Secret Origins Annual #1: Doom Patrol and Captain Comet

Ryan Daly and Doug Zawisza review the origin of the Doom Patrol from Secret Origins Annual #1. Then, Kyle Benning returns to help Ryan cover the story of Captain Comet.

Listen to Annual 1!

Subscribe to Secret Origins Podcast on iTunes!

Sample pages from Secret Origins Annual #1, written Paul Kupperberg with art by John Byrne (Doom Patrol), and Roy Thomas with art by Ron Harris and Bruce Patterson (Captain Comet), and a cover by Byrne. Plus, a page from the Doom Patrol #1 preview text piece by Joey Cavalieri with art by Steve Lightle.

An#1cover An#1page4 An#1page8 An#1page16 An#1page26 An#1Bpage1 An#1Bpage8 An#1Bpage17 An#1Preview

Plus, sample pages from My Greatest Adventure #80 by Larry Drake and Bruno Permian, Doom Patrol #1 (1987) by Paul Kupperberg and Steve Lightle, Doom Patrol #1 (2009) by Keith Giffen and Matthew Clark, and Strange Adventures #14 by John Broome and Murphy Anderson.

MGA80 DP1 DP2 StrangeAdv#14.1 StrangeAdv#14.2

Bonus: My Doom Patrol fan-cast picks. For funsies.

Cliff Larry Rita Chief Immortus Mallah Brain Rouge

Check out Doug’s Doom Patrol blog My Greatest Adventure 80:

and Tales of My Greatest Strange Adventures:

Then listen to Kyle’s King-Size Comics, Giant-Size Fun podcasts:

“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) written and performed by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “Under Pressure” by My Chemical Romance and The Used; “Do the Evolution” by Pearl Jam.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

15 thoughts on “Secret Origins Annual #1: Doom Patrol and Captain Comet

  1. Fabulous episode Ryan, Doug and Kyle. You add so much observational value in your thoughts on the Doom Patrol, such as the original line up being a twisted version of the Fantastic Four. It’s something Mike and I aspire to in Waiting For Doom, but so often we just take the stories as they come because we are less thoughty.

    Captain Comet is another great character. Kyle knew a lot more than me about the early appearances of the character, but I can add drop some knowledge about what he was up to after Secret Origins Annual 1 and before Infinite Crisis. He had a long association with the cosmic-team-in-the-present-day L.E.G.I.O.N. (if you consider the late 80’s to early 90’s present day). Having been a captive in space for decades and essentially an immortal, he was given a Captain America-esque ‘man out of time’ spin in that run which worked really well, essentially hanging a lantern on his anachronistic aspects. That series is as enjoyable to read as the title is irritating to type.

    The only other notable CapCom appearance is in the end of the brilliant Golden Age mini series by James Robinson and Paul Smith. Blake emerges as a successor to the Justice Society participating in the climactic battle and being the first 1950s hero. I can’t recommend that story enough.

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  2. Great stuff as always. Well except for assaulting my ears with terrible covers of a great song, also you may want to bring your Kyle Benning android in for service, it sounds like his voice synthesizer is degrading.

    The Doom Patrol really does sound like one of those properties that would be terrific as an adaptation. The regrettable thing though is that movie studios care much more about name recognition than they do about whether or not something will actually adapt well. The only way this would happen would basically be the Ant-Man scenario, where a passionate filmmaker cares enough about that specific property to push it through (even though in that case, Edgar Wright ultimately bailed, but it still only happened because he championed it for as long as he did.) So this goes onto my ever growing list of comic books that should be movies but probably never will be, taking up residence next to Transmetropolitan, Spider-Man 2099 and Far West.

