Comics On TV

Everything You Need to Know About DC Universe's Doom Patrol Series

After the group's introduction on Titans, take a deep dive into the history and the future of the latest DC TV addition.

by | November 5, 2018 | Comments

(Photo by DC Universe)

With Friday’s episode of Titans, the members of the Doom Patrol not only made their live-action debut on DC Universe, but also teased their own upcoming eponymous series thanks to voice cameos from stars Brendan Fraser and Matt Bomer and an in-the-flesh appearance by co-star April Bowlby. Portrayed as a group of misfits sheltering fellow oddity Garfield Logan (Ryan Potter), the characters also distinguished themselves from the Titans cast thanks to their strange circumstances, humor, and a family dynamic Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) is far from cultivating.

Who and what are the Doom Patrol? How far back does the group’s DC Comics history go, and what does it say about the upcoming series? Read on for a primer on the world’s strangest heroes.

Secret Origins

(Photo by DC Universe)

The Doom Patrol debuted as a strip in 1963 My Greatest Adventure #80, written by Arnold Drake and Bob Haney with art by Bruno Premiani. The initial four-member team was comprised of Rita Farr (a.k.a. Elasti-girl), an Olympic swimmer-turned-actor who can stretch to tremendous sizes after she is exposed to “unusual volcanic gases;” Cliff Steele (a.k.a. Robotman), a race car driver whose brain is saved after a car crash destroys his body; Larry Trainor (a.k.a. Negative Man), a test pilot whose body became negatively charged after exposure to radiation during a test-flight; and Dr. Niles Caulder (a.k.a. The Chief), a paraplegic genius and inventor who inspires the rest to use their augmented abilities for the greater good even as their conditions leave them outcast from a society which fears and hates them. If the premise reminds you of X-Men, which debuted two months after the first Doom Patrol strip, Drake always suspected Stan Lee somehow caught wind of his concept — though in his later years, he suggested they both reached for fruit from the same creative “vineyard” independently and simultaneously.

While Drake’s new superhero strip saved My Greatest Adventure from cancellation, the title was renamed Doom Patrol five issues later. In 1965’s Doom Patrol #99, Garfield Logan (a.k.a. Beast Boy) was introduced as the survivor of an experimental cure for a rare disease which gave him the ability to change into any animal. He remained with the group for a time before seeking his fortune in Hollywood and joining the Titans West.

Doom Patrol itself survived another three years before its popularity declined and the book was finally cancelled. In response to the cancellation and his own anger toward DC at the time, Drake took the highly unusual step of killing off the team.

A new team created by writer Paul Kupperburg — featuring a revived Robotman, a new Negative Woman, and Caulder’s previously unseen wife Celsius — emerged in 1977, but failed to capture the imagination of readers during an infamous downturn in DC’s fortunes known as The DC Implosion. Ten years later, Kupperburg tried again with a third Doom Patrol team, but he was replaced in issue #18 by Grant Morrison. The new take on the team, which saw Robotman, the Chief, and Negative Man return with new additions like Crazy Jane — a woman with dissociative personality disorder and a superpower for each of her personas — and a mobile, conscious street known as Danny — yes, an actual sentient city street — is considered one of the definitive versions thanks to its surrealist adventures and reinvention of the Chief as the team’s ultimate enemy.

After Morrison’s departure, writers including Rachel Pollack, John Arcrudi, John Byrne, and Keith Giffen took over Doom Patrol to varying degrees of success. In 2016, My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way revamped the concept for his DC Young Animal label. Featuring art by Nick Darrington, the new Doom Patrol went in new strange directions while honoring a lot of what came before — Robotman was present as ever while Danny became a world all his own.

A Titans Debut

(Photo by DC Universe)

Much of Drake and Haney’s concept is on display within the “Doom Patrol” episode of Titans, with hints of Morrison’s influence. Fraser gives Cliff a wistful tone as Rachel (Teagan Croft) describes her dinner to him. Bomer’s Negative Man is the definition of hip. Rita Farr (April Bowlby) tries her best to keep her studio-trained composure, but it is easy to see the cracks in her facade as her powers always seem to get the best of her. As a group, though, the strong bond between them is already on display. At this point in Titans‘ own story, it is a welcome relief to see some superpowered beings acting as a family — but it also offers a tease of the dynamic viewers will eventually see on Doom Patrol.

