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The Doom Patrol Review


Doom Patrol began as a feature in My Greatest Adventure, and when the team was awarded its own title, the numbering of MGA was continued (a common practice in the fifties and sixties to save on money when it came to post office mailing permit regulations).

Doom Patrol #89Doom Patrol #89

"The Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Menace"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown

SYNOPSIS: Negative Man arrived aboard a transatlantic flight to bring Dr. Sven Larsen to see the Chief. Larsen was handed off to Elasti-Girl, who grew to giant-size and gave the startled scientist to Robotman, who was walking on the side of a building with the electro-magnets in his feet. He brought Larsen to the building's rooftop restaurant, where the Chief was waiting for him. Larsen was a former student who had studied under the Chief at Stockholm University, and had mentioned that he wanted to meet the Doom Patrol, so the Chief arranged for his novel travel arrangements.

During dinner, Larsen mentioned how he felt like a fool for once accusing the Chief of stealing an idea of his while in school. Larsen was giving a lecture the next day at State University and the Doom Patrol was going to be in attendance, in the new red, white and purple uniforms that Rita designed. At the lecture, Larsen claimed to have succeeded in duplicating the process of creating life itself. Using a giant lightning synthesizer, he bombarded a tank full of amino acids to begin the process, but accidentally slipped and fell into the bubbling brew. Larry sent out Negative Man to rescue him, but before he could get there, a giant paramecium crawled out of the tank. The Chief realizes that the process had transformed Larsen into the creature and sought to change him back, so he told the guards and the Doom Patrol not to destroy the paramecium. The Chief sent Negative Man back to their headquarters for a tank of LOX (liquid oxygen), which Cliff used to freeze the giant amoeboid. Soon after it was frozen, the creature started turning a yellow hue, as it transformed itself into a living mass of sulphur. Rita grew to giant-size and picked up the sulphur creature, hoping to take it back to the Doom Patrol headquarters, but it next transformed into a quickly growing giant creeping ivy that threatened to choke the giant heroine. The Chief told Rita to shrink and she escaped its tendrils. The weird plant then changed into a strange bird and flew off, cementing the problem of it being an animal, vegetable, and mineral problem.

In order to discover a way to change Larsen back, the Chief sent Negative Man to Stockholm to find all of Larsen's notes on his work. Unfortunately, Larsen's notes indicated that what had happened that day was not an accident, as he had successfully transformed into other forms before, and apparently wanted to go on a rampage. The Chief was at a loss as to why a respected scientist would do such a thing. Meanwhile, Larsen had changed into a dinosaur and then a giant sponge to deal with attacks from safety personnel on the streets. Cliff distracted the sponge while Negative Man wrapped himself around it, speeding up it's molecules and shrinking it by draining the water out of the giant creature. Larsen than transformed himself into a giant lead statue, and managed to grab ahold of Negative Man, preventing him from returning to Larry's body. Cliff leapt to his friend's aid, battering the malleable metal until the giant figure finally released Larry. It then transformed into a giant dandelion, which blew away on the wind. Once in the clear, Larsen transformed into an army of gnats and attacked Cliff's head, believing that one of them could into the tube that runs from Cliff's ear to his brain and damage the sensitive organ. Negative Man sealed off Cliff's head with his energy, and Larsen changed again, this time into a giant bat, and flew off.

A very short time later, the Chief met up with the rest of the Doom Patrol and explained that Larsen apparently still believed that the Chief had stolen his invention back when they were in Stockholm together, and meant to extract his revenge by killing the Doom Patrol. The Chief had the contentious device and believed that it was the only weapon that would stop the rampage of the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, as it preventing any change or activity within living cells. Upon hearing a news report, the Doom Patrol headed for Lowery Square, where they were met by a giant man made of diamond. The Chief insisted that Rita attack first, and the giant girl picked up the creature by it's legs, only to have it change into a giant tiger. As the tiger attacked her, the Chief shot it with the device, causing it to freeze and fall to the ground. The frozen beast was taken back to State University where Larsen's process was used to transform him back into a human being. The Chief believed he needed proper mental care and not imprisonment, since his genius could do a lot for mankind.

COMMENTS: I've always thought that the Animal--Vegetable-Mineral Man was the Doom Patrol's single most powerful villain, and that he seems to get more powerful with each appearance. I enjoyed Bruno Premiani's version of the A-V-M Man in this issue, as he again seemed to handle the most unbelieveable aspects of the character with ease. We also got one more bit of information about the Chief's past, though it really wasn't pertinent to anything but his history with Larsen. At least it was another good reason for a recurring villain.

This issue marked the first appearance of the Doom Patrol in their distinctive red, white and purple costumes.

This story was reprinted in Doom Patrol (Volume 1) #122

"The Private War of Elasti-Girl"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani

SYNOPSIS: As the three members of the Doom Patrol walked through the streets of the city, they saw an old poster that she had done to promote the good work of Kids Town. Rita wondered how the boy in the poster was doing now, as Kim Loo had been adopted by a G.I. (Sgt. Allen Norton) during the war, but his father had been reported missing in action. Rita contacted Kids Town and found that Kim Loo was seriously ill, and his doctors' believed that he had just given up fighting. He suggested that if his father could be found alive, that might help the boy's condition. Rita headed to Korea without the others, to search for Kim Loo's adoptive father.

Rita found the battlefield site that Norton had last been reported serving at and discovered a pipe beneath a building he had been firing a machine gun from that was large enough for a man to escape. She went to the U.S. Hospital in Seoul, but was unable to get any information on Norton because she wasn't a relative.

