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! 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.

Part two of that last thing! A long time later! By Johnathan!

I may seem to be in the grip of some sort of late-Winter/early-Spring frenzy of procrastination  but I am totally working on really cool things! With Paul! Also, I'm procrastinating a lot. But with a girl! Which isn't as bad, I think?


Mr Terrific - Would there even be a Mr Terrific in the Thirtieth Century? Terry Sloane started crime-fighting because he was the very best at everything and was super-duper suicidally bored by it all. But was he smarter than Brainiac 5? A better fighter than Karate Kid? More roly-poly than Bouncing Boy? No, no and no. I figure that a Mr Terrific somehow thrust into a Legion audition would find himself feeling suicidally inferior. He'd probably end up living in the sewers underneath the Clubhouse, eating future-vermin (astro-snakes! cosmic sand fleas! plasma eels!) and writing bad poetry about rejection. And everyone would forget about him until Five Years Later, when he shows up in two panels before getting shot by the Dominion. Poor guy.

Sandman - In contrast, Golden Age Wesley Dodds is just too damn hard to stop for him *not* to get into the Legion. Seriously, I don't know about his solo adventures but in the old All-Star Comics days he was easily the most bad-assed of the normal JSAers. As far as I can figure it, Lightning Lad or someone would have a scary dream about Sandman (and possibly also Sandy, the Golden Boy) punching him in the head and then he'd wake up and go to get a cup of coffee to steady his nerves and then Sandman would bust through the door and punch him in the head. He wouldn't even have a vote - no one would. they'd all wake up one day and Sandman would be just finishing screwing his name-plate onto that big horseshoe-shaped mass podium they have and that would be that.

Spectre - Well, he's got the power, but I don't know if his methods are in line with standard Legion non-homicidal practice. Also - and I know I made a very similar joke about Dr Fate - I think that "as old as time" is a bit too far past the age of eighteen to be ignored.

Starman - Let's ignore the fact that he wouldn't get in in a million years because he gains his power from a Cosmic Rod (and that thing really never did work too well, to tell the truth. It seemed like he lost it or found that it was completely useless about every other adventure) and think about how much more interestingly confusing the Legion would be if he got in. Star Boy! Starman! Together at last! Oh no, here comes Starfinger and Pulsar Stargrave! Aiee!

Wildcat - If his "nine lives" power was in effect, Wildcat would totally get in, but even if it wasn't I think that he would be a valuable addition to the Legion lineup for one simple reason: costume diversity. Essentially, most of the Legion (and a decent percentage of the JSA, actually) are wearing spaceman clothes with some sort of fancy-pants logo on the front. Whither the themed costumes of yore, super-teens? Wildcat, with his right-down-to-the-jowls attention to detail (okay, I haven't actually seen a jowled cat, but there must be some reason for those little flaps) could show those young punks a thing or two about looking good while cracking skulls. Picture Brainiac 5 wearing a hat shaped like a brain. Are you delighted? The answer is yes.

Wonder Woman - The Justice Society's secretary, which is kind of heinous, yes. It's not quite as bad in the context of the stories ("We can only have eight members for some dumb reason, but we think that you're cool! Want to be our secretary?") but yeah: stupid. Despite (because of?) all of the bondage, Golden Age Wonder Woman actually kicked a fair amount of ass, and her own comic was delightfully weird. I can't really think of any powers that she has that aren't duplicated by half of the legion membership, though. Maybe having Etta Candy around could count (Etta Candy is the most delightful Golden Age sidekick since Slam Bradley's pal Shorty. So I have decreed). If not, I'm sure that she could get into the Wanderers, no problem.

Thinking Hypothetically: The JSA, by Johnathan:

I went to see The Watchmen last night (for the nerd-record: I liked it and think it was a good adaptation but of course have a small voice inside of me crying about how my favourite scene was messed up. All in all, though: JOHN APPROVED) and it got me thinking: which members of the classic Justice Society of America would have gotten into the Legion of Superheroes?

Uh, I said that it got me thinking, not that it got me thinking in a particularly linear fashion. Still, good idea for a not-really-a-review, hey?

So, to set the stage, it's Legion Tryout day, some time after the "one boy and one girl per year" thing was phased out, and this motley crew shows up on the rocket doorstep:

For the purposes of this little thought-experiment we will be considering members of the JSA during their original run, but ignoring Batman and Superman because they were hardly ever in the comic and have had plenty of legion face-time anyway. Just for fun, if someone seems doomed for rejection of a shoo-in for acceptance we might try to think up a situation wherein the obvious might not occur. In roughly alphabetical order:

The Atom: Poor old Al Pratt got to be a super-hero by working out and practicing and never saying die. Despite his short stature he was one of the most effective members of the JSA in a fight. The Legion would've turfed him out on his ear in no time flat. Best Case Scenario: The Atom saves the world while the Legion is busy fighting Doctor Mayavale again and ends up palling around with Pete Ross in the Legion Reserve.

