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How DC's Titans Sets Up 2019's Doom Patrol Spinoff

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The fourth episode of Titans - "Doom Patrol" - does a masterful job of establishing the titular team and setting up the upcoming Doom Patrol series. Based on the episode, it seems that the spin-off (which is scheduled to premiere on the DC Universe streaming service in February 2019) will be a largely faithful adaptation of the classic comics from the 1960s, with the addition of elements and characters taken from later Doom Patrol comics.

First appearing in My Greatest Adventure #80 in June 1963, the Doom Patrol were billed as "The World's Strangest Heroes." Though the team's membership has varied over the years, it was largely made up of people who acquired disfiguring or debilitating superpowers through a variety of accidents. All of the original line-ups of Doom Patrol members had their lives saved by the team's leader, the enigmatic "Chief" - a paraplegic who was both a genius inventor and a medical doctor, who originally kept his identity as Dr. Niles Caulder a secret from the team and the world at large.

Related: DC's Titans Did Doom Patrol And Hawk & Dove The Wrong Way Around

The original Doom Patrol line up consisted of three characters. The first was race-car driver Cliff Steele (aka Robotman) whose brain Dr. Caulder implanted into a robot body after a crash. The second was test-pilot Larry Trainor (aka Negative Man), whose exposure to radiation during a flight created a dangerous being made of pure negatively-charged energy, which lives inside Larry's body. Finally, there is actress Rita Farr (aka Elasti-Woman), whose exposure to strange gases gave her the ability to change her size and later stretch any part of her body. Beast Boy, though better known today as a member of the Teen Titans, first appeared in Doom Patrol #99 and was adopted by Rita Farr after being rescued from a life of crime, forced to use his shape-shifting powers to help a gang of thieves.

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With one notable exception, the team we see in the Titans "Doom Patrol" are taken directly from the original Doom Patrol comics of the 1960s. The only major change is that Rita Farr does not seem to have full control over her powers and becomes a shapeless blob of protoplasm when she doesn't keep her full attention on "keeping her face on." This seems to be a nod to the Infinite Crisis reboot of the team in 2005, where a new Elasti-Woman - a clone of Rita Farr, with the original's memories - was created without the "weaknesses" of bones and internal organs, making her into a true formless shape-shifter. This also explains why a glamorous actress like Rita Farr would feel the need to hide herself from the world like the rest of her new family - a question that was never truly addressed in the original Doom Patrol comics.

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The latest Titans episode also hints at a modern development regarding Dr. Niles Caulder and a darker side to the formation of the Doom Patrol. For all that he plays at being a humanitarian who wants to help those that other doctors have written off, there is something sinister about Dr. Caulder even before he forcibly restrains Rachel Roth in an effort to study her. For instance, he seems more concerned about Beast Boy breaking his rules by bringing Rachel into his home than he is over the fact that Beast Boy only did this to deliver a patient who clearly needed Dr. Caulder's help. This may be a nod toward an idea from the Doom Patrol comics of Grant Morrison, which established that Dr. Caulder engineered many of the "accidents" that created the Doom Patrol's membership to prove his theories that true greatness could only come about through tragic beginnings. At the very least, it establishes Dr. Caulder as a bit of a jerk - a fair assessment of his character, even in the original comics.

The Titans episode is also an effective set-piece for establishing the personalities of each member of the Doom Patrol with surprising subtlety. The enthusiasm which Negative Man shows for cooking as he dances in the kitchen is matched by the melancholy tone as Robotman asks Rachel to describe the taste of the dinner that he can't enjoy. All in all, the episode perfectly accomplishes its goal and will likely spawn a new generation of fans for The World's Strangest Heroes.

More: Titans Just Introduced [SPOILER] To DC's Universe

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