Monday, September 14, 2009

DP01-AA Original Series synopsis

(Most of this entry has previously appeared in slightly different form as part of an essay titled "Doom Patrol/Toward A More Precise Outline" on my LiveJournal page on September 1st, 2009)

01) The Original Series - The Doom Patrol first appeared in issue #80 (6/63) of what had been an anthology title, My Greatest Adventure. The superhero revival that DC had been engaged in was proving to be more than a fad. Tentatively at first with a new version of the Flash in 1956, it escalated in 1959 with a rapid succession of reimagined updates of Golden Age heroes and soon Marvel and Gold Key joined with their own original characters. With titles like Showcase and The Brave And The Bold already running popular features this new group became MGA's regular ongoing feature immediately as of that issue. It was officially renamed The Doom Patrol beginning with issue #86 (3/64) and continued until the cancellation of the series with #121 (9-10/68). [An additional three issues, #'s 122-124, were published in the early 1970's but contained only edited reprints.]

This phase of the group's existence may also be referred to as the (Arnold) Drake/ (Bruno) Premiani Period, named for the principal creators of those issues. I would like to expand beyond those issues to include the very few appearances they made outside their own title. There were only three that I have ever heard of: Challengers Of The Unknown #48 (2-3/66), in a story that crosses over into the DP's own title, unusual for DC at the time; The Brave And The Bold #65 (4-5/66) teaming with the Flash, not Batman; and technically Teen Titans #6 (11-12/66) in which Beast Boy tries unsuccessfully to join the Teen Titans and the DP have a cameo.
Just before the series was cancelled DP writer Arnold Drake and DP editor Murray Boltinoff were both working on DC's 1960's version of Plastic Man . In issue #8 (1-2/68) they use The Chief, Niles Caulder, as a supporting character. The reason this isn't strictly part of the same continuity is that in the previous issue it is explained that this Plastic Man is the son of the 1940's Plastic Man. For the rest of DC's pre-1986 continuity, Plastic Man has, or is assumed to have, the same origin as the 1940's incarnation (that is, his unusual abilities were acquired/induced, not inherited). In a pre-1986 frame of reference he is an alternate version of the character on an alternate Earth and therefore so is the Caulder with whom he interacts. The best existing disambiguation of this I've found is spread across several entries on the following page (which has a pop-up ad I was able to close without harm):

Note that at the end of Doom Patrol #121 (9-10/68) the team appears to be killed in a bomb blast. Because they were presumed to be dead the group's appearances over the next nine years were limited to sporadic reprints. To the best of my knowledge there was no new retroactive material such as the flashbacks, period pieces, or time travel stories referencing the Original Series such as have occured occasionally since the late 1990's (see the Wilderness Years note following the Pollack Period as well as Gypsy Period 2). Any subseqent new material of this nature would be outlined in a hypothetical entry DP01-AP and reprints will eventually be listed in an entry DP01-AR.

The next entry will be in two days.

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