Glow-In-The-Dark, Holofoil, Chromium and Die-Cut – Comics In The Nineties Weren’t All Bad – Doom Patrol Vol. 2

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by Carl R. Jansson
Senior Correspondent
[email protected]

Each week I discuss the many things that happened in the nineties that made it a very dark decade for the comic industry, the things we would like to forget happened at all, and the things we just can’t seem to let go of. And pouches, so very many pouches. We also discuss the many things that made that decade truly a great time to be a fan. This week, I bring you another reason the nineties weren’t all bad.
Doom Patrol 1Doom Patrol Volume 2, especially from #19 on. I know the series started in 1989, but I’m still considering it, because it’s my column.
The Doom Patrol was always something of a cult favorite, and never more so than after Grant Morrison took over the series from Paul Kupperberg in February of 1989. From that first issue we knew we were in for a very different take on the characters, yet a version that conceptually was very much in line with the original series. Grant Morrison, and later Rachel Pollack, made the team back into The World’s Strangest Heroes after Kupperbergs more superheroic version.
Kupperberg, along with, at first Steve Lightle, and Erik Larsen after issue #5, brought us an entertaining series for sure, but the sales just weren’t there, so after issue #18, and killing off most of the team at Grant Morrison’s request, the creative team bowed out.
Grant Morrison was ready to do the Doom Patrol book the fans didn’t even know they wanted. And he hit the ground running, introducing so many bizarre concepts with each issue that it was thrilling opening each new issue just to see what mind-bending, warped reality we’d find. There was, just in that first issue, The Scissormen, a race of beings that use their scissor hands to literally cut people out of reality; Crazy Jane, a woman possessing multiple personalities, each with its own super power; and Rebis, a divine hermaphrodite.
Following storylines introduce us to Danny The Street, a sentient, transgendered street who later becomes Danny The World; The Brotherhood of Dada, a surreal team of villains led by the enigmatic Mr. Nobody, including The Quiz, a woman with “every power you haven’t thought of yet”, and Alias The Blur, a fractured mirror-ghost with the ability to eat time; as well as the Antigod, a being created when God created light, therefore casting the first shadow; and the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., a government agency created to rid the world of all things strange. There was even a one-shot entitled Doom Force that was a parody of Rob Liefeld’s hugely popular X-Force, but filtered through the insanity that is Grant Morrison’s mind. And let us not forget the painting that ate Paris!
This was truly a weird series, and Morrison just kept it getting weirder with every new story, incorporating elements of Dada, surrealism, secret societys, and even implementing William Burrough’s famous cut-up technique. There was danger, action, humor, romance, and above all it was an outlandish and unconventional approach to superheroes. Original creator Arnold Drake has famously said Morrison’s was the only subsequent run to reflect the intent of the original series
And it was about to get stranger.
Rachel Pollack took over the series with issue #63, its first issue under the Vertigo imprint, and showed us all that The Doom Patrol would remain the series we had all come to love. After the events in Morrisons final storyline, the team now consisted of Cliff Steele, Robotman; Niles Caulder, now just a severed head on a tray filled with ice; and Dorothy Spinner, a girl with an ape-like face and powerful imaginary friends. Niles Caulder had plunged the world into strangeness, not helped by the appearance of The Book of Ice.
She introduced us to The Builders, a group similar to the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.; Coagula, one of the first transgendered superheroes; the Identity Addict, who could turn into any superhero simply by shedding her skin; the Teiresias, a race of shape-shifters; the Master Cleaner, a being with a human fetus in a bubble for a head; and the False Healers and their leader, the Rabbi of Darkness.
It was so good, but all good things come to an end, and this volume of the Doom Patrol ended in February 1995, with issue #87. It’s the second longest run on the title since the original series’ 121 issues. There have been revivals since, but none of them had what this run did, and they all faded away in relatively short time. This series still holds up well upon re-reading, and all of the bizarre ideas presented still seem fresh today. The Doom Patrol volume 2 was an insane acid trip of a comic, strange in all of the best ways, and one of the reasons it was awesome being a comic fan in the nineties. Next week, I’ll bring you another.
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