Podcast - Episode 130: Superhero Makeovers


You know when a creator completely changes an existing character and then that character stays that way forever (for better or for worse)? We're talking about that this week.

No new episode next week. I'm gonna be in sunny Toronto! We'll be back March 21!

Podcast - Episode 11: Epic Runs, Grand Finales, and Forgettable Fade-outs

This week saw the end of Mark Waid's five-year run on Daredevil, with Chris Samnee on art for almost that entire run. It's sad, but the ending was satisfying, and that got us thinking about long runs by creators and how very few of them actually have solid endings.

So that's what the podcast is about this week.

But first!

Well, honestly, we don't have much to talk about this week.

I mention the creepy Captain America doll that my son picked out for me as a birthday gift. Here's a photo:

And I also mention that Chris Evans was at the premier of his directorial debut, Before We Go, on my birthday, looking super fine. Here's a picture of that:

Please keep in mind that the man in that picture and the doll in the picture above are supposed to look the same.

There was no Renner Report this week. And basically no This Week in Winter Soldier because there is nothing to talk about. But I am pretty distracted imagining that the next Waid/Samnee project is a Winter Soldier comic. Or a Winter Soldier and Black Widow comic. WHAT IF?! #BringBuckyHome

Here's that VERY romantic/horrifying preview image from Planet Hulk #5, which comes out today unless your comics are held up by Labour Day.

Interlaced fingers!!!! If the final issue of this comic isn't at least 80% a hardcore Steve/Bucky make-out session, I am going to be a little disappointed.

I will do whatever I have to to read this comic today, even if it means buying a digital version today, and the hard copy tomorrow. And then the trade whenever that comes out. And then the rights to the movie. I am going to miss these sexy gladiators.

And if you want to see a candid (pap) shot of my boy Sebastian strolling around Manhattan in the least incognito hat he could possibly choose, here you go:

What book is he carrying??!! What's he listening to?! THIS PODCAST?! That's a really big phone in his pocket! He has a pen in his other pocket! For autographs? I love him!

Anyway, these blog posts are very one-sided. I should get Dave to help write them before they just turn into straight Tumblr posts.

We did mention the Moondancers this week when we were talking about Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man. I did a post about those awesome ladies awhile back. You can read it here.

Oh, and that Cerise character Dave mentions? I guess she was in Excalibur a bit or something. You can read about her here, if you like. Or don't.

And, hey! Here's that slow news day front page Dave was talking about at the end of the episode:

Pretty great.

I also want to be clear, when I was talking about Catwoman deciding to give up her baby, what I actually meant is she gave up her 1-year-old daughter, Helena. Like, she had been raising that kid for a year or so. The kid was toddling around and could talk a little. I mean...

So a VERY heart wrenching and difficult decision. And one that...never came up again? And like I said, a few issues later she decides to quit being Catwoman, so the decision to give up her daughter, who she loves, so she could keep being Catwoman is PRETTY DUMB.

Man, I have been wanting to get that off my chest. One of the best series (81 issues!) about a female hero ever and they just throw the whole damn thing in the garbage by the end. Fuck you, DC.

What else did we talk about? Comics...movies...books...Chris Evans? Kind of a lot about Chris Evans this week, I feel (and yet, never enough). Anyway, here he is playing a very physically fit street musician in the movie he directed:

For real I want to see it. Send us a review copy, Chris Evans!

Lord, I'd better just wrap this post up right here. Just know this: we managed to fill an hour because we are the best there is at what we do.

Danny the Bungalow? I Could No Longer Resist

I don't know about you folks, but I've been enjoying the hell out of the latest Doom Patrol series, partially because I really like the idea of the Patrol as a part of the Oolong Island scientocracy but also due to the fact that Keith Giffen has been doing a fantastic job of integrating some of the weirder elements of the team's past back into a continuity that had essentially been kicked back to the Sixties by the combined effects of the Byrne reboot and the Infinite Crisis de-boot.

So far we've seen a Chief very much in the super-manipulative jerk mode of the Morrison team, a very successful and inclusive synthesis of all of the various Negative Men into one character, a resolution to nearly fifty years of Robotman bemoaning his lost humanity and most recently the reintroduction of Crazy Jane and Danny the Street, two of the most thoroughly long-lost characters that I could name.

And of course that got me thinking: just what else will be reappearing from the murky depths of the Doom Patrol's past? Join me as I present the top ten people, things and tendencies that I would love to see make their way back into the light.

10. The Arsenal

Not of course the post-Speedy, pre-Red Arrow Roy Harper (and isn't he going to be going back to that name again soon?). No, this was a guy in a pretty radical set of robotic armour who had a trap-filled castle and a giant chip on his shoulder, the latter because he was maybe three feet tall.

