Monday, June 27, 2011

Doom Patrol

Off the coast of Maine, there is an island that never was that will be again. Three years ago, a team of misfit heroes fought there, died there, and won there. The who and why of the battle was lost, collateral damage to the reality warping energies that were tossed around. Nowadays, barely anyone even remembers the Doom Patrol and the myriad sacrifices they made to save us all.

Luckily for the Doom Patrol's legacy (and our comic, 16/52) someone does remember: a boy genius named Mycroft Caulder. At the start of Issue #1 he's just beaten out his numerous siblings to be the first to unlock a puzzle left behind by the missing Dr. Niles Caulder, thus winning legitimacy and becoming the Chief's legal heir. But along with the land and patent rights comes an obligation: form a new team and track down what happened to the old. Still, a world-spanning adventure is leagues better than spending another semester stuck in the Caulder Institute for Higher Leaning, so of course Mycroft is up for it.

Armed with a series of clues and backed up by a few friends from the Caulder Institute and a computer AI named Milicent, Mycroft begins his quest. His first stop? Deep beneath the Arctic Ocean where the severed head of Robotman is worshiped as a god by a small tribe of aboriginal Atlanteans. How the head got there, it does not know, remembering only a powerful backhanded impact and the sensation of flight soon followed by the sensation of sinking. Robotman's memory isn't all there, having been scrambled a bit by the fight and subsequent dreamwalking sessions performed on it by the tribe. Still, Cliff (what's left of him) is eager to go, even if that means Mycroft and his retinue have to steal him from the tribe.

Which they do, earning their enmity and gaining a new foe, the Dream-Hunter Aituserk, charged by the shamans of the tribe to follow the team and reclaim their god before punishing them for their sacrilege...

Of course, trying to plot out the adventures of Doom Patrol is like banging your head against the wall while on some of the choicest substances pharmacology can offer. The spectre of Grant Morrison hangs heavy over this team, almost to the point where I have to wonder if they can even really be reconstructed after being so thoroughly deconstructed. So, yeah, there will be a lot of weirdness in DP, for example:

  • Mycroft is of course a clone of the Chief, designed to compete against other clones at the Institute.
  • This clone setup was put in place by Dr. Caulder as a sort of final option in the event his entire team goes missing. Since Mycroft "won" the genetic trigger that is present in the rest of the clones won't flip, so he doesn't have to worry about mutating or melting down into a sort of genetic slurry.
  • His friends from the Institute do, of course. They could go at any time - the fact they didn't immediately get triggered when Mycroft became heir is slightly troubling.
  • The reason being is that Caulder's arch-foe The Brain has co-opted the process. Standing in as the AI Milicent, the Brain hopes to use Caulder's own 'kin' to track down the Chief and make sure he's dead.
  • The Chief is, of course, not dead. He's stuck in limbo on tiny Codsville Island which was ripped from reality by the death-throes of Dominus three years ago. He's made a nice, lonely life for himself there, living in a hut carved out of Elasti-Girl's giant skull. 
  • In addition to the ghost of Elasti-Girl, Caulder's only company on the island is Larry Trainor, the Negative Man. Trainor can use his abilities to send messages to the real world, traveling there with some effort in his spirit form.
  • Cauler himself can't leave the island. He was wounded in the fight with Dominus and to leave the island would hasten his death. Thus his plan is to help Mycroft (or whichever clone ends up searching for him) reach the island so he can then take over the cloned body and escape.
  • The person needed to help Caulder escape? Vox.
  • Mycroft and his team really are just pawns in the ongoing fight between Caulder and the Brain. At the end of the first volume, when Caulder manages to get free of the island but is forced to take over multiple Caulder Institute clone bodies, becoming a the Caulder Chorus, he'll be the main badguy for a while as he works to reshape the world in his image.
Add into the mix new antagonists like Aituserk and classic foes like Madam Rouge or General Immortus and Doom Patrol will have fertile ground for most of the Drewniverse's weirdness. Mycroft is an Artemis Fowl-type hero, a stuck up little snot most of the time sure, but one who will do the right thing in the end. His eventually stable roster of Doom Patrol members will include a rebuilt Robotman; Spindle, one of the clones from the Institute who is able to stretch her body ala Mister Fantastic; I'cloz the Jellyfish, a psychic hydroza from an alternate Earth's past; and Lady Mab, the deposed Queen of the Fae, now six inches of pissed off regal fury. Stories will be messed up by default, with an emphasis on symbolism and dreams. The Doom Patrol will eventually be acknowledged as heroes by the rest of the superhero community with Batman noting that whenever an adventure starts to give him a headache, that's a clear sign the Doom Patrol is about to show up.

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