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On the 8th day of the week: the sky turned red, clocks began to melt, and fruit-faced men in bowler hats stepped out of tears in time and space. City-sized dragons with stars for eyes breathed mist over metropolises, sitting on the backs of beluga whales, gliding through fields of golden pizzas. Giants of stone and ice sat on inflatable chairs, playing chess.
Amidst the new reality stood the Doom Patrol, heroes of an era changed by the wants and whims of a colossal infant playing with the Pandemonium Rubix Cube. It was their job to return the world to its status quo, they didn’t want to (can’t blame them), but they’re superheroes.
A judging panel of: Salvador Dali’s skeleton, Kris Jenner,‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, and Donald Trump’s hair rated their chances of success at 3 out of ten.
The 8th day was just like any other for the Doom Patrol.
The ‘World’s Strangest Heroes’ made their live-action debut on Titans, and will spin off into their own series to premiere on DC’s streaming service at some point in 2019. Not the most well-known of hero teams, the Doom Patrol are amongst the weirdest. Robotman (Cliff Steele), Elasti-Girl (Rita Farr), and Negative Man (Larry Trainor) possessed gifts that alienated and isolated them from the world. Brought together by the ‘Chief’, Miles Caulder, who motivated them to channel their bitterness at the world by helping it. They argued, dealt with real-world issues, and embarked on adventures too twisted and dark for the PR friendly, Justice League.
On their adventures, the Doom Patrol encountered villains as strange, or even stranger than they were. The Brotherhood of Dada ( Mr Nobody, The Fog, Frenzy, Sleepwalk, The Quiz) didn’t see themselves as villains, not recognising the concepts of good and evil, but as anarchic rogues who just happen to steal magical paintings transport European cities into conceptual realms. Red Jack was an omnipotent being who believed he was both God and Jack the Ripper. The Scissormen possessed large, scissor-like hands to cut fictional beings out of reality. Whilst, the Brain led the Brotherhood of Evil, alongside his gorilla lover, Monsieur Mallah. And the all-too-literally named Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man who could transform his body parts into combinations of either.
The team’s allies were also exceptional and unique. Flex Mentallo, ‘The Man of Muscle Mystery’, was able to manipulate reality merely by flexing his muscles, every hardcore gym goers dream. Crazy Jane lives with multiple personalities that are organised in a mental subway grid called the Underground. Danny the Street is an actual sentient street, who is home to many of society’s outcasts; he is able to teleport and fit into place himself in any urban landscape.
TV superhero adaptations are,for the most part, unafraid to take comic book mythologies in new directions. But very few embrace the more out-of-this-world, mind-blowing, metaphor-within-a-metaphor, conundrum-wrapped-in-a-riddle-hiding-behind-an-enigma ideas that are born from 28 consecutive days without sleep. Marvel’s Netflix shows are stories of superheroes in the ‘real’ world; Agents of SHIELD is standard spy-fi; Gotham an eclectic mix of Batman’s mythology; Arrow a vigilante revenge fantasy; The Flash an optimistic exhibition of comicbook science; Legends of Tomorrow a showcase of epic adventures in time and space; Supergirl is the home of fun,hope and progressive politics; and Titans is peak DC, grim and gritty with attitude. Only Happy! (where a a hitman teams up with an imaginary friend) and Legion (the psychedelic pseudo X-Men spin-off) go beyond the pale, into the realms of absurdity and weird that explode heads.
Doom Patrol comics are known for experimenting with form and style to warp the world they inhabit. Famous heroes associated with Marvel were parodied, satired, and ridiculed within their pages. The Punisher, well-known for being a trigger happy hard-ass is the basis for Beard Hunter; a clean-shaven,bodybuilder meninist assassin, who only kills men with beards. Whereas, the Fantastic Four storyline that introduced the planet-eating Galactus, was parodied in dream sequence. The comics also, used the cut-up technique (rearranging words in sentences to form ones), included meta-references, and thematically questioned concepts of ‘truth’ and ‘reality’.
Imagination and pushing boundaries are at the heart of the Doom Patrol’s comic book adventures, and the TV series has the potential follow the same path.Philosophy, burlesque, satire, parody, commentary, politics, and fun are all weapons in the Doom Patrol’s arsenal. It could be the wierdest and bravest of superhero shows, if it stays true to the source material, and doesn’t dovetail into the gritty blandness DC fetishises.