I really do think that there is a place on Oolong for someone brilliant enough to design a humanoid exoskeleton that can nearly defeat the Doom Patrol but dumb enough to try to rob a bank in a humanoid exoskeleton that has no hands.

9. Scott Fischer

Scott was one of the unfortunate characters introduced pre-Morrison in the 1980s revival of the series, all of whom were surplus to requirements after Invasion and most of whom met with grisly ends, including joining the Suicide Squad, being shot by the Chief and getting exploded by aliens. Poor Scott wasn't even doing that well beforehand, since the same childhood snacking on toxic waste that gave him his powers also gave him leukemia, but things just got sad once the Dominators set off their gene bomb and provided hundreds of DC characters with origin stories. Somehow Scott managed to take the mysterious radiations that were giving folks the world over super-powers and turn them into even more leukemia, leading to his off-panel death. Poor kid never had a chance - he never even came back as a Black Lantern, for heaven's sake!

Plus, he's got huge Erik Larsen-style ears! Who can resist those?

8. The Codpiece


One of Rachel Pollack's very first creations for her turn as Doom Patrol scribe. The motivation behind the Codpiece's criminal career is refreshingly transparent, but will I ever see him in a non-Vertigo comic? Probably not.

7. The Return of R-2

Way back in the day there was an origin of the Chief that involved a young Niles Caulder being sponsored in his hunt for a means of conquering death. Too late, he discovered that his sponsor was the dastardly General Immortus! To prevent Immortus from becoming... even more immortal, Caulder enacted a plan that called for him to die and for his trusted robot aide R-2 to bring him back with science.

The whole thing was a complete success, although Caulder was no longer a walking man. And how did he reward the faithful servant that had brought him back from death itself?


Yep, two in the back of the robo-head. That is cold, brother Niles.

I would dearly love to see R-2 come back as a headless mechanical ghost, or even as a robot servant that doesn't get mob-style executed for doing a good job. Perhaps then the above panel would stop haunting my dreams.

6. Giant Guys With Delusions of Grandeur






They sure fought a lot of them. Why not a few more?

5. ROG!

Rog, the giant red robot used by the original Brotherhood of Evil: best giant robot ever? Judge for yourself:

Name me one other giant robot that has commenced an attempt to steal the Statue of Liberty by skiing up on two motorboats.

4. Shasta the Living Mountain

I know that he was just a useless, doomed-to-die sad sack character in Doom Force, the comic that only existed to mock the state of comics in the 90s, but how can you resist that sad little face?


Wait, no, it's a pretty hideous face. Well, maybe he could die again.

3. Ir, Ur and Ar, the Freaky Mutants


Ar, Ir and Ur, mutants caused by early atomic testing, were more than a match for the Doom Patrol. Heck, they almost took out the entire planet with a comet - the only reason that they didn't was that the Chief managed to trick them by employing the old Robot Gladiator From an Advanced Mutant-Run Alien Civilization Routine.

More importantly, these guys are completely freaky - they weird me out more  than any number of tentacled hell-beasts in actual horror comics have managed to do, especially the face-on-chest guy. I bet that they could be turned to good, unsettling use nowadays.

2. The Beard Hunter


So I like the idea of super-serious Niles Caulder having a ridiculous Punisher parody as an arch-enemy, so sue me.



I have loved a lot of giant robots down through the years - just last week I was loving those amazing red guys on the "Super Batman of Planet X!" episode of Batman: the Brave and the Bold - but the Giant Robot Jukebox holds a strong position in the race for the title of my favourite.


Putting aside the glory of the design (and ignoring the mediocrity of the colour scheme), there's just something about the idea of a guy taking the fact that his company has assigned him to make a giant promotional jukebox and just totally seizing the day. this might, after all, be his only chance to make a giant robot on the company dime.


And in a world filled with super-humans doing super things, how great would it be to be able to tell your boss you were late because a giant robotic jukebox destroyed the bridge with bad pop?

Don't worry: this doesn't invalidate my affection for Rog, since he is clearly a giant robot that you ride around in and that is completely different than the kind that you just let loose to go smash things.

And that's that: my list of ten things, the appearance of any two or three of which in Doom Patrol will completely validate me. Feel free to let me know your own preferences in the comments section and I'll share the list of runners-up. Good night!



Thinking Hypothetically: The Silver Age Doom Patrol

It's a lazy Saturday here at the John pad, so I'm going to engage in some thought-exercise. Specifically, I'm going to try to figure out just what kind of chance the members of the 1960s version of the Doom Patrol would have had if they'd applied for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I've changed things up a bit since the last time I did this: instead of arbitrarily deciding whether someone gets in or not I'm going to give everyone a hundred points, then subtract a varying amount based on any ways in which they don't qualify for Legion membership (being 25 might lose you 5 points, while being as old as time itself would bump it up to 20) However many points are left at the end of my brutal evaluation process will be the likelihood of their admittance into the LSH, percentage-style. And  then, being a well-rounded nerd, I'm going to roll 2d10 to see if they get in.

