Negative Man. Art by Bruno Premiani
|First appearance||My Greatest Adventure #80 (June 1963)|
|Created by||Bob Haney
|Alter ego||Larry Trainor|
|Team affiliations||Doom Patrol|
|Abilities||Radioactive "soul-self" is capable of flight, intangibility and can generate minor explosions upon contact with positive energy, temporally astral projection|
Fictional character biography
The original Negative Man, Larry Trainor, is a founding member of the Doom Patrol, along with Elasti-Girl, Robotman, and The Chief. Like the rest of the Doom Patrol, Trainor sees himself as a victim as much as a hero, and his superpower as an infection rather than a blessing.
Trainor's career as a superhero begins when he is accidentally exposed to a radioactive field in the atmosphere while piloting a test plane. This experience leaves him radioactive himself, but also gives him a strange superpower: the ability to release a negatively-charged energy being from his body; the being, also referred to as Negative Man, or, later, as the Negative Spirit, can fly at high speed, cause solid objects to explode, and pass through solid materials. It resembles a shadowy silhouette of a human being, surrounded by a bright glow. The being is under Trainor's control and appears at first to have no mind of its own. Unfortunately, Trainor is weak and defenseless while the being is separated from his body; he can only risk sending it forth for 60 seconds at a time without risking death. After his accident, Trainor resembles the Invisible Man; he is forced to wear specially-treated bandages over his entire body to protect bystanders from his radioactivity.
How Larry Trainor survived the explosion that supposedly killed all four of the Doom Patrol's core members remains unexplained. He turned up alive, permanently separated from the radio energy being, but still radioactive, bandaged, and weak in its absence. The Negative Spirit possesses a Russian cosmonaut, Colonel Valentina Vostok, who becomes Negative Woman. Initially, Vostok could transform herself into a radio-energy form, possessing the same capabilities as Trainor's "partner." Later, as with Trainor, it would emerge from her, leaving her physically weak but in control of it, and requiring her to wear special bandages, just as Trainor had.
Trainor has been reunited with the energy being and is an active member of the current incarnation of the Doom Patrol.
Recently, Larry has exhibited the ability to cover himself in the negative energy that's inside him instead of releasing it, thus gaining the same powers that the negative spirit as shown. Larry's inner monologue says that it's making him feel a "burning sensation". (Doom Patrol v5 #09)
The Negative Spirit later leaves Vostok and returns to Trainor, where it reveals itself to be amoral, intelligent, and capable of speech. Trainor pleads with it to leave him alone, but it forcefully merges itself with both Trainor, a white man, and his physician, Dr. Eleanor Poole, a black woman. Together the three entities form Rebis, a divine hermaphrodite, who, again, must wear special bandages. Rebis has all of the memories of all three beings, and is as such a compound being, frequently using "we" when speaking of itself. Rebis has a larger range of powers than those of either Trainor or Vostok; Rebis can fly, is psychic, is extraordinarily intelligent, and, most significantly, is immortal. Rebis' unique life cycle is based on an event called the Aenigma Regis, in which it throws off its old body and gives birth to a new version of itself; in describing its paradoxical existence, Rebis often likens itself to Russian dolls, and to an ouroboros.
Rebis temporarily leaves the Doom Patrol to mate with itself and complete the Aenigma Regis; part of this process involves working through the significant trauma and inner turmoil caused by the death of Trainor and Poole's separate identities. At some point during this absence, Rebis also has intercourse with Coagula, giving her superpowers. Rebis's old body is killed by the Candlemaker, but Rebis' new, presumably harmonized body soon returns to see the Candlemaker defeated.
