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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 170: Doom Patrol #105

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to comics from one decade. This week’s decade: the 1960s! Today’s page is from Doom Patrol #105, which was published by DC and is cover dated August 1966. This scan is from DC’s Archive Edition (volume 3) of Doom Patrol, which was published in 2006. Enjoy!

Spumoni?

Doom Patrol was a fun, bizarre comic book even before Grant Morrison got his hands on it, and this splash page is a good example of it. It’s by the regular team of Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani, although I can’t find a colorist or letterer for this story. In the previous issue, Rita Farr – Elasti-Girl – married Mento, hence the “Honeymoon of Terror” of the title.

Drake leads off the story with a text box, in which he catches us up. Elasti-Girl has gotten married, and “married girls don’t have time to fool around with death rays and flying saucers or floating brains,” but then Drake undermines that statement by asking “or do they?” Unlike a typical comic book of this time, Rita has no intention of giving up her superheroing with the Doom Patrol, which is a source of tension throughout this issue (it’s the last issue of the collection, and I don’t have Volume 4, so I don’t know how Rita’s marriage resolves). Drake does a nice job setting up the status quo and implying what’s coming. He also gives readers a good idea of the weirdness contained within, what with the mention of “floating brains” and all. But in this issue, the bad guy is Mr. 103 (he can control all the 103 elements, which is humorous because later he got upgraded to Mr. 104, as another element was discovered), and Drake tells us that at the bottom of the page.

Premiani’s three-in-one splash page is very cool, showing us how Mr. 103 (John Dubrovny) can change his shape at will. All of the villain’s appearances are angled toward the bottom of the page, where we see Beast Boy (I don’t know why he’s purple), Elasti-Girl, Robotman, and Negative Man. Premiani does a good job with Dubrovny as a wooden glider on the left and as a man made of “jellied gasoline” on the right, but I love the image of him as a “human energy transmitter” in the middle. The rays emanating from him anchor the entire page, keeping us within his orbit, and the “face” is terrifyingly human even though it’s made up of metallic parts. Premiani wisely keeps his “body” indistinct except for his freakish hands, which are simply wires with caps on them. It’s a superb image, and Premiani was smart to keep it in the center even though, in the story, the fiery Dubrovny comes first, then the glider, then the robotic version. There’s a lot of action on this page even though it’s a splash page designed to introduce the story, and we can see how overmatched the DP is. Very nice work by Premiani, and a good inducement to turn the page and find out what the heck is going on!

Next: More Doctor Strange? How much can we take? Ditko’s version from a few days ago wasn’t the first time we’ve seen him, as you could discover in the archives!

7 Comments

I think Beast Boy colored himself purple in his “child hero” stage as he was known in his green form to be the adopted son of the Daytons, and Rita’s husband wasn’t publicly known as a hero. At least, I think that was something along the lines of what the New Teen Titans flashbacks implied.

Nope. Beast Boy wore a full body costume (including the full-faced cowl seen above) to hide his identity from his scumbag legal guardian, Nicholas Galtry. He did eventually get adopted by Mento and Rita Farr, and I believe he got rid of the purple cover-all shortly thereafter.

Pete Woodhouse

June 20, 2012 at 5:31 am

Nice. Perhaps DC’s most underrated/most suited to a modern reading sensibility title of the 60s? Discuss, people!
Sure, plenty of Silver Age goofiness, but with more Marvel style characterisation and wisecracks, especially Cliff.

Also, as many have pointed out, parallels with FF (Rita = Sue plus Reed, Cliff=Thing, Neg Man=Torch) & X-Men (wheelchair-bound leader, freaks/mutant outcast team).

TheFantome: Thanks. I skimmed through the issues but couldn’t find a place where they mention the purple.

Pete: I agree that DP does read really well today. It’s very good.

Arnold Drake was very ahead of his time. Well, ahead of his time for someone who wrote primarily for DC. He definitely had a very Marvel-type sensibility to his writing and the characters he co-created.

Greg: to answer your question – “so I don’t know how Rita’s marriage resolves”, she dies with the rest of the team in issue 121, so Mento becomes a widower. That’s a pretty sucky resolve, but there you go.

Sorry for not saying spoilers on a story decades old that is pretty famous in comic circles. My bad.

danjack: That’s okay – I knew the team died, but I didn’t know that was the way the marriage ended. I wondered if it fell apart prior to that.

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