Today we'll be doing things in reverse alphabetical order!


Cliff Steele, former racecar driver, had his brain placed in a powerful robotic shell following a terrible accident. He's been the Martian Manhunter of the Doom Patrol, having been a member of every incarnation so far. And noone has yet stabbed him fatally with a fire spear!


Over 18: -5 points

No powers/duplicate powers/device-based powers: -15 points (no matter how he swings it he's going to get dinged here. He's either an ordinary guy, a guy whose power is being made of metal [which is Ferro Lad's schtick] or is reliant on a robot body. No way someone isn't going to bring that up).

Likely to mouth off during the interview: -10 points

Not too bad, actually. The simplicity of Cliff's position is his strength here - he's a brain in a jar in a robot. If he applied post Sun Eater then there could hardly be any arguments against the usefulness of having a metal guy around. Plus, Robotman's cavalier attitude toward his body comes in handy with surprising frequency. I've seen him rip off his limbs to use as missiles or hurl himself into machinery to gum up the works with surprising frequency - he'd be worth having around for the novelty factor of seeing Mordru get a robo-leg upside the head during one of his soliloquies, if nothing else. And Brainiac 5 would have the fun of replacing his various parts. Try to tell me that he wouldn't enjoy that.

The only real problem is that Mr Steele here is a bit of a big mouth, with a penchant for insulting people at the slightest provocation. I reckon that there's a pretty good chance of him calling someone "something-puss" or "something-snoot" during the interview, with the "something" being replaced by physical idiosyncrasy. Chameleon Boy, for example, would be "pumpkin-snoot".

Still, he stands at an astonishing 70%. Let's get out the old dice and see... hooray! He's in!

Negative Man

Larry Trainor was a test pilot who flew too high one day and was filled with radiation. Now he himself is radioactive, necessitating that he wear specially-treated bandages in order to keep the people around him safe. On the plus side, he can release the super-fast energy being Negative Man from his body in order to do his bidding. On the minus: if Negative  Man is away for more than sixty seconds, Larry will die.


Over 18: -5 points

Drawback ("If your bandages were to slip off during a mission, you could irradiate and kill your teammates!"): -10 points

Another drawback ("What if Negative Man were away too long and you died? We'd never finish a mission that way."): -10 points

Very likely to mouth off during the interview: -20 points

Larry's got more bankable powers than Robotman but on the other hand has a heck of a lot more negative (ha!) traits. Barring the super-generalists like Superboy and Ultra Boy, the Legion is traditionally low on speddy types, so he's doing all right there, as well as with the radio energy that he is usually described as crackling with. A little fancy talk to downplay the inherent downsides to the Negative Man condition, maybe a bit of a mention of the whole pilot thing along with a hint that he'd only be too happy to fly the Legion Cruiser on missions (I'm sure that they need more pilots -  half the damn team flies outside of the spaceship) and he's in.

Problem is, Larry's got a bigger mouth than Robotman. He starts more of their many fights and definitely starts the name-calling more than his share of the time. There's no way he gets through the judging process without calling someone a "tin-plated gavel jockey" or something equally nonsensical. There might even be a fist-fight.

It's an even fifty-fifty chance for Larry Trainor, folks. And... he doesn't get in! Larry ends up joining the Legion of Substitute Heroes for about two weeks before he punches out Stone Boy during an argument over a sandwich and is asked to leave.


Steve Dayton! Billionaire industrialist, philanthropist, inventor, super-hero! Steve Dayton, AKA Mento! Not really a member of the Doom Patrol, but associated heavily-enough with them that I include him here.


Over 18: -5 points

Uses a device (the 'Mento helmet') to achieve his powers: -15 points (I knocked off 5 points because there's some indication that the helmet just amplifies some powers that he already possesses)

Somewhat likely to mouth off during the interview: -10 points

More than a little creepy: -10 points

Possible criminal record: -20 points

Mento is an interesting character but only occasionally a likeable one. Yes, he has telekinetic powers in addition to being in top athletic condition, but he's also a bit of an arrogant dick. Since he only really associated with the Doom Patrol in order to get into Elasti-Girl's pants I have to assume that that would be his motivation for applying for Legion Membership as well. The only question would be: who is he stalking? Shrinking Violet? Triplicate Girl? Princess Projectra? Whoever it was, it'd likely come up at the interview. Steve is a little more cool-headed than Larry or Robotman but is more than ready to rise to any baiting that he might encounter. Throw in the fact that he uses a device to gain his powers and the fact that he might have a record either for insider trading or for this sort of thing:

and his score is down to a measly 40 percent. Did he get in? Nope! Bitter, Steve takes to the drink, slowly losing his holdings to RJ Brande's corporate takeovers and racking up an impressive number of restraning orders from female super-heroes.