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  3. Hi Doug, Kyle, and Bryan!
    Another batch of fantastic guest stars! They really make the show worth coming back for week after week. I’m still working my way through the episode (just finished Captain Comet), but had a few moments to type up some thoughts.
    1) Dude! Retroactively change this episode number to 17 1/2 (or simply call it Annual #1). Keeping the episode number and issue number in sync will make the lives of the listeners so much easier. Trust me. I’ve lived this with the WHO’S WHO PODCAST. If you don’t want to do that, then stop mentioning the episode number; it’ll just confuse the simple folk.
    2) You mentioned Rachel Pollack closed out the Doom Patrol series. She didn’t close it out, she buried it. Her run was a poor imitation of Morrison’s run and should never have been allowed to happen. They should have ended the book, or taken it in another direction.
    3) The “New Doom Patrol” by Kupperberg and Staton featured a redesigned version of the Robotman suit. Apparently, Joe Staton had given Cliff a body swiped from Byrne’s Rog 2000 character. Therefore, Byrne was never happy with the redesign. Would be interested to know if Byrne drew the redesigned suit in the Secret Origins Annual. After all, Byrne chose not to draw the redesigned suit in the WHO’S WHO entry.
    4) I think Captain Comet’s angst came into play during the Secret Society of Super-Villains issues. They might have been trying to get some of that heat from the “mutant” craze (they were always very angsty), since CC was a mutant himself. That’s just a guess.
    5) Paul already mentioned L.E.G.I.O.N. (fill in the year), which is where many modern day readers might know Captain Comet.
    Again, great episode! Kyle’s audio wasn’t too bad, so nothing to worry about there. Keep bringing in those fantastic guest stars! Looking forward to finishing up the feedback section and finding one or two objectionable items in there. Always a joy.
    The Irredeemable Shag

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  4. My intro to the Doom Patrol was a house ad for the revival, in Showcase (which was itself revived), with the New Doom Patrol. Except, I never got to read an issue. I knew it had a cool name and the more I learned about the classic team, the cooler it sounded. It was New Teen Titans that really gave me an intro to the group. I still didn’t get to read a DP story, until this issue, and the new series, with Paul Kupperberg and Steve Lightle. It’s too bad Byrne didn’t get to play more with the Patrol, as I think it would have been great. Lightle’s art on the new series was good; but, the story was losing me, when Erik Larsen came onto the book and killed any interest I had. I heard it ended up in some Scotsman’s hands. I confess I didn’t read that, until they put out the first trade and was intrigued; but not enough to read the whole Morrison series. Morrison is one of those guys who is very hit and miss, for me, and the weirder he gets, the less interest I have in his writing.

    I’ve since gotten to read some of the classic DP adventures and they are awesome (sometimes delightfully goofy). It was always a great concept and the stories were rather unique. I was extremely satisfied when I saw the Batman The Brave and the Bold episode, as it captured the flavor of the team well, as well as their noble end and it sold the emotion of it.

    My Chemical Romance? Nobody measures up to Freddy Mercury, let alone Freddy and Bowie!

    One thing; X-Men wasn’t that huge when the New Doom Patrol debuted. It was a cult book, but was still about a year or two away from being THE book. Byrne had just come onboard and the series didn’t really take off in popularity until Byrne had been around a while, particularly as they started to get into the ehart of the Dark Phoenix storyline. Really, 1979 was the Year of the X-Men, not ’77. That’s not to say, though, that Kupperberg wasn’t a fan and wanted to bring that sensibility to DC. It was certainly a factor in the 80s Doom Patrol, while Kupperberg was writing.

    Some of us know Ciaran Hinds from Prime Suspect 3 (playing the leader of a pedophile ring, opposite Helen Mirren’s DCI Jane Tennison), as well as the A&E adaptation of Ivanhoe, as Brian Du bois Gilbert, the troubled Knight Templar. Hinds was fantastic in that one and was one of the first to give Gilbert a rounded personality. He’s even pretty good in John Carter. I first knew of Jean Reno from La Femme Nikita, though, obviously, the rest of the US met him in Leon (aka The Professional). For the long time, he was Luc Besson’s good luck charm, appearing in Le Dernier Combat, Subway, Nikita, Big Blue and Leon. One of my favorites, for eno, is Matthieu Kassovitz’s Crimson Rivers, along with Vincent Cassell.

    Man, Eddie Vedder sounds like he is desperately trying to be Jello Biafra on that one.

    Captain Comet is a character I liked more in concept than execution (outside of his heyday). He turned up in Secret Society of Super-Villains, as the regular nemesis; but, his best modern use, for me, was in the Golden Age, as the link to the future of heroes.

    A Midwestern university that is known for science and football? Obviously, it is the University of Illinois. Well, we used to have good football teams, like when I went there (84-88).

    If you want to check out a little better Ron Harris work, try his Epic (as in the Marvel imprint) mini-series, Crash Ryan, which is his ode to aviation movie serials and pulp adventure. It’s a lot of fun, though it had some technical problems with the printing. On the plus side, they can be had pretty cheaply.

