Wednesday, September 16, 2009

DP02-AA Gypsy Period 1 synopsis

(Much of this entry was previously posted in a slightly different form on my LiveJournal page as a part of the essay "Doom Patrol/Towards A More Precise Outline" on September 1st, 2009.)

02) Gypsy Period 1 - (1977-1985) Not counting reprints, the 1970's attempt to revive the Doom Patrol as an ongoing feature took twice as long as the original five year run of the 1960's series. Before finally bearing fruit as a monthly title in 1987 the Doom Patrol spent ten years as a bifurcated presence in DC continuity and only then to the few readers who managed to catch all of their widely scattered appearances. For new readers understandably unfamiliar with a title discontinued in 1968, trying to make sense of what the Doom Patrol was meant to be from one or two issues here or there becomes like a game of 'The Blind Wise Men and The Elephant'. Half the stories involved a new team and the other half involved the emotionally scared survivors of the first, with Robotman straddling both worlds. The two camps were generally written by Paul Kupperberg (and Gerry Conway) for the former and Marv Wolfman (with George Perez) for the latter. You may notice that the next section is named the Kupperberg Period despite him writing DP features going back to 1977. This is not meant to diminish his contributions. If anything it is out of fairness to him. Stories take on measurably different qualities when you can sustain a writer-artist-editor combination for more than three issues. You'll find for most of this period the cast barely has time to establish their identities to the reader, let alone develop an evolving group dynamic, which they certainly do once Kupperberg is ensconced in a regular title.

Oddly, although adjunct DP members Mento (Steve Dayton) and Beast Boy (Gar Logan) were not present at the bomb blast that ended the first group they, like the Doom Patrol, remained unseen until Beast Boy appeared in Teen Titans #50(10/77)- 52(12/77), concurrent with the DP revival. Possibly the key to the more successful post-Crisis Doom Patrol series was the inclusion of Gar Logan in the revamped, relaunched New Teen Titans (beginning in 1980 and transmuting thereafter). As of this new series he insists on being called 'Changeling' and is rarely absent from the Titans' various incarnations since. The Showcase stories reveal that Cliff's Robotman body survived the blast and was rebuilt by Will Magnus, creator of the Metal Men. He returns to the headquarters in Midway City to find three new characters claiming to be the DoomPatrol. Later, in the Titans stories, Cliff is drawn into Dayton's search for the original team's killers and becomes a surrogate family member to Gar. These two storylines play out in fits and spurts in the issues below:

  1. Showcase #94 (8-9/77)- 96(12/77-1/78) The New Doom Patrol is introduced.
  2. Teen Titans #50(10/77)- 52(12/77) Beast Boy makes an extended guest appearance.
  3. Superman Family #191(9-10/78)- 193(1-2/79) A story teaming the New Doom Patrol with Supergirl that was intended for Super-Team Family #16 was instead serialized as a Supergirl story.
  4. From 1980-1982, putting closure on the first group became a significant ongoing subplot in Changeling's life in New Teen Titans. These stories not only reintroduced Mento and the Brotherhood of Evil, but introduced a whole new Brotherhood who became staple characters. Robotman appears but the three new characters do not.
  5. DC Comics Presents #52(12/82) Superman meets the New Doom Patrol; this is also the first apearance of Ambush Bug.
  6. The New Brotherhood of Evil resurfaces in New Teen Titans and grow distinct from the Brain and Mallah; I will be outlining why they will not be sharing their predecessors' link to the Doom Patrol.
  7. Daring New Adventures Of Supergirl #7(5/83)- 10(8/83) The New Doom Patrol battle Reactron with help from Supergirl.
  8. DC Sampler #2(9/84) Not a story but a two page article with original art about the Teen Titans.
  9. Why Red Tornado #3(9/85) is not a DP appearance, despite what you may have read elsewhere.
  10. Crisis On Infinite Earths and its many tie-ins and cross-overs including New Teen Titans and Swamp Thing

The next entry will be in two days.

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