Saturday, December 31, 2011

DP05-BT01 Flex Mentallo news

.....It seems odd to post a 'trade' announcement for the Wilderness Years (summarized in DP05-AB) before there have even been collected trades solicited for the Pollack Period (DP05-AA). The reason I'm going ahead with it anyway is the nature of the item in question. Most of the comics I've cited in the Wilderness Years are brief cameos, short stories from anthologies, retro period stories or non-DP stories that relate tangentially to DP continuity, since this was the period between the cancellation of the Pollack stories under the Vertigo imprint and the group's tentative reintegration into DCU continuity. However, about three months ago DC announced that they would publish a deluxe edition hardcover of FLEX MENTALLO: MAN OF MUSCLE MYSTERY, a compilation of the four issue miniseries from 1996.

.....This is far from the first time a trade for the miniseries has been discussed. The first attempt was derailed by a lawsuit filed by the owners of Charles Atlas' image claiming that the character Flex Mentallo (an obvious parody of Atlas' comic strip advertisements so common in comic books during Grant Morrison's childhood) had damaged the company's reputation. They couldn't substantiate any such injury in court but I have read accounts that DC agreed to pay a nominal royalty rate to the company that now owns Charles Atlas' image whenever Flex Mentallo appears because it would cheaper than continuously defending themselves against frivolous claims. It also means they've avoided reprinting the miniseries.

.....There was once a paperback planned that would carry the ISBN# 978-156389-408-4. Its release was delayed and eventually cancelled. (Some online booksellers note its 'release' date as April 1, 1998; April Fools' Day.) At the time there had only been one DP trade, so Flex' original appearances in Doom Patrol [for one year from #35 (08/90) to #46 (08/91)] had never been reprinted. There was some disappointment, but in perspective the lack of a trade had not yet become a serious issue. That came when the same creative team (Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely) began a lengthy run on New X-Men for Marvel [#114(07/01) to #138(05/03); Morrison continued with art by (variously) Phil Jiminez, Chris Bachalo and Marc Silvestri until #154(05/04)]. During that run John Arcudi and Tang Eng Huat created a new Doom Patrol series [#1(12/01)-#22(09/03)]. Inevitably new fans following either the creators or characters backwards learned of the out of print material. Demand (and secondary market prices) grew.

.....After Morrison left New X-Men two things happened. A Claremont/Byrne story arc in JLA introduced a modernized version of the original Doom Patrol, with the premise that previous incarnations never existed. That led directly into yet another Doom Patrol series months before a second paperback collecting Morrison's Doom Patrol run was published in October 2004. The third, containing the first Flex Mentallo stories, followed in November 2005.

.....Just as the Byrne series ended, Morrison and Quitely returned as a team with All-Star Superman, an erratically published title yielding twelve issues in three years, during which the remaining three volumes of Morrison's Doom Patrol run were published. There was then a gap of almost a year until the Keith Giffen series began, but otherwise the past decade has been continuously overlapping DP or Morrison/Quitely projects even though none of them covered more than a few years. The cumulative effect has kept Flex Mentallo, now fifteen years out of print, on fandom's radar when many of his contemporaries have been long forgotten.

.....The latest version of the promised Flex Mentallo trade is in a hardcover format whose dimensions are somewhere between Golden Age and US Magazine sizes (7- 1/16" X 10- 7/8"). It should be 112 pages for $22.99 (US) with an ISBN# 978-140123-221-4 (or 10-digit 1-40123-221-3). The original release date was solicited as February 1, 2012, but that was changed to Feb. 15 (announced 12/13 on Diamond's website), then changed to Feb. 29 this past week (announced 12/27). Here's hoping that isn't an omen of cold feet again. All I know is that the new date leaves only one month until April Fools' Day.

.....[ADDENDUM January 19, 2012: Two days ago Diamond announced that their shipping date for the Flex Mentallo trade has been moved again from February 29th to March 14th.]

.....[ADDENDUM January 26, 2012: Two days ago Diamond announced that their shipping date for the Flex Mentallo trade has been moved again from March 14th to March 21st. That much closer to April Fools' Day, but not cancelled. Yet. <<Sigh.>>

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And In Other Media... (Nov. 2011)

.....Last night (Nov. 18, 2011) the Cartoon Network a delayed Halloween episode of Young Justice introducing that continuity's version of Secret in a script written by the man who knew her best, Peter David. David wrote the Young Justice comic book series from its beginning in the late 1990's. More relevant to this blog is a side plot in which three members of the team attend a Halloween party with normal teenagers. Typical of David's sense of humor, the three super powered teens dress like monsters because they want to blend in only to find everyone else dressed like super-heroes. At the party they meet up with Wendy and Marvin and teenage versions of 'Karen' (dressed like Bumblebee) and 'Mal' (dressed like the 1990's Superboy, complete with circular lens sunglasses). They continuity of this show has always been wonky; in this episode, for example, Zatanna is also a teenager and her father is alive and in an earlier episode the new black/blond Aqualad is the same age as Garth and Tula. I doubt any of those changes were Peter David's idea. His strength has always been knowing continuity well enough to gauge how such experiences could manifest which quirks in any given character's personality. I'll have to pay more attention to the series to see if these characters are meant to be future team members.

.....Immediately after the Young Justice cartoon came what must have been the series finale of "Batman: The Brave And The Bold". After last season began with a number of episodes involving death (including one where Joker acquires Bat-Mite's powers and uses them to repeatedly kill and revive Batman, plus deaths of Blue Beetle, B'wana Beast, G.I. Robot and our own Doom Patrol), many of this year's episodes have been highly campy. If you're not familiar with the show, it usually opens with a short two-minute team-up followed by the opening credits and then the main story, which is unrelated to the cast in the opening. One particularly bizarre opening sequence staged Aquaman's domestic life as a television sitcom, complete with studio audience applause whenever a new character entered the room. The episode that aired last night had Bat-Mite bemoaning the turn the series had taken and convincing himself that it would be less likely that the current series recapture its magic than that a whole new series simply start out better. To make way for a new series he sets out to magically change Batman's world into something any ardent fan would despise, adding cutesy kid characters, gratuitous toy tie-ins, etc. What does this have to do with Doom Patrol? It catches the attention of the only other DCU character who believes (or is aware of that fact) that he is a comic book character-- Ambush Bug makes his B&B debut just in time for its cancellation. He doesn't really get an introduction of any kind, he just transports himself into the situation and tries to set things right. The episode is written by Paul Dini, not Robert Loren Fleming or Keith Giffen, so the Bug's usual caustic stream-of-consciousness irreverence is dialed back a few notches but still has the same essential personality. If you've stayed with the show through its campy turns thus far, chances are you've already seen it, if not on U.S. cable systems then downloaded from England where it played months ago. If your cable system doesn't offer shows on demand you might find it becoming easier to watch it free online now that it's been aired in the U.S. Watch it if you're in the mood for a laugh.

Friday, September 23, 2011

DP09- Third trade update

.....After about a month of rumors, Diamond Comics Distributors confirmed this morning that the third and final collected trade paperback reprinting Keith Giffen's run as plotter/scripter on Doom Patrol has been 'cancelled by the publisher'. Solicited with the title "Fire Away" and scheduled for August 24th, there was some confusion prompted by the original solicitation which described the contents as omitting the final issue only. Also, the ostensible length of a single trade including all previously unpublished issues plus the Secret Six crossover during that run is not unheard of in a trade, but would probably have pushed the title into a suggested list price bracket that DC felt uncomfortable with for a title whose monthly counterpart posted low numbers.

.....While it is likely that the cancellation is part and parcel of a larger drift from a print-oriented publishing model, that can't be certain. As with most of these notices, there was no explanation of the reasoning behind it. Anticipating what is or isn't profitable (or even commercially practical) is ultimately a matter of educated guessing for publishers. When you publish that many titles regularly you have a small number of people juggling a large number of variables. However, if there were concerns that a larger list price might kill potential sales then there may be plans to split the remainder of the run into two smaller arcs and then supplement each with short stories otherwise unlikely to be collected (such as the retro stories discussed on this blog in May and June, prefixed DP09-AP). This might make the earlier half with the Kryptonian tie-in more palatable to Superman fans not otherwise interested in the Doom Patrol, likewise for Secret Six fans with the second half.

.....Well, summer's over. Back to work.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Technical Failure

.....NOTICE: THE POST MENTIONED BELOW HAS BEEN RESTORED. It was eventually posted June 21st, 2011 and has a byline of June 12th, on the page prior to this one. You can access it by clicking on "Older Post" below or by using the archives on the left. Sorry for the delay.

.....I'm publishing this purely as a test. The post I intended to publish was only partially saved. I've just tried to restore several paragraphs of missing text and noticed that it was not saving what I was writing. If it publishes this short post, then I will know if, tomorrow, it will be worth my time to recreate the entire post in a single extended writing session and publish it without first saving it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

DP09-AP(e) Retro Stories During The Giffen Period

.....Barring cameos I haven't yet discovered or which may yet surface before the Flashpoint to-do plays out (we'll see how long DC's readers can sustain nostalgia for The Age Of Apocalypse, if at all), this was the last of the Doom Patrol appearances during Giffen's run that take place in earlier periods. During the most recent Doom Patrol title there were three issues which each focused on the history of an individual member, giving a coherent account of their passage through all the prior periods. I haven't included those because they'll be reviewed here in the context of the rest of the series at some far future date after the preceding periods have been reviewed.