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  5. I have been looking forward to this episode for some time. One, I am a huge fan of the Doom Patrol and this issue in particular. But also because I have never quite understood Captain Comet and was hoping to learn more.

    I have been with the Patrol since the Showcase Kupperberg/Staton issues. That was the first book I remember seeing a house ad for and actively looking for on the spinner rack. Man, I am dating myself. Anyways, there is something magical about this team, the name, the dynamics which has worked in almost all of their incarnations.

    This Kupperberg/Byrne book did a great job reviewing both the original Drake/Premiani team as well as the updated Kupperberg team. Sure, the ‘tell us your origin so we know who you are’ premise feels a bit forced a device to hear all this, it did what it was meant to do. We heard all about Chief, Larry, Rita, and Cliff. This was an era without internet, Showcase collections, etc. Readers needed flashbacks like this to learn about these characters.

    There is something ‘icky’ about Chief’s romance with Arani. I think when he meets her, she looks like she is a preteen. She definitely would fail the (chief’s age/2 – 7) formula I am told is the way to figure out if a woman is too young for a man to try to date. And that team of Arani, Val, and Joshua never seemed to capture the elan of the first team.

    This definitely worked as a nice ‘zero issue’ for the Kupperberg/Lightle series that followed it. Unfortunately, despite Kupperberg bringing back a lot of older Patrol villains, it felt too ‘normal’. The Patrol needs a weirdness factor. Some of the issues come close (a horizontal splash page issue fighting a chaos demon is pretty odd).

    And Byrne brings the win here. This whole book is just gorgeous.

    One more note about the Patrol story. As I have said in other forums, the panel where it is Power Girl fighting Reactron brought home the fact that Supergirl was gone in this universe. There was a finality to that panel.

    I have blathered on. So I’ll be quick about Captain Comet.
    What is up with this guy??
    At times he seems to be on par with Superman power-wise. At times he seems like a mid-level guy. Is he fighting the Funky Flashman? Or is he the warden of the villain prison in Kingdom Come? I agree that he would work best for me if he was treated like the Silver Surfer, roaming the universe.

    Thanks again for a great review of this great issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I could beat up my pal Ryan for bypassing the original, classic “Under Pressure” for an uninspired, screechy boy band remake, but I won’t. Oh wait…

    Great episode! I first met the Doom Patrol in the pages of New Teen Titans #15 (the first issue of the title I picked up), right as Wolfman and Perez were FINALLY avenging the team. So I’ve always had a fondness for the original team, even though they were dead when I “met” them! I agree with both Ryan and Doug that the DP has always felt like an even more dysfunctional version of the Fantastic Four, and that Ben Grimm and Cliff Steele are practically the same character. I so wanted to check out the Kupperberg/Lightle series, but I didn’t have regular access to a comic shop at the time, and by the time I did, Erik Larsen was the penciller. Perhaps the most night and day switch in comics history. Lightle is VASTLY underrated. I also missed out on THIS issue, so I now I want to comb the back issue bins for Byrne’s art alone. It’s obvious how much he loved the original team, and you’re right, that one page of the new team looks VERY phoned in. I have lucked into the Doom Patrol Index with his excellent covers.

    In addition to the great DC Nation shorts and Batman: TB&TB appearances, the team were an important part of the last season of the original Teen Titans cartoon. The Chief got sidelined and replaced with Mento, but other than that, it was classic DP, although Cliff’s design was positively Thing-like in size. Great casting picks, fellas! I can totally hear Cannavale’s voice coming out of Cliff’s hinged jaw.

    Captain Comet…hmm…I appreciate his place in DC history, but I’ve never had much of a connection to him. I think part of the problem is the lack of reprints. I did love his appearance in Robinson’s and Smith’s The Golden Age. It wouldn’t surprise me that Robinson didn’t include him in that series, based on this story. The Golden Age series is unabashedly mined from Roy’s All-Star Squadron series, and since his portions of this title can be seen as a spin-off of that title, that may have goosed Robinson in choosing to use Adam Blake to wrap things up, and point toward the burgeoning Silver Age.

    Always great to hear Kyle, and the audio wasn’t really all that bad. From the warning, I expected far worse.

    Again, great show!


