Doom Patrol – Accepting the Weird & Wonderful

The subject of this week’s post may be a little obscure compared to the likes of traditional superheroes but the oddities and idiosyncrasies that make up the superhero group known as Doom Patrol are the exact reasons that make these characters lovable and relatable. For some context, Doom Patrol is a super-group created in the 60s that were instantly dubbed “World’s Strangest Superheroes”. Hearing this you’re probably thinking “how bad could it be?” Well let me describe some mainstays of the team over the years. The one resounding constant in any iteration of the team is Robotman. Robotman is exactly what he sounds like, a conscience human being (pretty much just a brain) that is enclosed in a robotic body. Another fairly consistent member is Larry Trainor aka Negative Man. He is infected by radioactive energy which allows him to manipulate the world around him using negative energy (I didn’t think it was a real thing either, it’s not just to be clear). His backstory is later changed to having the “Negative Spirit” as an alien that takes control of him when he becomes Negative Man (I guess when you embrace weird it can only go one way). Some other characters that  have been introduced in the last few iterations of the team include Jane – a woman whose mind is composed of 63 different personalities (take about never getting time to yourself) – and Danny – a sentient street (no, that is not a typo).

With characters as strange as as these you’re probably thinking how has anyone been able to build compelling stories around these characters. Well its happened, 6 times no less. The most recent iteration of Doom Patrol is written by My Chemical Romance front-man Gerard Way under the Young Animal imprint the strange corner of the DC Comics Universe. Way has been able to craft a story with these characters in a world that is just as colorful as they are with very profound themes ranging from mental health and disabilities to being true to yourself. Doom Patrol is a wacky kaleidoscope of colors and characters that is still able to hold the reader’s attention in the moment.

My greatest takeaway from the Doom Patrol Vol 1: Brick by Brick, is that being true to yourself regardless of your circumstances is the first step to becoming a real life hero. One of the best examples of this in the volume is with Casey Brinke. We are first introduced to Casey as an ambulance driver with a quirky and bubbly personality. As a reader I found it extremely endearing that over the course of the first few issues Casey took everything in stride. Her roommate is being a dick and gets blown up, she gets a new roommate in Terry None. She witnesses a robot emerge from an exploding burrito and get knocked into many pieces, she just picks up all his parts and puts him back together. The reader eventually finds out that Casey is in fact a comic book character created by Danny would has become a real life hero (an extremely literal example of my takeaway, but that just makes my life easier). While Casey is realizing all of this about her self, the reader is taken back to the present where Casey is imprisoned in a cell and all of a sudden her one foot disappears. The way that Way glosses over how she got this disability and how Casey later still finds a way to get back to her friends and save Danny sends a very profound message: Don’t define yourself or let others define you by your weaknesses. While Casey and Doom Patrol are unconventional and quirky, they are unequivocally heroes in my eyes. They are the kinds of heroes that we should all be striving to be.

8 thoughts on “Doom Patrol – Accepting the Weird & Wonderful

  1. Hi, I didn’t know that they have had such a successful run with this comic, thanks for the info. I agree with you that they are not your typical superhero team and that might me what gets people interested in this comic book. Another interesting thing about the doom patrol is that at one point in their history they had beast boy from the teen titans as one of their members. This goes to show you that this team is made up of heroes from all walks of life, not just the ones with the traditional back stories. I really enjoyed reading your post good work.

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  2. Hi Kyle,
    Great post! I also agree that it is important to be true to oneself. Each one of us is unique and has different gifts to share and offer to the world. When we be true to ourselves we can learn different things about ourselves and learn which areas we need to improve. If we pretend to be another then this would not be as effective. I also agree that we should not allow others to define us. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we should not let what others things hinder us. Great post again!

    Alicia Chung

    References:
    Way, G., Derington, N., Bonvillain, T. Doom Patrol, Volume 1, Brick by Brick. Burbank, CA, DC Comics. Retrieved from Comixology.

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  3. Hi Kyle,

    I totally see your points and understand where you are coming from with Doom Patrol. However, I found the comic too childish and too wishful to appreciate. Casey is an okay if not boarderline delusion character with her over enthusiastic and simplified point of view. lol. I kind of sound like her old roommate but my major point is that, you can’t be fully good without appreciating or accepting evil as an aspect of life. Mistakes, misunderstandings and failures are a part of life as much as happiness, understanding and success. You can’t have one without the other if you did there wouldn’t be such a thing as good if bad wasn’t there to exist.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Old man Emmanuel Signing out!

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  4. Hello Kyle,

    The exploding burrito was something I considered amusing since this scene also helped me understand why there was a burrito in the cover page of the first issue. Gerard Way clearly spent a lot of time creating the unique personalities of each character, which is evident in the themes of mental health and disabilities as you discussed. Furthermore, I agree that the quirkiness of the characters help readers relate to their personal struggles since the overarching message is that everyone should accept who they are. Embracing your strengths rather than dwelling on your weaknesses is something that Warren Ellis helps to illustrate through the psychedelic artwork. Excellent post Kyle!

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  5. Hey Kyle,

    I gotta say that I really liked Danny’s character in the comic. The idea that a godlike being could be such ordinary things I think really contributed to the idea that there’s always more than whats underneath the surface.
    Overall great post.

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  6. Kyle,

    I think your post was very profound and I did learn a lot of new information from reading it. I completely agree with the fact that this team is no ordinary team and they are very different from all the other superheroes we have read about so far. I also agree that Casey if a very important superhero in this comic and that many things about her are in fact relatable to a certain extent.

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  7. Great post. When reading the summary of Doom Patrol I was very skeptical of how an engaging plot line could be made from it. The most interesting aspect of Doom Patrol for me was the facts the heroes were more observant of the world around them and how they felt about their surroundings, than being the main idea of the comic. I found this feature really helped to bring out the themes you mentioned, such as self awareness, more than other comics.

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