Our Imposter Syndrome cancels out our Dunning-Kruger

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Doug M.
    January 13, 2022 @ 12:23 am

    Oh my gosh, this issue was so good. So, so good. And 30 years later, it still stands up.

    It has everything. Character beats, sets a tone, sets up the upcoming story arc, presages the long-term direction of the run, and does it all economically in 22 pages while being gripping and moving and telling the first part of a story.

    Morrison’s Doom Patrol run maps to Moore’s Swamp Thing run, which means that this issue should be set alongside Moore’s first two issues, “Loose Ends” and “The Anatomy Lesson”. And, you know, it holds up. It deserves to be in that company. Morrison had a bit of an unfair advantage in that he got Kupperberg to kill off most of the old group. But he still has to deal with plotlines and characters left over from the old run, so this is in some wise a “Loose Ends” story. But it also recreates Cliff Steele almost as drastically as Moore recreated Swamp Thing back in “Anatomy Lesson”. And Morrison does this with just a handful of lines — “I have phantom everything” “Make it stop” “If I could, I’d spew right in your face” — and one dramatic moment, with Cliff slamming his head against the wall. For the first time ever, we realize that actually, it would suck to be Robotman.

    Also, while this wasn’t Morrison’s intent (I don’t think), this comic does some serious grappling with issues of mental health and disability. Morrison would go back and forth on this through the run, sometimes engaging seriously, sometimes treating these issues as just more raw material for superheroics. But in this issue, it’s front and center and it’s deadly serious.

    Doug M.


  2. Doug M.
    January 13, 2022 @ 1:00 am

    A couple of other things.

    First, Richard Case’s art. It’s great! Case was a relatively young and new artist in 1990 — he’d worked as an assistant to Walt Simonson (and you can definitely see the Simonson influence if you look) but Doom Patrol was his first job as a full-time artist on an extended run. And, damn, he knocks it out of the park. Look at that page you cite (1456, above). See how he closes in on Jane in the first three panels. Then look at how the last two panels reinforce that emotional beat, with Cliff moving over to close the space between them (and block out the ruined painting).

    Case would leave comics forever in the early 2000s, so I think this was his longest run. Mind, his second biggest piece of work was as inker and backup artist to Mark Hempel on Gaiman’s Kindly Ones arc of Sandman. So, a small body of work, but a very impressive one.

    Second, note that My Greatest Adventure was a boys’ version of the “men’s magazines” that were wildly popular from the 1940s through the 1960s. Men’s Adventure, True Action, Man’s Life… these were pulp magazines filled with lurid stories. They usually emphasized male wish-fulfillment — often, as you say, with imperialist and colonialist overtones — but some went off in some very odd directions. They dried up and disappeared in the 1970s.

    So, Doom Patrol originated not just in sweaty men’s pulp, but in a G-rated kiddie knockoff of sweaty men’s pulp. It doesn’t get much more demotic.

    Doug M.


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