.....The topic of this post is DCU: Legacies, a ten-issue limited series that ran #1(07/10) to #10 (04/11). Each of the first five issues covered a period of roughly ten years from 1935 to 1985 and the last five issues each covered a period of roughly five years from 1985 to 2010. Each issue has a serialized main story in which a retired policeman named Paul Lincoln recalls the history of DC's super-heroes and his occasional brushes with them (not unlike the photographer in Marvels). The chapters are written by Len Wein with short framing sequences drawn by Scott Kolins, but a different art team for the main body every two issues who also provide the standard cover. Each issue also has a short back-up story featuring a different group of related characters by yet a third art team who provide the variant cover for that issue. I mention this because Cliff Steele appears on the cover of issue #4(10/10), but only on the standard cover.

.....The Doom Patrol don't appear in the back-up stories, but their brief significant inclusion in issue #4 shouldn't be discussed without first mentioning something about #3. DCU: Legacies #3(09/10) "Powers And Abilities!" is the first of two parts drawn by José Luis García-López and inked by Dave Gibbons. The cover blurb, "The Silver Age Is Here!" pretty much gets the main point across with the standard cover being a white background and the sedately posed seven founders of the pre-Crisis version of the Justice League of America. Although Superman and Batman almost never appeared on the covers of early JLA comics, they had made cameos in the stories since the three trial issues in The Brave And The Bold #28(02-03/60)- #30(06-07/60). I say "almost" because they appear as chess pieces on the cover of Justice League Of America #1(10-11/60), as miniature background figures on #5(06-07/61), as Felix Faust's fingers on #10(03/62), as smoke in bottles on #11(05/62) and finally fully visible on the cover of #19(05/63), long after they had become fully active in the stories. However, that lack of visual presence translated into a total absence when the JLA's origin was reformulated after Crisis On Infinite Earths. One of the major effects of the Crisis is that after the surviving worlds and their respective histories were combined into a single synthetic Earth, Wonder Woman passed into legend, a final gift of the Gods when it became clear to them that they couldn't prevent her from being wiped from physical existence (and subsequently people's memories). The original Golden Age Wonder Woman became fictional in the post-Crisis Earth and was remembered that way by everyone. A younger, otherwise identical Wonder Woman emerged at the end of the Legends mini-series who didn't recognize any of the characters who had been her predecessor's teammates in the JLA. In the new scheme of things, Black Canary took Wonder Woman's place in JLA history and Superman and Batman were eliminated from the origin completely, joining a short time later. Similarly, Supergirl never existed in post-Crisis history (until several variant versions were later introduced) and so the Doom Patrol adventures with her in Superman Family #191(09-10/78)- #193(01-02/79) and Daring New Adventures Of Supergirl #7(05/83)- #10(08/83) would thereafter be remembered as having happened, but with Power Girl in the role of Supergirl. For DCU: Legacies #3 to return Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to the origin of the Justice League calls into question exactly to what extent these post-Crisis revisions are being dismantled. Did the story in Legends not happen? Did the Doom Patrol have adventures with Supergirl or Power Girl? Both? Neither?

.....DCU: Legacies #4(10/10) begins with the right half of an interlocking García-López/Gibbons cover, indicated only by the edge of Superman's cape and shadow. Even without the continuation of images, though, issues #'s 3 and 4 are clearly parts of a whole. The cover of #4 also has the white background, the parallel blurb "The Next Generation Has Arrived!" and seven heroes, in this case the five founders of the Teen Titans in c.1965 uniforms plus Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and Robotman (Cliff Steele). Curiously, and I don't know if anyone else is disturbed by this and I don't know if it was intentional, but Aqualad's hair here is straight. Short, matted or tousled, but straight. It appears this way in the interior pages as well. In his earliest appearances in Adventure Comics beginning in 1960 his hair was not only straight but light brown. After Bruno Premiani drew the first teen sidekick team-up story in The Brave And The Bold #54(06-07/64), Garth's subsequent appearances with his peers were (a) drawn mainly by Nick Cardy, (b) under the name Teen Titans and (c) sporting black hair in thick curls. Actually, for much of the 1960's Cardy drew Garth in both Teen Titans and Aquaman. On Teen Titans he would even ink the pencillers who took over (Irv Novick and George Tuska) as well. When Jim Aparo took over the art on Aquaman's interiors, Cardy continued to draw or paint the covers. In the 1970's, Garth appeared less often in Teen Titans and Aparo continued Aquaman's feature in Adventure Comics (including covers) before following him back into his revived title which was closed out with Don Newton pencilling. I haven't seen Garth's back-up feature drawn by Carl Potts, which ran in Adventure Comics after the Aquaman feature vacated, but if it was anything like the various art teams that worked on Teen Titans when it returned in the late 1970's, it would have adhered to Cardy's thick, curly precedent. George Pérez certainly did for occasional New Teen Titans guest spots and the first Aqualad Who's Who page. In fact, Pérez added visual detail to individual curls and gave Garth's hair more of a perm or afro style. The thinking must have been that his origin (coming from an underwater civilization akin to Atlantis) would imply a look more common to Mediterranean cultures (Greece, Italy, Ethiopia) than the freckled Midwestern boy he resembled when Ramona Fradon drew him. As prolific as García-López was at DC since the mid-1970's, it isn't easy finding an example of him drawing Aqualad in a story. These two examples seem to have been prepared for promotional or merchandising purposes. They're both dated 1982. Note Garth's hair:

.....Garth's hair seems black and wavy. It's consistent with Cardy, if not Pérez. It's Aqua-Dondi. So why the change in the look for what is meant to be a period-specific portrait? I doubt that it's Gibbon's inks. Ten years earlier, during the "Silver Age" one-shot event, Gibbon inked Cardy himself on the cover of the Silver Age: Teen Titans #1(07/00). Garth's hair looks straighter than Cardy's ever drawn it, but still thick past the ears. But Pat Oliffe's interior pencils make him look more like his modern Tempest identity, short with small tight curls. Whatever the reasoning was for the look used on DCU: Legacies #4, it couldn't possibly have the same impact on Doom Patrol history as would restoring Wonder Woman to JLA history. By relaunching Wonder Woman in the 1980's, Donna Troy's already murky personal story became notoriously impossible to reconcile, impacting not only Beast Boy/Changeling from their time together in the New Teen Titans, but Robotman, Mento and both the new and old versions of the Brotherhood Of Evil, who returned to activity between 1981 and 1986 in New Teen Titans, Teen Titans Spotlight and other Titans related titles. Extraordinary hoops were jumped through to accommodate post-Crisis continuity without throwing out some of DC's best-selling work since the start of the Comics' Code Authority. By restoring Wonder Woman to the Silver Age it becomes necessary to sift through the dozen or so existing Donna Troy origins to find one or more that enable us to retain the 'Gar Logan on Paradise Island' subplot from 1981.

.....Before the DP actually show up there's a full-page illustration, page 6, with 37 villains representing the Silver Age and not one of them with a connection to the Doom Patrol (the giant gorilla in the back is Grodd, not Mallah). What's even weirder is that prominently in the foreground we see Mongul, who first appeared in 1980.

.....On page 11, panel 1, we see the Original Period Doom Patrol (Cliff, Rita and Larry) in their 1960's style uniforms battling the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man. Cliff is tossing a lime green Volkswagon covered with a peace sign and numerous flower decals, for anyone who's been reading this far and is still not absolutely certain what decade this was paraphrasing. The accompanying narration tells us:
  • "But the Metal Men weren't the only ones inspired by the example of the Justice League... In Midway City, a group of super-powered misfits calling themselves the Doom Patrol made their presence known."
.....In a previous post, DP05-AB "The Wilderness Years", I list Doom Patrol activity between the end of the series under the Vertigo imprint and their relaunch by John Arcudi. Part of that activity was tentative reintegration into DCU continuity and a significant part involved long overdue looks back into the group's history before Crisis as seen through a post-Crisis lens. JLA Year One placed their formation before the JLA's in a story originally published in 1998, only to have that order reversed just two years later in a lowly text piece in Secret Files & Origins Guide To The DC Universe 2000. It's hard to argue that this story is establishing anything other than consensus regarding who came first. And after this summer's Flashpoint reboot there's no telling what history will look like. And aside from tying into the Doom Patrol's guest spot on the animated television show, "Batman: The Brave And The Bold", I don't see the point of devoting two whole pages to reenacting the Original group's 1968 death scene. While pains are taken to get the name and population of the targeted fishing village correct-- Codsville, Maine and 14-- there are still goofs. Cliff is standing at the end, despite being depicted with the glowing halo of the magnetic charge that paralyzed the tiny servo motors in his legs. Madame Rouge is not mentioned and appears only as an indistinct figure in the background of one panel (page 21, panel 5), despite being instrumental to the original story. Finally, as seems to be the case increasingly, Zahl introduces himself as "General Zahl". He was actually Captain Zahl when he commanded the submarine that attacked the DP. He promoted himself to General Zahl while on land years later, some time between disappearing at the end of Doom Patrol #121(09-10/68) and reappearing in New Teen Titans #13(11/81)- #15(01/82). Even if someone didn't know that particular bit of trivia they ought to know that the title 'general' means nothing on a ship. Captains, admirals, ensigns (maybe) but not generals would be in charge of a ship. He might as well be calling himself 'pope' or 'your waiter for this evening'.

