The Chief. Art by Tony Daniel.
|First appearance||My Greatest Adventure #80 (June 1963)|
|Created by||Arnold Drake|
|Alter ego||Niles Caulder|
|Team affiliations||Doom Patrol|
The Chief has appeared in numerous cartoon television shows and films. Caulder made his first live adaptation in the DC Universe series Titans, played by Bruno Bichir, and is featured in the spin-off series Doom Patrol, played by Timothy Dalton.
He first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80 (June 1963) and was created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. According to Drake, the issue's co-writer Bob Haney was not brought on to the project until after the Chief was created.
Fictional character biography
Dr. Niles Caulder is a paraplegic with a genius-level intellect. Caulder uses his scientific knowledge to develop numerous inventions and innovations that have made him wealthy. Caulder founded and organized the team called Doom Patrol to protect the innocent and fight crime, and to teach humanity to accept others who live as ostracized "freaks," who have been radically transformed from terrible accidents. It is Caulder's genius that allowed the team members to survive (e.g., designing Robotman's body, devising Negative Man's medicated bandages), and helped grant their freakishness and amazing abilities.
Caulder developed an interest in creating better life at a young age. Proving at a young age to be both a brilliant inventor and engineer, Caulder received funding from a mysterious benefactor. Thanks to the funding, Caulder succeeded in creating a chemical capable of prolonging life. Ultimately, it was revealed that the benefactor was a man called General Immortus, who hired Caulder to create a chemical to replace the one that had been prolonging his life for centuries but was now failing. When the young scientist discovered the truth about his employer, he refused to continue the work. Immortus responded by implanting an explosive device in Caulder's upper torso, which he could set off remotely, and any attempt to remove it while Niles lived would also detonate it. Caulder eventually devised a plan to get the bomb out, but it cost him his ability to walk. The incident inspired and reminded Caulder that a better life may come from surviving a tragic event, such as his own. Another general and another explosive device seemingly obliterated the Doom Patrol team but Niles and most of the others came back from that as well.
In the early years of the Patrol, Caulder not only kept his true identity and appearance secret from the public; even his team knew him only as the Chief. In issue #88 (June 1964), their third battle against Immortus forces him to tell the rest of the Patrol his back-story and real name, which suddenly and with no explanation becomes common public knowledge for the rest of the original 1960s series (even two "flashback" miniseries that ran in the back of the comic, detailing how Cliff Steele and Larry Trainor became "freaks" and were recruited by Caulder, casually used the name).
Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths
Caulder's back-history seemingly remained intact following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths; however, when writer Grant Morrison took over the Doom Patrol title (starting with vol. 2, #19) he reimagined him as a cold, detached and somewhat mysterious individual. Near the end of his run, Morrison even revealed that Caulder had been responsible for the "accidents" that caused the original Doom Patrol members to gain their powers, since his personal philosophy is that true greatness comes through overcoming tragic events.
While volunteering for the Peace Corps in the 1960s in Calcutta, India, Niles Caulder met Arani Desai and the two fell in love. He gave her immortality on their wedding night and left her in a monastery in the Himalayas, sensing danger from his mysterious benefactor.
Caulder had been hired to develop a serum to increase a person's life span indefinitely. While working on the project, Caulder discovered that his mysterious benefactor was actually a villain named General Immortus. Immortus planted a bomb in Caulder's chest and would only remove it when Caulder had developed the serum. Immortus shot Caulder and while he was technically dead, his robot surgeon removed the bomb and revived him. Due to the robot's crude surgical technique, The Chief lost the use of his legs. Fearing that Immortus would never stop until he was dead, he decided to form a team of heroic misfits to fight Immortus. This team became the first incarnation of the Doom Patrol.
In keeping with the above retcon that he manipulated the original Doom Patrol's transformations, it has been revealed that Caulder had also experimented on other characters in the world who would both benefit and destroy humanity. The most noted are a bitter group called the Brotherhood of Evil, a group of people who also live like "freaks", led by the Brain. The Brotherhood exists as an elitist paramilitary organization involved in terrorist acts around the world such as the destruction of the American city Blüdhaven, occasionally attempting global control of humanity, and the death and destruction of Niles Caulder for causing their tragic transformations.
Towards the end of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, Caulder is discovered working on a nanotechnology bomb that will destroy half the world and replace it with humans transformed into freaks of nature — his theory being that from the destruction would rise a better human race. He murders the original Tempest, Joshua Clay, to protect his secret but the Doom Patrol succeed in stopping his plans.
During these events, he is decapitated by a creation of Dorothy Spinner's known as the Candlemaker. Doctor Will Magnus of the Metal Men builds a new body for the Chief, telling him that he should try helping the Patrol to make up for what he did. Becoming suicidal with guilt, the Chief states that he can never do enough to make up for his actions, and uses his new body to rip off his head. Magnus is able to save the Chief by getting the head to a cryogenic chamber, but after this the Chief exists solely as a severed head in a bucket of ice, subsisting on milkshakes. He expresses remorse at his actions and rebuilds the Doom Patrol to continue their efforts in the war against weird crime.
