Doom Patrol #86, "The Brotherhood of Evil!"

THE DOOM PATROL #86 (formerly MY GREATEST ADVENTURE); March 1964; DC  Comics;
Murray Boltinoff, editor; featuring the DP versus "The Brotherhood of  Evil!"
in a story written by Arnold Drake and drawn by Bruno Premiani (the team 
that created nearly all of the Silver Age DP stories).  On the cover, the  four
members of the Patrol watch, fascinated, a TV screen (low-tech-- black and 
white) showing two of their enemies, a disembodied brain in a mechanical 
life-support setup and a gorilla carrying a submachine gun and wearing a  bandolier
of bullets.  "This is the ultimate mission for which I created  you-- the
destruction of the Doom Patrol!" the brain says through its mechanical  voicebox. 
"Summon the others!"  "Yes, master, I will obey!", the  gorilla responds.

Review by Bill Henley

The prominent appearance  of the Doom Patrol-- and their archfoes, the
Brotherhood of Evil-- in the past  two weeks' animated Teen Titans TV episode,
inspired me to pull out for this  review the first encounter between the Patrol and
the Brotherhood. It's also the  first issue of DOOM PATROL under its own
title.  For the previous six  issues, the DP had been the lead feature in the
former sci-fi/fantasy anthology  title, MY GREATEST ADVENTURE.  Evidently DC
decided the DP were popular  enough to carry their own title.  Besides, the title
MY GREATEST ADVENTURE  was kind of awkward for a comic featuring an ongoing
series.  If you figure  that "My" refers to the protagonists of the book, the
Doom Patrol, then the  implication is that the DP adventure in each succeeding
issue has to be  "greater" than all the ones before.  That would be quite a
challenge for  any creative team.

Instead of a standard splash page, the opening page of  the story is a
four-panel set of "capsule biographies" of the DP members.   Rita Farr, we are told,
saw "her brilliant Hollywood career ended" when "strange  volcanic fumes"
gave her to power to expand and reduce her body.  "In a  world that fears the
mysterious and unknown, Rita, now called Elasti-Girl,  became an OUTCAST!" 
(Nonetheless, I always figured Rita got a better deal  than the three male DP
members, since she was neither crippled nor freakishly  disfigured.  A later story
tried to redress the balance by establishing  that the volcanic fumes that
gave Rita her powers also shortened her  lifespan.  But not much was ever done
with that idea.)  Larry Trainor  became radioactive from "unidentifed solar
rays" but gained the power to  "release Negative Man, a radio-energy being that
moves at the speed of  light!  But Larry, too, is an OUTSIDER!"  (No, that's a
whole  different team, and it didn't come along for a couple of decades yet.)  
Cliff Steele, once a "wealthy international daredevil", saw not only his car
but  his body "totaled" in a racing accident, and only his brain survived to
be  transplanted by a "brilliant surgeon-inventor" into "a hulking metal and 
electronic form"-- Robotman.  "Thus was born another-- HUMAN EXILE!"   Finally
we have The Chief, the wheelchair-bound genius who "preserved" Robotman  and
brought the three DP members together under his leadership.  "But of  him,
almost NOTHING is known!  Now, these four exiles from the human race  dedicate
themselves to protecting the world that had once rejected them!"   A conventional
splash page appears on page 2, on which a giant red robot with a  man riding
in its transparent head holds the more compact Robotman in one fist  and is
preparing to seize the Statue of Liberty from its pedestal.   Elasti-Girl,
parachuting onto the scene, is astounded by the chutzpah of "the  Brain, the
guiding spirit of the Brotherhood of Evil"  "IT'S THE MOST  BRAZEN THEFT IN

As our story begins, The Chief wheels  himself around the halls of the DP's
headquarters calling peevishly for his  three colleagues; "Where IS everybody
around this blasted place?"  Each of  the others, it seems, is engaged in a
different mysterious mission.  Larry  Tranor releases Negative Man and sends him
flashing at lightspeed around the  world to Egypt, where he grabs a chunk of
rock from atop the Great Pyramid (and  puzzles tourists who think they have
seen lightning in a cloudless sky).   Rita Farr goes shopping and is told by a
jewelry salesman there is no time to  get the item she has picked engraved, to
which she replies, "I'll take care of  it myself!", and, back at HQ, she
shrinks herself to tiny size to engrave  infinitesimal lettering on a tie clip. 
Robotman, on the other hand, is  frustrated; "Rita and Larry, with their
fantastic powers, will create wonderful  gifts!  How can I compete when I've got
nothing but these clumsy metal  hands?"  The next day, at the team's dinner table,
the three present The  Chief with a birthday cake.  They don't know if it's
actually his birthday,  since The Chief has kept all such personal information a
secret, even from the  DP, along with his original identity; but they've
decided to declare this day  his brrthday.  Larry's gift is a model of the Sphinx
carved from his piece  of the Great Pyramid.  (The Egyptian ministry of
antiquities might not be  as appreciative of Negative Man's bit of vandalism as The
Chief is.)   Rita's gift is the tie clip engraved in tiny print with The
Chief's attributes  spelling out his nom de guerre-- Courageous, Heroic,
Intelligent, Exasperating,  Fighter  The leader is touched as well as amused by Rita's
inclusion of  "exasperating".  Finally, Cliff  reveals his gift.  Attempting to
crib a trick from Superman (though this isn't mentioned in the story),
Robotman  took a big lump of coal down into the depths of a hot spring in an
attempt to  use the combination of volcanic heat and the super-pressure of his
robotic  hands, to squeeze the coal into a diamond.  Unfortunately, it turns out 
Cliff squeezed a little too hard.  "But I'll cherish that diamond DUST 
forever!", The Chief assures him.  Following the party, The Chief reflects  (with a
tear glistening at the corner of his eye) that by coincidence it really  was
his birthday...while Rita hints that she'd like to see the inside of  Negative
Man's metal-walled living quarters, but the hint is rebuffed.   Alone inside
his room, Larry mutters that if Rita actually knew why he wears  bandages and
lives within metal walls, "SHE'D NEVER WANT TO LOOK AT ME  AGAIN!" 

