doom Patrol #75(2/94)- 79(6/94). Ted McKeever takes over the art and the monthly schedule doesn't seem to agree with him. The minimalism that worked so brilliantly in Eddy Current and Metropol seems clumsy after Medley's detail. In later issues he's getting back into the swing of it (just in time for cancellation) but here it looks like the art is rendered in mosaic tiles. Even so, this story provides an origin for George and Marion and explanations for many of the questions raised by "Sliding In The Wreckage". Reading the Vertigo issues up to this point often seems like a chaotic storm of plot elements; rereading them up to this point feels like watching "The Great Escape", a brilliant hundred-faceted plan coming together. Without the fence.

  3. (III) "Imagine Ari's Friends" - Much simpler; no anthologies, no promotions, no annuals; all covers by Kyle Baker (he started with #76); interiors by McKeever (except #80 and #83). The common thread in the last eight issues is that we see a continuation of the team members being able to trust each other with themselves, the opposite of the first nine issues in which questions piled up before the previous ones could be answered. In "The Teiresias Wars" George and Marion opened up to the team and Cliff and Kate opened up to each other. In Doom Patrol #80(7/94) Charlie finally offers a fragment of explanation of his true nature to Dorothy. In #81(8/94)- #82(9/94) she finally understands the African motif archetypes that had been pursuing her since #64 and exorcises them, while Caulder binds himself to the SRS Alice-Wired-For-Sound. In #83(10/94) The False Memory, last seen in #69, paralyzes the group with fantasies they prefer to reality. Only Dorothy seems immune to it, possibly due to her exposure to Charlie or else due to the trauma of the sort of seduction she experienced with the Candlemaker. After being freed from its influence Cliff finally admits that he left Jane because he had become afraid of her. The one panel flashback is the last we see of Crazy Jane (as Black Annis, apparently retaining her split personalities and their powers despite the events of 1992) and Danny the World (as far as we know... I mean, he doesn't have face...) for about a decade. Issue #83 is also the last to carry a subscription ad for Vertigo titles including Doom Patrol. The axe came down on the letters' page for #84. "And this isn't exactly an axe," said assistant editor Julie Rottenberg, since a final story arc, "Imagine Ari's Friends" would appear in #84(11/94)- #87(2/95). After two years we finally learn that Charlie is the misplaced 'light' of Rabbi Isaac Luria who must prevent a misguided kabalist, Joseph Della Reina, from assembling Hashem's seven cups, one of which, the Violet Cup of Dreams, is within Caulder and responsible for his genius. Charlie leads the team into Della Reina's dream and instructs each to receive from one of the seven cups a specific gift of light. Caulder (while bound to Alice-W-F-S) regains his genius, but the other six gifts (going to Cliff, Kate, Dorothy, George, Marion and the Rabbi Chaim) are not described. The empty vessels are then combined to form a cup to receive the light from the Tree of Hashem. It was Della Reina's intention that the light 'heal' (read 'reboot') the world. Luria prevented this, but it meant he no longer had a purpose in this world and left for good. Caulder and Alice-W-F-S enter the Tree before it disappears. According to Chaim, the cup has hidden itself. Della Reina has corroded. The series ends after seven and a half years with Chaim and the five surviving Doom Patrol members in an open field.

The story of how The Doom Patrol reintegrated into DC continuity is a heated and contentious one with much gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, pointing of fingers, calling of names, etc. and so I will examine The Wilderness Years in an entry coded DP05-AB. I will instead end the Pollack Period on a lighter note. The Vertigo Trading Cards Set (SkyBox) was scheduled for release December 7, 1994, the same month as the last issue (#87). The DP appears on the following four cards:

  1. (37) The cover of #67(b/w description of Original Period)
  2. (38) The cover of #75(b/w description of Morrison Period)
  3. (39) The cover of #73(b/w description of Pollack Period)
  4. (57) A Tom Taggart sculpture of the cast (including Kate) that may have been intended as a poster since it's longer than it is tall (unlike Taggart's many covers). The back has a description of the cast, but oddly includes the Simon Bisley cover from #33(6/90), which has Cliff in his black body, Rebis and Crazy Jane.
  5. (Dorothy isn't mentioned on the Children's Crusade card, #76)

And that's the synopsis of the the little period that could. I'm going to lie down for a few days before I attempt the Wilderness.