That night, the doctor at the hospital had to go on an emergency call to an American tourist who thought she was dying in her hotel. The tourist turned out to be Rita, who hitched a ride inside the doctor's bag to infiltrate the hospital and try to find more information. She discovered that Norton did indeed survive that last battle, but had lost his memory. Before he could be identified, he was shipped back to the states to a veteran's hospital. Rita returned to the United States and visited the VA hospital several days later, but found that while Norton had been making progress, he suddenly disappeared after ten years at the hospital. She also learned that his last hypnotic treatement had discovered that he would respond violently to anything that sounds like machine gun fire.

Rita continued her manhunt for Norton, using the ex-soldier's background as a construction worker, and finally believed she found him. He was working the high steel at a site, and Rita grew to giant-size to give him her important news. Unfortunately, some pneumatic drill work nearby set off Norton's psychosis and he believed he was back in Korea. He got away from Rita, who hadn't wanted to harm him accidentally, and headed for the explosives shed, where he had access to over a hundred sticks of dynamite. Rita got a dart gun and shot a thin line to the wall of the shed, which she was able to climb in her shrunken form. She snuck in, and though she was forced to defend herself from the deranged man once, she was able to set up a pair of glasses in front of a flashlight and project a microfilmed photo of Norton's adopted child on the wall, which brought him back to sanity. Norton was soon at Kim Loo's bedside and the boy was recovering nicely.

COMMENTS: A nice little human interest story, that really served to show that Rita could work solo as well as she did with the Doom Patrol, and that she was one of the few competent super-heroines of the era. It also made her the first member of the Doom Patrol to have a solo feature, back-up story though it may have been.

Doom Patrol #90Doom Patrol #90

"The Enemy Within the Doom Patrol"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown

SYNOPSIS: Rita was ready for a nice day out in the sun when Cliff and Larry were in an uproar because Madame Rouge of the Brotherhood of Evil had been released from jail on a technicality (and the fact that Rouge had insulted both of them as she left the country). She also called Rita a "Hollywood has-been and over-grown Campfire Girl". Rita refused to get upset and headed out for the day, spending time at the zoo with the "kittens" (lions and tigers to her giant-sized body).

Meanwhile, Madame Rouge was dismissing her class at the exclusive girls' schools that she taught at, and under which the Brotherhood of Evil had their secret headquarters. The Brain and Monsieur Mallah had a new planto make the Brotherhood invincible, and Madame Rouge was the receipient of the strange treatment. She awoke to find that her face was tingling, from what the Brain called a change in her molecular structure. Madame Rouge found that her face was now malleable and could be shaped like clay, duplicating anyone else's face with photographic accuracy. She also found that she could elongated her limbs and body parts to great lengths.

Later the same afternoon, the Chief called an emergency meeting of the Doom Patrol in the operations room. A crack had been discovered in Tyler Dam and they were needed as soon as possible. Rita hadn't returned from her outing yet, so Cliff and Larry headed out alone. Rita did show up once they arrived at the dam, but she was in a decidedly different mood than previously. Negative Man flew Rita and Cliff to the top of the dam, and after he returned to Larry's body, Cliff peered over the edge of the dam to see the crack. Rita surreptitiously pushed Cliff over the edge, and he sank beneath the waves to the bottom of the dam. Cliff only had ten minutes of emergency oxygen for his brain.

Back ashore, Larry and the authorities were shocked to see Rita walk up again and apologixe for being late. Larry, suspected that Cliff was in trouble, had Negative Man take Rita to the dam, where she grew to giant-size and dove in, rescuing her friend. Rita grabbed a concrete mixing truck and used it to patch up the crack in the damn to prevent further disaster. Back at headquarters, the Chief was faced with the unpleasant prospect that someone now existed who could duplicate Rita or any of the Doom Patrol. That person, Madame Rouge, was in a hotel room in the city planning her next impersonation ... Robotman.

The following day, a massive cave-in occured in a mining town, which sent the Doom Patrol to the rescue again. Because of his durability, Cliff was sent down to investigate first. Stepping from the elevator, he saw his shadow, but in a position that was completely different from the way he was standing. Charging toward it, he was caught in a strong explosion. Shortly after being alerted to the explosion, Rita and Larry met Cliff coming up the mine shaft, saying that the falling rock was like confetti to him, and that he had found a direct route to the trapped miners. Larry and Rita jumped in the elevator car and Cliff jumped on top. As the elevator car went lower, "Cliff", who was of course, Madame Rouge in disguise, used a miniature blowtorch supplied by the Brain to sever the elevator car's cable. As it began to plummet, Larry relased Negative Man, who went through the floor of the car to slow its descent. "Cliff" escaped from above by stretching up to the surface and pulling him/herself up. Finding Cliff gone and the cable cut, Larry and Rita understood that the menace could literally take anyone's face and form.

The problem of both the trapped miners and Cliff down below was still an urgent concern. The only access to the area now was a small air pipe that led down to where Cliff was, so Rita got a silk handkerchief from their car and made a tiny parachure, using it to descend through the pipe in her two-inch tall form. Down below, she was able to blow all the rock off Cliffto free him, and then Cliff allowed her to bend his robot body into the shape of a hand drill to burrow into the cavity that the miners were trapped in, saving everyone.

As the Chief repaired Cliff's body, he decided they needed a system of positive identification to eliminate the danger from the replacement heroes. He gave each hero a password: Rita's was "rice", Larry's was 'clock" and Cliff's was "dog". The following day, a ship filled with explosive nitrates was on fire in the harbor and the team had to put out the fire. Before they went into action though, the Chief made his trio sound off their code words. As Negative Man took Rita and Cliff to the ship, Larry's body was pulled away by an ersatz hero. Once away from the scene, Madame Rouge/Larry attempted to kill Larry, but found that she couldn't pull the trigger of her gun. Negative Man returned to Larry's real body and Madame Rouge made her escape, heading to a flower fan that was her camouflaged base of operations. She called the Brain to figure out why she had not been able to kill Larry, and was told that the process that gave her the powers apparently also causes her to think that she really was the person she imitated. The Brain had her put a small mini-radio in her ear and his voice would direct her and overcome that limitation next time.