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  7. I’m a bit surprised at how low a profile Steve Dayton (Mento) has in this story, since, due to his active presence in New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Swamp Thing, he’d likely have been the Doom Patroller readers would have any familiarity with. But no, not on the cover, and if he was in the story at all it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss it thing apparently; didn’t make enough impression for you to bother trying to cast him for a filmed version. (i’d go Ron Perlman, maybe, although that’s probably over-budget for the version you were talking about.) And idea why this story was so determined to erase Dayton and the DP/New Titans connections?

    Captain Comet never really worked for me, although I think his time with the L.E.G.I.O.N. is where he came closest.

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  8. Cheers for another great listen, well done to Doug and Kyle.

    I love the DP, my favourite version is the original, they were such weirdos in a clean-looking world. The Giffen/Clark version was superb too. Heck, I’ve enjoyed every run to some extent, well, if you ignore the Arcudi/Huat thing.

    Interesting FF comparison, Ryan – Rita makes sense as Mr Fantastic. As for casting them, I’d continue the Law & Order actors (Simmons, Stoll) theme by having Alfred Molina as the Chief – he can do barking mad and smoulderingly sexy equally well … a bear of man with some charm could feasibly pull the much-younger Arani. Gemma Arterton gets to be Rita, Mad Men’s Kevin Rahm could be a fun Negative Man and David Boreanaz might surprise as Cliff. Who was that Doug suggested for Arani, sounded like Raka Sharma? I’d nip the Arani casting problem in the bud by ignoring her completely. Nutter.

    Aw, no love for Captain Comet? I liked him based on name and look alone – he had white pants! And how many heroes actually have brown hair? Not too keen on the idea of him as a whiner, though – good looks, immense power, who the heck is going to be repulsed by him? So, so Smallville. It’s about as convincing as the idea Rita Farr was a freak rather than a gorgeous Hollywood star who saved money on stepladders.

    The Morrison Captain Comet recently turned up, younger, in Supergirl, as a student at the Crucible space school for heroes.

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  9. Rereading my comment.
    To clarify, the formula I am told to calculate the youngest a woman should be for an older man to date is (age/2) + 7.

    I put minus 7 by accident.


  10. I always thought the Doom Patrol name and concept were cool, but the execution continuously left me cold. I tried a random issue off the comic shop newsstand, which turned out to be “The Beard Hunter,” and I didn’t get it or Morrison. I was also one of those suckers that bought Doom Force, which I expected to be funny but just made me mad. The group turned up in a number of retro-leaning guest spots, the best of which was JLA: Year One, but none quite made me a fan. In fact, I often disliked them greatly, especially when they tied into Titans or made Rita Farr out to be some sort of Super Suburban Mom. I’ve read several issues of the Kupperberg series, both Lightle and Larsen efforts, and hated the lot. I also tried the “Crawling from the Wreckage” trade, which was irritating and seemed weird for weirdness’ sake. I read an issue or two of the Arcudi series and disliked all the characters, then I tried the Byrne material in JLA and their own series, which all sucked. Finally, I checked a couple volumes of the Giffen/Clark series out at the library, and finally found a version I clicked with. That was a great series that should have performed better as it realized the concept in smart, entertaining stories with perfect art (except for all the fill-ins, which weren’t that noticeable with Ron Randall, but were obvious with Justiano.) Thanks to having so many dead members and so much emotional baggage, Doom Patrol had the best Blackest Night tie-ins. Where every other creator took severe turns to try courting new audiences and were constantly shedding continuity and adding “hip” new characters, this series was as inclusive of all incarnations of the Patrol as humanly possible, and even brought Ambush Bug (and Cheeks) in! I still need to check out the last two trades though, so maybe it was burning out for all I know.

    Since he’s essentially Ben Grimm and was in every lousy incarnation of the Doom Patrol, Robotman is easily my least favorite of the lot. I also prefer the Golden Age Robotman, a far more unique and better designed character who proved himself in a solo strip that lasted well past the super-hero boom into the ’50s. My favorite member is Rita Farr, who looked fantastic in her new gear by Clarke and was given greater dimension than any of her fellows in a fraction of their time in comics. Giffen did a great job of explaining why she truly belonged with the freaks of the Doom Patrol, rather than play into her perceived weakness as one of the fairer sex who bought into media images of perfection like a simple cow, as in this origin story. It also helped that she was alive again, like every one of her male comrades had been for at least a decade, and was a strong heroine that was not derivative of a male predecessor, as is the case with most DC super ladies. Giffen also made me like Negative Man by having his attitude match his name, instead of having him just whine like in the ’80s version. The jodhpurs helped. Jodhpurs always help.