Monday, September 21, 2009

DP04-AA Morrison Period synopsis

The phase of Doom Patrol history written by Grant Morrison was published in what was initially called "New Format". This meant not only a better stock of paper but a printing process that allowed what is called "full bleed", that is, the artwork can be printed to the very edge of the page. Whatever their opinion of Morrison (the graphic novel "Arkham Asylum" was nearly a year away), DC clearly wasn't absolutely certain about the idea of characters previously published for 'all ages' distribution being sequestered to one age group with a "suggested for mature readers" tag. This wasn't a problem with titles like Sandman or Shadow or Question, characters who were either new or who hadn't been published in years. Starting as a MR title from the first issue on left no room for confusion or mixed signals. For example, Morrison's second issue contains a subscription form that lists titles by price/format but doesn't isolate the MR titles. The next issue, they are on a separate page entirely. It's less surprising, in that context, to hear that despite content that was occasionally disturbing and usually disorienting and frequently encouraged the reader to keep a pre-Wikipedia dictionary handy, Morrison's issues didn't get the "SFMR" tag on the cover until issue #37, a year-and-a-half into his run.

For all it's reputation for weirdness, much of it hard-earned, this period is nothing compared to The Invisibles which was later published under Vertigo. It never becomes completely detached from the DCU. Many people seem to forget that Sandman, a title perceived as read by people who don't read other comics had numerous characters from Justice League and Swamp Thing in its first arc, from Infinity Inc. in its second, from Metamorpho in its third and even a cameo of the Justice Society (don't blink or you'll miss it) in the fourth. That was two years into that title's run. So I don't have any time for whiny mewling about an occasional "Tales of Hoffman" reference in Doom Patrol. Many of it's allusions to DC history are subtle, some would argue hidden, and I'm going to attempt to document as many of them as I can recognize. I'm also going to attempt to decypher as much of Morrison's wordplay and encryption as I can.

A word before summarizing the entries for this period: The Morrison run, as of this writing, is the only period entirely reproduced in color paperbacks making it the most accesible segment of five decades of back catalog. Because this fact raises the possibility of some readers being most familiar with the paperback titles as points of reference I have grouped the issues below to reflect those six trades. However, it should not be construed that the non-DP comics discussed in each section are part of the contents of the trade, only that they are contemporary to those issues. Also, while the first three trades begin and end at natural narrative breaks, the last three trades seem grouped by more pragmatic criteria, which will be discussed somewhat below and at length in future entries.

  1. "CRAWLING FROM THE WRECKAGE"} The actual "Crawling..." storyline was in Doom Patrol #19(2/89)- 22(5/89) and assembled not one but two teams. The Chief relocated to the original Justice League headquarters (a series of caves in Happy Harbor, RI) and after an initial adventure assesses as many survivors of the previous three incarnations of the group as are willing to join and proposes both an 'outer' support team (himself, Joshua Clay/Tempest, Dorothy Spinner and on call Will Magnus of the Metal Men) and an 'inner' field team (Cliff Steele/Robotman, Kay Challis/Crazy Jane, Rebis[Larry Trainor/Eleanor Poole/The Negative Energy Being], and pending her emergence from a coma, Rhea Jones/Lodestone). They would find random allies in different adventures and lose Rhea in their second year, but this cast otherwise held up for almost forty issues. In #23(6/89)- 24(7/89) the field team pursued an alternate-dimension killer and in #25(8/89) we learn the implications of Dorothy's power. Former member Valentina Vostok has meanwhile been drawn into "The Janus Directive" in Checkmate, Suicide Squad, Firestorm, Manhunter and Captain Atom. Steve Dayton shows up briefly in New Titans #55(6/89). Neither character is written by Morrison.