Rita and Cliff rode the boat back to the pier and found the Chief but no Larry. Larry soon arrived, saying that he knew who was behind the impersonations, but Cliff demanded to hear his code word first, which the Chief agree with. Cliff and Rita both sounded off, but Larry said that he had forgotten his code word. The Chief declared that he was an imposter and pulled a gun, intending to kill Larry. Larry knocked the gun away and punched the Chief, knocking over hsi wheelchair. Cliff, in a fit of rage, grabbed Larry and started crushing him, but Rita told him to look at the Chief, who's face was completely distorted by Larry's uppercut. The Brain, using the mini-radio, was able to wake Madame Rouge up and she "pole-vaulted" away from the heroes, using her telescoping arm. She returned her features to normal and grabbed Cliff, tossing him toward the water. Rita intercepted her friend and kept him high and dry. She then grabbed Madame Rouge by the arms and started swinging, causing her to stretch out like a whip and let go, tossing her away from them. Madame Rouge was able to use the mistake to make her getaway, and Larry discovered the Chief tied up in a telephone booth. Larry told them that he had realized that the Chief was the imposter because she had referred to Rita as "Elasti-Girl" when asking for her code word, something the Chief would never have done. He pretended to forget his own code word to see how far the impersonator would go.

Back in Paris, the Brain told Madame Rouge that the failure had been with the ray they had used and not with her. The Chief, in Doom Patrol Headquarters, pondered his old enemy and the fact that one day they would have to fight the final battle that only one of them would survive.

COMMENTS: This was one of the very first Doom Patrol stories that I ever remember reading. I know I read the final issue of the regular series when it came out, but the details on this one are a lot clearer in my memory fo the time than that classic tale.

This was also an excellent story, with a lot of good characterization and development with all the Doom Patrol members, and the Brotherhood of Evil as well. It was nice to see the Brain not be your standard megalomaniacal leader, and actually allow Madame Rouge to not take the blame for the failure of her mission, accepting a flaw in the process as the problem instead. Even the Doom Patrol's villains were a step above the average comic book villains you'd see then (and even now in most cases); Like the Doom Patrol itself, they (for the most part) had a lot of class.

This story was reprinted in Doom Patrol (Volume 1) #124

Doom Patrol #95Doom Patrol #95

"Menace of the Turnabout Heroes"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown

SYNOPSIS: After stopping a jailbreak at an upstate prison, the Doom Patrol returned to their headquarters to find a surprise from the Chief: He believed he had a method to return Larry and Rita to normal. The Chief was planning to bombard Larry with extremely high voltages to liberate several atomic particles from him to draw the radioactive elements from his body. In another chamber, he was going to introduce a gas to Rita that would hopefully overcome the bio-chemical effects of the vapors that she inhaled in Africa. When asked why he would endanger Rita, who was practically normal, the Chief revealed that the same condition that allowed Rita to expand and reduce her body would also eventually kill her. The Chief sent to two off to don special garments for the experiments, leaving Cliff to ponder his fate as the remaining "freak".

As they entered their individual chambers, both Rita and Larry had qualms about being "healed", Rita wondering about never feeling the thrill of adventure again, and Larry worrying that if the cure worked for him and not Rita, he'd still be alone, but in a different sort of way. As the preparations began, The Chief also had Cliff in the room for his regular battery recharge. The Chief has his own feelings on the matter, thinking he was "destroying" his own family but also that he couldn't be so selfish to deny them their one chance to live like normal human beings. As the countdown neared it's end, both Rita and Larry were ready to call it all off, when suddenly Cliff got up in a fit of self-pity, attacked the metal conduit that carried the high voltage cables into the experimental chambers. He chest panel was still open, and his delicate interior took the full brint of the high voltage, which then proceeded to corruscate around the room until it exploded a gas cylinder, causing a huge blast to rock the laboratory.

Rita and Larry survived the blast, and the Chief was protected by Cliff's body, which was severely damaged, the voltage burning out all of his electronic circuits, requiring a total body replacement. At that moment, the "flash bulletin" warning system turned the television on, with the report of a newly discovered plant called Galloping Ivy growing out of control and threatening the Stokes farm. The Chief had been following the plant's progress since it's discovery, and the Chief wanted to send the Doom Patrol out, but not without Robotman. He went into another room and returned in a metal shell just like Cliff's, though the facial features matched his own. The electrically-powered limbs allowed him to walk again, and the Chief said he had been practicing in secret for quite awhile. He said this suit offered him better protection than his Action Chair. The Chief placed Cliff's helpless body in his wheelchair in front of the viewscreen so he could watch the events much like the Chief normally would through Cliff's television transmitter.

