Friday, July 1, 2011

Whither Robin?

Robin is a tricky character in all his/her incarnations. As one of the first (and definitely best known) sidekicks, Robin's place in the DC Pantheon is assured. It's just that the modern implications of Robin make things so difficult. There has been a lot of baggage with this character over the years, stuff we'll have to deal with before we even get to picking the candidates for the Drewniverse's Boy Hostage.

Let's start with the big one: Robin's age.

First, Robin was created as a way of increasing youthful readership. Having a Boy Wonder attached to Batman gave kids a character they could identify with and live vicariously through. But has that age passed? The average comic reader is significantly older than they used to be, so is having an eight (to ten) year old sidekick really needed anymore? Also, given extensive investigation on my part as to the popularity of High School Musical (Step #1: Grab teen by collar. Step #2: Shout "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?"), it turns out that kids these days are not as interested in characters of their own age so much as characters that are just a bit older. Call it the Cool Older Sibling complex or whatever, but the kids who liked HSM were not in high school.

Second, nowadays, having an adult character pal around with a child in tights is Just Not Done. There were whiffs of this back in the day when Alfred got replaced by Aunt Harriet for awhile. Worries about pedophilia aside, there's also the whole "how could a responsible adult put a child in danger" angle. Of course, we have characters such as Pokemon's Ash and friends whom nobody seems to mind the fact they are essentially hobos wandering around the countryside picking fights with other hobos using wild animals. 

Third, in the setting, it took years and years of training for Batman to get to a skill level that was required to fight crime. Dick may have had a leg up on Bruce from the starting point of general athletics being a gymnast and all, but that doesn't mean the kid knows how to fight or ninja climb a wall. Those skills take time. Looking at Dick's timeline, we have his parents dying, Bruce identifying with the kid and adopting him, Dick finding out who Batman is, and then, what? Five years of training in order to become capable of accompanying Batman on a mission? So if we took Dick at his youngest (8) AND assumed that Bruce threw money at the legal system in order to adopt him super quickly AND that he left the door to the Batcave open during Dick's first week at Wayne Manor, that means at best Robin will be starting his sidekick career around 13. While this is fine for our Dick Grayson as he'll be leaving the role of Robin after filling it for 1/2 a SU (so 5-7 years), making him 18-20, just old enough for the "college" of the Titans, it makes picking his replacement a tricky proposition.

The second bit of baggage is why the heck would Batman want a sidekick in the first place? With Dick, you can get away with it somewhat. Batman is still youngish and prone to being impulsive. He was there when Dick's parents died and that no doubt brought back memories of his own. There's a bond of shared experience there and quite a bit of emotional transaction. Dick gets father figure and the chance to strike back at those who hurt him, while Bruce gets to live a bit of the childhood he denied himself through Robin's eyes, plus he gets to be the Action Dad he so wanted his own father to be in the dark alley.

So how does Batman replace that? Emotional bonds aside, if he's become accustomed to having a sidekick, we'll have to assume that he figured out that Dick would grow up and leave the nest at some point, and thus the Master Planner aspect of Bats would kick in and he'd go about arranging for a replacement. Given a five year lead time on training alone, that means that he'd have to have started looking for a replacement Robin from pretty much the moment Dick put on the cape. Awwwkkkwwwaarrddd!

There is an easy way around all this, of course, that that's Option D (for Damian). Damian Wayne, as the son of Bruce and a member of a supersect of terrorist assassins from birth would have the training and connection to pretty much hit the ground running. Which means we can't use him right now and instead must save him for 5-7 years down the road when the current Robin needs to move on.

So who are our candidates and what does each bring to the table? Like Batman villains, who each are some sort of dark reflection of some facet of Batman, Robins need to be little reflections as well. There has to be some common aspect between Batman and his Robin du jour. Dick matched Bruce by way of dead parents and physicality, for example. Each candidate would be adolescents at the start of their career as Robin.