But enough with the festivities and soap opera.... the  action is about to
begin,as military authorities discover that two sealed train  cars containing a
secret, sealed cargo have been stolen.  The news dismays  The Chief, for the
contents of the cars were one of his own inventions, intended  to aid the first
astronauts on the moon, but now destined to be put to more  nefarious use. 
In Part 2, "The Trail of the Terrible Titan!" the giant red  robot, manipulated
by a man inside its transparent forehead, begins seizing cars  on a bridge
and bending the bridge itself into ruin.  The robot, calling  itself Rog, goes
on to commit other acts of seemingly motiveless destruction,  such as wrecking
oil wells.  "That big bozo hasn't stolen a thing!   All he's done is give a
bad name to us robots!", Cliff Steele gripes.   Landing a small plane on a dam
Rog is attacking, the DP come face to face (so to  speak) with Rog and discover
that the human driving him is one "Mr. Morden, a  one-man crime wave!  So
he's the one who stole Rog!"  (Much later, the  name "Mr. Morden" would be given
by writer J. Michael Straczynski to an even  more sinister character on the TV
series BABYLON 5.)  Under Morden's  control, Rog fires a heat-ray from its
"face", melting a wing of the DP's plane;  but, warned of this ability by The
Chief, Larry releases Negative Man who  extends his 'body" around Rog's head,
blocking the deadly beam.   Elasti-Girl then expands herself to give Rog the
chance to pick on somebody its  own size.  One might still wonder how the flesh
and blood Rita would fare  in hand-to-claw combat against the metallic Rog....
but we won't find out just  now, for Rog seizes Larry Trainor and Robotman in
its claws and Morden threatens  to crush them if Rita attacks.  You'd think
Robotman might not crush that  easy, but the human Larry Trainor is certainly
vulnerable enough, and a stymied  Rita is forced to make a deal that Rog and
Morden will be allowed to escape if  Cliff and Larry are released.  "For the
first time, the Doom Patrol must  retreat!" 

"Next day, at an exclusive girls' school in Paris," we  find the beautiful
though severe-looking Madame Rouge teaching a class in the  irregular French
verb "avoir".  But when she receives a message from her  "cousin Rog," she
quickly dismisses class in order to engage in far more  irregular doings, ushering
Mr. Morden into the presence of The Brain,  head  of the Brotherhood of Evil
"the most powerful crime syndicate in the  world."  Still blindfolded to keep
secret the way into the Brotherhood's  secret sanctum, Morden engages in some
flattery, saying he is "proud to stand  before the most notorious human of all
time."  But when his blindfold is  removed, even he is shocked to learn that
the word "human" is debatable, while  the name The Brain is all too literal--
for that is all that is left of the  criminal mastermind, preserved in liquid
and tended by machines.  "Is this  some morbid joke?"  No, says The Brain; his
body died, but his assistants  "preserved my genius-- my BRAIN!"  Duly
impressed, Morden offers the giant  robot Rog as his "membership fee" for joining the
Brotherhood.  The Brain  accepts, but points out that Morden and the robot
only fought the Doom Patrol  "to a standstill".  "ONLY?  No man ever did that
well against those  fabulous freaks!"  The Brain admits this, but says that when
Morden and Rog  face the DP again they will need the aid of another member of
the Brotherhood,  Monsieur Mallah, who has been waiting in the shadows. 
Morden is skeptical  that Mallah will be of any help, until the Monsieur steps into
the light and is  revealed as a gorilla, gifted by The Brain with
genius-level human intelligence  along with his natural strength and agility.  Recovering
his poise from  another shock, Morden apologizes, and the urbane anthropoid
replies, "No  apologies necessary!  Between us, we shall bring an end to the
Doom  Patrol-- and earn you full membership in the Brotherhood of Evl!"