Arriving at the site of the strange and menacing plant, it crushed a water tower and Rita said she's turn it into a tossed salad. When she tried to grow however, she could she couldn't, but did fine she could release a force from her body as a "Negative Girl", as Larry could do with Negative Man. Larry tried to send his own energy self out to help her, but instead found his body expanding to giant-size, just like Rita was normally able to, the two having switched powers as a result of the accident. Neither could control their newfound abilities well enough to do anything to the Galloping Ivy, so the Chief said he'd handle the situation himself. He waded into the muddy ground around the main root to pull it out, but soon found his heavy, metal-encased form sinking in the mire. Larry managed to come to his rescue and pull him out with a giant hand, and put the Chief right on the solid ground around the root. The Chief started pulling and breaking the root system, only to find the entire plant changing in response to his attack, becoming a giant octopus. This meant that this creature wasn't a plant, but rather their old enemy, the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, and he captured the Chief in one of his tentacles. Larry again freed the Chief from the monster's embrace, but found that he couldn't control his powers enough to reduce himself to escape the beast's grasp himself. Negative Girl headed in to save him, and the A-V-M Man changed into a giant cobweb made of lead to trap her with Larry. The Chief attacked from his vantage point on the ground, using the heating coil built into his hand (just like Cliff's) to melt part of the web, which caused the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man to change into a flock of birds to escape the heat, freeing Larry and Negative Girl.

The weapon that had defeated the A-V-M Man originally was only a few feet from Cliff at the headquarters, but he couldn't move to reach it and bring it to his friends, and the villain was not giving the others a chance to break away to get it. Some of the birds transformed into birds of a white metal, while others changed into electric eels, effectively transforming the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man into a giant living light bulb that blinded Rita, Larry and the Chief. Seconds later, then their vision returned, they found themselves staring down a giant caveman. Larry grabbed him and squeezed him into unconsciousness. The Chief sent Negative Girl on a quick mission and the A-V-M Man woke up again quickjly, transforming into mercury to slip out of Larry's grip. The monster transformed into a different liquid that formed a ring around the heroes, and the Chief recognized the smell of the fluid to be hydrochloric acid. Negative Girl returned with the weapon from headquarters (concealed, of course) and the Chief had her fetch some water, which he started to throw on the acid (which would cause an explosion, according to the Chief), forcing the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man to transform into a giant bear. Since he was now in the form of a living creature, Larry pulled out the Paralyzer Ray and shot the beast, freezing him in that particular form.

Before they could celebrate their victory, Larry and Rita became wracked with pain, apparently a result of the power transfer. They hurried back to headquarters, where the Chief worked frantically to repair his equipment to reverse the process. The Chief's repairs were successful, as Negative Man flew out of the chamber. Cliff was soon repaired as well and was back to his old irrascible self.

COMMENTS: This was an interesting story, and not just because of the novel approach of the role-reversals. It also was one of the few stories that had Cliff completely giving in to his self-pity over his condition and doing something completely irrational. In this case, his pity and grief over his situation almost made him cause the deaths of all those most close to him. I have seen some commentary citing this as the case for Cliff not being the real hero everyone has come to know, but I don't buy that. It was an isolated incident, and I believe even Cliff was entitled to one mistake ... one instance in which the real horror of his condition overcame his reason.

The role/power reversal had a unique twist in this story, what with the Chief taking the place of Cliff on the mission. I don't believe he ever used that metal suit again, so apparently he either wasn't pleased with how it worked or decided he was better off with his action chair.

About the only unsatisfactory element (well, the only one not really touched upon) was how the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man escaped from prison and how he was disposed of. I'm assuming after Rita and Larry were saved that the Doom Patrol returned and took the criminal to the proper authorities. Sven Larsen and his hatred of the Chief didn't seem to be the driving force behind the A-V-M Man this time, which was strange since that was primarily his reason for being in the previous story (and his hatred did return to the surface when General Immortus recruited him in the 1987 series).

This story was reprinted in Doom Patrol (Volume 1) #123

Doom Patrol #102Doom Patrol #102

"8 Against Eternity"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown

SYNOPSIS: The Chief received an emergency message from the Challengers of the Unknown, but unfortunately none of the Doom Patrol were in the headquarters. The Chief found Cliff as he was entertaining some sick children at the Mercy Hospital Carnival. Rita was relaxing around the swimming pool of Steve Dayton, otherwise known as Mento when Cliff arrived to collect her. Larry was being a test pilot again, this time in a newer model of the same plane that he flew when he first passed through the radiation belt that changed him into Negative Man. He was apparently glad to do it, both for the time behind the stick and the time in which he wouldn't have to wear his protective bandages, since he had already been exposed to the radiation the plane would be passing through. Larry decided to play "tag" with a missle that was being tested at the same time, but when the weapon went awry and couldn't be destroyed, Negative Man was forced to destroy it (after absorbing the energy of a nearby electrical storm.

The Challengers were already at Doom Patrol headquarters when the team arrived. After the obligatory squabble between Rocky and Cliff, Prof and The Chief reminded everyone of the task ahead of them, mainly finding the Challenger-Haters. Prof had run a 24-hour instrument surveillance of the same area that the undersea city had been, and had detected heavy blasting and continual drilling in the region. The Chief used his electronic brain to determine that Multi-Man and his compatriots were devising an army of zombies. The Chief explained that one of the theories surrounding the legend of Atlantis was that when the civilization sank into the sea, it was encased in a shell of lava that preserved everything inside it, much like a mummy.

At that same moment, the Challenger-Haters had come upon that very same well-preserved society, stopped in a very moment of time. Kra and Multi-Woman worked to use the super-science of Kra's planet to bring the Atlanteans back to life. The process succeeded, and Kra brought King Zatopa back to life, who agreed to use his army to help the Challenger-Haters, in return for them bringing his Queen back to life.

The zombie army attacked the surface world, using its ancient yet much more advanced technology to cut a path through defending armed forces. The Challengers and the Doom Patrol sped to the region in the Chief's rocket-foil, and Ace, Rita and Prof dove down to the site of Multi-Man's city. Multi-Man was on the alert though, and attacked the two teams, in the form of a manta ray, a giant shellfish, and finally a giant rooster fish. Rita managed to catch Multi-Man in the last form, using a giant clam to grab onto him safely. He escaped the clam by changing into a school of sardines, telling his enemies that while they were battling him, his zombie army was headed for the capital of Japorta and its first big victory. This prompted the rest of the team to head back to the rocket-foil and speed off for the endangered country.

