"...I, for one, am grateful a disembodied Chumbawamba has brought us all back together."
I enjoyed superhero comics, and imagined their broader potential before they went Hollywood mainstream. But never did I expect to see the adult-rated adventures of a third-rate super-team that climaxes with a kaiju cockroach frenching a giant rat on a sentient, genderqueer street. And then realize that's not the strangest thing that's happened.
In 2019, DC Comics' Doom Patrol hit the small screen.
A brilliant scientist (Timothy Dalton) gathers misfit metahumans. When a super-villain captures him, they join forces with mainstream superhero Cyborg(Joivan Wade) to rescue their "Chief." Along they way, they encounter The Bureau of Normalcy, a Charles Atlas-inspired superdoer, a sinister Nazi scientist, a pocket dimension inside a flatulent donkey, and other challenges.
We're watching superhero tropes through the fifth glass, and someone has spiked our drink. Despite the show's demented sensibilities, the characters' journeys feel painfully real. The first episode delivers a conventional origin for Robotman (Brendan Fraser and Riley Shanahan), before revealing a darker story. We also learn that his daughter has grown up without him, raised by his wife's paramour. We feel for him no matter how bizarre his circumstances. Diane Guerrero gets the Orphan Black award for her depiction of Crazy Jane's multiple identities. Negative Man (Matt Bomer and Matthew Zuk) plays the character, in part, as a metaphor for the oppression of queerfolk, without becoming excessive. April Bowlby presents an on-edge Elasti-Woman fighting to keep herself intact.
Alan Tudyk brings a crazed brilliance to his depiction as the show's fourth-wall breaking lead supervillain, Mister Nobody. I nevertheless hope we don't see him again in Season Two. They've told that story and brought it to a frequently hilarious conclusion.
The Doom Patrol needs new, deranged challenges.