.....Closing out 2010 are DCU: Legacies #5(11/10) and #6(12/10). This time the interlocking standard covers are by George Pérez, depicting a chaotic moment during Crisis On Infinite Earths. Not that it's germane to the Doom Patrol, but I have to stop here to point out the cover to #5 is a scene that actually takes place in the comic book. On page 19 you'll see many of the same characters in the same poses and engaged in the same activities but seen from a different angle. Except for the two pages of framing sequence drawn by Scott Kolins in each issue, most of the serial chapter in #5 was pencilled by Pérez and inked by Scott Koblish. For #6, Pérez and Koblish split the inking chores on Jerry Ordway's pencils.

.....In the framing sequence of issue #5 narrator Paul Lincoln cites the death of the Doom Patrol as the catalyst that led to darker, grimmer moods in later metahuman adventures. On the splash page he holds up an old issue of Timeline Magazine with the DP on its cover. To bolster his point he cites the Joker's return to senseless murder, which was actually deemphasized while he had his own title in the mid 1970's. It was only after that title was cancelled that he became part of Englehart's and Rogers' return to classic villainy in Detective Comics. It's also worth finding his arc in the Huntress back-up feature in Wonder Woman a few years after that. It was in those appearances that the Joker was reestablished as a dangerous killer. More convincing is when Lincoln next refers to the Fleischer/Aparo Spectre stories from Adventure Comics. Those stories raised eyebrows and 'led to meetings', as they say. They are conveniently available as the trade Wrath Of The Spectre, which has been in and out of print but often offered both new and used. Lincoln is on to something; comics did get darker long before Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Unfortunately, as a character within DCU super-hero continuity he is uniquely unqualified to present the evidence that falls outside of that continuity. The early 1970's in comic book publishing were notable for sword & sorcery fantasy, horror and supernatural anti-heroes, jaded cosmically aware demi-gods, dystopian futures and black and white magazines not subject to the Comics Code Authority. All true, but nothing of which he would be aware. The death of the DP was certainly an unusual way to end a comic book series, but 1968 was practically a bloodbath compared to the "Summer Of Love" the year before. In fact, that issue would have been released in late July and still on the stands when protesters outside the DNC were brutally murdered. This was after the assassinations of MLK and RFK, as well as Prague Spring and the Situationist riots in Paris. The next few years were drenched in Altamont, Kent State, the My Lai Massacre, slum riots, prison riots and well-connected persons rigging the military draft so that the poor would die in their place. It's hardly fair to say that the 1970's began with a dark mood because the Doom Patrol made the ultimate sacrifice. It wasn't just comic books that became grimmer. Books, movies and music did as well. There was an over whelming sense that persons in authority were not only failing to guide civilization into peace and prosperity but were actually committed to preventing them. If Spiro Agnew sneering that he didn't have to pay taxes because he was better you didn't convince people of that, Richard Nixon ordering burglaries of his political enemies certainly did.

.....Of course, the Doom Patrol's story didn't really end in 1968 and the nine-year gap until their return becomes a one-issue gap in DCU: Legacies. Gar shows up without comment with the New Teen Titans on page 7 of issue #5. On page 10, he's with the slightly revamped (1984+) NTT, which is portrayed as contemporary with the debut of the New Doom Patrol. It's clear this is meant to be the Showcase #94(08-09/77), from General Immortus attacking in a one-man flying saucer to Robotman's temporary ROG-2000-esque body. It's especially temporary here, since it's drawn correctly in panels 2,5 and 6, but then reverts to a conventional 1960's head for an inset panel portrait. Also, Lincoln's comment "Yes, the Chief's widow had found the remains of Robotman and rebuilt him-- even as she gathered together a brand-new team of misfits." makes one wonder how much of the Doom Patrol's adventures is known to the public and how much is presumed. Cliff was rebuilt by Doc Magnus, not Celsius, but that information might be classified. The general public might assume otherwise or might have been told otherwise.

.....A very public event, the COIE, fills the end of issue #5 and the start of issue #6. Negative Woman passes through page 20, panel 1, while Gar manages to finally get a line in on page 21, panel 1. Both make the cover of issue #6, although Gar has switch from an elephant carrying Nightwing to a pigeon carrying the Atom in his barbarian warrior phase. Tempest appears as well. Only Gar appears inside though, in a recreation of the conclusion to Legends on page 18.

.....The whole DCU: Legacies series will be available as a hardcover trade this fall. Barring delays, it is scheduled for release August 24th, 2011. I'm debating whether to look to other media to cover all the other retro period depictions during the Giffen Period, such as the animated Batman team-up mentioned earlier or even action figures. As it is I'm going to collect my thoughts, dive into my comics and look for a new thread. Here's hoping all the links work!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Retro Denouement Interlude

.....To paraphrase Oprah, "YOU get a link, and YOU get a link, and YOU get a..."

.....After the previous two posts I had to get some much needed sunlight. The timing was right; here in the northeast U.S. it's been a bright, humid, summery first week of June, during which I cleared out several barrels of yard clippings, filled several (non-DP) holes in my comics collection and took a belated look at the solicitations for August. I still don't see any indication of Doom Patrol's future. Flashpoint will apparently be carrying on into September, unless absolutely everything ships on time, with the last day for all titles being August 31. With next month's Comic-Con there will undoubtedly be tons of news available about DC's direction while Flashpoint
is still on the stands. In the meantime, we mere mortals have the blog "Too Dangerous For A Girl", whose recent posts as of this writing have been sifting through what look like press releases. The home page should be here:

.....I checked in earlier today to monitor any possible comments (none today) and post one last 'retro' entry before devoting the next few days to editing a massive music entry for my other blog. I checked the stats, mostly to see if publishing the previous post had gotten any better reaction than the first few days. When you publish infrequently as I have in the previous year, people just don't bother to check you out every day. A new post can result in a spike in activity, either several people looking for something new or else a few people flipping backwards. In the past month I've been getting closer to a weekly schedule and was curious to see if the rate of pageviews would continue to spike and drop or begin to level off. Wellll... neither. The total pageviews for Wednesday were more than ten times the average for LGC: Doom Patrol. All day. The lion's share of referring URL's (i.e., the last page someone was on before coming here) were from tamaraorbust's blog, "Histories Of Things To Come" with the rest coming from the Doom Patrol-related blogs to whom I always link on the left side of this page. I wasn't at all surprised to see the "Histories..." URL's, given that we are mutual followers and have on more than one occasion referred to and endorsed each other's blogs. The curious thing is that "Histories..." is dramatically more prolific than this blog and deals with every topic under the sun (and behind it and probably in it, too). Many of its posts are not about comics, let alone Doom Patrol specifically. Otherwise it would have a permanent link with the others instead the occasional one, like this:

.....The readers for all those (or these, as those numbers are still coming in) views come from several countries, so I can't just dismiss this as one guy on a meth binge going back and forth between the two blogs for 24 hours straight. (For the record, the management does not endorse nonprescription amphetamine use. Try it with a pot of coffee, though.) If there are new readers out there, be advised that after the next retro post I'll be picking another theme for Doom Patrol stories to examine. I'm leaning towards the post-Crisis appearances that led to the Kupperberg series in 1987 and then the mini-series that tied into it, mostly because they've not been compiled into trades to my knowledge. If there are any other pieces of Doom Patrol-related knowledge or insight which you're having trouble locating on the web I could probably give you an answer, a helpful link or possibly a post detailing my reasons for an educated guess on the matter. Just leave any questions in the comments area and I'll be notified of them.

.....One last item: they technically aren't whole stories, but I've been enjoying the mash-up covers of the blog "The Brave And The Bold: The Lost Issues" (currently retitled "Marvel Two-In-One: The Lost Issues") for a long time now. Check out Ben Grimm's imagined adventure with the Original Period DP here:

.....And this earlier Batman excursion into Gypsy Period 1 here:

.....Or Ben with Danny's roommate:

.....In a few days I'll have the post intended for this slot and try the following week to maintain a weekly pace.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

DP09-AP(d) Retro Stories During The Giffen Period

.....This is actually the second half of an analysis of the story "Out Of Time" from The Brave And The Bold #34 (07/10)- 35 (08/10). In the previous post I provided the details of the creator credits and the rosters for the four teams involved. There's also my reasons for placing the story in the period of comics published c.1964. Anyone who had difficulty using the links provided in the previous post should check them again. They've been embedded again in a different manner and seemed to be working better than they did initially. Sorry about that.

.....This is a time travel story, which is a common enough plot device in comics that it shouldn't ordinarily require an explanation or map to guide the reader. The complications, and subsequent confusion on the part of many readers, can follow when travelling into the past multiple times results in crossing your own path and impacting the chain of events that brought you back in the first place. Douglas Adams once famously said that the most difficult part of time travel isn't really the mechanics of moving through time, it's conjugating the verbs afterward to describe what you did. The longer the story and the more often the trips taken, the more common will be the complaints of confusion, generally. Take Avengers Forever as a textbook example. Now put the Legion Of Substitute Heroes in control of a time machine and watch them try to 'fix' things. Thus we come to the following dual attempt to disambiguate the order of events, once in the order they take place in the world and once in the order they are experienced by the cast. That cast is abbreviated here for convenience: [DP] is the Doom Patrol, [LSH] is the Legion of Super-Heroes, [Subs] is the Legion of Substitute Heroes and [I5] is the Inferior Five.

