What do you need to know before reading Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol?
There are two answers to this question.
The first is “Nothing.” Just jump in and read this weird shit. It’s amazing.
The second is this:
The Doom Patrol were formed in the early 60s. The three main members, Cliff Steele (Robotman), Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl), and Larry Trainor (Negative Man) were all victims of accidents that left them outcast from society. Brought together by a benevolent genius known as “The Chief,” in actuality a man named Niles Caulder, they became the “World’s Strangest Superheroes!”
After battling oddities such as the alien Garguax, and The Brain, Monsieur Mallah (a sentient, talking gorilla) and the Brotherhood of Evil, these four disabled superheroes selflessly gave their lives to save a small fishing village in Maine.
Except that, aside from poor Rita Farr, Elasti-Girl, they all survived.
Cliff re-surfaced first, had his body rebuilt, and joined a new Doom Patrol, formed by Arani Caulder (Celsius), who claimed to be the wife of the late Niles Caulder. They were joined by Joshua Clay (Tempest) and Val Vostok (Negative Woman), and they had adventures. Eventually they recruited some younger members: Rhea Jones (Lodestone), Wayne Hawking (Karma), Scott Fischer, and Dorothy Spinner, the ape-faced girl. Somewhere along the way, Larry Trainor showed up, sans powers, as did Niles Caulder. All in all, however, it was pretty mediocre, and that’s being kind.
And then a bunch of them died again, during an alien invasion. And some more of them left when they lost their powers, or when incoming writer Grant Morrison decided that the characters were just too goofy.
As it stands just before you are about to start reading, Arani Caulder and Scott Fischer are dead, victims of the alien attack. Wayne Hawking has run off to avoid the law, while Val Vostok has vanished much as her Negative Woman powers have. Rhea Jones is in a coma as a result of the alien attack. The others? What of Cliff, Larry, Josh, and Niles? What of young Dorothy?
You’re about to find out.
Oh, but poor Rita is still dead.