With the Chief, played in the episode by a menacing Bruno Bichir, Caulder’s seeming benevolence falls away pretty quickly. By the time he has Rachel strapped to a hospital bed, one is willing to believe he arranged the accidents that caused Cliff, Larry, and Rita to become super-powered oddities.

Arguably the most important character to introduce here was Cliff. As a member of every Doom Patrol iteration, he is the de facto face of the whole concept. His condition — a human brain in a robot body — also makes him one of the easiest Doom Patrol characters to “get” and bond with. Luckily, Fraser voices the character as though he’d been playing Cliff for years, which is important as he will be playing Robotman for a long time to come.

Doom Patrol 2019

(Photo by DC Universe)

That long time to come will begin next year with the arrival of DC Universe’s Doom Patrol series. Fraser, Bomer, and Bowlby return as their characters, but actors Jake Michaels and Dwain Murphy, who inhabited the Robotman and Negative Man suits, have been replaced by Riley Shanahan and Matthew Zuk. And in a move that may seem surprising, one key Doom Patrol member will have a new face when they make the leap to their own series: the Chief.

In August, the streaming service announced that former James Bond, Timothy Dalton, would take over the Niles Caulder role. It is an inspired choice as Dalton is capable of both the compassion and menace Caulder can offer in equal measure. And after seeing Bichir’s take on the character, it makes sense to dial back Caulder to someone who would believably inspire the devotion Cliff, Larry, and Rita seem to have for the man.

Plus there is a story point to be built from Caulder suddenly having a new personality, face, and accent: In the early Doom Patrol strips, the gang did not know the Chief’s real name. Circumstances ultimately forced him to divulge these details, but it established Caulder’s secretive tendencies. And what better way to establish the grandiose nature of the Chief’s secretiveness on screen than for Cliff, Larry, and Rita to learn the man they thought gave them a home was nothing but a proxy?

The group seems off to a fine start as Fraser, Bomer, and Bowlby offer the three key characters a lot of life. On the Doom Patrol series, Diane Guerrero will join them as Crazy Jane from Grant Morrison’s run. The team will face off against Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody, a character created by Drake for one issue but expanded upon by Morrison into a major team antagonist. The inclusion of the Morrison characters suggests the show will be more consciously absurd than their appearance on Titans would suggest, which would definitely be the right tone for this group. Additionally, missing Titan Cyborg (Jovian Wade) will give the Doom Patrol a mission that is difficult to refuse, but will completely alter their lives forever. The 13-episode series from longtime DC TV producer Greg Berlanti and Being Human‘s Jeremy Carver is expected to debut in February 2019.

It is unclear, however, if Danny the Street will make his presence known.

New episodes of Titans are released Fridays on DC Universe. Doom Patrol will premiere in 2019.