.....First, the 'real time' account of events. Although the Original Period Doom Patrol stories were first published in the 1960's, the time in which they took place changes. Following what I suspect was Roy Thomas' approach of time compression employed at Marvel in the 1970's to explain why Peter Parker was allowed to pursue an undergraduate degree for thirteen years without being called up for academic review, DC since at least as far back as Zero Hour has used a similar conceit in which three to five years of publishing translates to one year in the life of the characters, working backwards. As a rule of thumb, if the story you are reading today references a story from the past, take the number of years since it was published and divide by, say, four. Subtract the result from the year of the newer story. For instance, if a story is published in 1965, then in 1969 stories it would be treated as though it took place in 1968. In 1977, it would be treated as though it took place in 1974. In 2005, it would be treated as though it took place in 1995. Thus, Lian Harper did not look 24 years old when she died. The three-to-five year standard would make her anywhere from five to eight years old. The reason I mention this is because segments in which the LSH locate the DP will be described as c.1964 in this post with the understanding that this is the period which they are obviously intended to evoke aesthetically. It is not actually stated anywhere in the story in what year those scenes occur. However, it is explicitly stated that the [Subs] find the [I5] in 1972, which is why I've included that scene and other specified dates with scenes from the Time Stream. The story does nothing to indicate whether the [DP] was formed and/or active before, during or after 1972 in this continuity frame of reference. Since, for these purposes, any of those scenarios would work equally well, we're not going to fret over it right now. Likewise, although the modern [LSH] is set in the 31st century, I'm referring to their home as the 30th century to conform to the c.1964 motif. If you want to know why that distinction is important, the best possible explanations can be found with the [LSH]-related links in the previous post.
  • {c.1964; #34/p.9} [LSH] arrive from the future (using Time Bubble 1) in [DP]'s headquarters and ask for their help.
  • {c.1964; #35/p.17} While [LSH] and [DP] discuss the problem in a different room, [Subs] and [I5] arrive (using Time Bubble 2) and switch machines, taking off in the one in which [LSH] arrived (Time Bubble 1).
  • {c.1964; #34/p.10} 7:15 minutes since page 9, [LSH] and [DP] return to the room where Time Bubble 1 was left and find Time Bubble 2 in a slightly different spot and speculate that it "shifted position". All but Caulder depart in Time Bubble 2.
  • {c.1964; #35/p.18} The departure of the [LSH] and [DP] coincides with the Time Stream sequence {#34/pp.11-13}(see below).
  • {c.1964; #35/pp.5-6} After [LSH] and [DP] leave, [Subs] arrive from 30th century (using Time Bubble 2) to find Caulder alone. Exercising characteristically poor judgement, their attempt to 'fix' their situation results in creating multiple anomalies of themselves.
  • {c.1964; #34/p.22} [LSH] return [DP] to their proper time (using Time Bubble 2) and are greeted by Caulder shortly after he has spent an exhaustive afternoon (presumably figuring out how to collapse a telescoping time anomaly). [LSH] then return to the 30th century.
  • {Time Stream; #35/pp.7-10} Having been set right by Caulder, [Subs] reach a timeline in which [I5] exist, in 1972 (using Time Bubble 2).
  • {Time Stream; #35/p.11} [Subs] and [I5] realize that none of them can remember the Hawking Theorem, key to solving their problem. (In Time Bubble 2.)
  • {Time Stream; #35/p.12-13} [Subs] and [I5] locate Dr. Stephen Bawking (probably in the 1990's), who explains the theorem to everyone. (In Time Bubble 2.)
  • {Time Stream; #35/p.22} [Subs] strand [I5] 30 years in their future, on July 14, 2010 (using Time Bubble 1).
  • {Time Stream; #35/pp.14-16} Dumb Bunny's pink fluffy tail gets stuck in the tachyon collector of Time Bubble 2, causing it to stop moving forward at 2193. Knowing that [LSH] beat them to finding [DP] (they found Caulder alone), [Subs] and [I5] return to {c.1964; #35/p.17} (see above) in order to switch time machines.
  • {Time Stream; #35/p.18} occurs simultaneously with...
  • {Time Stream; #34/pp.11-13}. After the time machines have been switched, [LSH] and [DP] travel forward in Time Bubble 2, which stalls at 2193. When they investigate, Lightning Lad finds and removes Dumb Bunny's pink fluff. He speculates that it belongs to Cosmic Boy because it matches his costume's color scheme. With the Time Bubble 2 working again, they continue on into the 30th century.
  • (Both teams travelling forward can now reach the30th century. [Subs] and [I5] arrive after [LSH] and [DP]. See #35/p.19 below.)
  • {30th Cen.; #34/pp.2-3 in flashback} Lightning Lad returns to Earth after a patrol in a conventional space vehicle and witnesses a Black Hole event en route towards Earth. He races ahead of it to warn the Legion.
  • {30th Cen.; #34/pp.14-19} [LSH] and [DP] try unsuccessfully to drain the Black Hole (using Time Bubble 2).
  • {30th Cen.; #35/p.19-20} [Subs] and [I5] arrive (in Time Bubble 1) before [Subs] initial disastrous attempt to view the Black Hole (see #35/p.3, below). This appearance also causes a 'time surge', with the difference being the presence of [LSH] and [DP].
  • {30th Cen.; #34/pp.20-21} The 'time surge' causes the efforts of [LSH] and [DP] to drain the Black Hole to have the same effect as though they had been working at it continuously for days (still with Time Bubble 2).
  • {30th Cen.; #35/pp.20-21} [Subs] and [I5] witness the Black Hole being drained (in Time Bubble 1) and [Subs] decide to abandon their plans to try taking credit for [LSH]'s plan before anything else goes wrong.
....At this point the story diverges to two possible outcomes: one in which the Earth is destroyed and one in which it is saved. Because some of these scenes play out in concurrent parallel time lines, pinning down when something would have occurred relative to events that happened instead becomes understandably tricky.
  • {30th Cen.; #35/p.3} Having just acquired Time Bubble 2, [Subs] materialize within viewing distance of the Black Hole event between the time Lightning Lad witnesses it and the time he reaches Earth to warn them. Somehow, their sudden emergence from the near future accelerates the Black Hole's approach towards Earth.
  • {30th Cen.; #34/pp.1-4} On Earth, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy are both awoken by Lightning Lad's arrival. He explains what he witnessed in space and that they must prepare a defense in the few days remaining. They then notice that the Black Hole's arrival is imminent and must resort to time travel to stop it at an earlier stage.
  • {30th Cen.; #35/p.1} [Subs] watch a television report praising [LSH] for averting the Black Hole event with the help of [DP] by traveling into the past. Jealous, [Subs] decide to use the same method of time travel to replicate the feat and reap the glory.
  • {30th Cen.; #35/p.2} This remains the most confusing sequence in the story. [Subs] enter [LSH] clubhouse to steal the Time Bubble. Their plan is NOT to: (a) take the bubble, use it and then return it at that moment in time so that no one will notice that it is missing; nor (b) take the bubble, travel backwards just one hour to where they know it was sitting before and get into the earlier version so that it never appears to have left (then make sure they get it back an hour later in time to return it right after their earlier incarnations took it). Instead they (c) take the bubble, travel forward one hour to where they find the bubble still there, take that bubble and continue on their adventure. Now, obviously (a) is the simplest approach, but nothing is simple where [Subs] are concerned. The (b) scenario, while reasonable on the surface, would require a time paradox of a time machine traveling backwards one hour, then sitting unoccupied for an hour (effectively traveling forward in time, albeit at 'normal' speed) until it is then used to travel backwards an hour again, in an infinite loop. This would mean that a time travel machine existed that was never manufactured and runs infinitely without ever being refueled. It would also mean that the time machine used in the adventure was picked up at the beginning of that hour and deposited at the end, with a separate existence from the one in the infinite loop. The (c) scenario only means that at some point between stealing the bubble and finding it again one hour in the future, the bubble had been returned after the adventure at some point during that hour. [Subs] then get out of the first bubble, get into the returned one, have the adventure and return during the hour and leave it for them to find again. All this just means that there is a different infinite loop, just a much, much longer one. The explanation for what's going on here, if there is one, is that [Subs] departing doesn't change the fact that [LSH] departed, too. Each took and returned Time Bubbles, but from and for each other, not themselves. What we have here is not a loop so much as a figure eight. If [Subs] took Time Bubble 1 one hour into the future to switch with Time Bubble 2, it could only be after [LSH] returned from the successful version of the mission, otherwise they wouldn't have a reason to set out and upstage them. Therefore, from the perspective of the machine itself, the [LSH] adventure concluded before the [Subs] adventure began. Yet, [LSH] concluded their adventure in Time Bubble 2 and presumably parked it in the clubhouse, then informed the media, who in turn broadcast the story, inflaming [Subs] who took the Time Bubble left by [LSH], moved it forward an hour and took it again at another point in its time, damaged it with Dumb Bunny's tail, went back to 1964 to switch it with itself at another point in time yet again, meaning that the Time Bubble used by [LSH] for the remainder of their adventure and parked where [Subs] found it and subsequently switched with itself an hour in its future has a separate timeline (and existence) from the Time Bubble [LSH] started with and [Subs] ended with, when they dropped off [I5] in 2010. But there's only ever been one Time Bubble. I've only been designating them '1' and '2' in order to keep straight when, in the bubble's history, it was being used. Eventually, either Time Bubble 1 becomes Time Bubble 2 or vice versa. What I've just described is instead two parallel continuities. Unless...
  • {30th Cen.; #34/pp.5-6} [LSH] rush to the room where the Time Bubble is housed. Before they reach it, it appears to shift to the side. With no time to truly figure out why that happened, they dismiss it as a side effect of the extreme magnetic forces present due to the Black Hole. They board the Time Bubble in its new position and begin the successful version of the adventure. Had they reached the Time Bubble while it was still in it's original position they would have traveled to [DP]'s Original Period, brought them back to the 30th century to drain power from the Black Hole... and failed, resulting in the destruction of the Earth. The plan was good in theory, but the scale of the problem would simply be too overwhelming for it to have worked. Besides, they were running from the Black Hole in a timeline where it had already advanced too rapidly for them to confront. They knew their only hope was to intervene hours earlier, just after Lightning Lad became aware of it, creating a new timeline. So what really happened to the Time Bubble? The initial image of the bubble belonged in a timeline where [LSH] failed, a failure that was caused by the acceleration of the Black Hole's advancement, an acceleration caused by [Subs] (see #35/p.3, above). Therefore, the Time Bubble didn't go anywhere. It was still in the room, but part of a separate timeline in which [Subs] screwed things up. After [LSH] and [DP] succeeded and [LSH] returned the Time Bubble, [Subs] take it and go an hour forward, illogically expecting the bubble to still be there for them to find. The Time Bubble they find an hour in the future is the one that disappeared in front of [LSH]. Think about it; it's a time bubble that belongs to a timeline where [LSH] fail because of an effect caused by [Subs]. It has to be the second bubble [Subs] take, because it's the Time Bubble they were in when they caused it. The Time Bubble that takes them to it, an hour into the future, is the one that already succeeded in averting the disaster, creating a separate timeline, and was left there by [LSH]. Therefore, the Time Bubble that appears in front of [LSH] to replace it, the one that [LSH] assume is the same bubble shifted to the side by magnetic forces is the one [Subs] moved forward one hour. It, too, was in the room the whole time, but did not become visible to [LSH] until the timelines shifted. They take it, meet [DP] for the first time and, while they're out of the room, [Subs] and [I5] switch it for the earlier damaged incarnation, which [LSH] and [DP] use for the remainder of the adventure. Eventually [Subs] return it after stranding [I5] in 2010.
  • {30th Cen.; #35/p.4} [Subs] discover that they inadvertently caused the Black Hole to accelerate it's path to Earth, destroying it. Now they have no choice but to duplicate [LSH]'s feat by retrieving [DP] from the past.
  • {30th Cen.; #34/pp.7-8} [LSH] witness the destruction of Earth one day after Lightning Lad's warning. They must travel backwards to a point before this timeline formed and somehow avert it.
.....Which they did.


