The Doom Patrol – that trio of oddball superheroes formed by tragedy and united by circumstance – have proven to be the best thing to come out of DC Universe’s Titans series so far. The team’s backdoor pilot, also titled “Doom Patrol,” ironically did a far better job of quickly revealing their characters’ histories and personalities than Titans‘ has done in setting up its own core cast.
One of the most common fan complaints regarding Titans to date has been its slow pacing and its struggle to properly establish the main characters. Many feel that it is hard to relate to the individual Titans as people. While this is understandable in the case of Kory Anders (who has amnesia and even less idea of who she is than the audience does), it is something of a problem that Dick Grayson and Rachel Roth, whom the series has largely focused on, still have few solid personality traits. Dick Grayson in particularly seems entirely defined by his anger management issues, with little indication as to what he likes and dislikes apart from beating people up and injustice.
This problem stands in marked contrast to how Titans has handled Beast Boy, Elastic-Woman, Robotman and Negative Man. While “Doom Patrol” does not offer entire backgrounds for the titular team, it does leave viewers with a firm sense of each character while dropping hints about their lives before they were transformed. Beast Boy is a good example of this, establishing himself as a self-proclaimed geek with no sense of shame over his love of old movies and retro video games, as he shows Rachel the basement he calls home.
The rest of the team are revealed to the viewer with a similar smoothness that shows rather than tells us about the characters. For instance, the camera offers lingering looks at the old movie posters lining Rita Farr’s room, showcasing her work in better days, before we see the woman herself as she tries to pull herself together before dinner. A montage scene in the kitchen shows us Larry Trainor’s love of rock music and cooking as he sings and prepares a meal. Perhaps the most touching scene in the episode features Robotman looking at a number of pictures in the hallway, his expression fixed but his stance clearly saddened, as he looks at one picture of a man in a NASCAR jumpsuit standing next to a race-car – the man he was before his brain was transplanted into a robot body.
Many have commented that “Doom Patrol” has made fans more excited for DC Universe‘s upcoming Doom Patrol series than it has for the current Titans‘ series. While it would be fair to say that Titans‘ story so far has been a slow-boil compared to that of other superhero shows, it is worth noting that similar complaints were made regarding the first season of Daredevil. With “Doom Patrol” having also firmly established the core team of Titans along with the Doom Patrol, viewers can expect things to begin picking up on Titans even as they await the Doom Patrol series premiere in 2019.