Soon,  Morden, Rog and Mallah are sent off by The Brain to commit "the most
fantastic  crime ever committed!"  And what are the Doom Patrol doing in the 
meantime?  The Chief's "giant computer" has deduced not only that the goal  of
Rog's crimes is to win membership for its master in the Brotherhood of Evil, 
but has narrowed down  their next infamy to three possibilities.  And  so,
Robotman is set to guard one of the likely targets-- the Statue of  Liberty.  He
hits the jackpot, as out of a fogbank Rog appears, using a  pair of motor
launches as "water skis".  As Rog reaches to pull down the  giant statue, The
Chief, watching by television, realizes, "He's out to pull the  most brazen theft
in history-- so he can ransom it back for millions!"  He  summons Larry and
Rita to join Robotman in carrying out "Plan #3".  While  Negative Man flashes to
the scene and again blocks Rog's heat beam, Cliff  attaches a plastic
explosive device to Rog's foot.  But apparently Rog is  better built than even its
creator The Chief realized, for the bomb only twists  its metal foot a bit.  And
with sixty seconds past, Negative Man must  return to Larry Trainor to save
his life.  Fortunately, Elasti-Girl arrives  on the scene by parachute and,
growing to giant size, she lands a mighty kick on  Rog's "face" which disables
its heat-beam.  While giant robot tangles with  giant lady-- literally, snarling
Rita in her own parachute lines-- Monsieur  Mallah emerges from Rog's head
and takes on Robotman.  Rog grabs for the  statue, but Rita gains the upper hand
over the robot at last, lifting it over  her head and hurling it to the
ground, smashing the glass head from which Morden  controls the robot.  A defiant
Morden warns that Rog has planted a time  bomb at the base of the statue, and
Robotman seizes the bomb and attempts to  smother it with his metal body.  But
when the bomb fails to go off, the DP  realize that it is a decoy, a ruse to
enable the Morden and Mallah to  escape.  Back at DP headquarters, The Chief
notes that at least they  spoiled the Brotherhood's plan, but that Larry Trainor
nearly paid a high price  for the partial victory, since he kept Negative Man
out of his body almost long  enough to kill him.  "I'm okay now, except for a
nasty headache!"   Larry insists, but a solicitous Rita urges him to take
fewer risks; "If anything  happened to you, I don't know what I-- I mean, WE'D
do!"  But back in his  metal room, Larry is still convinced that if Rita saw his
unmasked face, "SHE'D  RUN FOR HER LIFE!"  "What is Larry's grim secret?",
the final caption  asks.  "How will the Brotherhood of Evil strike back?  Don't
miss the  next sensational DOOM PATROL issue!" 

The back pages of the issue  are filled by "A Medal for Go-Buggy 3!", billed
as a "Doom Patrol Special", but  obviously an inventory story left over from
MY GREATEST ADVENTURE.  Within  a few issues, the book would feature
full-length DP stories or backups   about individual DP members.  But in the meantime
this story drawn (and  signed) by Howard Purcell tells the story of Major Reed,
an astronaut who upon  splashdown in the space capsule Go-Buggy 3, is caught
in the vicinity of a  Pacific nuclear test and transformed into a bizarre
semi-humanoid tornado  creature.  Rescued, Reed is returned to the United States
and presented to  the world as a hero-- though he must remain hidden inside
Go-Buggy 3 until a  cure can be found.  But is it actually Reed?  No!  In
actuality  the man who underwent the strange transformation is Capt. Toji Nagawa, a 
long-lost Japanese naval officer stranded on the remote island.  Overcoming 
the real Reed, Nagawa is the one who potentially menaces the United States in 
his powerful tornado-form.  Resorting to drastic measures, the real Reed 
paddles a floating log to the area of another nuclear test (a lot of those  lately,
it seems) and allows himself to be transformed into another  tornado-creature
so that he can return home and battle Nagawa.  The two of  them battle
undersea and in midair until suddenly, fighting near the top of the  Washington
Monument, they both suddenly revert to human form.  Thinking  Reed and his
tornado-adversary have both perished, military authorities are  about to pin a medal
on his space capsule in his memory.  But the ceremony  is disrupted when the
real Reed, appears, along with a defeated Nagawa in tow,  having somehow
managed to get both of them down from the top of the  monument.  The general in
charge is pleased to pin the medal on Reed  himself instead of his spacecraft, and
Reed expresses the hope that on his next  mission, Go-Buggy 4 "tosses me into
a nice, safe orbit!"

The DP story is  reprinted, I believe, in volume 1 of DC's hardcover DOOM
PATROL ARCHIVES (is  there a second volume yet?)  The current rebooted DOOM
PATROL series  features a similar subplot of doomed love between Rita Farr and one
of the DP  members -- but in the Byrne series, it is Robotman she is attracted
to.   (But in the original series, she wound up sometime later marrying
neither  Negative Man nor Robotman but Mento, the millionaire with a helmet that
gives  him psychic powers-- who wound up replacing The Chief as DP leader in the
animated Teen Titans episode.)