  • Jason Todd (The Crusader) - Of the candidates, Jason Todd is perhaps the most driven. Growing up as pretty much an orphan in the slums around Crime Alley, Jason had to do everything himself. His original motivation wasn't a sense of justice or anything, but survival. He did what he needed to do to survive. Nobody else would help him. Over time, this changed into rage. Jason knows first hand how sick a system Gotham is and has a good idea what must be done to correct it. He would come to Batman's notice by waging a one boy war on some of the gangs of Crime Alley, cementing his candidacy when he then tried to steal the Batmobile's tires ("I can live for a year by selling these. You'll have them replaced in a week. Who needs them more, Batman?")
  • Tim Drake (The Detective) - The most intellectual of the candidates. He's able to make connections between desperate facts, follow the sometimes twisted logic of Gotham's underworld, and intuit the motivations of people he just met. As a 'fan' of the exploits of Batman and Robin, he spent a lot of his idle time following their career, even to the point of figuring our their secret identities. When his own parents pass away mysteriously, he gathers the information he has about their deaths, and then tracks down Bruce Wayne and demands he does something about it as Batman. ("Being able to prove it and being able to do something about it are two different things, Mr. Wayne. Now, will you help me do something?")
  • Stephanie Brown (The Knight) -  As the daughter of third-rate criminal The Cluemaster, Stephanie saw first hand the impact criminal endeavors have, not just on the victims, but on the perpetrators themselves. Her father was always talking about 'just one more score' then he could quit, but that day never came. She took it upon herself to spoil his plans, trying to force him to quit the criminal life cold turkey while saving others from the misery her father's actions could cause. More so than Jason or Tim, Stephanie does what she does for the sake of others, not just out of some drive for justice or intellectual pursuit. She honestly feels like this is the best way for her to help others, to defend those who cannot defend themselves (sometimes from themselves). ("About time you showed up, Batman. You take the one on the left.")
Each of these options give the future Robin a bit of a leg up on the training required to take the job and would be known to Batman before the departure of Dick Grayson. They'll all need some further refinement, of course, but that means we could have them guest in other titles before joining up with Batman on a permanent basis. Each also has an alternate crimefighting identity should they not be picked to be the next Robin. Jason could become Red Hood on his own, ever willing to do the hard thing, to carve the cancer out of the patient no matter how painful. Tim would likely take on the role of The Oracle, assisting other crimefighters by making connections they couldn't make themselves, organizing lone vigilantes into a real unified force. As The Spoiler, Stephanie would continue to thwart the plans of her father and the rest of Gotham's criminal element, helping those who don't even know they need it.

So who is it gonna be?

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Poor Hawkman. This dude has been rebooted, what, three times at least? More if you count Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman as essentially reboots of the character.

In his career, Hawkman has been an archeologist (Carter Hall), a space cop (Katar Hol), and an angel (Zauriel). Weirdly, he tends to be presented as some sort of super-gruff, violent Wolverine-type character, which is pretty much at odds with what I think of when I think of an archeologist. Maybe you can get a bit of 'contempt of cop' fueling Hawkman's rage in his Thanagarian formation, but I dislike space cops for all the reasons I outlined in the Green Lantern entry. The angelic version is pretty interesting, but that opens wide a whole lot of doors that are best kept barely cracked (so Phantom Stranger can flit through).

So what is the Essential Hawkman? Muscly dude with wings, a bird hat, hand to hand combat, and a bad temper. Really, I see him as a sort of flying Conan and that's the frame we're going to build him around. I think the Conan model works well for Hawkman - he doesn't seem to have any notable supervillains all his own, so he needs to be a bit more proactive when it comes to his stories. So instead of Stopping Bad Guy X's Plan adventures, Hawkman will be more This Is Another Fine Mess I've Got Myself In To.

Let's get Carter Hall into a mess of Nth Metal to start. As mentioned in the Captain Atom entry, following the arrival of Superman on the world stage and the revelation that he isn't human, searching for alien artifacts from previous visitations has become a pretty big deal. Reverse engineering alien technology has allowed some aspects of science to progress by leaps and bounds, so it stands to reason there is a market for all that old junk. So our Carter is not an archeologist so much as a professional treasure hunter/tomb robber.

Carter spends much of his early career acting as a sort of consultant in the legally grey area of artifact reclamation. He travels the world helping governments and other organizations get a their grubby paws on alien artifacts and played a part in not only the recovery of the powersource that made Captain Atom what she is today, but the ship that lead to the creation of the August General In Iron in China.

He would almost be a noble rogue Indiana Jones figure if it were not for the fact that he's using these government-sponsored travels as a cover for his own hunting. Carter has in his possession a Victorian journal "liberated" from the British Museum that once belonged to Jim Craddock. It seems that back in the day, Gentleman Jim raided the Museum's collection and sold of many strange and wondrous items discovered in an Egyptian tomb by Napoleon's soldiers and later taken as spoils of war by the victorious English. Carter now has the clues as to where these artifacts are and from their description, knows they're worth a pretty penny.

