Apparently the DC Universe will never run out of new characters with which to build new live-action TV series. DC recently announced that a Doom Patrol series is in the works for the DC Universe streaming service, joining other series like Titans and Young Justice: Season 3.
The Doom Patrol may not be the most well-known of DC’s various super-teams, but fans know that this group is a perfect fit for the streaming format. Here’s everything you need to know about the Doom Patrol and their strange comic book history.
Doom Patrol Explained: The Basics
The simplest way to describe the Doom Patrol is that they’re DC’s answer to the X-Men. They’re a team of misfit heroes led by a brilliant man in a wheelchair and who fight to protect a world that hates and fears them. Though depending on whom you ask, the Doom Patrol concept might have been developed first.
Whatever the case, the Doom Patrol offers an alternative to teams of popular, squeaky-clean heroes like the Justice League and Justice Society. They’re cursed with powers they didn’t ask for and that make living a normal life impossible. But despite everything life throws at them, they’re heroes to the core.
Doom Patrol’s Major Characters
The Doom Patrol’s roster has shifted quite a bit over the years, but the team usually features a small handful of familiar faces.
Dr. Niles Caulder – A brilliant, wealthy inventor modeled after Mycroft Holmes, Caulder was responsible for bringing together the original Doom Patrol and teaching these “freaks” to use their powers for the betterment of mankind. However, subsequent stories have established Caulder as more villain than hero, and he was even revealed to be responsible for the accidents that transformed the original team in the first place.
Robotman – The only character to serve in every incarnation of the Doom Patrol so far, Cliff Steele had his human brain transplanted into a robotic body after a catastrophic car accident.
Elasti-Girl – After being exposed to volcanic gas, Rita Farr can shrink or expand her body at will. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a great deal of control over these powers at first.
Negative Man – Larry Trainor was an Air Force pilot exposed to a radioactive field. That exposure leaves his body highly radioactive (hence why he usually dresses like the Invisible Man), but it also allows him to temporarily release a “Negative Spirit” from his body that can fly at high speeds and cause objects to explode.
Crazy Jane – After being exposed to a gene-bomb deployed by the Dominators, each of Kay Challis’ 64 split personalities developed a different set of super-powers.
Space Case – A more recent addition to the group, Casey Brinke is a fictional character created by Danny the Street (a sentient roadway that serves as the occasional headquarters for the team) in order to communicate with the real world through comic books.
Beast Boy – A longstanding member of the Teen Titans, Beast Boy has also developed a close relationship with the Doom Patrol. He has the power to transform into any animal.
Doom Patrol: Origin and Background
The Doom Patrol was created by writers Arnold Drake and Bob Haney and artist Bruno Premiani, debuting in 1963’s My Greatest Adventure #80. The series would eventually be re-titled “Doom Patrol” with issue #86.
The team debuted a few months before the X-Men, leading Drake to speculate that Stan Lee stole the idea for his series. While that claim has never been proven, the fact that both books carried the subtitle “The World’s Strangest Heroes” did draw attention to their various other similarities.
Like the ’60s-era X-Men comics, Doom Patrol struggled to build a lasting audience. But where the X-Men basically went into publishing limbo in the early ’70s, DC actively killed off their team in 1968’s Doom Patrol #121. It wasn’t until writer Paul Kupperberg and Joe Staton revived the team in 1977’s Showcase #4 that the Doom Patrol returned to the spotlight. However, with the new series focusing more on traditional superhero adventures and less on the weirdness that defined the original team, the Doom Patrol failed to achieve the same success as Chris Claremont’s revamped Uncanny X-Men.
For many fans, the Doom Patrol didn’t truly come into their own again until writer Grant Morrison took over the series in 1989. Morrison crafted an ambitious overhaul that involved writing out many existing characters, adding new ones and creating a surreal, off-kilter look at DC’s strangest superhero team. Morrison’s run also frequently parodied other popular comics, including an X-Force spoof called Doom Force and an issue where a Punisher-like assassin named Beard Hunter targets an analogue of writer Alan Moore.
The series waned in popularity again in the years after Morrison’s departure. DC attempted another ambitious update in 2004, with writer/artist John Byrne completely rebooting the team and its history. However, that move failed to win over fans and the classic version of the team was restored a few years later.
Most recently, DC turned to My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way to update the Doom Patrol in 2016. Way spearheaded a new comic book imprint called Young Animal, with a heavily Morrison-influenced Doom Patrol as its flagship title.
Doom Patrol: Beyond the Comics
The Doom Patrol’s first major non-comics appearance came when they appeared in the two-part episode “Homecoming” in the 2003 Teen Titans animated series. That episode explored Beast Boy’s history with the Doom Patrol and featured Mento, Robotman, Elasti-Girl and Negative Man. The team then appeared in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold called “The Last Patrol!”, one which ended with the team heroically sacrificing themselves much in the same way they did in Doom Patrol #121.
The Doom Patrol will reportedly make their live-action debut in the fifth episode of the upcoming Titans series on the DC Universe streaming platform. That episode will introduce Niles Caulder (Bruno Bichir), Elasti-Girl (April Bowlby), Robotman (Jake Michaels) and Negative Man (Dwain Murphy) and serve as a launching pad for a Doom Patrol spin-off series in 2019.
In 2006 it was reported that Warner Bros. had hired writer Adam Turner to pen a screenplay for a Doom Patrol movie, but that project appears to be dead now.