Meanwhile, Gar Logan, better known as Beast Boy, was picked up by Mento (Steve Dayton), who had been ordered by the Chief to get the boy and head out to help. Using an incredibly fast aircraft, the two reached the Pacific location of Multi-Man's city in ninety minutes. The other two teams had reached Japorta, and found the capital under siege by the zombie army from Atlantis. They saw the ray guns the army had (which they suspected had been built by Kra) vaporize the metal dome of the capital building. Negative Man went to attack, believing that the heat rays couldn't affect him, but the energy that created the intense heat interrupted his "radio power", which caused his Negative Energy Being to break up into many pieces, and he only just barely gathered himself together before the sixty second time limit to use Negative Man was up. Negative Man instead ran interference for Red as he used a small explosive to unhorse King Zatopa. The King told his men not to kill Red or Larry, saying that they had only defended what was precious to them, as he himself was trying to do with his Queen.

Meanwhile, Volcano Man was attacking the others underwater, having learned to control his head so the steam wouldn't knock him over. He attacked Prof, but Mento's timely arrival upended the giant, but Kra was also on hand to remove Mento's helmet (and with it, his powers). Cliff, having been flown in by Negative Man, intercepted Kra, who started beating on the Doom Patroler, but Cliff magnetized his feet to Kra's robotic leg, and the giant robot ended up pulling off his own lef while he tried to destroy Cliff. Rita took care of Multi-Woman, but Multi-Man slipped away and transformed into a giant whale, capable of swallowing them all whole. Beast Boy, in the form of giant sea turtle, was able to divert his attention, and stopped the giant "Multi-Mammal" by transforming into a mass of barnacles that soon grew to cover and weigh down the large creature.

Negative Man flew the King back to be with his petrified Queen as the domed city collapsed upon itself, with the Challengers and the Doom Patrol barely escaping the destruction. The zombie army in Japorta also crumbled to dust the same time that the city sundered itself, and the Challengers and the Doom Patrol returned home, to the usual arguments all around.

COMMENTS: This was a good ending for this rare two-part story (rare as in spanning two separate books back before the days of long-winded annual crossovers), and the highlight was the excellent Arnold Drake script. You could really feel the camaraderie between the DP members and the Challs ... I've always felt that both teams were scripted easily on a par with the best of the Fantastic Four or Avengers stories of the time over at Marvel, particularly Doom Patrol. Bruno Premiani's artwork was, of course, a treat to see.

I also liked the inclusion of Beast Boy and Mento to the tale, and all it was really missing to make it perfect was to have an appearance by June Robbins on the Challengers' side of the coin. This was a wonderful little story featuring what I would consider DC's two best second-tier teams.

Like in the previous chapter to this story, Rita once again exhibited the ability to enlarge just a limb instead of her whole body. I don't know why I don't like that particular aspect of her abilities, but I just don't, probably because it strains even comic-book-physics (how could her normal-size body and musculature move or even support a giant limb?).

Doom Patrol #103Doom Patrol #103

"The Meteor Man"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown

SYNOPSIS: Eighty miles above the Earth, the Meteor Man burst through the side of the rocket also holding the Doom Patrol (and Mento). The hole through which their air was rapidly escaping was plugged by Cliff Steele's torso, and Larry sought to land the damage rocket, while remembering the events that had led up to that moment.

Professor Randolph Ormsby joined the Chief and the Doom Patrol on "Operation Shooting Star". Ormsby was a hypochondriac and sneezed and coughed constantly. Mento joined them and the rocket took off on its mission to study a giant meteor, which they hoped would help them unlock the secret of Earth's own origin. Larry was worried about the radiation, but The Chief insisted that the ship was much more heavily shielded than his jet fighter had been. The rocket soon came upon the meteor they were to study and the began taking measurements with their sensitive instruments. Ormsby, manning the "Big Ear" that analyzed cosmic rays, accidentally sneezed and hit the control to full power, which directed the entire stream of cosmic rays from the meteor to him. Before Cliff could turn the device off, Ormsby had changed, growing into a flaming giant with an iron core ... a living meteor. After Cliff failed to restrain him, the "Meteor Man" burst from the rocket.

The rocket began shaking tremendously, and apparently caused a hatch to open. As Mento tried to close it, he found it pushed back out, by none other than Beast Boy, who had stowed away aboard the ship. Beast Boy changed into a large elephant to help stop Cliff from vibrating his way out of the hole he was plugging up. Meanwhile, the Meteor Man had landed on Earth and began a rampage of sorts, which was still being interrupted by sneezing (though now he sneezed a fiery fallout). The Doom Patrol landed safely and investigated the damage the giant had caused, finding the word "help" written out in giant smoking letters on the side of a hill, indicating that some part of Ormsby was still in control of The Meteor Man.

The Chief's first plan of attack was to have Larry bomb the Meteor Man with shells filled with carbon-dioxide foam to snuff the creature's flames. It worked temporarily, but started cracking allowing oxygen in to re-ignite the Meteor Man. Cliff then taunted the giant, who chased him and fell into a pit that had been dug by Rita and Mento, who then buried the Meteor Man quickly, hoping to put out his fires and buy them time to find a cure for his condition. The giant still gabve off enough heat to make Cliff's feet begin to melt on the ground above his prison, and the heat turned the silcon deposits in the trap to glass, which cracked and exploded with the Meteor Man's next sneeze.