  2. "THE PAINTING THAT ATE PARIS"} The title comes from the first arc, which is also the first adventure for the Brotherhood of Dada in Doom Patrol #26(9/89)- 29(1/90). While that plays out, Morrison also writes an origin for the Happy Harbor location itself in Secret Origins #46(12/89) and Wolfman's New Titans #62(1/90) has another Dayton appearance. During Doom Patrol #30(3/90)- 33(6/90) Cliff expores Jane's subconscious and gets a new solid black body from Will Magnus. Then the team meets Willoughby Kipling who elists them to fight The Cult Of The Unwritten Book. This story is more significant than immediately obvious because the eye symbol that signifies the Decreator summoned by the cult reoccurs both in the final Candlemaker story and the Doom Force parody one-shot. After a walk-on by Cliff and Rebis in Justice League Europe #17(8/90), Cliff's new body takes on a life of its own and foils an invasion of the HQ by the Brain and Monsieur Mallah in Doom Patrol #34(7/90). Vostok continues to appear in Checkmate through #30(8/90).

  3. There is a magazine-sized format of Who's Who In The DC Universe ready made for three-ring binders. It begins publishing between these two story arcs and lasts a year-and-a-half, then adds two updates right before the Vertigo launch. As in the Kupperberg Period there are sporadic DP related pages.

  4. "DOWN PARADISE WAY"} In Doom Patrol #35(8/90)- 37(10/90) the team meets Sara Furness, Danny the Street and Flex Mentallo when Danny is attacked by Darren Jones and his ersatz Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E. As mentioned before, #37 was the first officially marked, "Suggested For Mature Readers" and prompted an ad with unique art that ran in Ms. Tree Quarterly #2(Autumn/90) if not elsewhere. Marv Wolfman brings Steve Dayton back to New Titans #71(11/90) where he stays until #100(8/93). In Doom Patrol #38(11/90)- 41(2/91) Rhea has awakened from her coma having metamorphosed. In her new state she becomes a pawn in an alien war.

  5. "MUSCLEBOUND"} Doom Patrol#42(3/91)- 44(5/91) reveals the nature and origins of The Ant Farm and the true Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Ultimately it is Dorothy who defeats The Ant Farm but only by summoning the Candlemaker. In the third and last chapter of Red Glass in Action Comics #666(6/91), Superman hallucinates Cliff and Rebis. (There is also an alternate future Cliff who appears in that year's Action Comics Annual #3, one of the "Armageddon 2001" chapters.) The Chief gets a rare solo story fighting The Beardhunter in Doom Patrol #45(7/91). Willoughby Kipling returns to warn of The Shadowy Mr. Evans in #46(8/91)- 48(10/91), although this sub-arc is more foreshadow-y: numerous incidents that seem to be of no consequence in these issues will take on much greater meaning a year later. This was also about the time former member Karma appeared in Suicide Squad #58(10/91). The trade ends with the first two issues of the second Brotherhood of Dada story in Doom Patrol #49(11/91)- 50(12/91). Because everyone but Joshua and the Chief have moved their living quarters onto the Danny at this point and the cave HQ is not seen between #49 and #55, this is probably when Justice League Europe #32(11/91) takes place. As Part 8 of "Breakdowns", Giffen and De Matteis have both the JLA and JLE return to the cave where three members experience a hallucinegenic-induced Morrison parody.
  6. "MAGIC BUS"} The actual "Magic Bus" storyline is continued from the previous trade and concluded in Doom Patrol #51(1/92)- 52(2/92). In #53(3/92) Danny (with help from guest artist Ken Steacy) dreams that the DP are the 1960's Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four. This might also be the last point at which Cliff and Rebis could make their one page guest spot in Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1(9/92), another Giffen credit. The rest of this trade, Doom Patrol #54(4/92)- 57(7/92), is a descent into hell ending in a cliffhanger. In order, Rebis, Dorothy, Jane and the Chief face the consequences of poor judgement and the cumulative effect is disaster, ending with Cliff's organic brain being crushed and the Chief being decapitated. During the same month DC published what seemed like an X-Force parody called Doom Force Special #1(7/92). In what seems like a polar opposite of Danny's dream we get what might be Dorothy's dream of a contemporary super-hero team, in which she is 'Spinner' and the Chief is merely a head. The question is: is this a prophetic dream that takes place after Danny's (it also has ten pages by Steacy albeit in a different style) or a Freudian dream that takes place after Morrison's run?
  7. "PLANET LOVE"} With the help of Danny, Willoughby Kipling and Will Magnus the Candlemaker is destroyed and Cliff's consciousness is now on disc in Doom Patrol #58(8/92)- 61(11/92). Danny finally tells Cliff his origin story in #62(12/92) and expands to become a world. Rebis and Cliff accept his offer to live on him. In #63(1/93) we learn that Jane had been stranded on Earth-Prime until she is finally found by Cliff using Danny's teleporting ability. Dorothy is the only remaining team member.