.....And now, as promised, an account of events from the perspective of the only one, true witness to all of the events in this story: The Time Bubble.
  • The Time Bubble sits, ready and waiting in the [LSH] clubhouse.
  • {#34/pp.1-4} Lightning Lad witnesses the Black Hole event in space en route to Earth. When he arrives to warn the others, the Black Hole is suddenly almost upon them.
  • {#34/p.5} [LSH] attempt to use the Time Bubble to avert disaster, causing an alternate timeline. They disappear.
  • {#35/p.2} [Subs] arrive from an hour in the past in my future self. They board me. I am now referred to as Time Bubble 2.
  • {#35/p.3} [Subs] try to witness the Black Hole event sometime after Lightning Lad discovers it, accidently causing its acceleration.
  • {#35/p.4} [Subs] witness the destruction of the Earth.
  • {#35/pp.5-6} [Subs] take me backwards to find [DP], but we arrive shortly after my future self has departed with [LSH] and [DP] on board. They briefly create multiples of ourselves before the clever monkey with the broken legs sorts them out.
  • {#35/pp.7-10} [Subs] take me to 1972 and add five more monkeys to the crew, called [I5]. Their legs work... but they're not clever.
  • {#35/pp.11-13} [Subs] and [I5] don't understand the Hawking Theorem and make another stop to have someone explain it to them.
  • {#35/pp.14-16} Part of Dumb Bunny's costume gets stuck in my tachyon collector while we're traveling in the Time Stream. Because of this, I can't get past 2193.
  • {#35/p.17} We travel back to a point between [LSH] meeting [DP] and the two groups departing. [Subs] and [I5] disembark from me and board my future self. So, there's that to look forward to.
  • {#34/p.10 and #35/p.18} [LSH] and [DP] return from a briefing session believing that I am the craft they arrived in, when I am in fact the craft they will arrive in. Both groups board me and enter the time stream.
  • {#34/pp.11-13} Inevitably, [LSH] discover that they can't get past 2193. They find and remove the pink fluff ball and soon we're back on course.
  • {#34/pp.14-19} We stop in the 30th century right after Lightning Lad witnessed the Black Hole's approach but before [Subs] caused the time surge that pushed it towards Earth. [LSH] and [DP] make a valiant effort to drain the Black Hole, but the sheer size of it is too much for them.
  • {#34/pp.20-21} The sudden, heroic appearance of my future self causes a time surge, but instead of accelerating the Black Hole's travel by several days, it accelerates the drainage by several days. [LSH] and [DP] are able to accomplish in accelerated time something that would have killed them in natural time. This must be the event that caused me to jump timelines when [LSH] tried to board me at the beginning of this mess.
  • {#34/p.22} Back to the 20th century to bring [DP] home. This must be after my first arrival with [Subs] because the monkey looks exhausted.
  • Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Whoever said working with teenagers will keep you young can go fry their-- ooh, wait, [LSH] are on the video news. They're getting credit for stopping a threat that nobody remembers happening. Good for them. Even if it didn't happen, who could get mad at that?
  • {#35/p.1} Ooooooh, right.
  • {#35/p.2} [Subs] enter my docking room to try and duplicate what [LSH] have just done in order to get the credit. At this point I'm referred to as Time Bubble 1. They think that they can take me without anyone noticing if they go forward in time one hour and take my future self. Well, that's just plain foolish; if you take me forward one hour, the room will just be empty for an hour until I get back. Oh, no, now I remember. I've already been through this. This is when the timelines shifted. Yes, there I am. There they go.
  • {#34/pp.5-6} I've seen [Subs] dematerialize in my past self, but I'm still there. Now [LSH] are rushing in. They're looking panicky, they see my past self dematerializing. Now they notice me. They board me.
  • {#34/pp.7-8} [LSH] take me one day forward and see the Earth destroyed by the Black Hole. They'll have to take me back through this timeline before it branched off into disaster, then go forward again into the one I've just been to.
  • {#34/p.9} [LSH] take me into the past to fetch [DP]. They all go into another room to confer.
  • {#35/p.17} Ah, yes, right on cue. [Subs] and [I5] arrive in my past self and leave it, er, me, in order to board my present self.
  • {#35/pp.18-21} Back in the Time Stream and headed for the 30th century. We arrive shortly after I was previously here with [LSH] and [DP], but before [Subs] caused all that grief by accelerating the Black Hole. My only consolation is that I know what's going to happen. Sure enough, our appearance has caused the temporal wave that turned the efforts of [LSH] and [DP] into several days' worth of work.
  • {#35/p.22} [Subs] seem eager to get [I5] back home. July 14, 2010... I thought we picked them up in 1972? Well, not my problem.
  • I'm back in my dock, taking a breather. Too many alternate timelines just aren't good for you. I'll have to ask Brainiac 5 to replace my Claremont filter.
.....So that's it for now. In 1965, Lightning Lad lost an arm fighting "the Super-Moby Dick of Space". «sigh» I am so glad Mort Weisinger didn't edit Doom Patrol. That story was in Adventure Comics #332 (05/65). He and Saturn Girl would eventually become an item (I'm guessing after they found a pink puff ball in Cosmic Boy's colors in the Time Bubble's tachyon collector). Twenty years on, about the time COIE was published, Cosmic Boy and Night Girl became an item. Hopefully that did something to cool down the rivalry between the Legion and the Substitutes. By the way, the disambiguation above is my own personal attempt and not necessarily official DC continuity. I'd be extremely curious if anyone on the Legion blogs knows of an established timeline that's been leaked. Comments, criticisms, additions and detractions are all welcome in the comments section below.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

DP09-AP(c) Retro Stories During The Giffen Period

.....There are several kinds of period pieces in comics. Some are written to offer explanations for glitches in continuity or unresolved questions about a character's background. Some are pastiches or satires that are more about the period itself than the characters. In DC, where the Silver Age stories occur in an entirely different timeline from the post-Crisis stories, a period piece might be a way to operate outside the constraints of modern continuity, such as the Silver Age one-shots from about a decade ago. Last year we got a period piece that seemed to hope that we would become nostalgic for the future.