Rita Farr was a movie star and (I think) an Olympic swimmer before she was exposed to strange gases and gained the power to grow or shrink at will. Later, she refined the ability so that she could grow only a part of herself at a time.


Over 18: -5 points

Duplicate powers (Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy): -20 points

Bit of a pushover: -5 points

Now Rita, she's a good fit for the Legion. She's got a fairly straightforward power, no major personality flaws and is quite good at the actual mechanics of super-heroing. As noted above, though, she can be pretty passive at times - two to four men at a time were usually squabbling over her in the old Doom Patrol comics and she was not terrific at doing much more than going with the flow. I reckon that if Superboy or someone started claiming that "If you suddenly expanded while we were all in an elevator or something then you could seriously harm all of us. Except me. Unless you're magic." then she might not do more than agree with him and  slink out of the room. Or maybe not - she did show some spine from time to time.

Okay, assuming that she emphasized the usefulness of being able to grow parts of herself instead of the part where she has powers that are already represented on the Legion... 75 percent chance. Go, Elasti-Girl! And...aw. She didn't make it. Reverting to her sex-object roots, Rita went on to date Sun Boy, Matter-Eater Lad and Chemical King in quick succession before settling down with Kid Psycho in a little split-level Moon Dome.

The Chief

Niles Caulder is the genius behind the Doom Patrol: the man who placed Cliff Steele's brain into the Robotman body, who coordinates the Patrol's activities and who creates all of the scientific devices that they require to fight monsters and other weirdies.


Over 50: -10 points

Duplicate powers (Brainiac 5, Rond Vidar): -15 points

Drawback ("Dude, you're an old man in a wheelchair."): -20 points

Aloof: -5 points

The Chief is going to have a hard time winning over the Legion. Put aside the fact that he's older than most of their parents or that he's used to being in charge of a team and is likely to put people off with his attitude - the guy's in a wheelchair due to supervillain misadventure. It's highly likely that Wildfire is going to walk over and tip him onto the floor as an illustration of why they're going to reject him. Of course, Niles Caulder doesn't roll around in just any old wheelchair, and is likely to pull what I like to call a Val Armorr Manouvre: beating up a Legionnaire to prove that you can cut it in the Legion. In Niles' case, there's a giant mechanical arm in the back of the thing for smacking people around, plus a machine gun in the arm.

Of course, the Legion already has a couple of guys whose claims to fame are their big brains. Do they want someone who specializes in Sixties-style mad science cluttering up their lab? Let's see: another no. Well, don't worry about old Niles. He gathers together a rag-tag team of heroes like The Mess and Arm Fall-Off Boy and sets out to prove that they're more than their freakish deformities. Then, years later, Grant Morrison writes their adventures. The Mess becomes a hermaphroditic comet with some pretty interesting theories about popular radio!

Beast Boy

Look everyone, it's Garfield "Gar" Logan! Given an experimental serum when dying of a rare illness, he turned green and gained the ability to turn into various animals! If you grew up during the Eighties or Nineties, you might know him better as Changeling!


Kind of likely to mouth off during interview: -15 points

Power duplication (Chameleon Boy): -10 points

Same name as a dead guy: -5 points


Great hair: +5 points

Beast Boy is a bit of a troubled lad as a result of being orphaned at a young age and then entrusted to a scheming uncle who was interested in his inheritance and nothing else, but the structure of a group like the Legion might be just what he needs. It has to be better than him hanging around with the Doom Patrol, for heavens' sake - two grown men yelling at him and calling him names in Sixties lingo can't help his self-esteem. As long as he doesn't antagonize the Legion members like he did the original Teen Titans, he'll be fine. His powers are only kind of like Chameleon Boy's, after all (especially if Reep can grow an imagination) and I'm sure that Brainiac 5 would like to see another green face around the Clubhouse. After all, it's not like he's a token or anything - surely the Legion can have more than one guy of a certain colour at a time. Right?

Beast Boy has the same name as the deceased semi-villainous former member of the Heroes of Lallor, but the creepiness of that is offset by his great hair, and by the fact that he retained that hair, well...

... that's right. He kept his wicked mop-top while he was in animal form. How could the Legion resist that? 75 percent chance of getting in and... he gets in!

Robotman and Beast Boy are our newest members of Johnathan's Possible Legion of Maybe Super-Heroes, who need a better name! Feel free to suggest one!

Until next time, mes amis.