Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Loopy Lunacy of the DOOM PATROL! 1965 DC Comics Craziness! Robot Man!

In the 60s, the venerable folks at long-established DC Comics, under pressure from new-kids-on-the-block Marvel Comics, realized they had to try to compete with Marvel's hip, fresh, wacky, youthful, and revolutionary new characters and stories! Stalwart DC heroes such as Superman and Batman were largely left alone, but the third-tier super-doers, like DOOM PATROL, suddenly concerned themselves with weird plots, subject matter, and oddball character turns! Click below to peek between the covers of one 1965 DP issue (art by Bruno Premiani) and get ready to be--confused!

Above: With no warning, team leader "the Chief" breaks up the DP team! The
group's logical reaction? Not concern or confusion, but defiance! Off go the
rejected trio to form their own leader-less team, complete with newly-constructed
headquarters! And, what better time to display the blueprints of the old DP HQ than
now, when it looks like they'll never use said former quarters again, right?
 And, where did the trio get the greenbacks for all the materials, supplies,
permits, and...?

Above: In those first two panels, we finally get some Marvel-like characterization!
The problem? At DC, it was never followed up on or revisited! It's all only for the
story! Meanwhile, the self-diagnosing Chief hooks himself to a machine that
identifies his ailment and time left before expiration (how does it do that?), when
he could be spending this precious time preparing his team for life without him!
While all this silliness ensues, a potentially great new foe appears, and,
in then-typical DC fashion, is quickly ignored and underused!

Above: Risking Neg-Man's health only to eavesdrop on local newsrooms? I know
it was just to demonstrate his powers and limitations for any new readers, but...

Above: After facing the new foe, Negative Man is hurt! Dig those eerie panels
as he re-integrates his two selves (say, how is it we can see thru Neg-Man's bandages?)…
Then we see more internal fighting among the team, but, again, it's never referred to
again! And the group's solution to finding the ailing Chief? Stick him right into an iron
lung! Why not? Off go the team to face the foe once more, but who should stay behind to
nurse-maid the Chief? Rita (Elasti-Girl), or course! After all, she's a girl!

Above: So, the bad guy (and all his amazing equipment and devices) resides in
an upper-floor apartment on a college campus? Don't his neighbors and passing
students get suspicious? Then he drops thru the lower floors, and we see no other
tenants or furnishings? One of the ways that Marvel made it big, was by showing
us how the "man on the street" was affected by the actions of superheroes….

Above: The team uses the Chief's plan to stop the foe, and force him into
helping their leader, while they argue and hurl insults at each other, tho,
again, this is never later addressed! Everyone is all chummy again, and the new
headquarters (how did the Chief feel about that? We'll never know!) they were so
eager to build (and spend a fortune on)? Now an orphanage! I sure hope those
kids can make use of the hidden tunnels, super-computers, and space-age
devices! And Rita? She never used her super-powers once in this issue!
After all, she's just a girl, right?
The wrap-up: There's certainly nothing wrong with the kind of zany and fast-moving adventures that DC supplied in the 60s, but, once you've tasted Marvel's heftier, weightier, and (dare I say it?) more realistic superhero tales, it's hard to be satisfied with DC books and their lack of characterization and logic! Sure, these were comics meant for 10-year-old kids, but Marvel showed that you can entertain that audience while giving more demanding readers some meat with their superhero slug-fests!

BONUS! Click below to see the cover (as well as me) of this never-to-be-forgotten issue!

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