Saturday, October 10, 2009

Doom Patrol #92

As covers go, that's not exactly the most dramatic. DC had numerous villains with that clock-face thing going on; Robin battled one on several occasions in the Golden Age, and Green Arrow had faced a very similar one in World's Finest only a few years earlier.

As the story begins a toddler has been locked inside a timed bank vault. There's a switch on the inside but the youngster can't operate it. Larry calls the others and is annoyed when Rita is late (she was at the hairdressers) and Cliff doesn't show up at all. Changing into Negative Man, he easily gets into the vault and flips the switch, but an electrical charge knocks him out, and for some reason the vault does not open. So Rita changes into a giantess and yanks the door open, saving Larry and the baby.

We learn that the real reason that Larry's ticked off at Rita is that she's got a new beau, who is the fifth richest man in America. Rita's apparently decided that Steve Dayton, aka Mento, is too egotistical and it looks like things are looking positive for Negative Man. But Cliff, who has noticed Rita pining for Dayton, has other ideas:

We are introduced to Dr Tyme in the second part of the story. He has invented a ray that slows down time inside the beam. In his first crime, he slows down a plane and everybody in it, then bails out with a shipment of precious gems that were on the airliner.

As Rita and Steve Dayton are ending their date, they spot Dr Tyme escaping with a payroll. Steve tries tackling the guy, but instead finds himself floating in air as time is stopped around him. Rita shrinks down and tags a ride on the crook's car, but she's caught when she accidentally brushes against one of his clocks, setting it off.

Meanwhile, the Chief has figured out that the secret to the crimes is a time-ray. Mento contacts the Doom Patrol, letting them know that Rita is missing, and begging to be allowed to help them find her. We get a look at the rather unique vehicle the Doom Patrol uses:

Sort of a cross between a rocket ship and a VW van; certainly somewhat oddball. They go to Dr Tyme's hideout, which is one of those abandoned castles that dot the supervillain landscape. He's got some defenses:

The Doom Patrol plus Mento make it through to face the villain. As they fight him the Chief radios an urgent warning: Under no circumstances should Larry release Negative Man. In the heat of battle Larry disobeys the order, and Negative Man is trapped in the beam, meaning he'll never get back to his normal body in time to survive. At the same time, Rita is incapacitated while giant-sized by gas.

Mento captures Dr Tyme and makes him slow things down for Larry's body, too, so that Negative Man will be able to get back without Larry dying first. The crook informs Robotman and Mento that there is a bomb set to go off in 15 minutes. Since Rita is too large and heavy to carry out, this means she'll die. But the Chief realizes that Mento can use his mental powers to command Rita to shrink to normal size, and everybody escapes, including Dr. Tyme. As the story ends, Larry is telling Mento not to use his powers to control Rita again.

Comments: I enjoyed the story quite a bit more than I expected. Although the Doom Patrol is clearly riffing on the Fantastic Four with all the squabbling, for whatever reason it works here, and I absolutely love the Bruno Premiani artwork. I also enjoyed the focus on the romantic triangle between Negative Man, Rita, and Steve Dayton.