Carter's quest to track down the missing Implements of Osiris will make a nice back-up feature for his title. Needless to say, he of course obtains an almost full set of Nth Metal tools, thus getting the bits he needs to become Hawkman. The Nth Metal lets him fly, helps him regenerate, makes him stronger, all that good stuff. Also, Nth Metal is sort of like a psychic sponge, absorbing the memories and knowledge of its past users. This is where Hawkman's "past lives" come in to play - he's not a reincarnation of an Egyptian prince, he just has all the dude's memories via the Nth. The more Nth metal the previous user had, the easier it is for Carter to access their memories. Thus Prince Khufu looms large because he had an almost complete set, but with some effort, Carter can access the other users' who only had one or two items.

Which is convenient, if you think about it, as most of the people who bought the items from Jim Craddock also had other treasures hidden away, which Carter now knows about. Hawkman in a Rogues In The House-style fight against a steampunk gorilla as he tries to raid the hidden lab of a forgotten Civil War inventor? Yes, please. He may also be able to access the memories of those whom he uses the weapons on, but we'll save that ability for a power-creep upgrade down the road.

As for recurring foes, we've got Gentleman Ghost who no doubt wants his journal back, plus the mysterious Hath-Set. In the Drewniverse, Hath-Set isn't so much a person anymore, instead he's the psychic imprint of the murderous priest from Khofu's days. The one Nth Metal artifact Hawkman lacks is Hath-Set's sacrificial dagger, an object that absorbed not only the priest's memories but his will as well. Now the dagger can control those who wield it and it wants more Nth Metal to add to its power.

So there's Hawkman. The only thing missing? Hawkgirl. I'm still on the fence about to deal with her. I suspect I'll follow the lead of the DCAU and have her be an actual alien from Thanagar, rather than some dude in a bird suit. If I did that, I'd make her an agent of the Thanagarian Empire sent to Earth to reclaim its lost Nth Metal possessions, which would make her start out as an antagonist to Carter Hall despite being pretty much like him, except on a galactic scale.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Green Arrow

Let's take a little break from group politics and think about a guy. This guy lives in the Northwest in a city bisected by water. Though he is wealthy, he is extremely liberal and cares deeply about many social causes. He dresses in a deliberately anachronistic manner and most of his favored possessions are bespoke or invoke days long gone by. He has an ongoing on-and-off again with a woman who has a history of depression and a penchant for fishnets. Some of his other friends struggle with drug addiction.

So are we talking about Green Arrow fighting crime in Star City or your average twenty-something resident of Portland, OR, tooling around on his penny-farthing?

Well, in the Drewniverse, we're talking about both.

Oliver Queen, such wasted potential! While his father was alive, the boy was everything a Fortune 500 dad could ask for. Smart, handsome, outgoing, and fiercely competitive. But when the senior Queen's private plane crashed on the way to the Summer Olympics, Oliver's life fell apart. He dropped out of the competition, even though he was a shoo-in for archery gold, and started to reassess his life. His father's fortune was his, Queen Industries there for the taking, but is that what young Oliver really wanted? He could spend his life increasing his fortune, but for what end? All it takes is a freak wind and all your work is for nothing, your 'friends' lining up to pick over your corpse and claim your accomplishments.

Oliver's mother is no help. Accustomed to living a certain way, she really ratchets up the pressure on her son to step into his father's shoes. Unable to take it anymore, Oliver sets up a trust for his mom, abandons his responsibility to his father's company, and heads for the coast. He is 21, rich, and free. He takes his time getting to Star City, having plenty of Route 66 style adventures on the long dusty roads that crisscross America. It's on these adventures that he gets a sense of how the other half, the underprivileged, live. At first he tries throwing money at the problems he encounters, but that just seems to make things worse. Dumping money on a broken system has about as much chance of fixing it as pouring gasoline of a campfire will put it out.

So by the time Ollie (Oliver no more!) gets to Star City, he's ready for the next stage of his life. First things first, however. If he's going to help the average working class American, he needs to live like one. Get a job, a crappy apartment, try to ween himself from over-reliance on his personal fortune. He succeeds at the first two pretty easily, getting a job at and a room above a flower shop. Cutting himself off from the money, though, proves to be pretty hard. Star City is a mecca for artists and artisans, most of whom are scrambling to get by working as barristas or barstaff or other low paying jobs in order to fund their art. Before long, Ollie finds himself become a quiet patron of the arts. Having trouble making rent this month? Well, I would love a pair of your custom made shoes fashioned from reclaimed tires. Here, let me pay you now, just get'm to me whenever.

While the artsy types are usually too self absorbed to put two and two together that some dude that works at a flower shop is able to afford bouquets of iron roses or hand woven capes, Ollie's boss at the flower shop is much more keen. Then again, if you were a retired covert operative like Dinah Drake, you'd tend to notice things too. She figures out who Ollie is and talks to him about it, telling him that just because you are becoming a new person doesn't mean you have to abandon everything about who you were. This inspires Ollie enough to pick up a used bow from the Amsterdam Street Swap Meet with the intent on getting back into archery.