.....The Brave And The Bold #34(07/10)- #35(08/10) The story "Out Of Time" brings together four teams from the 1960's in what could only be a post-Crisis account of pre-Crisis events. This two-issue story arc is part of a larger thematic arc called "Lost Stories Of Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow" on the covers. The previous Straczynski issues (#'s 27-33) in this arc have been solicited as a trade paperback Team-Ups Of The Brave And The Bold to be released on August 24, 2011. These two issues were the last in the series; coincidentally (?) the last issue of the most recent Doom Patrol series was also omitted from the solicitation for the trade Fire Away, also scheduled for August 24. Of course, that's a bit more bizarre than the case of "Out Of Time" because the last issue of Doom Patrol was the conclusion of a story, not self contained. First, the credits:
  • Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Artist: Jesus Saiz (including covers)
  • Letterer: Rob Leigh
  • Colorist: Tom Chu
  • Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
  • Editor: Joey Cavalieri
.....The four teams make up nearly the entire cast. Except for two pages, there are no 'innocent bystanders' anywhere in the 44 page story. The selection of team members doesn't necessarily fix each team in a particular time, but strongly implies a certain era. First, the three founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes [LSH]:
  • Cosmic Boy (Rokk Krinn)
  • Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen)
  • Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz)
.....Their contemporaries in the 30th century are the Legion of Substitute Heroes [Subs]:
  • Chlorophyll Kid (Ral Benem)
  • Fire Lad (Staq Mavlen)
  • Night Girl (Lydda Jath)
  • Polar Boy (Brek Bannin)
  • Stone Boy (Dag Wentim)
.....The LSH first appeared in comics in 1958 and were introduced as coming from the 30th century. From the beginning it was always implied that these three weren't the only members and subsequent appearances would add new members, so many in fact that early on it became impractical to include them all on each mission. Ergo, this line-up could have been active throughout most of the feature's history with a few glaring exceptions. For a long time Lightning Lad was missing an arm and appeared with or without a metal prosthetic. Also, each of the three have worn a variety of costumes, including Cosmic Boy's very daring 1970's mostly-skin outfit. If pressed, I'm guessing most fans would place these uniforms in the early to mid 1960's. The Subs, on the other hand, were a smaller, closer-knit organization whose line-up stayed close to the list above from their 1963 debut until the introduction of Color Kid in 1966. The incarnation of the Doom Patrol also seems to come from a 1963-1965 time frame, since Caulder is not using his "Action Chair", introduced in Doom Patrol #94(03/65). Their line-up [DP] is:
  • The Chief (Niles Caulder)
  • Robotman (Cliff Steele)
  • Elasti-Girl (Rita Farr)
  • Negative Man (Larry Trainor)
.....Last (and it could be argued, least) is The Inferior Five [I5]:
  • Merry Man (Myron Victor)
  • Awkwardman (Leander Brent)
  • The Blimp (Herman Cramer)
  • Dumb Bunny (Athena Tremor)
  • White Feather (William King)
.....The I5 were introduced in Show case #62 (05-06/66)- #63 (07-08/66) and 65 (11-12/66). The other three issues with 1966 cover dates featured The Spectre and both features moved on to their own titles in 1967. Both titles lasted ten issues, as well. The Spectre, of course, continued to find a variety of outlets for years after that. Not so, the I5. After two reprint issues in 1972, their only appearances tended to be 'summary' or 'taking inventory' type stories:
  1. Showcase #100 (05/78)- A single story incorporating as many characters as possible from the first 93 issues of the series.
  2. Ambush Bug #3 (08/85)- While COIE and Who's Who were being published, Irwin naturally provided his own guide to the DCU.
  3. Who's Who...#11 (01/86)- Speaking of which...; they're on page 3.
  4. Crisis on Infinite Earths #12(03/86)- Yes, incredibly they survived the 'event' in issue #10. They can be seen running behind Lois Lane while she makes a television news report from New York City (on page 15).
  5. Oz-Wonderland War #3 (03/86)- I'll have to reread this carefully, but this might be an alternate Earth version of the group.
  6. Animal Man #25 (07/90)- In the final Grant Morrison arc, Animal Man finds that the characters killed in COIE are materializing from Psycho Pirate's memory. I don't want to give away too much more, but I would highly recommend that any comics fan (well, mid-teens and older) read the three trade paperbacks compiling #'s 1-26 (plus the Secret Origins story). This story obviously implies that the I5 didn't make it, but since this issue and COIE #12 are both canon, let's just assume that this I5 is the one from Oz-Wonderland War.
  7. Angel And The Ape #1(03/91)- #4 (06/91)- We learn Angel and Dumb Bunny are sisters. We also learn Sam Simeon is related to Gorilla Grodd. This Phil Foglio story (and his other from two years later, Stanley And His Monster), are long overdue for compilation.
.....Since then it's been Elseworlds cameos and Crisis event crowd scenes and other appearances that can be argued as taking place outside regular continuity, such as Dumb Bunny and Ambush Bug waking up after their Las Vegas wedding in Ambush Bug: Year None in 2008.

.....For DP fans not familiar with the abundant continuity issues plaguing the Legion Of Super-Heroes, there's good news. By using a c.1964-ish version of the team many of those problems become irrelevant. However, since this is unlikely the only place you'll be reading about/discussing this story, I should mention that the basic problem was that the LSH were created pre-Crisis and said to be inspired by Superboy, who traveled through time to join them. After COIE, DC went back to the basics of the Golden Age when constructing a new origin and history for Superman; i.e., he started his costumed career as an adult when he left the family farm and there never was a Superboy. Rather than cancel the immensely popular LSH title(s) or pretend their Gordian Knot of a history just didn't happen, a succession of mutually contradicting explications mounted until Zero Hour in 1994 and around the time of their Fiftieth Anniversary in 2008 it started getting unnecessarily freaky all over again. When this story gets discussed elsewhere any number of contentious plot points from the last three decades may surface in the conversation. To better grasp what these problems are and how to comprehend how Legion chronology works I'll have to refer you to Get-A-Life Boy's LSH Blog, specifically the following page:

.....I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the excellent blog The Legion Omnicom at
.....and the LSH area of Cosmic Teams at

.....In the next post I'll take you through the two parallel time travel stories page by page and event by event, both in real time and as they are experienced by the cast.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DP09-AP(b) Retro Stories During The Giffen Period

.....The next selection is cover dated February 2010 but shipped December 9th, 2009.

.....Once the Giffen Period was under way in the summer of 2009 I felt as if I was holding my breath every time I read the new solicitations. Under the last four writers the feature veered in and out of continuity over twenty years: Morrison (in), Pollack (out), Arcudi (in) and Byrne (out). More importantly, the decision to operate in or out of continuity was never up to the writer in question. It was an editorial or administrative decision. By the end of Infinite Crisis it was known that they had returned to the fold, so to speak, but it had taken three years for them to be granted a title again. I was anxious to see how the team was treated as guest stars in other titles, under other writers. Any differences between Giffen's handling and another's might yield a clue as to what editorial stipulations were the ground rules, the operating parameters within which the writers were allowed to play. ("Yes, you can use that forgotten old mad scientist villain and place them on Oolong Island. No, you can't kill Dusty the Pilot.") We were told in advance that Giffen would be surgically reintegrating errant characters and plot elements into the title, which could take years to do correctly. Any hope of a short cut was worth following up on. There were guest appearances, but for that first year at least they were flashbacks to the Original Period.

.....From DC [Universe] Holiday Special '09 #1 (02/10) is a six-page story that goes by one title on the contents page ("Beast Boy & Doom Patrol In The Christmas Of Doom") and another title on the actual splash page ("The [Beast] Boy Who Hated Christmas!"). The credits were as follows:
  • Writer: Sterling Gates
  • Artist: Jonboy Meyers
  • Colorist: Chuck Pires
  • Letterer: Travis Lanham
  • Editors: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza
  • (the present-day Gar also appears on the painted cover by Dustin Nguyen)
.....As far as I can discern, the story takes place at Christmas (of course) at about the time of Doom Patrol #105 (08/66)- #106 (09/66). The cast is Beast Boy (in mask), Elasti-Girl, Mento, Negative Man, Robotman, The Chief and Galtry. If you're trying to find this on commercial sites or fan databases, be aware that the word "Universe" only appears on the cover, not in the indicia. You might have to search for the name with it and without it.

.....In the story, after defeating a glass-domed giant robot on the corner of Drake St. and Premiani Dr., Beast Boy complains to the others about Christmas. Rita follows him home to find Galtry mistreating him and convinces Steve to adopt him. She tells Gar that the accident that gave her her powers also made her unable to have children. That's the closest thing to a bombshell here, since I don't recall that being mentioned in the original series and she's only just come back in the past decade. I haven't found anything to contradict or confirm it post-Crisis, but I'm still looking. Another possible bone of contention is that they give Gar's age as fourteen. It is true that in the last year of the series Rita and Steve referred to him as a teenager and he has always been short for his age. But it's also been well established that he was sixteen during the original New Teen Titans series (1980-1985). That would mean that his entire television career came and went in less than two years, to say nothing of the remaining third of the Doom Patrol series that would have followed the Christmas story had it taken place where I suspect it did. During Doom Patrol #105 there is a scene much like the one in the story in which Rita follows Gar home. When the issue begins the team suspects, as they have since his joining the group, that Gar has been exaggerating his mistreatment by Galtry. By the end of the issue they've learned otherwise. By the end of #106, Rita and Steve announce their intention to adopt Gar, which they eventually succeed in doing in #110 (03/67). The intervening issues are an unrelated multi-part story that occasionally cuts away to note the progress that Steve's lawyers and detectives are making in building their case. Since the Christmas story can't reasonably be shoe-horned into the existing scenes in the original series we're left to assume that this is yet another post-Crisis account of pre-Crisis history and that the original scenes are among the many things changed by COIE in the 1980's.

.....In the next story, continuity within DCU becomes a cakewalk compared to continuity within the story itself. Wear a helmet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

DP09-AP(a) Retro Stories During Giffen Period

.....In the various Period synopses early in this blog, beginning with "The Wilderness Years", I began to designate period pieces with the symbol [P]. The phrase "period piece" here means the same as it does in theater and film: a whole work that noticeably takes place in an earlier, distinctly different period. There's a qualitative difference between those stories and ones that include flashbacks to earlier periods for exposition purposes or ones that simply take place earlier in continuity within the same period.