Tag Cloud

TCA Winter 2020 Masterpiece sequel GLAAD HBO Max Acorn TV zombie WGN Turner Classic Movies Tumblr Holiday franchise VOD HBO Go Walt Disney Pictures Infographic OWN Song of Ice and Fire TCA Paramount Network SundanceTV supernatural Video Games Logo joker political drama Brie Larson FOX Summer Apple kids justice league spanish language AMC Shondaland binge Arrowverse reviews Sundance Now American Society of Cinematographers cinemax spinoff dc FX Podcast See It Skip It Action MSNBC Superheroes game show RT21 YA cats FXX canceled TV shows Amazon Studios psychological thriller Hulu Universal Television Academy Pride Month crime thriller Winners Family VH1 mission: impossible Toys revenge Reality Competition elevated horror Animation Countdown TV renewals BET travel cartoon VICE Apple TV Plus festivals Music Rocky cults Apple TV+ Captain marvel Interview National Geographic anthology Peacock Turner Black History Month Spike Freeform directors breaking bad richard e. Grant YouTube Red Esquire Avengers Watching Series Britbox Sneak Peek Film Pet Sematary Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Spectrum Originals NBC BAFTA Box Office dramedy Adult Swim Vudu parents Pop HBO Women's History Month quibi BET Awards Cannes Bravo Comedy Endgame Mudbound screenings Crackle Nominations renewed TV shows Opinion Heroines romantic comedy child's play CMT witnail IFC Films cancelled television Sundance TV technology Amazon USA Network christmas movies Fantasy Columbia Pictures war Amazon Prime SDCC Awards BBC America comics news Schedule Funimation a nightmare on elm street MTV Lifetime Extras San Diego Comic-Con DC streaming service Tomatazos all-time historical drama Mary Poppins Returns LGBTQ satire Shudder zombies Rom-Com CW Seed Country halloween Cosplay boxoffice Spring TV Sci-Fi E3 Comic Book critics Elton John Sony Pictures Marvel History singing competition jamie lee curtis discovery cooking Pirates New York Comic Con series best Lifetime Christmas movies Ghostbusters medical drama zero dark thirty Election serial killer criterion south america 20th Century Fox Marvel Television 007 cancelled chucky video on demand WarnerMedia asian-american Quiz Epix Trophy Talk Thanksgiving Pop TV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina The Walking Dead indie IFC dragons APB Disney Plus batman blockbuster Photos TV robots composers 2020 green book strong female leads X-Men scary movies YouTube Premium BBC One theme song Musicals hispanic universal monsters Set visit crime nature GoT movies PlayStation The Witch Winter TV die hard FX on Hulu comic Film Festival Trailer 2016 harry potter TNT dceu biography thriller Red Carpet Calendar docudrama spy thriller 45 Marathons USA Classic Film First Look Mary poppins vampires Trivia Mary Tyler Moore spider-man Baby Yoda space true crime ABC TCA 2017 dark game of thrones Disney+ Disney Plus cancelled TV series concert police drama miniseries Crunchyroll Western crime drama Netflix Christmas movies twilight Disney streaming service Fall TV aliens Hallmark Netflix Oscars werewolf mutant slashers E! streaming Showtime ESPN sag awards Character Guide 2019 natural history Discovery Channel 2017 Emmys Rocketman CNN MCU Hallmark Christmas movies Horror 2015 Grammys Academy Awards Rock Certified Fresh GIFs toy story DC Universe cops DirecTV Awards Tour Sundance mockumentary A24 21st Century Fox reboot diversity DGA Starz Pixar tv talk Ellie Kemper Binge Guide stand-up comedy Star Trek free movies Ovation independent TruTV spain 71st Emmy Awards teaser Black Mirror doctor who screen actors guild video First Reviews Stephen King blaxploitation documentary name the review films ABC Family Paramount foreign Reality A&E NYCC dogs indiana jones Anna Paquin Polls and Games social media TIFF 24 frames award winner romance Chernobyl Comics on TV Mindy Kaling adventure Tubi finale rotten movies we love Musical based on movie Food Network crossover talk show RT History The Purge Christmas Lionsgate sports Disney TLC Best and Worst 4/20 ghosts children's TV CBS All Access cars Creative Arts Emmys ITV CBS Marvel Studios Warner Bros. BBC El Rey Nickelodeon facebook 2018 Teen TV Land ratings documentaries canceled comiccon television YouTube The CW TCM Disney Channel anime golden globes Holidays movie science fiction The Arrangement PBS disaster versus comedies Fox News sitcom unscripted Amazon Prime Video Hear Us Out book SXSW Drama psycho Dark Horse Comics DC Comics Writers Guild of America PaleyFest Martial Arts Lucasfilm casting politics Emmy Nominations adaptation what to watch Comedy Central OneApp Cartoon Network Biopics animated TBS Mystery Super Bowl Premiere Dates Year in Review President Nat Geo Kids & Family period drama transformers Superheroe latino Star Wars Tarantino cancelled TV shows Syfy stoner Valentine's Day LGBT Travel Channel hist