Doom Patrol #121 – October, 1968
I found DOOM PATROL #121 at the short-lived “west branch” of PORT COMICS. I already knew about the final fate of the Doom Patrol, but now I was able to experience it firsthand.
Doom Patrol had been a series ahead of its time from the beginning. And though it had kind of lost its way towards the middle-end of its run, it redeemed itself in classic style in this final issue. For, in this story, the DP members allow a villain to blow them all to smithereens in exchange for sparing the lives of the 14 inhabitants of a coastal fishing village.
In 1968, super heroes simply didn’t die, as a rule, so the conclusion was both shocking and realistic, and in keeping with the fatalistic undercurrent the series always had. Of course, people can never leave well enough alone, and so three of the four Patrollers have since been revealed to have survived their apparent demise.
2 thoughts on “BHOCOS: DOOM PATROL #121”
I discovered the Doom Patrol after their demise, as back issues. They became the group of characters whom I most identified with as an adolescent, and it was partly because they felt like a hidden treasure I had found on my own, for myself. I managed to acquire the complete run. The early issues are great; a chunk of the middle issues are marred by involvement in the camp craze that undermined the credibility of superheroes in the 1960s. But I find the last half-dozen or so issues of the Doom Patrol an attempt to return the title to its original glory (not unlike what happened in the fourth and final season of The Man from UNCLE). I was especially taken with the sub-plot of the Chief’s perilous relationship with Madame Rouge, which set-up the climax of the series.
I was only six years old in 1968, and would not start reading comic books for another two years. The final issue was cover dated September-October 1968, which means it was likely produced after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th of that year. It might not be a coincidence, then, that Larry says, “Strangers? Didn’t you teach us, Chief, that all men are our brothers?” when Zahl and Rouge challenge the Doom Patrol to sacrifice themselves (hoping to expose their hypocrisy).
I had been a giant fan of the DP during the 60s. They were my favorite super-team. I had seen ads for their book in other DC titles, but my local candy store didn’t carry it. Only the discovery of another store enabled me to see what was going on, and by the time I started reading Doom Patrol, Beast Boy and Mento were part of the gang.
A local barber shop proved helpful for reading issues I had missed, but my ability to get the current issues was kind of spotty. As a result, I never saw the final issue and had no idea as to its contents. Over time, when I couldn’t find a DP anywhere, I figured they’d been cancelled. It wasn’t until I read the first SHOWCASE appearance of the new, boring-ass Doom Patrol that I learned of the original team’s passing. When I finally did read that story, I found it moving and shocking. I was grateful to have read it in my late teens, because had I done so in 1968, I think that would have done me some legit emotional damage. As you yourself said, superheroes didn’t die back then.