The Chief had Larry release Negative Man, who sped to Steve (Mento) Dayton's mansion and retrieved his giant Brain-Wave Transmitter. While they waited for Negative Man to return, Mento created a wall in front of the Meteor Man, which slowed the creature down but also drained the hero. With the Transmitter, Mento's powers were vastly increased and he was able to levitate the giant off the ground, which caused him to shrink and burn out. The Meteor Man, deprived of contact with the ground and iron ore, quickly reverted to Ormsby.

COMMENTS: This story had all the elements of your average Doom Patrol adventure ... a lot of action, good characterization and a goofy villain. And an "average" DP story is usually a mile ahead of the next best story out there. Bruno Premiani did his usual outstanding job on the interior artwork, and Bob Brown gave us a unique version of the team on the cover.

"No Home For a Robot"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani

SYNOPSIS: In this chapter of the "Robotman-iac" series featuring Robotman before he joined the Doom Patrol, The Chief is still searching for the missing Cliff Steele, who was acting like a criminal because of some loose wires in his robotic head. Cliff had gone to visit and hopefully hide out at his brother Randy's house. Randy was not sure that Cliff should stay, but his wife Helen welcomed his brother with open arms. Randy did manage to get Cliff to leave, but as he did, Cliff noticed that Randy's house was being cased by a couple of unsavory-looking characters. When Randy left with the two hoods, Cliff followed them to Davis Experimental Industries, where Randy worked. Randy and the thugs walked past numerous top secret weapons and projects, finally stopping and picking up a pair of special jet packs. Cliff also overheard the thugs tell Randy that since he had kept his end up, they would call his house and have his wife released. Once the word was given that Helen was safe, Cliff charged in, but the rocket packs allowed the criminals to easily evade him.

Meanwhile, the Mayor was after Lt. Briar to find the runaway robot, and placed a news story revealing that Dr. Niles Caulder had actually created Robotman in the paper. Cliff had sworn revenge on the man who had put him in his metal body, but he first planned to assist the flying crooks in their robberies, so that Randy wouldn't be implicated if they were captured by the police. Cliff did manage to keep the police off the thugs' trail, and then tracked them back to the experimental factory. There the crooks held Cliff off for awhile using the variety of high-tech weapons, including a powerful laser and a new tank. He captured the men and forced them to call the police and explain that Randy had been forced to work for them.

Lt. Briar had set up a trap to destroy Cliff outside the factory, but the Chief's quick thinking alerted him to the problem and he was able to get away. Randy patched Cliff's body up, and Robotman left his brother's home right before Lt. Briar forced his way in to search for the missing robot.

COMMENTS: The "Robotman-iac" series was a great little story all the way through. It's always interesting watch Cliff mature and start to become adjusted to his new situation. When he first found himself in the robot body, he swore complete vengeance on the Chief (not known who he was) and went on a rampage. Suddenly, even knowing who was responsible for his condition, Cliff was in control and adjusted to his new state enough to put off his plans and help his brother.

Interestingly enough, I don't believe Cliff's brother Randy and his family was seen again until they showed up in a recent (2003) issue of the current Doom Patrol series.

Doom Patrol #104Doom Patrol #104

"The Bride of the Doom Patrol"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bruno Premiani

SYNOPSIS: Rita wanted to go to the Modern Art Museum, but everyone else in the Doom Patrol was busy with some sort of testing work (Larry was testing a device to channel his radioactivity into a single beam, Cliff was checking out his improved electro-magnetic feet, and the Chief was looking into some unidentifited radio signals he had noticed the previous day (probably from a distant "radio star")). Rita was pondering her lot in life when she suddenly began shaking and rose off the chair she was on and flew out the window, much to the amazement of the others. Negative Man went after her, but was stopped from grabbing Rita by an invisible wall of energy, which also paralyzed her (though she could still grow and shrink).

Minutes later, Rita was levitated into the familiar mansion of the fifth richest man in the world, Steve Dayton, also known as Mento. Mento had brought Rita to him using his newest gadget, a transformer that magnified his super-brain power, saying he had designed it to lift an object that weighed exactly 118 pounds ... Rita! Elasti-Girl was, needless to say, not all that interested. Cliff crashed through the wall in the next moment, and destroyed Mento's transformer. Mento levitated Cliff off the ground, but the mechanical man ripped off one of his hands and threw it at the billionaire hero, damaging the circuits in his helmet. Rita had to step in to prevent Cliff from killing Mento, and yelled at both Cliff and Larry to stay out of her affairs. Rita also, however, rebuffed Mento's attempt to kiss her after the others had left.

On the way back to headquarters, The Chief, Larry and Cliff happened a bank robbery in progress, and quickly apprehended the crooks. Rita was waiting for them back at headquarters, but before she could berate them for their infantile behavior, the Chief received an urgent call for help from the site of a cave-in. Seven men at a tunnel site were trapped under tons of sand, and the Doom Patrol headed in to help. Cliff ripped off the back of a dump truck, and Negative Man punched dozens of tiny holes in it by making his body needle thin. Rita then enlarged and used it as a sieve to sort through the sand and rock until they got to the trapped men. After all of them were rescued, Rita continued to give her comrades the cold shoulder.

That night, Steve and Rita attended a "gay social affair", and Steve was showing off by balancing a $50,000 Ming vase at the end of a stick. A drunk (who, to me, looked a heckuva lot like Tony Stark) wanted to start a fight with Steve, and the "fifth richest man in the world" laid him out without dropping the vase. Later in the evening, Steve proposed marriage to Rita, and kissed her without getting slapped. Rita wouldn't give an answer to his proposal right away though, saying that there was too much at stake for her, a sentiment that Steve understood.