The last remaining threads from the Morrison Period are actually tied up in the first three issues of the Pollack Period but because there is not only a change of author but a change of imprint I have decided to leave the coverage of those issues in the next section.

The next entry will be in five days.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

DP03-AA Kupperberg Period synopsis

(Many of the 1986 issues and storylines mentioned in this entry owe much of their chronological arrangement to research using the websites Grand Comic Book Database, The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe and

Because Paul Kupperberg wrote the first New Doom Patrol story arc in 1977 (see DP02-AA) you will often see the twelve years preceding Grant Morrison entirely attributed to him. This is both unfair to him and misleading to the reader. The three new members he introduced back then had appeared in fewer than a dozen comics by the time Crisis On Infinite Earths began eight years later while the original group's sidekick Beast Boy (now Changeling) was appearing in not one but two monthly Teen Titans titles often with either original member Robotman or adoptive father Mento. These stories were almost always written by Marv Wolfman, who also wrote Crisis and was frequently his own editor. By beginning Kupperberg's Period after Crisis I am acknowledging that he was given the option of ignoring certain elements of the past and reinventing others to suit his needs. Where he does or doesn't choose to do so all become part of the canvas on which he writes his scripts.

Immediately following Crisis there were a number of scattered appearances that were more in the spirit of the Gypsy Periods but which have been included here because they were all released during the year that led up to the new series and would be part of DC's new coherent continuity:

  1. Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe - Numerous issues of this two-year series contain one- and two-page profiles of various members and related characters.
  2. The Official Teen Titans Index #1(8/85)- 5(12/85) and The Official Doom Patrol Index #1(1/86)- 2(2/86) - Both published by Independent Comics Group/Eclipse and have original cover art, including John Byrne on the Doom Patrol. Byrne also did some of the Who's Who profiles.

  3. New Teen Titans #18(3/86)- 19(4/86) and 22( 7/86) with Swamp Thing #49(6/86)- 50(7/86)- Tying up John Constantine's Defense of Heaven which was the culmination of a year-and-a-half long story Alan Moore (or Karen Berger) called "American Gothic" and which intertwined with Crisis. Mento played a key role. He begins creating super-powered characters he calls The Hybrid.

  4. New Teen Titans #24(10/86)- 27(1/87) - Mo' Mento, mo' Mento, mo' Mento.

  5. Vigilante #36(12/86)- 47(11/87) - Valentina Vostok becomes a supporting character. Marv Wolfman edited this title initially and wrote the first sixteen issues until Crisis began. After a two-parter by Alan Moore the rest of the series was written by Paul Kupperberg. Tellingly, Mike Gold takes over as editor as of issue #35 and the very next issue a member of the New Doom Patrol joins the cast.
  6. New Teen Titans #28(2/87)- 31(5/87) - Robotman was one of the supporting characters called in to rescue Titans from the church of Brother Blood.

  7. Teen Titans Spotlight #9(4/87) - Changeling and Robotman fight an old DP villain. Kupperberg scripted this issue.

  8. Teen Titans Spotlight #10(5/87) - Aqualad vs. Mento

  9. Teen Titans Spotlight #11(6/87) - The Brotherhood of Evil get their own feature.

  10. Blue Beetle #11(4/87)- #14(7/87) - Mo' Mento, mo' Mento, mo' Mento.

  11. New Teen Titans #34(8/87) - Mento has a nervous breakdown. Raven appears to heal him.

  12. Phantom Stranger #1(10/87)- 4(1/88) - Limited series written by Kupperberg with Valentina Vostok in a supporting role.

