A Tribute to the of

I was recently in a Doom Patrol mood and dug through my copies on the shelf and came up with issue #103 from May of 1966. I can't decide if my memory is going or what, but to my delight I could not recall having read it before. I know I picked up a handful of books a while back at a show and sort of segregated them from the main collection, so maybe I have a few more surprises ahead of me.

"The Meteor Man!" was an effort by DP scribe Arnold Drake with art by Bruno Premiani and as usual Murray Boltinoff was the team's editor. That dynamic cover (and let's be honest; the covers for the '60s Doom Patrol were all pretty gripping) was by Bob Brown and lettering credit is given to Stan Starkman.

The action begins immediately as Niles "The Chief" Caulder along with Cliff "Robotman" Steel, Rita "Elasti-Girl" Farr, Larry "Negative Man" Trainor, Gar "Beast Boy" Logan and Steve "Mento" Dayton, aloft in a spacecraft, have abruptly had the hull compromised by a flaming figure who has flown right through it, sucking the life-sustaining air out in his wake. Cliff, Larry and Rita are, of course the core group, but Gar and Steve began to be more and more integrated into the storylines as the issues rolled forth under Arnold Drake. It was always sort of interesting to me how they often referred to one another in their civilian names, but after all, they'd have kind of a difficult time blending into your average crowd.

Anyhow, as our heroes are thrown about the cabin after the breach, the short term solution is for Elasti-Girl to enlarge her right fist and use it to hammer Robotman into the hole in the hull. Larry is now left to use his piloting skills to get them safely back to terra firma and his thoughts wander back to how quickly things went south from the morning's activities.

Prior to lift-off the Doom Patrol is introduced to Professor Randolph Ormsby, who the Chief refers to as a leading astronomer who will be jointing them on "Operation Shooting Star." Ormsby seems to suffer some sort of respiratory ailment as he coughs through the introduction, and demonstrates that he's phobic about germs as he refuses to shake any proffered hands.

Finally, Mento, the final crew member arrives and they blast off the launching pad. The mission is to get up close and personal with a giant meteor for scientific study.

Once they are within range the team begins monitoring the various aspects of the meteor including thermal recordings, spectrometer analysis and cosmic ray data collection, but Professor Ormsby, taking care of that last detail, accidentally throws a switch causing a full cosmic ray exposure. (Hmmm. Cosmic ray exposure during an outer space scientific mission…) At any rate, rather than what one might ordinarily expect during an event like this, Ormsby is converted into a living, but humanoid meteor. This new creature seems to be intent only on absorbing metal into its iron core and then bursts free of the ship, bringing us back to where the action began.

The violently vibrating vessel threatens to jar Robotman loose from the improvised cork job, but Beast Boy, who had apparently stowed away, appears, changes himself into an elephant and uses his mass to keep Cliff carefully secured. (Why a half ton of elephant wouldn't cause some unintended consequences is for the physicists to figure out, I suppose. Hey, it's a comic book…)

Elsewhere, the Meteor Man has landed on earth and continued his quest for more metal, consuming a massive powerline framework when he abruptly sneezes, sending destructive fireballs flying every direction. Obviously Ormsby's afflictions linger even in this drastically altered state.

Later as the DP has landed and begin their search for the Professor they discover a message carved into a mountainside stating simply, "HELP." The Chief deduces that Ormsby wants to be rescued from this development and the Doom Patrol aims to oblige.

The first effort is aerial delivery of flame retardant with Larry at the jet's controls, but the carbon dioxide foam isn't strong enough to contain the combustion of the Meteor Man.

The backup plan involves Robotman using himself as bait to lure the Professor to a hastily dug pit, courtesy of a skyscraper-sized Rita. Once the Meteor Man falls into the pit she rapidly fills it in, but the incredible heat coming off Ormsby's body has literally changed the silicon deposits in the soil into glass and one sneeze later, the glass shatters and he is again freed to wreak more havoc and mayhem.

The final attempt to neutralize the menace is a double-play with Mento using his psycho-electronic helmet to stall Ormsby in his tracks as he waits for the arrival of Negative Man, who is carrying what is essentially an amplifier for Mento's brain wave transmitter. Steve Dayton is able to use the extra power to levitate the figure of the Meteor Man off the ground , taking him away from any iron sources and causing him to burn out until the Professor is restored to his natural form.

Another action-packed adventure with the World's Strangest Heroes. I love the fact that they could produce a full story contained in 13 pages with room left over for a backup feature (a Robot-Maniac story, in this case) carrying the other 12 pages. I'm not sure we'll ever see the like again, which is just one of the reasons my reading stays in these yesteryear books.

One of the obvious strengths of the Doom Patrol was their unique and imaginative stream of villains that they tackled. Here's a listing from the internet:


I give this issue a rating of 7 on the 10-point scale. Good stuff that is bound to please any Silver Age fan.

Please do join us again when this ongoing feature gets updated in the usual two weeks. Keep those notes coming my way at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

As always…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2012 by B.D.S.

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