The next day, the Doom Patrol was called in to help in a hostage situation. "Killer" Keller was holding a housewife in her home and Rita shrank down, hiding inside the daily newspaper, and surprised the thug. Rita still wouldn't say much to her friends, though she did say their somewhat condescending attitude helped her make an important decision. Later, Larry and Cliff read in the evening newspaper that Rita had agreed to wed Steve Dayton. Larry, however, had a scheme to make sure the marriage never took place, and Cliff readily agreed to help him.

On the morning of the wedding, Larry anmd Cliff had a special message be delivered to Rita, who was at the altar with Steve and the Chief. The two had a change of heart, and tried to intercept the messenger, but Rita got ahold of it anyway. The message had been from Rita's old studio, M-B-M, and said that the studio was going broke and the head man had wanted Steve to get Rita back by any means possible. Even though Larry admitted that he had concocted the message, Rita refused to marry Steve, saying that she knew that Larry and Cliff really cared about her from all that they were willing to give up in order to make sure she was happy.

Mento walked the streets of the city, haunted by the cries of newspaper boys touting his rejection and by the fact that the one thing he wanted in the world was the only thing he couldn't buy ... Rita. Larry and Cliff were doing everything they could to cheer Rita up, who was very depressed over losing Mento, whom she did truly love. Mento also refitted himself in a new costume and a rebuilt psychokinetic helmet that had five times the power of his original one. He realized that Cliff and Larry had tricked Rita into turning him down, and called the two out for a duel outside of the Doom Patrol headquarters the next day. Cliff lost a foot to Mento's improved helmet, which also had a new radio-interference ray that was able to tear holes into Mento. Rita charged out to help her partners and grew right into the path of one of Mento's blasts, which blinded her, making her fall on Cliff and allowing Mento to escape. After Rita was given medical attention, Cliff barged into Mento's mansion and wrecked the place, with his butler trying to stop him with a shotgun. Rita appeared to have been blinded permanently by Mento's blast.

Meanwhile, a spaceship was arriving on the dark side of the moon, where the alien Garguax had set up his base of operations. The occupants of the spacecraft were The Brain and Madame Rouge, of the Brotherhood of Evil, and they revealed a devilish plan that they had executed flawlessly: Madame Rouge had used her malleable abilities to disguise herself as Mento, and used Garguax's technology to duplicate his abillities, and had been the Mento who attacked the Doom Patrol earlier that day. The villains hoped that the heroes would destroy one another to wipe away the greatest threat to their plans for the conquest of Earth.

Back on Earth, The Chief was able to use his machines to cure Rita's blindness, and in the process discovered that the ray that had caused it had been produced by an element that didn't exist on Earth (which he had uncovered in his analysis of a distant star). The Chief immediately called Cliff, telling him and the others to stop all activity until they had heard what he had to say. Soon after, the three villains on the moon, joined by M'Sieur Mallah, watched the events on Earth as Mento squared off against Robotman and Negative Man. Mento made short work of the two, but Elasti-Girl soon arrived and waded into battle with her ex-fiance, crushing his helmet and throwing him into the river. As she went to help Cliff, she was captured in a plastic bag that was too strong for her to tear. Cliff ezplained that the fight had been a hoax to trap whomever had blinded her. Madame Rouge, Mallah and Garguax arrived and agreed that it would've been a clever plan if it hadn't been for Elasti-Girl.

Garguax destroyed one of Cliff's legs, and Madame Rouge set about strangling Rita when the Chief grabbed her, using the giant claw from his Action Chair. Cliff also replaced his missing leg with a tree limb, allowing him to grab Mallah and toss him out of the action. Garguax's ship flew over them and Madame Rouge grabbed it, letting all three villains beat a hasty retreat. Rita begged Steve to forgive her for thinking he could've hurt her, and he asked her one last time if she would marry him, and she readily agreed. Three hours later, the two were married, with the Doom Patrol, Beast Boy, and a host of other luminaries in attendance. Unfortunately for Mento, before the honeymoon could begin, the Doom Patrol was called off on another emergency.

COMMENTS: You've got to love any Silver Age story that is allowed to have major effects on characters, and this is one of the better DP stories in that category (surpassed only, of course, by #121). Marriage isn't exactly a common event in comics today, even with the high profile vows of Superman and Spider-Man, so this was a fairly unexpected event to see go all the way (if you'll pardon the pun). Rita and Steve definitely had one of the strangest courtships in history, and I'm glad everyone finally got things straightened out and the two of them got together ... just brings more of a "family" sense to the book, which has always been one of comics' better ones in terms of characterizations and having super-folk act like regular people.

Bruno Premiani did another great job on the artwork in this issue. I suppose I don't need to say that in every review I do, but I think it bears repeating. This guy is just a damn fine artist and really made you think that the DP was just a bunch of normal people in extraordinary circumstances.

For the trivia buffs out there, the "super" guests at the wedding included Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Super-Hip (from The Adventures of Bob Hope).

Doom Patrol #121Doom Patrol #121

"The Death of the Doom Patrol?"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Joe Orlando

SYNOPSIS: This issue begins with a sequence featuring artist Bruno Premiani and editor Murray Boltinoff, who were leaving the fate of the Doom Patrol in the hands of the readers (which Murray called "the marines" to help the team).

Madame Rouge, having reverted to her completely evil self, bombed the Parisian headquarters of her former allies, the Brotherhood of Evil, literally blowing the Brain and Mallah sky-high. In the Doom Patrol's headquarters, the Chief had determined that Rouge was behind the deaths of their longtime enemies, but Cliff and Larry didn't really believe him until a car screeched to a halt outside the building and a volley of machine gun fire rattled the building. Negative Man sped a bystander caught in the firefight to the hospital, while Cliff retrieved the empty shell casings for ballistic information. Cliff found one "dud" that hadn't fired, and the Chief told him to put it under the sofa cushion quickly. It exploded, destroying the chair, the shell casings, and Cliff's right hand.

