I suppose I could give you the basic Doom Patrol description that you’re catching everywhere else. You know, Doom Patrol is a long running series about the world’s strangest superheroes. But c’mon we all know that by now right? (If not you do now!)
What we don’t know is where do we start? What do we need to know about the past? How do we jump on this moving train and still feel like we can keep up?
I have to admit when I heard Gerard announce that he’d be writing Doom Patrol I started to panic and tried to find the other books to read only to realize not only was that not really necessary, but it was immediately confusing. I couldn’t even find a very first issue! I finally saw someone post a book 1 for Grant Morrison and was able to jump on the train. But the truth is, Doom Patrol didn’t start as Doom Patrol.
In 1955 Doom Patrol got it’s first start but by the name “My Greatest Adventure” and it was formatted completely different. It wasn’t until issue #80 in 1963 where it was redesigned and started to feature the Doom Patrol, and in issue #86 it saw a name change to Doom Patrol. (Now if you go back to try to find the first issues you’ll know why they don’t start at #1!)
So, basically what we’re saying is that everyone, even the very first creators, jumped on the train running with Doom Patrol. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that Doom Patrol has a long past, you can jump right in with Gerard and keep up just as easily as someone who has read every issue. Gerard’s work does stand alone and is understandable on it’s own.
The Doom Patrol is a group of characters who have powers that absolutely no-one would really want, but they make the best of it. In many instances, like with Crazy Jane, for example, we’re talking about a person with a mental illness that uses it as a strength. That’s how I like to view the Doom Patrol. They all seem to “suffer” from some form of mental illness, but they use it as a strength and they help others.
In a recent Kerrang! Interview and in the afterword of the TPB, Gerard stated he viewed the Doom Patrol as a way for him to approach mental illness in an artistic, compassionate way and that, for him, the Doom Patrol was a form of group therapy. (Possible hints at the next story arc for the series?)
We could sit here and throw you facts and overwhelm you with information, but the reality here is you just gotta jump in. You’re gonna be confused at first. So just jump in! Read until you’re not confused. You’ll be glad you did.
Cliff notes to help make Gerard’s Doom Patrol a little easier:
Characters from the initial Doom Patrol:
The Chief (Doctor Niles Caulder)
Negative Man (Larry Trainor)
Robotman (Cliff Steele)
Grant Morrison created Characters:
Danny The Street (Gerard redesigned Danny to be Danny the Ambulance based on idea Grant had toyed with in the past.)
For a full list of Gerard’s re-occuring characters check out our Character Guide.
Couple tips we wish we had when we started reading:
If you’re confused about what it means when you hear “Grant’s run” or “Gerard’s run” it just mean their time as writers.
Wibbly wobbly timey wimey issue numbers?
Have you noticed Gerard’s run (see! You’re already talking like a pro woo!) starts with Issue #1? With each writer the issues start again because it’s the first issue with that author.
Did you notice that in the Young Animal ashcan Gerard’s Doom Patrol was called Volume 6 but when we received the TPB it was titled Volume 1?
Since Doom Patrol as a whole is on going the title Doom Patrol itself is currently in it’s 6th Volume however Brick by Brick is Volume 1 of Gerard’s run. Still confused? It’s ok. Just make sure you’re picking up “Brick By Brick” TPB by Gerard Way and you’re good. 🙂
What are variants and why are there several copies of the same issue with different covers?
This one was hard to wrap my brain around and it really depends on who you ask what their thoughts are on variants as to whether you’ll get a reply of their important or they are not. Personally, as an avid collector of the Doom Patrol series I have all of the variants. What are they? There just different covers by different artists. So, you may want to collect them all, you may want to stick to the main covers (If you look in the credits on each issue it will tell you who did the main cover and who did the variants), maybe you’ll just want to pick up variants when a favorite artist does one or you just like the art. It’s really a personal preference and doesn’t harm your collection if you don’t have all of them.
We don’t profess to know everything or catch everything.
I personally have only read Grant and Gerard’s Doom Patrol runs. I am in no way an authority and that’s the beauty of Doom Patrol. You don’t have to be to understand it, relate to it and love it.
If you insist on knowing more details about the past (which we totally recommend once you’ve started reading Gerard’s and want more stories) here’s a write-up I did for TUATVShow on Doom’s history after going to a Nick Derington panel at NC Comicon 2016 you may find helpful.
And last but not least, here’s a few resources we found on the web that helped us getting a good solid knowledge on Doom Patrol past and present.