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.