His call to action comes that night when a gang of men attempt to break into the florist shop. Not knowing about Dinah's past, Ollie assumes they are simple thieves and ends up fighting them off with use of his bow. He doesn't have any arrows, so is forced to make do with things laying around the store - gardening stakes, a tamping trowels, and even a small sapling stuck in a flower pot. Dinah assists and in the ensuing fight reveals that she is quite a bit more capable at hand to hand combat than Ollie would have thought. After the fight, the truth comes out about her past. Ollie, feeling a sense of purpose for the first time in awhile, asks that she train him.

And so Green Arrow's career begins. Our Issue #1 (19/52) will be the start of his Year One adventures. Using his money to buy 'art' from the maker community, he assembles the tools of his trade. Anything requiring more complex parts than a boxing glove arrow can be sourced from his mentor Dinah's contacts. He starts his crimefighting career simply - going after gangs, slumlords, sweatshop owners, and the like, slowly building a local reputation. He might even develop a rival or two ("Poser! I was running around shooting arrows first!"). Additionally, there's always the threat of shadowy figures from Dinah's past weighing in, wanting some bit of information that they think she has.

Of course, it's not the arrival of superspies or mercenaries from Dinah's past that will have the most impact on Ollie - it's the arrival of her daughter that will really change his life.

But that's a story for a future issue.

And for going this entire entry without using the term "The Green Hipster," I deserve a Coke!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Justice League

I had been waiting to do this one until I rebooted all the players involved, but with leak of the DCnU's Justice League membership, I figured I'd bump up my version.

So let's take a look at what DC's doing:
Working from the front, no huge surprises. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are all automatic includes. Same goes for Flash and Green Lantern. Aquaman? Yeah, I guess so, but as I mentioned in my previous entry on the character, he has way too many Superfriends connotations to be an automatic lock. Cyborg? Ungh. I can see why DC put him in, but it's a really cynical move that ends up highlighting the lack minorities rather than doing something about it.

Then we have the side characters: Deadman, Atom, Element Woman (from Flashpoint, so, yay?), Firestorm, Green Arrow, Hawkman, some woman with a mystery haircut (rebooted Power Girl?), and Meera, Aquaman's wife. I guess Meera gave her husband a ride to the photoshoot and the photographer was all like "I have some extra film left and you guys paid me for the entire hour, so..."

The part of Sir Not Appearing In This Film will be played by Martian Manhunter.

Not a great team. Not a horrible one, mind you. There were some dark days in the 80s.

Casting the Justice League is not an easy task. Not only are they the premier team in the DC universe, but they sort of represent the entirety of the setting. This is why people are so watchful regarding the inclusion of women and minorities. Otherwise, you end up with a poster that essentially reads: DC Comics: By White Dudes, For White Dudes.

It's also why I'm dropping the "of America" part of the team's title. I think DC is doing the same, or at least I hope they are or the ruling monarchs of Atlantis got some 'splainin to do to their subjects.

So who's in my League? Well, keeping to the DC set format of seven primaries and eight alternates, here we go:

  • Superman - Auto-include. As mentioned in his entry, the Justice League was essentially Lois Lane's idea. After a few team ups with other heroes, she suggested that maybe Clark can find a way to get some of the other heroes to cover for him? Maybe she pulled some strings with Batman and Wonder Woman just to be sure, "You know how he is. He'll never willingly take a break himself."
  • Batman - Another auto-include, even though membership in the League is sort of outside his purview and maybe even a few punches above his weight class. It was mentioned in the comments section (hee, people comment here now. You have no idea how giddy that makes me) that Batman's role in Justice League One Million is to keep an eye on the rest of the heroes for the same of humanity. I suspect he'll be performing a similar role here, maybe even to the point of forming his own side team to keep in reserve just in case.
  • Wonder Woman - Not only is Diana individually powerful, she has the most tactical and team-based experience of the group. Hell, she should probably be the leader.
  • Green Lantern - John Stewart version, as you recall. Given the sort of loose guidelines the Corps operate under, it makes sense that a well-meaning John would sign up with a bunch of other heroes. The Council of Oa is probably not too thrilled at his membership as it does divide his loyalties a bit and encourages the use of non-Ring powers to solve problems, but they can't really say anything, can they?
  • Flash - Barry was probably guilted into joining. Fighting world-threatening foes is probably a bit more than he wants to do, but he can't just say no.
  • Captain Atom - Starting to get into my reboots now. Captain Atom is a heavy weight power, plus since she has ties to the US government, her presence would go a long way towards calming the fears of the world's one remaining superpower.
  • Dr. Light - The Kimiyo Hoshi version, obviously, not the rapist. She's one of those characters I had hoped to get into later, so I'll leave this brief. She has a heavyweight powerset and a top notch scientific mind.
So there's the core seven. If demographics matter, that's four men, three women, three minorities, and only four Americans.

