So I should do some DC rebirth stuff right? Let's check out the new Doom Patrol series. I have covered Doom Patrol before, here and here. It was the Keith Giffen run that was cancelled when the New 52 debuted. Although the Doom Patrol was still in existence during that dark period it didn't have a comic of its own until this one, which is about version six of the team. The Doom Patrol has had a many shifting line-up over its various incarnations since it's inception in the '60s. This one draws very heavily from the hyper-surreal and much loved Grant Morrison run. I'll talk more about the old characters as they are reintroduced into this story. The Doom Patrol has always been an interesting wrinkle in the oh so perfect heroism of the DC Verse. A group of shunned and screwed up characters, alienated from wider society and also the superhero community and lead by a genius who uses a wheelchair. And it's not an X-Men ripoff, it actually debuted a few weeks before the first X-Men comic. Just one of those weird examples of synchronicity life sometimes throws up. The writer is Gerard Way who appears to be in a popular beat combo "My Chemical Romance". I know nothing about them apart from the fact it's the favourite band of Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, erstwhile star of the infamous Harry Potter fanfic "My Immortal." But I don't think I can blame him for that. Art is by Nick Derington and Tom Fowler and spoilers, I LOVE it. I'll gush more in the conclusion as we get underway with DC's new Doom Patrol on the mature readers label, "Young Animal".
We begin with new character Casey Brinke driving an ambulance at high speed while paramedic Samson is in the back reassuring their patient that he won't be dying just yet. After delivering the patient we then enter Casey's thoughts, her name is Casey Brinke "and I only want to do good things". Her mother told her to be a bright light in a black hole just before she flew into the sun.
Casey: "So I stay bright... I stay white hot... I know this inside and out. I'm new to the unit but I've been doing this as long as I can remember... which I think is a very long time. I can't tell.. I'm tired but not jaded."
She plays an old Space Invaders type arcade machine while Sam eats a gyro (appears to be a type of wrap). He notes that she's really into that old machine, as she plays she thinks how you see things on this job "that make you want to put your brain through a car wash.. but I'll still hold your hand." In the ambulance she's everything, in the ambulance "I'm home."
|Samson and Casey.|
Casey thinks maybe they are all inside someone else's gyro. Sam tosses what's left in a bin saying they could be, or it could be nothing at all. Then we enter the gyro, there a hooded figure fights his way to a control room. He removes his hood to reveal Cliff Steele, member of the Doom Patrol since day one, a living brain in a robot body. He smashes his fist on a button labelled "launch" and he comes exploding out on the bin, just as Casey and Sam are called away to a hit and run.
In a derelict building a hobo is checking bricks saying "Danny. Is that you? Is that you? Give me a sign Danny... give me a sign." He yells out Danny's name then slumps to the floor asking to be left alone. Then we get a page entitle "What's going on with Niles Caulder". He's the wheelchair bound genius behind the Doom Patrol. He's playing on some synthesizers.
Casey and Sam are where they were called too but nothing is there. Over the radio she hears a new voice saying random stuff and that she can call her "Em". Her new voice from beyond. Then they spot Cliff staggering along behind them and he gets hit by a lorry which smashes him to bits. Casey starts gathering up the parts while Sam wonders what they'll tell dispatch.
|The Vectra and the Gloams.|
The angular alien says they have found an "unending, regenerating supply of stress-free meat? Basically at no cost." The lumpy aliens say they better get them the meat. The angular alien continues saying:
Alien: "Our agents have discovered the existence of a sentient organic generator sprawl. The sprawl is capable of generating and sustaining life die to some kind of spike in its energy factors. The plan is to locate, infiltrate, invade, and capture the source, then torture the sprawl into producing product. We even have a whole ad campaign worked out... we call it Danny Burgers"
Back at Casey's flat which she shares with a grouchy man and a cat called "Lotion", Casey has dumped a boxful of Cliff's parts on the counter. Then someone knocks on the door, he opens it and it's a woman who does a little song and dance routine which culminates in her wishing Casey a happy birthday and exploding her flatmate.
As bits of him fall from the ceiling, Casey says it's not her birthday. The woman says that never happened before, but Casey looks like she could use a new flatmate and so she invites herself in. Then she sees Cliff's head groaning and gets all excited. She unscrews the top of his head to take a look at his brain, then introduces herself to Casey as "Terry None".
|Enter Terry None and a dismantled Cliff Steele.|
She enters the living room and finds Terry None has completely rebuilt Cliff Steele. Apart from his brain whch is lying in a bath of nutrients. Apparently Casey's cat Lotion has got attached to the brain. Outside Samson is calling for her. Casey shouts down out of the window that she thought they were off today. But Sam says he got a call and when he left the house the ambulance was outside. There is a call which demands they come to the scene of an intoxicated man who has been injured.
Terry None leaves and when Caseys asks what she should do with the Robot Man? "Up to you" Terry says and departs. We then get another single page of what Niles Caulder is up too. He is in a hot air balloon and flies past his face carved in the rock. Casey and Sam arrive at the scene and find Larry Trainor writhing on the ground talking mad stuff:
Larry: "I can hear a black dog pissing on a pile of broken glass... the city doesn't want you to knoww it hates our guts... but I'm herem I'm not pretending! I'm am the negative space in a negative world."
Larry Trainor is another orginal Doom Patrol member, his body usually is swathed in bandages due to the power of the Negative Spirit inside him. Sam kneels by him and asks if he can move as the police leave them to it.
Larry sits up saying he was actually trying to get arrested. He gets Larry's dark glasses off and examines his eyes which are pure black. He says that's new and asks Larry if he's been doing any drugs. Larry says no "I am a pilot and an upstanding citizen." Samson invites him to come with them, as the cops want to take him away to dry out. So Larry shakes his hand and comes with Casey and Sam.
Inside Casey's flat Cliff comes around to find he's tied up by the angular aliens who have put his brain back in his head. They point guns at him and demands to know where the girl who drives the ambulance is. Cliff says he knows nothing about that, "but I hope you creeps are hungry because you're going to be eating a lot of my shit."
|Cliff has no time for this crap.|
While on the way to the hospital with Larry, they hear a call to go to Casey's address and so Casey starts driving there instead. Samson says that they have a patient with a serious eye infection, they should be going to the E.R. Larry starts telling Samson he needs to get angry, he needs the negative energy, "it's the only thing that'll make the sick and horrible noise go away!" Samson says he is almost at angry and Larry vomits up black fluid.
Cliff stands in the wreckage of Casey's flat and starts bonding with Lotion the cat. Then more armed angular aliens arrive and open fire. Cliff goes flying outside through the hole on the outside facing wall. Cliff lands on the pavement and Lotion goes running off. The aliens follow and a big brawl happens and he takes them all out just as Casey arrives.
She stands looking up at the mess of her home and says "my place... my cat! Where's my cat?!" Cliff and Larry reunite, Larry embraces Ciff in a manly hug. He babbles that his head is full of bad vibes and he can't think straight. It's the "Negative Spirit." Cliff says he's going to put some trousers on and tells Larry to come with him.
|Cliff and Larry reunited.|
Later Samson and Casey are in trouble for diverting the ambulance. They are both suspended pending an investigation. Samson leaves and Casey checks the ambulance finding the door open which she was sure she locked. Suddenly a singing voice rings out from the cab. Casey shouts "What is going on?"
The voice tells her to simmer down and as she crawls into the cab wondering how she can hear a voice when the radio isn't turned on, the voice says "do you ever wonder if you've already gotten to where you are going?" Then the ambulane disappears and Casey finds herself in a hotel dining room. A man wearing only a pair of leopard skin shorts introduces himself as Flex Mentallo, he's from the Grant Morrison era, the man of "Muscle Mystery" based on the old Charles Atlas adverts.
Flex Mentallo leads Casey up to the stage saying everyon here knows who Casey Brinke is, and opens the curtain on a fantasy "Dannyland" with a parade of people holding "Welcome Back Casey" flags. This place is of course "Danny The Street", also another Grant Morrison era character he's a sentient street that likes to sneak around cities putting himself in various places and attracts weird and wonderful folk who are often down on their luck and cares for them, giving them a place to call home. Obviously he's had a bit of an upgrade now.
|Flex Mentallo introduces Casey to Dannyland.|
Flex Mentallo: "Everyone is happy in Dannyland. There's no pain, there's no suffering... there is only joy. Danny takes care of us all."
Casey asks why Danny exists. Flex Mentallo says they don't know, once Danny was a street, he could teleport to where he needed to go "collecting outsiders as he went. People who didn't fit in." Flex Mentallo himself came here a shell of his former self after being trapped in the "Tearoom of Despair" by the men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Once day those men came back and tried to destroy Danny but they were stopped by the Doom Patrol. After that Danny became a world and Flex Mentallo lost track of him.
But now he's been found again, "and now you're helping us find the others... the Doom Patrol." Casey asks if she is part of the Doom Patrol. Flex Mentallo says "you're part of a lot of things, Casey.." He tells her to take a ride on that boat close by and wishes her luck as she boards it.
Meanwhile in Casey's apartment Larry shows Cliff what's wrong. He has three holes on his chest and a black substance comes poking out making different shapes. Cliff comments "that's not something you seee every day, Larry." Larry says he doesn't know, he has little bits of memory kicking around in his head, he was with the other Doom Patrol members, and he was wrapped in his special bandages because of the dangerous radiation he emitted.
Then something ripped him from the beach, he was pulled light years away into deepest space, "not fully anything... a different kind of nothing." He awoke in a cylinder which was at the front of what looked like a classroom "then there was pain". He felt like he was being ripped apart and sewed together at the same time. He went to sleep, he doesn't know for how long and then woke up on Earth, "myself but not the self I was used to.. and eerie sense that something was after me."
Terry None comes in announcing she has free mushroom pizza. Larry grabs Cliff saying they have to find the Chief. CLiff says "no way. He's a dangerous meglomaniac and the one who caused the accidents that made us freaks in the first place." He says Larry should come with him as they look for Rita and Jane and the others.
|Time for Larry to be judged.|
The angular aliens have found the ambulance Danny is now. They followed Casey's energy to it "does she even know who she is?" one says. They finally give themselves a name, "the Vectra".
Vectra: "...and we are here to ruin everything. We want you to resist! We'd love for you to try to keep us out.. but eventually you'll have to open up.. and lets us come inside."
And they start smashing the ambulance up. Inside Dannyland Casey is taking a wild ride. She hops off the boat and memories come back to her, she remembers "screaming... through decades like star beams. Covered in storm, covered in cosmic rust." She remembers everything all jetfire and peppermint, twilight and disappointment. Dancing nervously with a date. She drops atomics on buildings, "these things happen to me."
|Awesome parody of a famous cover!|
Inside is says that she began life as Casey Brinke, Captain of the St. Michael's Children Hospital Jamboree Fighter Squadron in the pages of Danny Comics. It was an amusement Danny created and sold at the Mom and Pop Soda Shop when he was simply a teleporting street. She was so popular he kept her around, the memories of that time are still in her head.
Then something happened, something bad. But now Danny is more powerful than ever. He used to attract people but now he can create them.
Danny: "But you come from my daydreams, Casey. You're the first superhero I was able to generate. You're made up. But you're real. And I'm so very proud of you."
She is the "Space Case" Captain of the 33rd Novafang Starfighters Brigade "dreaded and feared across the six galaxies." Her day job was caregiver at the Twilight Sun Intergalactic Home for Elderly Care. Which is why she was drawn to being a EMT and why Danny took the form of an ambulance to watch over her, protect her and help her hide. Danny says she can call him Danny or Dad and they need her to help stop the ones who have found them. It's time to join the Doom Patrol. Casey looks annoyed then tosses the comic away saying "That's it... I'm out". Then suddenly a pink furry creature leaps out through the curtains and hugs her saying "FUGG!"
|Casey loses half a leg.|
She is to be restrained and unharmed while the rest of the Vectra enter to harvest the meat, then they'll relocate the sprawl; ie Dannny, for further extraction. We then get another page of what Niles Caulder is doing. He is making a robot man with his face. He activates it and it punches him in the face and leaves.
Terry None relaxes with a book as the Negative Entity grabs Larry's face saying it's time for him to become nothing. Cliff says that's his friend he's messing with. The Negative Entity says they must have witnesses to this joining. Cliff agrees and the Entity zaps both of them away to "the Negative Space." Unpeturbed, Terry returns to her book.
We begin the next chapter with Samson waking up and going to his son's room because he can hear a chant. Lucius is sitting cross-legged in a hooded robe in front of a pentacle and lots of candles. Samson scolds him saying he'll give himself nightmares. Defiantly Lucius says "I'm fifteen. I don't have nightmares anymore". Samson asks why he has to be a sorceror? Lucius says he's not interested on being like normal kids. He says he's "bettering myself through metapyshical exploration". He makes a verbal jab about his dad doing karate again, "we don't talk about my karate!" shouts Samson.
Lucius says they don't talk at all, Samson treats him like he doesn't exist. He says the other kids at school treat him the same, "I got no one there. I got no one here!" He says they are not a family, not even friends. He carries on sayng his mom is never coming back if they don't... but Samson cuts hom off saying his mother is never coming back, ever. He asks Lucius if Samuel is in there? Then he says it doesn't matter and goes to help Lucius's grandmother into bed.
|The Negative Space.|
We then return to her properly, the Robotman appears to be the Niles Caulder one which explains how he could be spying on her through it. She attaches the leg to her stump, then considers the fact she's in "space jail." The is the bearded hobo in there with her and when she mentions Danny he asks her if she knows where he is. He introduces himself as Ricardo, he's a old friend of Danny's and wants to find him.
Casey says he's on his own, she has nothing to say to Danny. Then electricity sparks out of her fingers much to her surprise. The pink alien has an old school tape deck in his stomach. It tells her she has discovered her "bio-surge" ability. She takes out the tape and reads the label which says "Casey Brinke Operating Manual Part 1: Introduction To Powers And Abilites". She puts the tape back in and continues to listen. Using the instructions she shorts out the panel keeping the jail door shut and she, the pink alien and Ricardo walk out.
Back with Larry Trainor and his Negative Spirit "Keeg Bovo", they are told that by partially merging with and then fragmenting the Negative Spirit they have broken the law of Negative Space. It is about to pass sentence when Cliff interrupts that it's missed a mess of proceedure like the part where Larry pleads "not guilty!" N'Hal says says this is a formality and that Larry owes them and enternity of servitude for breaking the firts law of Negative Space. Cliff asks what that law is and N'Hal says it is "do not intefere with the Negative Space".
N'Hal: "By surpassing the limits of man when breaking through the radioactive field, Captain Trainor ripped open a hole in the Negative Space thereby connecting himself permanently to our fabric, conjoining with a Negative Spirit... thus, becoming an extremely important component in a billion year war against evil."
Larry is more than a vessel, he guides the Negative Spirit to act as an agent of balance and they want him to remain so. Cliff asks what about what Larry wants? Maybe he doesn't want to be host to a "radioactive space phantom", maybe he wants to live a normal life.
Larry puts a hand on his shoulder saying "it's okay..." N'Hal says he hadn't thought of that. So it asks Larry if he wants to be "normal?". Larry says no, he wants to be rejoined with the Negative Spirit. He wants to be "someone who helps." If he has to sacrifice his body to save one life or stop one tragedy it's worth it, "to burn against the darkness of this universe, I'd give you everything. Make me the Negative Man".
N'Hal says that was very moving. So they will give him a gift, when he releases the Negative Spirit although his body will remain dormant his consciousness will experience an entire lifetime "you will love, you will learn, you will face hardshi and embrace joy... and as you pass unto death, you shall reawaken, born unto yourself. Fulfilled. Complete." Larry asks if that would be a dream or real. N'Hal responds saying what is a dream? What is life? It is the tangible marks they leave? Or the singular memory you gain? "Welcome home, Captain Trainor."
|The sad fate of Danny.|
Riccardo is gutted, while an annoyed Casey asks if any more bits of her are going to fall off and how do they get out of this place? She tells Danny she feels used and manipulaed, "I'm not even sure which thoughts are mine and which ones you made up in a comic book". She says she is not Danny's "action figure." But she admits she is part of him.
Danny says he never wanted to be a god, he just missed all the people. They used to come to him sad and he made them smile. He gave them a place to belong, "free from judgement. Free from pain". But he was always hunted, so he left this world to become his own. But he was found again and reduced to a single brick. A friend of his called Jane carried him from the wreckage and took him with her.
After a "brief stint as a cabana" (that's from the Keith Gifford run I covered on this blog before) she took him on a trip to see the universe. He made himself brick sized so she could carry him and they flew through space and "we met such fantabulous people." But one day they were stranded on a planet where he was use to do "something terrible". When he came back to his senses afterwards, Jane was gone. But he felt more powerful and as he flew through space alone he thought he'd make his own people, and someone to protect them, that someone was Casey.
He tells her that with her help he can travel back in time to before the Vectra captured them. So they start pulling all the pipes out of him. She also finds a uniform which she changes into. Danny tells her to grab the canister of "psycho-gas" from the cockpit, they'll need it when travelling at "chrono-velocity" so she doesn't go insane. He tells her this will be like driving the ambulance, "only with the added danger of exploding into stardust." She asks him if he is ready and he says "aside from slipping into a pair of eight-inch heels, I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing." Riccardo and the pink alien get in as well and Danny tells her to "floor it" and leaving a rainbow trail, they drive off the prison ship and out into space.
Casey and co. arrive outside Samson's house and he is surprised to see them thinking she stole the ambulance. Casey tells him is name is Danny and he needs Samson to pop inti his cabaret, so he ventures inside with Riccardo and pinky and get transported into Dannyland.
Meanwhile in the Negative Space, Larry and his Negative Spirit Keeg have been rejoined. He is redressed in the bandages that protect others from the radiation he exudes. He gets dress up, topping off is ensemble with a pair of dark glasses as he is told he will always retain fragments of people he once shared a form with. "Cool" he says.
The beings of the Negative Space "all hail the Negative Ace... Captain Trainor! Now go forth and fight". Then suddenly Danny crashes in and Casey tells Cliff and Larry to get inside, both are surprised to realise it's Danny. Larry bids N'Hal a thankyou and goodbye and then climbs inside along with Cliff. Riccardo who is also inside Dannyland reports on the carnage there, even Flex Mentallo is dead. They are tended to the wounded, there are few survivors, but no Vectra yet.
Shocked at Flex Mentallo's death, Cliff asks what the hell is going on. Casey gives him the rundown of what Danny can do now and what the Vectra did to him, but now they can go back in time and prevent in. Who are you Cliff asks?
Casey: "I'm Casey Brinke, and I drive the motherfucking ambulance."
They get ready to go back in time to the mobile slaughter unit as far back as they can go. Cliff asks how she is holding up. "I miss my cat" she replies.
This cuts us to a page where a person in an astronaut suit finds Lotion the cat and pours out what looks like dry cat food for him. The cat nibbles it then transforms into a humanoid form, but still furry with a tale and cat head. It staggers away.
|Lotion the cat-person.|
Clone Casey: "I'm every bad feeling and every single fear Danny has about what you could become out in the real world - unprotected, uncontrolled."
Casey says Terminox is not her dad, they are all fictions Danny made up. But Terminox says that deep down she wants him cured of the Terminox virus that made me what I am, "as your mother failed to do." Casey looks angrily at him.
Then Cliff punches Terminox saying "screw this." Danny tells Casey she needs to enter Dannyland and burn down the comic shop. She says if she does that he'll cease to exist. But he says that he'll also destroy Terminox, fake Casey and the whole "Vectra Khazi" in the process. She says that her past self will die and that means she will cease to exist and they won't be able to rescue everyone in Dannyland.
He says she'll be OK, she must go into past Danny with Riccardo and Sam, have them bring everyone to his present self, trigger the self destruct and then get back to his driving seat. Cliff and Terminox trade blows and more Vectra summoned while Casey brings Riccardo and Sam to past Danny. The Negative Spirit is unleashed while his body sleeps. And fake Casey tries to bring him down unsuccessfully.
We are given a one page look at Larry's innermost lifetime. He's an old man on his deathbed as his family say how much the love him and all the happy years they have had. Then Niles Caulder appears and asks Larry if he can talk to him about something called the Doom Patrol.
|Torminox beats Cliff down.|
In past Dannyland, Flex Mentallo is unconcious but still alive. Riccardo reaches into the pink alien's front port and gets out some slime, which he then coats his fingers with and plants on Flex's chest. Inside the comic shop, past-Danny says he is very proud of Casey and she says "I know. It's why I keep burning bright." She then tosses a match on the comic rack and runs from the resulting explosion.
Outside Gloria tells Terminox that he can stop all this, they are stronger than the Terminox virus and the antidote is such a simple thing. Then Fake Casey blows a hole through her stomach. Then her gun vibrates and explodes in her face. All the rescued people from past Dannyland climb into present Dannyland. Casey spots Terminox cradling Gloria who Casey calls "mom". Gloria manages to force out that she has grown to be an amazing individual and doesn't need them anymore. And both of them disappear in a flash of light, saying they be watching from a black hole, "waiting for your light to reach us. Not a star, but a sun."
|Casey's parents reunited.|
Everyone piles in to present Danny as past Danny explodes in a mess of burning flesh. The Negative Spirit returns to Larry and he and Cliff get in as Casey gets ready to get out of there. They blast out of the ship again and crash into another ambulance out there. Casey wrestles with the controls as the prison ship explodes behind them thanks to the hull breach. They end up crashing somewhere in New Mexico.
They are outside a compound with a sign up saying it is "Janestown. Church Of The Multiform." Sam says he's not sure he's ready for this, but Cliff drags open a hope in the fence and goes in first. Jane is floating in front of her cult members. She says they have liberated themselves from the encumberance of familial bonds, "today yourselves... from yourselves... and join me in magnificent oneness." They were all lost when she first met them but now they are scientist and engineers.
The "Gene Bomb" (something used in the crossover "Invasion" which screwed with everyone who had the metagene, Crazy Jane had multiple personality disorder and every personality she had, had different powers) they have made which gave her all her powers will now give those powers to them and "join in the one true identity."
Cliff barges in and realises it's Jane, and that he took out her bodyguards to get in side. Casey and Larry follow. Jane however doesn't recognise Cliff and surprised he knows her. Cliff then realises she is leading a cult. This makes her manifest a blue forcefield which sends him reeling.
Jane: "I am the Multi-Mother, the All-Jane. If you don't leave this instant of your own free will.. then I will make you."
They have individuality which is everything they've tried to get away from so leave now. Larry then puts a finger on both Cliff and Jane's foreheads and zaps them both. This sends Cliff into Jane's psyche where he has been before and which is laid out like the London Underground. A train stops and an arm grabs Cliff and drags him inside.
|Cliff is sent into Jane's mind.|
Inside Jane's mind, Cliff talks to Jane apologising for leaving her. She says that's sweet but he really needs to get out. An annoucement says that they will be making evasive manouvres. Jane says the personality in charge right now is Dr. Harrison, she emerged from the trauma of seeing a superhuman god murdered and exposure to his blood. Along came Dr. Harrison with the powers of mind control and powerful suggestion.
She calls herself Jane because she knows that people will like Jane and she needs to connect with people to get what she wants. And what she wants is to "cure" Jane. She plans on separating all her personalities into the members of the cult she started. Cliff asks of that isn't a postitive thing?
But she plans on killing all sixty-three cult members once the deed is done and as for her, "healing is a collaborative act, not a relationship of control." She accepted that there might be no proper cure for her condition and lives with it anyway. Can Cliff accept that? He can.
The other personalities banded together with her to try and spite Dr. Harrison. Eventually the fooled her into thinking that they had a photographic memory and had seen the blueprints of the gene bomb used by the Dominators during "Invasion". But it's not that, it's biologically coded to kill the dominent identity, "Cliff you cannot stop that bomb" she says even as Flex and Riccardo are trying to do just that.
|The Negative Spirit stops Flex Mentallo destroying the bomb.|
Outside Danny manifests the words "Welcome Back, Jane Love." All the cultists pile into Dannyland and Sam says that can be their new home if they don't have one anymore and Casey sits in the driving seat ready for new adventures. We conclude with Terry None demonstrating what looks like she fed to Lotion the cat which transformed him to a couple of executives who are impressed with the fact it's a zero-cholesterol, non-transfat, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic, vegan, all-natural food additive. They love the stuff and want to get it on the shelves as soon as possible. "Great. Wait until you hear what it's called..." And that brings this volume to an end.
|Jane is back to "normal" and another member rejoins the Doom Patrol.|