At this point the new series had already started. Kupperberg writes the first 18 issues (except for the Bonus Book supplement in #9) and three specials. At this point I'll simply point out what he didn't write. Also worth mentioning is that jack-of-all-trades John Workman comes on board as letterer for a stint that brings to mind Joe Sinnott inking the Fantastic Four or the Midget Butler character on the TV show "The Prisoner". Editors may come and go like 70's pencillers or The Village's Number 2's but Workman missed only eight issues in the 87 issue series, six of them during this period. When discussing individual issues later in the blog I'll point out some of his more colorful pseudonyms.

Changeling continues appearing with the Titans, of course, but Steve Dayton gives up his Mento identity as well as his ambitions to use cutting edge technology to custom create super-heroes. He rejoins their cast in the early 90's as himself as a regular supporting character. The Brain and Monsieur Mallah are seen coordinating paid assassinations for Phobia (of the New Brotherhood of Evil) in New Teen Titans #43(5/88). I will try to continue tracking their appearances but Phobia and the rest of the New Brotherhood were never created to be a part of the Doom Patrol mythos; in fact I can't recall any of them appearing in any nominal Doom Patrol comic book. Thus, I'll limit myself to the original group for the sake of focus.

Here then is the heart of the Kupperberg Period:

  1. Secret Origins Annual #1([8]/87) - Art by John Byrne; Robotman returns to the Midway City headquarters where he recounts the origins of both the original 60's and new 70's group unaware that Valentina Vostok is observing him in her capacity as a government agent.
  2. Doom Patrol #1(10/87)- 8(5/88) and Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special (no indicia!) - The first three issues reassemble the New Doom Patrol and reexamine the blast site where the original team disappeared. The next three issues relocate to Kansas City and add three new younger members and the recovering Larry Trainor. This leads directly into the DP/SS special, plotted by John Ostrander, and directly from there to issues #7 and 8. By the end of this stage the members (except Trainor) are assembled on the cover of #8 and all but Robotman (for obvious reasons) are wearing variations of the 1960's team uniform (as does Changeling in the Titans books, and always has prior to that).
  3. Doom Patrol #9(6/88)- 10(7/88), Superman #20 (8/88) and Power Girl #1(6/88)- 4(9/88) - John Byrne writes as well as draws the Superman title. This is when Kupperberg also begins writing Checkmate, as Vigilante ends.
  4. Doom Patrol #11(8/88)- 14(11/88) and ~Annual #1( [12]/88) - During a Power Girl guest appearance there are numerous shake-ups. Larry nearly kills himself, Valentina and the villain Reactron in an ill-conceived attempt to steal back the Negative Energy being from Valentina. He fails, but his body is unexpectedly healed. Karma, a 1987 recruit, leaves to escape an arrest warrant and we are introduced to Dorothy Spinner (who will later be brought back by Morrison).
  5. Doom Patrol #15(12/88)- 18(1/89) and Invasion! #1-3 (no dates) - The group finally lives up to its name. The Chief is finally forced to reveal his existence to the team forcing everyone to reexamine anything they have assumed was true up to this point. During and following an invasion by a coalition of alien species the team suffers numerous and varied losses: Celsius gives her life trying to cripple an alien outpost; Valentina and Larry both lose the Negative Energy being; Lodestone is in a coma; Scott Fischer dies suddenly, possibly from complications of leukemia or possibly from the alien gene bomb; the Kansas City headquarters is hit by a crashing flying saucer and the structural damage may make it beyond repair and Cliff's relationship with the Chief is beyond repair as well. The stage is set for Morrison's overhaul the following month.
  6. I'm not sure how but the Negative Energy being appears in a crowd scene of super-heroes in Blasters Special #1(1989). Valentina goes on to spend a year in Checkmate, starting in the "Janus Directive" storyline in #15(5/89), then a side trip to Firestorm #87(7/89) and then more Checkmate through #30(8/90). Karma was reportedly in Suicide Squad #58(10/91) and Valentina appeared again in Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt #11(7/93).

This synopsis is sort of long for the time period involved but because this material has never been reprinted since it first appeared 20 years ago I wanted to make a 'quick' overview possible, even if it contains a few phrases that will be made redundant by the individual entries.

The next entry will be in two days.