Contents: The Doom Patrol #102 (March 1966) to #121 (October 19686)
Key Creator Credits: Arnold Drake, Bruno Premiani, Bob Brown, and others
Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Doom Patrol Vol. 1
Overview: They’re back! The quirkiest, kookiest, uncanniest heroes in all of DC Comics – the Doom Patrol! Led by the Chief, the various members of the Doom Patrol (Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man, Mento, and Beast Boy) find ways to save the world without killing each other in the process.
As a friendly reminder, the Doom Patrol is comprised of people that society deems as freaks or outcasts. Robotman has a human brain inside a robot shell. Elasti-Girl is a beautiful actress who can shape her body into any form. Negative Man keeps his body wrapped up in bandages to help hide the negative form inside his body. The world says that these people should serve no purpose anymore. But the Chief knows he can mold these outcasts into heroes.
But despite all the standard super-hero fighting, life still goes on for these characters. Elasti-Girl and Mento fall in love and get married. (Naturally, their ceremony is disrupted by the Brotherhood of Evil.) The new copule even go so far as to adopt Beast Boy into their family.
But just when you think things are finally clicking for these offbeat characters, the end came for the Doom Patrol, figuratively and literally. In issue #121, the series came to an abrupt end. The team faced off against General Zahl, who put them in a bind by having to decide between their lives and the lives of an innocent town. The Doom Patrol agreed to save the town, and the core members (Chief, Robotman, Elasti-Girl, and Negative Man) appeared to be destroyed in an explosion. The final panels end with series creators Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani putting a challenge out to the readers to determine if the Doom Patrol should ever return.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: I still want to recommend this book to anyone interested in the concept or the characters. But I don’t think I liked this one nearly as much as Volume 1. The initial issues in this collection mirror the comics in the last collection. But about halfway through the book, the title takes an odd turn. It feels like the villains become cast members of the title, appearing on a monthly basis. Part of the charm of the a good comic, for me at least, is rotating the foes around each issue. If the foes are in every issue, than it just feels like a bad TV sitcom. Give this book a look, but don’t be surprised if you go back to Volume 1 more often.
Footnotes: In 1973, DC re-started The Doom Patrol for three issues – sort of. Continuing the numbering from where it left off in 1968, DC published issues #122 to #124, but all three comics were reprints of early Doom Patrol stories that can be found in Showcase Presents Doom Patrol Vol. 1. Maybe DC was trying to test the waters to see if there was still interest in the concept? Needless to say, it did not appear to gain a foothold in 1973 beyond these three issues.
CIA (Comic In Animation): Over 40 years after the initial release of the issue, Doom Patrol #121 was adapted in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. In an episode from season 2 titled “The Last Patrol!”, the Doom Patrol must come out of retirement to stop all of their former foes. Despite having the Caped Crusader helping them out, the Doom Patrol still finds themselves faced with the choice to sacrifice their lives so that others may live.
If you like this volume, try: The Doom Patrol relaunch from 1987 by Paul Kupperberg, Steve Lightle, and Eric Larsen. In the DC Universe following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a new Doom Patrol rises up. It’s a mixed team, with members from the classic 1960s line-up shown in this Showcase Presents, plus members from the mid-1970s reboot done by Kupperberg and Joe Staton in Showcase #94-96. This is an interesting take on the characters, and for many readers (including yours truly) this was their first exposure to the Doom Patrol concept. The original issues had the team headquarters based in Union Station in Kansas City, which made me quite happy. (It was only after the fact that I learned that the artist Steve Lightle also lived here!) This version of the team ran for 18 issues, plus an annual and a special that crossed over with the Suicide Squad, but it often gets overlooked as it was immediately followed by the start of Grant Morrison’s legendary take on the concept. Outside of the Suicide Squad special, these issues have not been reprinted, so you will need to dive into some back-issue bins to track these down.