Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I find it hard to get very enthusiastic about this news:

    On his messageboard, John Byrne has announced that his next project for DC will be a relaunch of Doom Patrol.

    While Byrne is remaining somewhat tight-lipped about the news the group will include - as will a handful of new, yet unnamed members - apparently, Niles Caulder - the Chief; the Cliff Steel Robotman, Rita Farr - Elasti-Girl; and Larry Trainor - Negative Man.

    As for the feel of the book, Byrne said that the series’ catchphrase is “Together Again for the First Time!” – this given the team’s “appearance” in the pages of JLA #94. In regards to an explanation, Byrne related that their JLA appearance is the first time they have appeared openly in the DCU, although Batman knows something about them, and Ray Palmer (the Atom) has a connection with them.

    Byrne also has referred to the relaunch as a reboot in the style of Wonder Woman, which many have taken to mean that the characters will be introduced fresh, without references to previous continuities or earlier adventures. This is referenced in JLA #94 when the character resembling Robotman is told by a wheelchair bound character that he (and the rest of the team) is not ready to go out into the field.

Don't get me wrong; the Doom Patrol is a venerable and solid concept, and Byrne is clearly enthusiastic about it, but, well, I just don't see much point to a ground-up reboot. The team is such a minor part of DC's overall tapestry of characters and history (convoluted though it may be) that I don't see why this approach is a better idea than replacing the dead characters with new ones or similar ones (as both Grant Morrison did and subsequent writers tried less successfully to do). I also wonder if Byrne has (to paraphrase Hunter Thompson) the kinky Mick Jagger streak it takes to do the concept justice. These folks are supposed to be STRANGE. And Byrne seems like he's relentlessly resisted anything smacking of strange in recent years, at least when it comes to the depiction of super-heroes.

Sigh. I wish DC would collect the rest of Grant Morrison's run. At least there's a second Doom Patrol Archive coming out soon...

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