Meanwhile Rita, who had been with her husband Steve Dayton at the school he was teaching at, hurried back to headquarters after hearing about the attacks on the radio. She was met at the door by Cliff and Larry, both toting sub-machine guns. Shortly afterwards, the Chief's radarscope detected incoming aerial attackers, as three helicopters blasted the headquarters with streams of napalm. Luckily, the building was fireproof, and the Chief's anti-aircraft weapons, and Negative Man, took out the attacking choppers. Amid the chaos of the aftermath, which left much of their neighborhood devastated, Wilber Boggs, a government representative, arrived to tell them that a sanctuary had been prepared for them so that the city would be safe. Against Cliff's wishes, the Chief and the others acquiesed, agreeing to move to the new location. Their departure from the city was met with a jeering crowd (who apparently didn't have all the information on their reasons for leaving). In the plane however, the Chief revealed that this had all been part of his plan, moving them to a new command post for a counterattack.

The Caribbean island they arrived at was a very high-tech base, powered by a nuclear reactor and protected by missles. Unfortunately, a submarine 200 fathoms below them commanded by Captain Zahl and Madame Rouge indicated that their arrival had not gone unnoticed. Zahl sent in his demolition squad, as he wanted The Chief in particular dead, as the scientist's radar devices and anti-U-boat bombs had been instrumental in the defeat of Hitler's plans and also been responsible for the injuries Zahl suffered during the war (requiring him now to live with a metal collar to support his own head, as well as costing him an arm). The demolition squad divers snuck onto the island and blew up the transport plane that brought the team to their new headquarters.

Cliff made fairly short work of the divers, and Captain Zahl revealed himself to the Doom Patrol. He fired a special shell at Larry, which blasted sand into his skin that was completely radio-resistant and imprisoned Negative Man inside his body. Rita was captured in a steel net, and Cliff was hit by a magnetic charge that permanently froze half of the small motors that powered his mechanical body. Zahl then produced his master plan. Broadcasting every word they said to the world at large, he gave the Doom Patrol a choice. Either the New England fishing village of Codsville, Maine (and its fourteen inhabitants) would die in two minutes, or the Doom Patrol would. He wanted to prove that The Chief would opt to save his own life before anyone else's (like any man would, he rationalized). The Doom Patrol gave him the only answer possible: "Fire away!" Before Madame Rouge could stop him, Zahl blew up the island, apparently killing the entire Doom Patrol.

The news of the death of the Doom Patrol went quickly around an unbelieving world. The people of Codsville, Maine decided to rename their village Four Heroes, Maine, hoping to make it a place that the Doom Patrol could be proud of. Steve Dayton's yacht couldn't get close to the site of the island, as the ocean floor was still boiling as a result of the explosion. He tossed a single rose into the water, and vowed to spend every dollar of his fortune to destroy those responsible for taking his wife from him.

Our tale ended with Bruno Premiani and Murray Boltinoff again asking for their readers' help in saving the Doom Patrol, saying that only a miracle could change that ending.

COMMENTS: You know, with all the fantasy that goes on in your average comic, it wasn't too often that a story could really stand out, especially during the Silver Age. This is one of the few stories that a lot of people really remember. There really hadn't been all that much actual death in comic books. There had been "death", but the characters came back next issue or the next year as good as new. This story was something a little different ... the good guys lost, even though they really did win, saving the lives of others with their sacrifice. This tale, and the issues of Justice League of America that featured the death of the Red Tornado (and revealed the death of Wing) were two stories that I read when I was first starting to get into comic books and they showed me, even at that young age, that this was a medium that had a lot of potential. It wasn't until years later, with works such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Sandman that I really understood how good things could get with a simple little comic book ... but this was a great start. Yeah, I know that the only people still dead from those two tales are Rita and Wing, but the changes made by later writers in no way lessen the impact of the originals.

Bruno Premiani's artwork is at its peak in this issue. The framing sequence with him and Murray Boltinoff was interesting, and the last time I read the story I was amazed at how a lot of his line work reminds me of the work of one of my favorite "alternative" artists, Daniel Clowes now.

Doom Patrol #122Doom Patrol #122

"The Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Menace"
Script by Arnold Drake and Bob Haney
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown and Bruno Premiani (reformatted version of the cover to issue #89)

"We Battle the Micro-Monster"
Inks by Mort Meskin

COMMENTS: Doom Patrol was revived for a short run in 1973 as a reprint title (much like Metal Men, Challengers of the Unknown, and several other defunct Silver Age titles).

The lead story in this issue was originally printed in Doom Patrol #89. The back-up feature, from My Greatest Adventure #76, does not feature the Doom Patrol.

This issue also has a text feature, "Meet ... the Doom Patrol" that recounts the origins of Negative Man, Robotman and Elasti-Girl.

Doom Patrol #123Doom Patrol #123

"Menace of the Turnabout Heroes"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown and Bruno Premiani (reformatted version of the cover to issue #95)

COMMENTS: The lead story in this issue was originally printed in Doom Patrol #95.

This issue also features a text page of "The Men Behind ... the Doom Patrol", with a lot of biographical information on Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani.

Doom Patrol #124Doom Patrol #124

"The Enemy Within The Doom Patrol"
Script by Arnold Drake
Art by Bruno Premiani
Cover by Bob Brown and Bruno Premiani (reformatted version of the cover to issue #90)

COMMENTS: The lead story in this issue was originally printed in Doom Patrol #90.

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