But the corollary to these flawed characters is the idea that: fucked up heroes may be your only hope when fucked up times arrive. For example, the first story arc of Morrison's run involves the real world being invaded by fictional characters from an evil book, and the Doom Patrol must defeat them by finding a priest with a clock for a face and posing him a tautological question that causes his entire reality to collapse.
See, although it isn't often highlighted, the Doom Patrol technically exists in the wider DC Universe alongside Superman, Batman and the rest of the mainstream heroes. There's even a scene in the first story arc where Robotman says: "If we had any sense, we'd call Superman." To which the chief replies: "We don't need Superman." But what he could have said was: "What the hell could Superman do in this situation?" Superman punches out giant robots and aliens. He's not cut out to deal with ontological horrors from the pages of Jorge Luis Borges. That's why you've got to call the Doom Patrol.
So what does all this have to do with Dungeons & Dragons? Let me explain. I like to mess around with the 4E Character Builder from time to time, usually creating the strangest race/class combinations I can think of. I've got a dwarf vampire, a psionic goblin, a pixie barbarian, a robot paladin and an undead warpriest. Where the character options in previous editions can be pretty restrictive and po-faced (no Gnome Paladins for you!), 4th ed really benefits if you don't take it too seriously. And these off-the-wall character concepts are starting to sound a lot like the Doom Patrol.
|Warforged Fighter, Eladrin Rogue, Genasi Wizard|
Oh yeah, and you're such a bunch of freaks and outcasts that most of the people you've saved from annihilation wouldn't want to piss on you if you were burning. But that's just the way it is for the Fantasy Doom Patrol.
Edit 24/6/12: Looking back on this post, I think it's probably kind of ableist, that is - talking about how it would be cool to play as disabled superheroes who are "fucked up" is pretty insensitive to people who are really disabled. I still think this is a cool idea, in fact I'm likely going to be running it very shortly, but I definitely want to move away from the disability angle, which wasn't a large part of the concept anyway. When I say the heroes are "fucked up" what I really want to focus on is just that they have bizarre powers and are generally counter-culture to the bland mainstream heroes.
Does this mean Doom Patrol is insensitive also?? I'm not sure but I think not because Grant Morrison deals with the issues in subtle and interesting ways; I can't do that because I'm not Grant Morrison and also I'm running an RPG which entails thinking about a hundred other things already.