As a concept the Doom Patrol is tough to beat. Whether it's the classic Drake-Haney Patrol (that featured Elasti-Girl in that poorly thought-out skirt ensemble), the crazy as hell Grant Morrision Vertigo Patrol (that featured Danny the sentient street) or the most recent Keith Giffen line-up (with all their mad scientist buddies on Oolong island) these guys were always awesome. Hell they're the stinkin-ass, inbred, hillbilly cousins of the X-Men - the guys that were just too weird for Professor X and his swanky school. Plus every incarnation comes with bucketloads of the always fantastic Cliff 'Robotman' Steele. He's man, who is a robot, whose name is Steele - how can you not love that.
I recently come across a large chunk of the much maligned Paul Kupperberg run on Doom Patrol in my local stores's trusty bargain bin. I have been re-reading these stories and having my mind blown by how wacked out of its gourd some of this stuff is.
I mean take Doom Patrol #3 for example.
The guys are trapped on an island, captors of crazy bad guy Kalki, who claims to be the current incarnation of Vishnu. Now I don't know what previous Vishnu incarnations got up to, but this one wants to shoot a rocket into space, with the Negative's Woman's negative form trapped inside. This will somehow result in the destruction the world. The Patrol meanwhile, will be trapped inside giant, upside-down test-tubes and forced to watch.
That Kalki, what a prince! No wonder everybody and their uncle is invading his island to stop him!
Like Harry Stein, ex New York Cop turned government spook. He was hot on the trail of his old boss Val Vostok aka the Negative Woman before stopping off for a spot of mud-wrestling and cold shooting dudes in the face on Kalki's genocidal island resort:
It's like Sandals, but with Uzis
After he gets tired of face-shooting ol' Har turns his hand to tossing grenades into open doors throughout Kalki's complex. Then he stops for a quick smoke-break with Robotman and Tempest that results in him blowing up Kalki's death-dealing rocket-ship even though Val Vostock - the chick he came all this way to see is still on board!
Damn, that Harry Stein is one stone-cold, badass son of a bitch.
But he's no Kalki. While Harry is busy getting his John Shaft on, Kalki is floating about on his hover-chair plotting the destruction of the planet, threatening his minions with agonizing death and slapping the shit of his estranged daughter.
The daughter in question turns out of be Arani Desai aka Celsius, the leader of this ragtag incarnation of the Doom Patrol. She and daddy can't have been close though because she seems surprised when he reveals himself to be half-human/half-mechanical-spider. Also, he's got a portal to a hell-dimension, full of greasy, soul-hungry demon tenticles, in his chest. That's the kind of thing a keen-eyed daughter would notice around the house:
Come to Papa!
Whether you're a fan or 80s DC comics or not. "hether you're a fan of the Doom Patrol of not. You've gotta admit - robotic super-villain spider daddys and a green beret version of Harvey Bullock sounds pretty freaking cool.
If you are a fan of the Doom Patrol don't worry, Cliff does some good shit in this issue too. Like that one panel where invites the nerdy scientist guy to do the five knucle waltz:
Quick-Quick-Slow Quick-Quick-Break Both Yer Legs
Ah Robotman, DC's clanky version of Aunt Petunia's ever-loving blue-eyed Idol O' Millions. I love that guy.
Okay so this issue doesn't have a knock-down drag-out battle with Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man or feature the frankly baffling schemes of the malevolent Scissormen but if Kupperburg's Patrol is the red-headed step-child of the franchise - it's still pretty sweet!
You can probably find it in your friendly neighbourhood comic-shop bargain bin - unless I get there first.