I have read next to nothing of comic books from this era, just a few excruciating Batman and Justice League stories, and wow, now I understand why so many people consider The Doom Patrol to be so ground breaking. I read Grant Morrison's amazing run (which I hope gets recollected in omnibus form real soon!) and fell in love with this quirky bizarre superhero team.
Cliff Steele (Robotman), Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl), and Larry Trainor (Negative Man) are cursed with unique abilities due to freak accidents and hate it. The Chief (Dr. Niles Caulder) is a brilliant wheelchair bound scientist who wants to help these three utilize their abilities for the betterment of humankind and gain some kind of acceptance back into society. One of touching side affect is that the four bond like a family, despite a lot of feuds, but that's part of being a family, right? The dynamics of this group are great and had to be ground breaking for the time. The harsh name calling, low self-esteem, jealousy, but also the commitment to each other despite their flaws, because deep down inside they really do accept each other. Later on in the series when Mento and Beast Boy come along, there is a threat to their status quo and they do not welcome these "freaks" as warmly as they welcomed each other. Mento does not help his cause by being so arrogant and who flaunts his money and "normal" appearance around. Beast Boy is the unfortunate case of going through his "freak" problems right at the age of puberty, something the others can't relate to, so he is mostly dismissed as a lying brat.
There is a lot of fun and goofiness in this series. I can see it's influence on many superhero team of today. There are a lot of great one-liners and crazy adventures this group find themselves thrust into. Great wacky villains such as The Brothehood of Evil, General Immortus, and the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man just to name a few.
The series starts of slow, as do most, finding it's way and working out the characters and how they relate to one another. But as soon as they click they CLICK! Arnold Drake's writing is fun and intriguing, although at many points of the stories he gets bogged down in over narrating as is common in comics, but it gets really carried away here at times. Almost every chapter someone has to point out negative man has to get back to Larry's body in under sixty seconds or he'll die. You'd think after a certain number of issues that wouldn't be necessary. The artwork of Bob Brown is great and Bruno Premiani is fantastic. The weird yet proportionately sound figures of the characters is uncanny. In order to get this much content for such a decent price sacrifices were made notably that this piece is void of color. But I don't mind, as it Bruno's art is enchanting enough that no color restoration is needed.
A great collection of a greatly under appreciated series. Pick up to find out just how much the chief loathes to have people touch his beard!