.....At the time that I put together the synopsis for Gypsy Period 2 and the accompanying Trade Survey that follows it, I wasn't aware that Ambush Bug was going to play such a significant part of the current series. It's hard to think of him as a team member, since so much of what he is seems to be conscious and willing on his part, while the common bond among the Doom Patrol's members is that they were the results of tragic accidents. Irwin's parents may beg to differ with me, but that's my first impression. Had I known, I would have included the TP SHOWCASE PRESENTS AMBUSH BUG on both lists, early in 2009 (March 25th), right before the first DP volume and after the issues of TRINITY. Incidentally, the issues of TRINITY, which take place in an alternate timeline, pose a question of judgement for me. I've decided to judge them as I would Elseworlds stories. The Doom Patrol have experienced different states and different senses of existence often enough that it isn't immediately obvious which versions are 'real' and which aren't or even what 'real' means. The one time I've cut myself some slack in the 'comprehensive' aspect of these searches was when I decided to dismiss out of hand the Tangent 'Doom Patrol', not because of any concerns I had about the quality of the stories but for the simple fact that they were unrelated characters in a unrelated timeline in unrelated circumstances who were given the same name for Maximum Obfuscation Purposes best understood by DC's Marketing Department and whoever prescribes their medication. Not my kids, not my problem.

.....Speaking of kids, the last entry on the Gypsy Period synopsis is where we should start when considering period pieces, with some careful qualifications.

.....[juv.] Batman: The Brave And The Bold #7 (09/09) "The Secret Of The Doomsday Design!" by J. Torres (script) and J. Bone (art) with a cover by Scott Jeralds and edited by Rachel Gluckstern and Michael Siglain is an original story in the style of the Cartoon Network series. This is made for children but that would only be implied by the cartoon art of the cover. There's little in the way of trade dress that would suggest that to the casual observer. For instance, the checkerboard Cartoon Network logo is not present and DC's kids titles have dropped the Johnny DC logo and imprint identity, although they continue to use the character as the 'voice' of the editorial content. Below the UPC box there is printed "", but that's less than an inch from the bottom of the page, almost literally beneath notice. It's been a long time since Helix, Piranha and Paradox were absorbed into DC or Warner Books' other imprints, but the past year has been an exercise in streamlining with the dismantling of Wildstorm/ABC and Zuda. A casual flip through a recent Diamond Comics Distributor catalog shows that the super-hero titles are now under a "DCUniverse" imprint and Vertigo is still there, but everything else, from Tiny Titans to Resident Evil, comes under the generic sounding "DC Comics" imprint.

.....This is clearly not DCU continuity, but anyone who has seen the animated television series that the comic book is based on would agree that it's a weird synthesis of periods whose result is something unique to the show, something it doesn't even share with DC's other animated projects. Starting with Batman himself, he doesn't resemble the versions from "Batman Adventures", "Justice League Unlimited" or "Young Justice". He doesn't even jibe with the tot-friendly "Super Friends" from the 2008 comic (or the 1970's cartoon for that matter). If anything, he calls to mind the animated opening sequence of the live-action 1960's "Batman" series, a fact they've actually played with when peppering the current animated series with visual in-jokes. In a way that's not entirely inappropriate. The show usually takes place in the present day but Batman's personality is generally like his comic book counterpart in the late 1960's, a period comparatively overshadowed by the campy TV show contemporary to it and the fantastic Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams issues that followed. While I personally prefer the O'Neil/Adams stories, the late 1960's stories weren't bad at all. They tended to distance themselves from the celebrity villains and pop-art self-awareness of the TV show and opt instead for straight-forward self-contained detective stories. In fact, the silliness of the TV show villains seemed to have soured both writers and readers on Batman's fetishistic rogues' gallery. They rarely appeared in the 1970's in either Batman or Detective Comics until Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers brought them back with a vengeance nearly a decade later. Despite the fact that the Batman of the current cartoon is fighting colorful villains, both he and the 1960's comic version are tight-lipped without being grim, relentless without being ruthless, perfect for kids who won't stand for something babyish but aren't quite ready for the Christian Bale version.

.....For their part, the Doom Patrol here are a synthesis as well. This story shipped over a year before the team appeared in the episode "The Last Patrol" (October 8th, 2010). A "B:TB&TB" spot was only a matter of time, since there had already been appearances by The Brain ("Journey To The Center Of The Bat", January 30th, 2009) and Mallah ("Gorillas In Our Midst", April 16th, 2010). But the version of the Doom Patrol who eventually surfaced in that episode was very close to the Original Period line-up: Cliff, Rita , Larry and The Chief. Shockingly, they even updated the 1968 self-sacrifice scene. The version in this comic book story not only adds Beast Boy but uses a version of Gar closer to that from the "Teen Titans" animated series, which preceded "B:TB&TB". The squad as a whole most closely approximates the "Homecoming" incarnation of the group. "Homecoming" was a two-part season premiere of "Teen Titans" (September 25th and October 1st, 2005) broadcast during the waning days of the Byrne Period. The premise is that Beast Boy introduces his current teammates to his adopted family, the Doom Patrol, when they are kidnapped by the Brotherhood of Evil. The remaining five episodes in that season's first leg (through November) use the Brotherhood as villains. In "Homecoming", The Chief is nowhere to be found and Mento is the leader of the group. The following spring that team configuration was featured in the comic book counterpart to the series, Teen Titans Go! #28 (04/06) and again months later in #34 (10/06). The cartoon version almost seemed coordinated with the DCU version from Teen Titans #34 (05/06)- #37 (08/06), the "One Year Later" story that immediately followed Infinite Crisis. In that story Gar has returned to the Doom Patrol and they decide to have Mento be their new leader after reassessing Caulder's people skills.

.....When the Doom Patrol eventually appeared in Batman: The Brave And The Bold #7 (09/09) the roster was Cliff, Rita, Larry, Beast Boy and The Chief. Mento isn't mentioned, but curiously although the team is wearing uniforms in the same style they used in the 1960's, the color scheme is Mento's purple and black instead of Original Period red and white. One can only assume that was done in the hopes of carrying over readership from Teen Titans Go!, where Gar has always worn those colors for some reason. The plot of the issue involves Cliff, Rita and Larry being kidnapped by the Mad Mod, who intends to cannibalize the material of their costumes (or in Cliff's case his body) to custom design a battle suit that takes advantage of the materials' adaptability to the DP's powers. The Chief, based on experience no doubt, assumes General Immortus is responsible and dispatches Gar to recruit Batman's help. The scene in which Gar finds Batman shows him swooping into the Batmobile in the form of a green bat crying, "Daddy! Daddy! I've been looking all over for you!" That line is particularly jarring to anyone who knows the personal histories of both characters, even by the standards of Gar's filterless humor. In his own life Gar watched his natural father (and mother) die, was stolen from the African king who adopted him and then was adopted by Rita and a reluctant Steve who years later tried to kill him. Batman not only watched his father (and mother) die but was himself a proxy father to at least three boys: Dick Grayson was his ward for years (for decades to readers) without ever being formally adopted; an adult Dick then stood by and watched Bruce adopt Jason Todd relatively quickly; Jason was killed shortly after that while in Bruce's care; Bruce then took in Tim Drake while Tim's own father was incapacitated, leading to complications when Tim's father recovered; and finally learned that Tim's father was murdered during Identity Crisis as a direct result of Tim's activity as Robin. And then there's Damian. Gee, Gar, why not invite Scandal Savage or Orion of the New Gods and make the adventure a 'daddy issue' trifecta?

.....The choice of Mad Mod as the villain should also be acknowledged as a nod to the animated "Teen Titans" TV show as much as the purple and black costumes. Between the cartoon and the Teen Titans Go! comic book, I can't recall him appearing anywhere else in the past decade. Having made only two outings in pre-Crisis comics, both while the Original Period Doom Patrol was being published in the sixties (the second just barely), it could be that he and the DP's roster were chosen to evoke that period, at least among older readers. Yet, I'd wager his use since being revived for animation in 2003 has caused most fans to forget his turn as a reformed supporting character in Dan Jurgens late 1990's Teen Titans comic book series. So then, is this issue an Original Period story, albeit from the Original Period of an alternate timeline? Only with that conditional 'out' could I feel comfortable saying yes. To argue in defense of that choice I should point out that neither Batman or Beast Boy mention Robin or the Teen Titans even as they're fighting a TT villain. If they had I might have reconsidered what possible analog DCU continuity period the story could have fit. There are few other clues, although there is a wink on the last page as the team are enjoying their restored uniforms. Larry says, "I've been considering a makeover. How do you think I'd look in a trenchcoat?"

.....The 2010 retro stories are next.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

DP09-AB Giffen Period update

.....[Both this post and the previous one were saved for editing and needed to be altered prior to posting. That explains, if not necessarily excuses, the gap between their stated dates and their eventual publication. Since this blog usually deals with the past and is meant to be a record to be referenced for some time to come I don't generally worry about those gaps. In this case the prior post was delayed because three weeks ago I came close to losing an eye. Don't panic; the damage has nearly reversed and I will have stopped needing medication soon. But until recently it meant that I would have to limit my time in front of the screen to reading (and briefly commenting) e-mails, other blogs et al to keep myself current. If you've seen the previous post, I don't have to explain why proof-reading and fact-checking it was out of the question. Until I've fully recovered (very soon now) I'll be keeping myself to conversational essays like the one below which really only require a read-though for grammar and spelling, or recording existing playlists such as the recent Hüsker Dü post on one of my music blogs.]