    This Secret Origin was okay. John Byrne is usually his own worst inker, but he worked well enough here, though his style is far too conventional to suit this team. Imagine if instead of The Shadow, the creative team of Andy Helfer, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Kyle Baker had taken this on. I think the omniscient narrator was a bad idea, since it distanced me from the characters and their individual traumas. I’m also confident condensing everything down to cover every incarnation of the team shortchanged all the members, but especially the founders. It’s an extremely long and convoluted preamble to the hard pitch of the text piece promoting the separate ongoing series by a mostly different creative team. If this was all that I had to go on, I would have passed.

    I understand the X-Men comparison in hindsight, but it forgets which team came first, and also that the themes of bigotry (especially as they related to an allegory for racial strife) didn’t become prevalent in X-Men until Roy Thomas took over writing the book a year into the series. Further, as you pointed out, they’re much closer to a dark twist on the Fantastic Four. Three people doesn’t make much of a “patrol,” but they had the benefit over the F4 in allowing the team to expand while maintaining the core trio. I’d have been a lot more forgiving of the various relaunches if Elasti-Girl had been present and The Chief had stayed dead. I also agree that the Doom Patrol should totally be part of the next wave of DC Cinematic Universe offerings. Since Warner Brothers is set on doing sour, tragic properties, that fits them to a t, though some gallows/sarcastic humor would be welcome. That would make them a hybrid of the FF, X-Men, and Guardians of the Galaxy, which sure sounds like a home run.

    Finally, one of the only times outside of Giffen/Clarke that I read an intriguing Doom Patrol was in an issue of the Geoff Johns/Tony Daniel run on Teen Titans, where they were played as horrifyingly disturbed lot trapped in a haunted mansion manipulated by Mento. Johns returned to the Doom Patrol briefly in Justice League, but it was to use the Kupperberg/Lightle members as cannon fodder during Forever Evil, then as I recall barely touched on the surviving classic members (though Johns got to piss on his territory, as he did with Plastic Man and the Metal Men in their New 52 versions.)


  11. I won’t be commenting at length on Captain Comet, because it was a running gag in my Fire & Water Podcast commentary over the years that I would someday do a Captain Comet blog and podcast, except I did in fact do several posts on a mini-blog, and just this weekend I finally recorded/edited a podcast for the DC Bloodlines feed. However, that podcast covered the exact same ground as this one aside from a greater focus on the original telling, and I’d like to have one or two more in the can that advances the coverage more, so it’ll just stay in reserve for the foreseeable future. However, I will point out that I love Captain Comet, that he combines aspects of some of my favorite comic book characters, and that he has tons of potential, some of which has been demonstrated in nifty comic book tales.


  12. Another good episode, though always a shame when the host and guest-host don’t have much love for one of the characters, i.e. Captain Comet. I think Ryan may be right to want him to stay in his little corner of the DCU (perhaps as one of the few active heroes of the Atomic Age, along with the Martian Manhunter) because he’s always been an ill-fit in modern books, whether that’s LEGION or the Rann-Thanagar War stuff. My first experience with the character was Who’s Who, then this issue of Secret Origins. I think I immediately liked him, as perhaps the first post-Golden Age hero. Never read a better story than this though.

    As for the Doom Patrol, I’m a huge fan, probably since this issue. The Kupperberg/Lightle series started as fair superhero stuff, but once Lightle left and they started adding New Mutants wannabes, I dropped out. It was a couple years before I moved to university where there was a comic book shop and I grabbed Morrison’s run to date, and that remains my favorite iteration. Didn’t read Arcudi, was out of comics at the time, nor the Byrne, but enjoyed the recent Giffen book as a sort of halfway point between the original tales and the Morrison strangeness. I know no one’s read the My Greatest Adventure mini-series early in the New52, but its take on Robotman was just amazing and fun. Worth checking out.


  13. This annual began my on-again off-again romance with the Doom Patrol. I really wish DC would publish a new series but with the flavor of the original team.


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