Before we get into the eight alternates, a few words on the criteria I have for League membership. First, the Justice League should only consist of heavyweight powers. The general rule of thumb I'm using to see if someone is tall enough to ride this ride is the Godzilla Test. Basically, if Godzilla wandered into a city, could a given lone hero stand a chance of stopping him? If yes, then you're eligible for League membership. If no and your name is not Batman, then sorry, the Justice Society, Outsiders, Secret Six, Titans, and Suicide Squad recruiting booths are down the hall. The arrival of any four core members of the Justice League to a conflict should be a "this shit just got real" moment. 

This leaves out a bunch of heroes from the DC version: Deadman and Green Arrow to start with. Given that I have other plans for these two, that suits me fine.

So who else?

  • The Atom - Another superscientist never hurt. Ray Palmer could pass the Godzilla Test, either by pulling a Jean Loring or just making the beast Fun Sized.
  • The Red Tornado - Pretty good powerset, plus as a robot it lets someone else be the Worf who gets the crap beat out of him whenever a new badass shows up. I see Tornado filling the role that Martian Manhunter did in Justice League: coordination and communication. My version of Tornado is akin to Moore's Swamp Thing (a robot that dreamed it was a man) so when times get really tough, we could see a few dozen of them deployed at once.
  • Stargirl - Take Courtney Whitmore, add a dash of Booster Gold, and you have our Stargirl. She's from the future where she is just one member of a large-ish superhero family. So she came back in time to when she could do some good on her own. The fact that she's joined up with a team means that she might be in a bit over her head, something that Rocket Red never fails to point out.
  • Black Adam - Yes, he's a supervillain, but so what? Does that mean he can't be interested in saving the world? Kahndaq is part of the world, after all. He just has a bad reputation in the West is all. Besides, I'd rather a thousands of years old supervillain be saving my planet than some pre-teen with a magic word.
  • August General In Iron - I just love the dude's name. Plus, as a rising power, we need to get at least one Chinese hero up ins. A super-strong, nigh-indestructible soldier with a bladed staff that can cut through almost anything would make short work of Godzilla, plus he has that all important tactical experience that's needed in these team efforts.
  • Vixen - We're ramping up her powers somewhat, but as a hero with innate access to the abilities of all animal life on the planet, I think Mari can make the cut. Plus I want another "punching hero" as opposed to a "blasting hero" like Light or Stargirl.
  • Rocket Red - When Dmitri Pushkin saw what his country was using the supersuits he designed for, he was aghast. When attempted to withhold his final design, agents of the Russian government, corrupted by the mafia, threatened his family. He died defending them, giving his wife and daughter time to escape with his notes. Now his daughter Galina has rebuilt and improved upon her father's design. She pretty much showed up when the Justice League was founded and demanded membership, not taking no for an answer.
  • Aztek - The Ultimate Man, fuck yeah! Sure, he might have been grown in a vat in Mexico somewhere, but the jury is still out as to whether or not he's actually the champion of the god Quetzalcoatl or some human-alien hybrid wielding fantastic technology. Think Ultimate Thor here.
And there we go. You'll notice a few missing people from the roster, namely Supergirl, Cyborg, Power Girl, Firestorm, and Martian Manhunter. They all will make the cut later on in the series, but some of them, like Firestorm, don't even have their powers yet. Supergirl is still getting her grounding in the Justice Society, which I'm keeping around as the "so you grew up with superpowers and we want to make sure you learn to use them responsibly" group. Cyborg I'm keeping a teen with the Titans (who are led/guided by Mr. Terrific, another notable name missing from the list). Given the names above, it's pretty clear there will be some vacancies opening up in the future, especially following Black Adam's sudden if inevitable betrayal. I'm also enamored with the idea of a Stargirl/Rocket Red spin-off. Maybe a new Birds of Prey?

Title-wise, Justice League gets two. Justice League (17/52) and Justice League Task Force (18/52). The former will focus on the Big Seven (or Five) dealing with world-shaking events, while Task Force is more for the alternates plus a few of the A-List in "remember that one time..." style adventures. There will be a Justice League International-style title, but it will be different in scope and probably name (The United?) featuring heroes who work under the sanction of the United Nations rather than ones who just sanctioned themselves.

How they interact with the Justice League will be interesting to see.

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.