.....Yesterday the last issue of Keith Giffen's run on the Doom Patrol shipped on schedule. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Giffen period is over, per se. While it is true that this had been the third series in ten years, each failing to exceed the two year mark, this blog has already identified extraneous guest appearances in other periods published immediately before or after the nominal series proper. I'm holding off identifying a specific cut-off for this period just yet, but need to acknowledge the cut-off of the series.

.....An excellent statement about the use and significance of death in the Doom Patrol franchise can be found at the Histories Of Things To Come blog. The post is part of a larger, open-ended series on the permanence (or impermanence) of death in comics. Here's a shortcut:

.....Now, as to the future of the group? There's no word yet that I've heard, but it may turn out that their last ten years has been a dress rehearsal of sorts for a larger trend at DC. We're nearly a year and a half from the twentieth anniversary of the Vertigo imprint, which launched by converting six mature readers' titles from DC continuity to a separate, parallel continuity. Each month during that first year they would be joined by new ongoing titles and mini-series, often based on other DC characters excised from super-hero continuity. Doom Patrol was one of those Cardinal Six, all of which but Hellblazer were cancelled before the end of 1996. In a previous post, "DP05-AB The Wilderness Years" (intended as an appendix to the Pollack Period), I listed the appearances of the group (or more often, merely Cliff) between the Pollack and Arcudi tenures. The cumulative effect is the distinct sense that writers and editors alike missed having quirky and fringe characters to contrast their mainstream heroes. When those characters were already engaged in their own titles in another imprint, not being allowed to use them must have been easier to accept. But to see them sitting in the cancelled pile while you've got two dozen Bloodlines characters to work with (or not, as was the case with nearly every one but Hitman) must have been unbearably galling. After 2000's Totems the efforts at reintegration became more overt than the period pieces and cameos of The Wilderness Years. There was the Arcudi Period, of course, but also Animal Man's appearance in Hawkman and his much higher profile roles in the Rann/Thanagar War and 52, both spun off from Infinite Crisis. But it was during the Giffen period that the gate started opening in both directions.

.....Not long before the (until recently) current series began in the DCU, Madame Xanadu began under the Vertigo imprint. She debuted in the seventies as a DC horror host, eventually stepping forward as a character in her own one-shot. She was one of the few hosts who did not become characters in Sandman. [Side note: considering how many did become Gaiman's cast (Cain, Abel, Eve, Destiny, Lucien and the Three Witches, at least) I've often wondered if there's an old DC, Charlton, Fawcett or Quality horror comic out there hosted by Mad Hattie.] Since 1996 the Vertigo imprint has predominantly introduced original characters and features. It is commonly assumed that the explanation for Vertigo's early success was some combination of three factors: it retained older readers who had become disenchanted with the conventions of adventure fantasy; it brought in new, previously non-comics-reading audiences who had never been enchanted by super-heroes in the first place; and it freed creators from obligations to continuity, an incentive that would attract the most creative contributors. Whatever cache an established character might have, to remove them from the DCU in order to publish them under Vertigo might not impede any of those factors, but that cache also ceases to be the advantage it might have been in the DCU. There have been occasional attempts at re-imagining existing characters, some successful (Human Target), some not (The Creeper) and some forgotten (Vertigo Visions:Tomahawk). But the greatest volume of Vertigo's publishing since 2000 has been legacy titles (Hellblazer, Fables, House of Mystery, House of Secrets) and original properties (100 Bullets, Y the Last Man, Transmetroplitan- originally Helix, DMZ). The last that I had noticed Madame Xanadu in the DCU, she had been blinded by the unanchored Spectre during Infinite Crisis. The Vertigo title takes place in the past, moving forward from the days of King Arthur in the first issue and ending the first arc with the 1930's (and the start of DC Comics) in issue #10. Along the way she meets Jason Blood, the Phantom Stranger, Zatara and a few other surprises from DC's supernatural history. For the second arc, Exodus Noir, she meets the Golden Age Sandman (Wesley Dodds) and Dian Belmont in 1940. Wes and Dian had their own long-running Vertigo title without ever really being removed from the DCU, but Wes became inactive for health reasons in the Justice Society Of America series that was cancelled just as his Vertigo title Sandman Mystery Theatre began in 1993. Right after it was cancelled in 1999 the Justice Society returned in a series of one-shots (fighting Steve Ditko's 1975 Stalker character of all people). While his Vertigo series went on his old teammates appeared individually (Jay in Flash, Alan in Green Lantern Quarterly, Nabu in Fate, and Spectre in his own title-- more on that later) but outside of Zero Hour the Justice Society rarely appeared as a group. It would almost appear as though Wes was complying with the continuity quarantine, give or take a Starman arc. But the next Madame Xanadu story really raised an eyebrow when it used the Martian Manhunter as a guest star (and given J'onn's eyebrows, that's saying something). Set in the 1950's, Broken House Of Cards may have been a nod to Gerard Jones' American Secrets prestige mini-series, but there's no precedent for the JLA stalwart being anything other than squarely in the DCU, Final Crisis or not. Now the last six issues of Madame Xanadu are scheduled to be collected on August 10th as Extra Sensory. They are six stand-alone issues each by a different artist with the only unifying themes being the 1960's and the senses of perception. There are no DCU guests until the last issue, the sixth sense, when the Phantom Stranger reappears. Their exchange, on pages 19-20, is a pretty explicit acknowledgement of the DCU:
  • PS: "A new age dawns. A return to the time of heroes...Such an era will see dramatic changes, a procession of nearly infinite crises...You have, I assume, foreseen such a confluence of grandeur?
  • MX: "I-- yes...I have seen their coming. A new speedster and a green guardian. A micronaut and a sea king. An archer and his siren. Even... a Martian. And this pantheon shall spawn a trinity of epic scale-- three champions who shall fight for and inspire the entire nation... but that doesn't explain why you are here..."
  • PS: "I merely seek to understand your position in these upcoming events-- and to react accordingly... Do you still plan to...what is the saying? 'Sit this one out'?"
.....Well, that's what we all want to know. All 29 issues were written by Matt Wagner with #13 on edited by Shelly Bond. While the two of them aren't going to be dictating companywide editorial policy, the Stranger is asking of Madame Xanadu what we the audience would like to ask Vertigo as a whole. As you might guess from the gaps in the quotes above, I've heavily edited the exchange for brevity's sake. Xanadu's response is, in essence, "if it happens, it happens". Well, it's been happening more and more. Last year Death had a major part in Action Comics #894 (12/10). Shade (the Changing Man, or Rac Shade) featured in two Hellblazer arcs; "Sectioned" in #267 (07/10)- #270 (10/10) and "Bloody Carnations" in #271 (11/10)- #275 (03/11). He was last seen on the planet Meta on a single page in #272, but will appear again this year as one of at least three DCU mini-series featuring ex-Vertigo stars:
  • Flashpoint: Secret Seven - A three part series written by Peter Milligan, who wrote the Hellblazer arcs, and drawn by George Pérez. It will include, at least, Shade, Amethyst and Enchantress.
  • Flashpoint: Legion Of Doom - A three part series written by Adam Glass and including Animal Man among others.
  • Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing - The title sort of explains itself. It's another three part series, this one written by one-time Hellblazer editor Jonathan Vankin. This one will most likely be in for the greatest amount of preemptory bile owing to the fact that there had been plans for a China Miéville-scripted Vertigo Swamp Thing series due to begin publishing in 2010 that was cancelled in the scripting stage. After considering the series, DC had made a decision about returning the established characters who had migrated to Vertigo back to their native DCU soil and no one's soil is richer than Swamp Thing's. While the publisher didn't have misgivings about Miéville's work to my knowledge, an age-restricted script with no connection to any other publications in their roster would be inconsistent with their plans beyond 2010. To Swamp Thing fans this translated to knowingly shelving a good script in favor of one that had not been plotted yet. It's difficult to rail against a blank spot on a rack but when the BDA series arrives it will provide a locus for the resentment over a lost year of Swamp Thing stories.
.....So what does all this mean for the Doom Patrol? With the series cancelled it means less than it could. At best the greater the number of characters with similar marketing histories and, by implication, audiences makes it more likely that DC can cultivate a group identity functionally like the shared identity that the Cardinal Six had as mature readers titles before they were formally rebranded as 'Vertigo'. It's commonly understood that the Vertigo name was created so that the identity that those titles already shared could be extended to new titles and projects. There was no need to build a brand; it already existed, it just didn't have a name. This year it seems DC has decided to remove the stone from the stone soup. Frankly, Vertigo no longer needs Shade or Kid Eternity to sell Fables or American Vampire. At worst, DC could create a pointless, bureaucratic imprint-for-its-own-sake like Marvel's Marvel Knights or Midnight Sons. At best it could trust their audiences to make those associations among repatriated titles and perhaps create a group editorial page unique to them in place of On The Ledge or DC Nation. Doom Patrol and other characters not currently under their own titles could move amongst titles in the group during the year but still participate in annual Crisis events, providing those events are once a year and last 6 or 7 weeks instead of 6 or 7 months. A quarterly anthology wouldn't be a bad idea, but a proper Doom Patrol story needs a few issues to, first, lay out the weirdness and, then, make sense of it, or at least sense enough to wrangle it. Ultimately, it may go direct-to-trade.

.....I mentioned earlier that there would be more on the Spectre. There will be, but not in this post. And Mento is involved.