Episode Title: “The Last Patrol!”
Original Air Date: October 8, 2010
So now we get to find out what direction the show is planning to go in with the Starro saga concluded. It looks like we are going to be treated to an adventure featuring the off kilter team known as the Doom Patrol. Will this lesser known group of oddballs be a treat like the Metal Men, or will they fall a little flat like the Challengers of the Unknown? Read on to find out.
The teaser is a flashback to the first time Batman ever met Batgirl. Killer Moth has trapped Batman in a jar with several giant moths (I guess when a villain has a theme they really stick to it) while Killer and his henchmen watch on in amusement. Just when all seems hopeless, a young woman in a Bat suit shows up and rescues the caped crusader. As the flashback ends we see Bats and Batgirl being lowered onto giant spikes by Penguin and hear Batgirl say, “death traps always make me nostalgic”. The teaser then fades to black, I sure hope they figured out a way to escape.
The story proper opens with a news reel recounting the exploits of the now disbanded Doom Patrol, also known as “the World’s Strangest Heroes”. The news reel references a showdown in Paris with General Zahl as the catalyst for the dissolution of the Doom Patrol. After the news reel we see the Patrol’s former leader, an older wheelchair bound gentleman called the Chief, being approached by members of the Doom Patrol’s signature enemy the Brotherhood of Evil. Thankfully Batman shows up to help defeat the Brain and Monsieur Malla, and he and the Chief wonder why these old villains have presented themselves.
Next we see Elasti-Girl lounging by a pool before being ambushed by the Mutant Master, Negative Man working in a carnival side show while being attacked by Animal-Vegitable-Mineral Man (yep, that’s really his name), and Robotman working as a crash test dummy while being accosted by the Arsenal (not to be confused with Roy Harper). The re-appearance of all these former foes appears to be a calculated move to lead to the reformation of the Doom Patrol, but everyone wonders why, as well as who would orchestrate this. In the timeliest of fashions General Zahl appears and declares that he wants to expose the true nature of the Doom Patrol to the world.
We find out that on the Doom Patrol’s last mission, they allowed a hostage to die in order to capture Zahl. In a maniacal attempt at revenge, Zahl has trapped the Doom Patrol on an island rigged with explosives, while also rigging a nearby island with a population of 14. Dahl has cameras broadcasting this deadly scenario to the world and tells the Patrol that all they need to do to live is ask Zahl to blow up the 14 people on the other Island. The Doom Patrol all join hands and agree to sacrifice themselves to save the other Island. Batman shows up to battle Zahl, and as the Dark Knight destroys the detonator it is revealed that it was merely a decoy and Zahl uses the actual detonator to destroy the Doom Patrol. No tricks, no misdirection, the Doom Patrol actually die in the explosion. The public watching the broad cast are all brought together with the mantra “we are all the Doom Patrol”.
The death of heroes in 2 consecutive episodes have me curious if the show will going in darker direction from here. I think the deaths on both occasions were done well, had meaning, and lead to solid dramatic effect giving a bit of a bump to the quality of the stories, but I wonder if some younger folks may become cynical with the show if it happens too often. Because the Doom Patrol consisted of super-powered misfits, whose “gifts” caused them alienation and trauma, it is inspiring that the world came together behind them after their demise.
Also, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss some similarities between the Doom Patrol and the X-Men that have been pointed out online in the past couple of years. Both teams showed up in 1963, but the Doom Patrol were around first. The Doom Patrol and the X-Men had similar tag lines about being strange heroes, they were both lead by an older man in a wheelchair, they were both opposed by the Brotherhood of evil (add the word mutants in the case of the X-Men), and they both dealt with the heroes being rejected by society due to their powers. All of those superficial similarities do seem to be unlikely coincidences, after all these are the two companies that launched Man-Thing and Swamp Thing within a month of each other. It is open practice for the big two comics companies to “borrow” heavily from one another, and I’m ok with that because the stories always go in their own directions, and absolutely no one would confuse Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol with John Byrne’s X-Men. But back to this episode, it was good and I like the way some gravity is being given to the stories. I’m eager to see where the series is going.