In 2004, the Doom Patrol was rebooted in a JLA storyline and new Doom Patrol series, both written and illustrated by John Byrne. In this version of the Doom Patrol, which ignored previous continuity, Trainor is once again Negative Man (although his negative-energy form now has the appearance of a black skeleton instead of a shadowy humanoid shape). After this series was canceled, the miniseries Infinite Crisis explained that this alteration had been caused by Superboy-Prime's attempts to escape from the extradimensional "heaven" he shared with Alexander Luthor and the Superman and Lois Lane of Earth-Two. When the Doom Patrol joins other heroes in fighting Superboy-Prime, Negative Man and the other Doom Patrol members (including former member Beast Boy) begin recalling their previous lives; all previous incarnations of the Doom Patrol are now in continuity, although the exact details of what this means are not yet clear.
Larry Trainor is once again a member of Doom Patrol. The negative energy being can now exist apart from Trainor's body for much longer than 60 seconds. During the Blackest Night, he fights against Black Lantern Valentina Vostok, pitting his Negative Spirit against the corrupt Black Lantern version and starts convulsing in pain after absorbing both entities. Managing to take control of them, he sends them into Valentina, overloading her and destroying her ring. However, when he recovers, he cannot repeat the same attack against Black Lantern Cliff Steele before Black Lanterns Celsius and Tempest attack. Robotman comments that the combined form of both entities is partially similar to Rebis.
It is revealed that Larry’s original body was destroyed in the Codsville explosion and that the “Negative” is in fact Larry (Mind, consciousness, and soul); when he found himself without a physical body, Larry took solace in Valentina Vostok, but only temporarily, until The Chief cloned him a new body. When one of the bodies expires, Larry takes residence in a genetically-altered, brain-dead donor body. In the transaction Larry obtains the memories and experiences of every host and the experience can be maddening to him, so Larry constantly reminds himself that he is Larry Trainor.
In other media
- Negative Man appeared in the two-part Teen Titans episode "Homecoming" voiced by Judge Reinhold. Negative Man appeared along with the other Doom Patrol members. He has a sarcastic matter-of-fact attitude similar to Raven's. His 60-second "soul separation" time limit is absent in the series. He did state that he shouldn't spend too much time separated from his body, but didn't give a specific time limit. However, it is implied that his soul has spent time, caged, outside his body for five months while his body was nearly frozen. Also, while the Doom Patrol was helping the Titans fight the Brotherhood of Evil, Negative Man spent "too much" time apart from his body and while trying to fly back to his body the negative spirit sank into the ground apparently against its will, reaching for its body, leading Beast Boy to assume he was dead, or at least would never wake up from his catatonic state without the Negative Spirit. Though it was not specifically stated how long the Negative Spirit could remain separated from his body in this appearance, Negative Man's comment upon being released, "You could have at least thawed me out first", implies that his physical body may have been frozen, or in some sort of suspended animation. This may explain how he was able to stay separated for so long without ill effect, especially since this method was occasionally employed during other incarnations of the Doom Patrol when, for whatever reason, the Negative Spirit was unable to return to Larry Trainor's body.
- Negative Man (alongside Doom Patrol members Chief, Robotman, and Elasti-Girl) appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Last Patrol!" voiced by David K. Hill. Ever since the team's break-up following an accident in France, Negative Man got a job as a carnival entertainer and was ridiculed by the people and the carnival barker until Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man attacks. The carnival barker asked about Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man to Negative Man and wonders who the agent of Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man is. When Batman, Chief, and Elasti-Girl arrived, Batman does an aggressive pep talk to Negative Man enough to rejoin the Doom Patrol and help fend off Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man. He and the other Doom Patrol members sacrificed their lives to stop the detonator on General Zahl's ship.
- In the J.J. Abrams TV series Fringe, they use several DC comics-inspired plotlines including Negative Man with an episode with a Russian cosmonaut with the origin near identical to Negative Man.
- In Justice League: The New Frontier, a pilot in the climactic aerial fight scene has the name tag "Trainor". This is a cameo of Larry Trainor according to the commentary track.
- Beatty, Scott (2008), "Doom Patrol", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 109, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Doom Patrol Volume 2 No 19 "Crawling from the Wreckage Part 1
- Irvine, Alex (2008), "Doom Patrol", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 61–63, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015
- Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #4
- Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #5