Doom Patrol Season 2 Will Stream on HBO Max and DC Universe


What the Doom Patrol panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con lacked in the way of footage from the show’s upcoming second season, it made up for with an interesting bit of news. It might be easier for people to get into the series in coming months courtesy of Warner Bros.’ newest streaming endeavor HBO.

Read more…

Doom Patrol’s Back, Baby, and Everyone Just Wants to Find Themselves


They might have been lighting up DC Universe this year, but it’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen the Doom Patrol in DC’s comics. The long wait since the wacky exploits of Milk Wars shook this incarnation of the world’s strangest heroes to its core is finally over as of today, and the team is picking up the…

Read more…

10 Vertigo Series That Changed Comics

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Cover of

With the sad news that DC Comics is shuddering it’s Vertigo imprint in favor of grouping their comic titles by age-appropriateness, it’s time to honor some of the many brilliant works that came out of this stories mature-reader publishing initiative.

In January of 1993, inspired by several of DC’s more outré offerings, now-legendary editor Karen Berger (who left the company in 2012 and has since launched an eponymous imprint, Berger Books, with Dark Horse) launched an imprint apart from the company’s typical superhero books: stories that weren’t afraid to have a point of view as they explored religion, politics, sex, or all of the above, sidelining industry prohibitions on “adult” content. For a time, and under Berger’s stewardship, there was not a single book with “Vertigo” on the cover that wasn’t worth reading. These 10, and many others, are certainly worth remembering.

The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman
There were six existing DC series that inspired the launch of Vertigo and jumped labels in the first wave, but Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman was almost certainly the marquee name. Already almost 50 issues into a 75-issue run, the story of elemental lords and the world of dreams remains Gaiman’s magnum opus (credit too goes to a rotating lineup of artists representing the medium’s very best). It’s unquestionably Vertigo’s most (justifiably) beloved legacy.

Y: The Last Man, by Bryan K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
This book, co-created with Pia Guerra, was the one that launched already celebrated writer Bryan K. Vaughan into comics superstardom (paving the way for the ambitious, medium redefining work that is Saga). It wasn’t his first work in comics, nor even his first for Vertigo (that would be a controversial/underrated run on Swamp Thing centered on conflicted elemental Tefe Holland), but the 60-issue epic kicked off a streak of impeccable books that’s still going. The wonderfully high-concept series follows Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand, who happen to be the last two surviving males on Earth in the aftermath of the mysterious plague that left only women alive. Vaughan and Guerra explore the ways in which a world without men might be very different, and also the ways in which it might not.

100 Bullets, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
The crime drama has an almost Twilight Zone-twist: finding individuals in extreme circumstances, the mysterious Agent Graves offers them a gun and 100 entirely untraceable bullets. With the assurance that any resulting shootings will be swept aside by the police, a rotating cast of characters each face a compelling moral dilemma: what to do with the power to kill with impunity? As the series progresses, the questions of morality give way to an exploration of American crime and power that dates back to the very first colonists at Roanoke. While Vertigo specialized in horror and dark fantasy, this Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso joint proved that bloody, gritty crime wasn’t out of the wheelhouse either.

Preacher, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Vertigo pushed plenty of boundaries—that was what it was there for. But perhaps no book trampled taboos as giddily as the 75-issue Preacher, from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. It’s the story of small-town preacher Jesse Custer, who sets out across America after being possessed by a fugitive creature named Genesis, pursued by heaven and hell for having been born of congress between an angel and a demon. Ennis and Dillon are too smart to make a book that’s entirely profane, and amid a lot of bloodshed, the series thoughtfully explores American ideas of religion. By the time we meet the ignominious last descendent of Christ, it’s clear the creative team is utterly fearless.

Fables, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
What if characters of myth and legend lived real, day-to-day lives? Creator Bill Willingham isn’t the first person to have the idea, but he took it as far as it could go over the course of 150 issues and several spin-offs (most often working with penciller Mark Buckingham). In a little-noticed corner of New York City, the refugees of a devastating war led by a mysterious adversary live out their lives among us regular folk. It’s a book that has it both ways, featuring a huge cast of believable characters who also have attributes related to their own famous origin stories—before the focus shifts when the Adversary discovers the Fables have fled to NYC.

Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis and Derick Robinson
Beginning life at another DC imprint as the very short-lived sci-fi-focused Helix, Transmetropolitan represents a radical, but impressively prescient look at politics and the media. A couple of centuries from now, shirtless antihero Spider Jerusalem is a reporter in the Hunter S. Thompson mold. He faces two primary adversaries: a fascist authoritarian president called “The Beast” and his unscrupulous political opponent “The Smiler.” In the end, uncovering the truth about each of them makes Spider Jerusalem the most hated of all.

Incognegro, by Mat Johnson
As revolutionary as Vertigo was, it shared with mainstream comics of the time (and, to some extent, now) a reliance on white voices telling stories about mostly white characters. In contrast, Mat Johnson’s Incognegro graphic novel follows Zane Pinchback, a light-skinned black man in the 1930s, who goes undercover as a white man in Mississippi when his brother is accused of the murder of a white woman. Partly inspired by the story of one-time NAACP chief executive Walter White, Incognegro represents Vertigo’s most sharply impressive exploration of race and racism in America.

DMZ, by Brian Wood and Riccardo Buccielli
A second American Civil War has left the island of Manhattan in a precarious position in this 72-issue saga: it’s the demilitarized zone between the forces of the United States and the secessionist Free States of America. Reporter Matty Roth arrives in the city under near-apocalyptic circumstances, as the Midwestern militia groups that instigated the conflict have gained moral ground against the US government and brought the conflict to a dangerous stalemate. Surely an exploration of a violently divided America could only ever be fantasy and in no way prescient…

Doom Patrol, by Rachel Pollack, Richard Case, and Stan Woch
One of the first wave of books to make the move to Vertigo, Doom Patrol got a new writer at the same time in Rachel Pollack, who built on the work of Grant Morrison (whose run was already legendary) and fearlessly took the series in new directions. Under Pollack’s watch, teenager Dorothy Spinner became the book’s focus as the team moved into a new headquarters populated by the ghosts of people who’d died in sex accidents. Pollack, herself a trans woman, introduced trans character Kate Godwin, an early and still rare example of a trans superhero. Though Doom Patrol existed before her and would continue after, Pollack’s two-year, 23-issue run left it forever changed.

Daytripper, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Perhaps fittingly, our list ends with a book about death… but in a more meditative vein than some of Vertigo’s more horror-themed offerings. Obituary-writer Brás de Oliva Domingos is the son of a famous writer. Brás laments that his days are spent writing about death when he’d rather write novels about the living. The story visits the writer at various points throughout his life, one day at a time, meeting him first as a young man, then a child, and later an old man. Coupled with Moon’s stunning art, it becomes a lovely and poignant exploration of death—more low-key than some of Vertigo’s other offerings, perhaps, but no less powerful for it.

What books define Vertigo Comics for you?

The post 10 Vertigo Series That Changed Comics appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

The wildest thing about Doom Patrol is how it carries on the work of Norman Lear


In terms of television series, Doom Patrol is pretty out there. Based on a DC Comics property (specifically, the late-1980s iteration written by Grant Morrison), the show revolves around outcasts and weirdos of the superhero universe, people who see themselves not as superior beings, but unlucky souls cursed with…

Read more…

Doom Patrol’s White Space Is a Brilliant Spin on Comic Book Storytelling


Doom Patrol’s Mr. Nobody is the kind of supervillain who enjoys taking his time as he hatches convoluted schemes designed to drive his enemies insane. And he does it all from the relative comfort of a blindingly-white pocket dimension that he seemed to be the only person capable of accessing for most of the first…

Read more…

Doom Patrol’s First Season Finale Gave Everyone What They Deserved


Even if you’ve read the handy caption, you’re probably still thinking to yourself, “What the hell is going on in that gif up there?” The answer: Doom Patrol. Which is to say, “a lot.” It’s a winding, intricate puzzle box of a story involving drag queens, the apocalypse, and Chumbawamba that Doom Patrol manages to tell…

Read more…

Weird. Queer. Disabled. Ugly: A Brief History of Doom Patrol

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Superhero comics are weird. That’s not meant as an insult—far from it. It’s just to say that there’s nothing prosaic about people who dress up in tights and spoil for fights with enemies who are generally even more bizarre than the heroes.

So when we talk about the Doom Patrol, understand that being known largely as the biggest weirdos in the DC stable, that’s really saying something.

Since the team’s creation in 1963 by writers Arnold Drake and Bob Haney and artist Bruno Premiani, they’ve been standard-bearers for the outré. Shaped by tragedy, their line-up has featured rejects of all types: some shunned for their comic book origins, others because they fall outside of real-world expectations of what’s “normal.” The team has always provided a home and family for the disabled, the queer, the ugly. That might help explain why they’ve never been popular with the mainstream, but it definitely explains why Doom Patrol engenders so much love.

Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance, and more recently the comics mastermind behind Umbrella Academy) recently brought the team back with artist Nick Derington as part of DC’s experimental Young Animal imprint. That, in turn, seems to have generated enough interest to launch the team’s own TV series on DC’s subscription streaming service (oddly enough, the first episode of Doom Patrol dropped the same day the first season of Umbrella Academy hit Netflix). It’s heavy exposure for a series that has always thrived on the fringes. Will success spoil the Doom Patrol?

The similarities to Marvel’s X-Men, who also first appeared in 1963, just a few months after the Doom Patrol, might be entirely coincidental. Then again, maybe not: it has been debated for decades whether or not Stan Lee and co. came across the Doom Patrol concept via a bit of corporate skullduggery. Reed Tucker’s Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle between Marvel and DC, deals some pretty good dirt on the ways in which the rivalry between the venerable DC and the plucky upstart Marvel got ugly. So Marvel might have nabbed the idea. Then again, Doom Patrol might have been a twist on Marvel’s Fantastic Four—each company spent most of the ’60s chasing the other around.

Regardless, comparing the books opens a window on the state of superhero comics of the era. These were both teams of misfits and rejects who came together into slightly dysfunctional surrogate families led by disabled, cerebral, somewhat distant father figures. One of these wheelchair-using daddies had lots of hair, and the other had no hair whatsoever, so it’s not like they were entirely similar. In spite of their innovations, both books were initially successful but eventually fizzled (X-Men’s more mainstream success came only in the wake of a nothing-to-lose post-cancellation revival). While the mutants at Marvel eventually birthed some of the most successful books on the stands, the Doom Patrolers have remained outsiders, developing a cult following in part from the spectacular (and then-unprecedented) way the creative team ended their initial run.

The original Patrol consisted of four members: Chief Niles Caulder, the genius and mastermind who brought the team together; Cliff Steele, whose brain had been transplanted into a robot body following a racing accident; Rita Farr, an athlete and actress who developed stretching powers after huffing on a volcano during a location shoot; and Larry Trainor, a test pilot exposed to weird radioactivity in the upper atmosphere.

The horror-movie implications of Robotman’s status are pretty obvious—his brain is the last remaining bit of his human existence, stuffed into a metal skull atop a mechanical body incapable of any real sensation. Trainor, who takes the name Negative Man, can’t remove the full-body bandages that keep his radioactivity from harming others; luckily, he can control a shadow-like energy being independent of his body, but only for about a minute at a time, after which his helpless physical body will die. Like Cliff, he’s isolated from any real human contact. Rita Farr seems, at first glance, like the least freaky of the team of freaks. She can pass as totally normal, and her literal movie-star good looks remain intact. But she makes the choice everyday to forego the dream of 1960s womanhood: marriage would inevitably involve settling down and surrendering to normalcy—all things that she wants, but not as much as she wants to be a hero. In a sense, her willingness to give up the the perfect ’60s life and family in favor of living in a mansion with a bossy megalomaniac, a surly robot, and the radioactive guy with a crush, makes her just as much of a freak as the boys. She chooses a career.

At the series’ outset, the Chief assembles these sullen, reclusive individuals and offers them purpose. The resulting squabbling, dysfunctional family vibe was unique at DC, hewing much closer to Marvel’s house style, and the villains were as wild as anything in the comics, then or now: Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man; a brain in a jar called “The Brain”; and uplifted gorilla Monsieur Mallah, to name just a few. It’s fun stuff, with enough angst and weirdness to make the stories distinct, especially among the DC comics of the era. What really gave the team legs, though, was the way the creative team handled the book’s eventual cancellation: the heroes didn’t just fade away or walk off into the sunset. The October 1968 issue saw the entire team sacrifice itself to save a small fishing village from the machinations of the Nazi General Zahl and the Chief’s sometimes-love interest Madame Rouge. A memorable ending can be more effective than a successful run, which is perhaps why the Doom Patrol eventually came back.

Prolific writer Paul Kupperberg spent years keeping the flame alive, first in a series of one-off stories, and then with a full revival in 1987. Cliff, we learned, survived, as did the negative energy spirit that once inhabited Larry Trainor. The Chief’s estranged wife Arani Desai takes it upon herself to put together a new team. The book that followed isn’t bad, amping up the soap opera aspects of the storylines while otherwise leaning into the more superheroic aspects of the team. (I tend to think of some of the lesser-appreciated Doom Patrol runs the same way I think of the Doom Patrol-ers themselves: plucky outsiders that don’t get enough love.) The Kupperberg era simply has the misfortune of being overshadowed by what came next. After 18 issues of declining sales, Kupperberg was replaced by a hip young Glaswegian named Grant Morrison and artist Richard Case.

If the original run of Doom Patrol in the 1960s was groundbreaking, Morrison and Case’s book was utterly subversive. Weird, goofy, and meta at a time when that wasn’t yet a default mode for superhero comics, it brought together a new team after several members of the old met a tragic end (a Doom Patrol running theme). Here, Cliff Steele isn’t just a man with a robot body; he describes himself as a total amputee, complete with phantom bowel movements. Each of newcomer Kay Challis’ 64 personalities manifests a different superpower. As a portrait of dissociative identity disorder, symptoms like Kay’s probably don’t show up in the DSM-IV. But Morrison grounds her DID in real, and genuinely heartbreaking, childhood abuse of the kind that can trigger symptoms very similar to those experienced by “Crazy Jane.” Dorothy Spinner is a pre-teen with a facial deformity. Tellingly, she’s never drawn as Hollywood ugly (with, like, glasses and a mole). She’s drawn with the face of an ape, and it’s very believable that a sweet but very damaged young girl approaching puberty would have a rough time of it. The queer and biracial Rebis is an amalgam of Larry Trainor, the Negative spirit, and an African-American doctor named Eleanor Poole. Josh Clay is the most “normal” member of the team, but that normalcy is leavened by the the relative scarcity of black superheroes.

They’re occasionally joined by Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Mystery, and Danny the Street: a literal suburban street who also identifies as a cross-dresser and communicates in Polari, an old slang code used in Britain’s gay communities (he’s inspired by the British drag performer Danny LaRue). There are memorable adversaries (the Scissormen who cut people out of reality, the nihilistic Brotherhood of Dada, and Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. But the lines are always shifting, with classic-era arch-villain Mr. Nobody becoming a kinda/sorta ally and eventually runs for President with the Doom Patrol not standing in the way. And their final and most devastating adversary during this period isn’t a “bad guy” at all, but one of the team’s most important figures. It’s all much less about good vs. evil than it is about how damaged people engage with a world full of other damaged people who may have very different ideas.

It could all be a whole lotta weird-for-the-sake-of-weird, but these are all real people with problems that aren’t just metaphors for real problems—they’re real problems. Cliff and the Chief’s disabilities, Dorothy’s lack of friends her own age, and the childhood sexual trauma that leads Kay to the mental hospital where the story begins. It’s not always easy to relate to super heroic angst, but these people’s problems and challenges bleed over into our world. Where this incarnation soars is not just in its wild story ideas and completely bonkers villains, but in its absolute commitment to the emotional reality of team members. As out there as things got during this era, they never stopped feeling like real human beings. Morrison’s run wasn’t an attempt to deconstruct superheroes so much as a triumphant effort to breathe new life into them.

Following Morrison’s groundbreaking run, Rachel Pollack took over, partnering first with Richard Case and then with the more abstract Ted McKeever. Those runs are not currently in print, though a reprint collection was recently announced and then quickly cancelled. Dorothy sets up housekeeping with Cliff and the Chief as her surrogate fathers, though the house they’ve chosen just happens to be a spiritual refuge for people who died there during sex accidents and a creepy doll named Charlie, so they’re never really alone. The two men are working through their own dramas while Dorothy’s just trying to get through puberty. Pollack leans into Morrison’s weirdness while adding layers distinctly her own: the challenges of Dorothy as a maturing young woman ostracized from society solely because of her appearance; the Kabbalah; and the introduction of Kate Godwin, a superhero who also happened to be a trans-woman and a bisexual former sex worker. It’s a vastly underrated run, building on the better-known stories that preceded it without merely aping what came before.

After Pollack’s run, the Doom Patrol lay fallow for several years. Three new series followed: one continuation and two reboots. Each has its virtues, none really caught fire… until late 2016, which brings us back to the beginning and the Gerard Way/Nick Derington series for Young Animal. Gleefully remixing elements from the team’s long history, this run introduces a point-of-view character named Casey Brinke, who serves as a guide to the Doom Patrol’s weird world. Of course, she’s not strictly normal herself: we quickly learn that she’s a creation of Danny the Street, enlisted to help save him from an intergalactic fast food consortium that wants Danny to use his life-giving powers to make their meat.

Like the best of Doom Patrol, Way and Derington’s issues are explicitly psychedelic while harboring more personal themes just below the surface. Coupled with the TV show, which more than deserves a second season, it feels like the next big boom in the team’s history, and it’s not a bad place to hop on board.

What’s your favorite run of Doom Patrol?

The post Weird. Queer. Disabled. Ugly: A Brief History of Doom Patrol appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

You Can Now Watch Doom Patrol’s First Episode on YouTube for Free


While Doom Patrol is one of the better live-action comic book adaptations out recently, one of the biggest hurdles to getting into the show is the fact that you can only watch it on DC Universe. But if you’ve been waiting for a chance to check Doom Patrol out before deciding to go all-in on yet another streaming…

Read more…