But first, a small history lesson: Back in 1963, Doom Patrol was born to DC Comics, appearing for the first time in “My Greatest Adventure #80.” Pre-dating Marvel’s X-Men by mere weeks, DC’s wicked look at a group of superhero misfits, dabbled on the edge of obscurity for the better part of its run.
Cut to several decades later when superheroes are a hot commodity. Doom Patrol returned, but alas, fate once again foiled the heroes’ adventures thanks to an unpopular app. The latest TV version started life on the DC Universe streaming service, but it deserved a wider audience, and now, finally, it gets its chance. Available via the latest must-have streaming service HBO Max, Doom may finally defy its name. Should you add it to your daily binge? If you’re looking for something truly different to watch, abso-fucking-lutely.
Created by producer Jeremy Carver, the show follows Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) as he attempts to lead Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), Rita Farr aka “Elasti-Girl” (April Bowlby), a pre-Justice League Cyborg (Joivan Wade), Larry Trainer (Matt Bomer), and punk music enthusiast/”Robot Man” Cliff Steele (Brendan Frazier) as they save the world. Each of member of the team is traumatized and scarred by a terrible accident which also gave them their super-powers. Initially introduced on DC’s Titans, the lovable gang of massive fuck-ups battle super villain Mr. Nobody, played to perfection by Alan Tudyk.
This show is perhaps one of the most creative offerings available for streaming. It’s a brilliantly crafted series that has evolved beyond the superhero-turned-anti-hero storylines that drive so many current comic adaptations. It isn’t a dark take on a familiar story, but a batshit insane dive into the surreal, brimming with unchecked chaos to match the sharp dialogue. When it wants to be quirky, it hits deranged. And when it wants to go dark, it goes apocalyptic. On the surface, it comparable Amazon Prime’s The Boys and Netflix’s former Marvel outings, but delve into a few episodes and it’s clearly weirder, and far more wicked than stereotypical superhero fare out there.
Cliff is a former womanizing bastard who laments his crappy parenting skills. Jane is fractured into 64 personalities due to horrific abuse, and Rita’s a monster of her own making. These are inherently broken people. Not wacky, not sad, but truly fractured. These characters are driven mad by their own demons, which in turn fuels their power while simultaneously destroying the humanity within each host.
As dazzling as it is demented, Doom Patrol is an unparalleled series that might not be for everyone, but provides the perfect viewing experience for those who prefer more complex comic book characters, especially if they’re covered in blood, bashing in brains and ripping torsos in half to the Dead Kennedy’s “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” While the crazed hero concept is not new, this show is smart enough, unique enough, and unhinged enough to stand out from the caped crowd.
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