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.