Black Canary: I haven't actually read any of the Black Canary's Golden Age adventures but I'm pretty sure that she was another in the "regular person with a solid right hook" school of crimefighting and that the Canary Cry came later. Still, let's say that she has it for the sake of this not turning into a series of identical paragraphs. Man, sh'd be in there like no one's business. As risque as the bustier-and-fishnets look might have been at some point in the past, it's practically a hoop skirt and bustle by the standards of the 70s Legion. The unbridled lust of Sun Boy alone would propel a flight ring onto her finger.

Dr Fate: Now, I've read maybe the first twenty issues of All-Star Comics, where the JSA made their home in the 40s and, as far as I can tell, the Dr Fate that appeared in those comics was less the magic-wielding champion of Order that we all know and love and more... something else? He seems to talk about being composed of "pure energy" a lot. He still uses magic, though, so whether he could get in is basically a matter of whether the White Witch is already a member, I suppose. Worst Case Scenario: the Legion find out that Kent Nelson is just a regular dude without the Helmet of Fate and have Triplicate Girl toss him out on his ear for gaining his powers from a device. Also, technically, Nelson and Dr Fate are two different guys, and isn't Fate thousands of years old? Not that most of the JSA aren't breaking the "nobody over the age of eighteen" rule, but still.

Dr Mid-Nite
: Okay, I guess the fact that Mid-Nite really is a medical doctor is a cue-off to the fact that he's likely at least in his late twenties. Ignoring that, though, I think that he's got a pretty decent shot. A few judiciously-placed blackout bombs in the Legion tryout chamber, then a demonstration of the ol' patented Charles McNider "seeing in the dark" trick and he would be on easy street. Imagine Dr Mid-Nite, Shadow Lass and Night Girl teaming up to form... the Legion Shadow Squad! Who would dare call that a bad idea?

The Flash: I can't see why the Flash wouldn't get in, given his super-cool super-speed. Time for a Worst Case Scenario: "We're sorry, Flash. While your amazing speed powers might prove useful in a combat situation, we feel that there is a very real chance that if you stopped suddenly your hat might fly off like a discus and decapitate somebody, probably Bouncing Boy. REJECTED!"

Green Lantern: On the face of it, this one's easy, since having to wear and recharge a ring to keep yourself all powered up kind of breaks that one rule about having to have your own powers. Golden Age Green Lantern wasn't so much about firing green boxing gloves or can-can dancers or whatever out of the ring, though, so he might have had a chance. He could fly and was immune to metal (but famously not to wood, which could trip him up if anyone was in a pissy mood). I'd say he has a fifty-fifty chance based on how observant everyone was that day and whether he got to test-fight Ferro Lad or Chlorophyll Kid as his initiation feat.

Hawkman: Not in a million years. Everyone in the Legion can fly and their flying devices are a lot smaller than his and they already have Dawnstar. Best Case Scenario: He manages to convince them that he's a Thanagarian ambassador and gets a tour of the building.

Hourman: One of my favourite super-heroes ever (seriously, I was so sad about him seemingly dying in New Frontier that it took Darwyn Cooke himself to console me and say it wasn't so), so it pains me to admit that he wouldn't have much of a chance of getting into the Legion. Popping a yellow-and-red-striped pill every hour is a bit of a giveaway that you weren't born with super-strength (though making your super-pill match your cape is a pretty classy move, by my estimation). Still, Rex Tyler would make a pretty snazzy addition to the Legion of Substitute Heroes, especially as he would automatically be its most competent (and stylish) member.

Johnny Thunder: If anyone on this list would royally screw up the tryout process it would be Johnny. He'd say "Say, you fellows are tops in my book." and the Thunderbolt would misinterpret that as an order to make everyone spin around until Brainiac 5 vomits Coluan nutrient paste and that would be the end of that. However, Johnny Thunder would have made a fantastic supporting character in the Silver Age Legion adventures. Unlike the competent-but-not-confident Substitute legion, he could follow the Legionnaires around in various attempts to impress them and then fail spectacularly. Big laffs!

Ag! It's been a long day! I'm exercising my right to finish this tomorrow!