In the final issues of the series, the Chief had combined himself with Alice Wired-for-Sound, one of the SRS (Sexually Remaindered Spirits), who powered the DP Teleporter, as a means for more mobility. During the last story arc, Imagine Ari's Friends, the Chief died entering the Tree of Life, the Sephirot.
After Superboy-Prime's pounding on the barriers to reality, certain events are rewritten, and Niles has his body back and still acts as the team leader. It has been revealed that he apparently still is responsible for the creation of the original members of the Patrol, though they claim to have forgiven him.
Caulder now seems to be intent on expanding the Doom Patrol's ranks; he has already convinced Beast Boy to return to the team and formally join it for the first time, and gotten Bumblebee and Vox to join. Robin doubts the Chief's motives, and after seeing him appear to manipulate Elasti-Girl, Robin accuses him of brainwashing the Doom Patrol by keeping them dependent on him. For his part, Caulder maintains that by joining the Doom Patrol, team members "won't have to be freaks anymore." Later, when Caulder is overheard telling Kid Devil that his teammates do not like him and he should join the Doom Patrol, the others finally see that he is controlling them with fear and self-loathing. While Caulder tells them that they need him, Mento finally takes off his helmet, allowing him to think clearly. Mento then informs the Chief that he is no longer their leader and if he ever speaks to Elasti-Girl or Beast Boy like that again, he will destroy Caulder's intellect. Shocked by this, the Chief rushes off to his lab.
Also in the Teen Titans story[volume & issue needed], it is also revealed that Caulder brutally murdered the scientist who would become "The Brain" because they were both working on General Immortus' potion and Caulder was jealous of the Brain's genius and tried to blow up the other scientist's lab in order to force him to become Robotman prior to Cliff Steele's accident that made him the character of the same name. Brain also reveals that he and the Doom Patrol are not the only innocent humans whose bodies are mutilated against their will by Caulder to create his own personal super-hero team. Two never before mentioned characters (Electric Blu and the Human Cannon) and a Negative Girl (possibly a retcon of Valentina Vostok) are said to be out there somewhere, having rejected Caulder for the damage he inflicted upon them.
During the Doom Patrol's Blackest Night tie-in storyline, Caulder is attacked by his former wife Celsius who had been revived as a member of the Black Lantern Corps. During her attack, Celsius is only able to detect avarice as the dominant emotion in Niles' body, his entire emotional aura colored orange. Using her temperature control powers, Celsius freezes and shatters Caulder's legs. She then goes in for the kill, aiming to rip out his heart. Caulder is saved by the intervention of a man with a black hole for a face, who imprisons Celsius in an energy bubble. Unable to defeat the Black Lanterns, Caulder utilized a warp gate to send them all to the Justice League, in hopes that they will be able to deal with the problem. However, at last beaten by the excruciating pain of his destroyed legs, he gives in at last and appears to fall unconscious.
Caulder later gains the body of a Kryptonian, and successfully duplicates the ability to absorb yellow sun radiation into the cells from it, transforming himself into a "Superman". Caulder then attacks his team, before setting out to do their job himself. He steals every missile on the planet and dumps them in Antarctica, and attacks the United Nations in his attempts to make "a better world". He is only stopped when his laboratory computer, "Millicent", transmits a sequence of lights through Robotman's eyes and into his own, neurologically shutting down Caulder's brain. His comatose body is then placed in storage in Oolong Island. Afterwards, the Doom Patrol discover that someone has broken in and stolen Caulder's comatose body.
In "The New 52," DC Comics' 2011 reboot of their universe, a young and healthy Niles Caulder is introduced in issue #4 of The Ravagers. Operating a deep underground science & engineering facility located beneath Los Angeles, he provides headquarters and combat training for the team in their campaign against the organization of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Infiltrating the compound, Caulder is captured along with the rest of the Ravagers by Deathstroke on the behest of Harvest.
During the events of Forever Evil, it is revealed that Niles Caulder has created a Doom Patrol since his last appearance and seems to be free from Harvest. This Doom Patrol was unfortunately killed by Crime Syndicate of America members Johnny Quick and Atomica except for Celsius and Tempest, who, according to Lex Luthor, faked their deaths to escape him, prompting Caulder to make plans to "start over". Following the defeat of the Crime Syndicate, Caulder and the newly created Doom Patrol is introduced in issue #30 of Justice League. Membership consists of team's classic, 1963, lineup with Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and - M.I.A. Justice League member - Element Woman.
Doom Patrol is contacted by Niles Caulder in issue #7 and embark on a mission with him leading. The mission goes haywire and it is revealed that Niles Caulder is gambling again, leading the team to evict him as a leader and as a member of the team. This marks the team embracing being a new iteration of the Doom Patrol.
Powers and abilities
Chief has genius-level intellect.
In other media
- Chief (alongside Doom Patrol members Negative Man, Robotman, and Elasti-Girl) appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Last Patrol!", voiced by Richard McGonagle.
- Chief appears in Titans TV series, portrayed by Bruno Bichir.
- Chief appears in the Titans spin-off series Doom Patrol portrayed by Timothy Dalton.
Chief (alongside the other Doom Patrol members) was featured in issue 7 of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comics.
- Beatty, Scott (2008). "Doom Patrol". In Dougall, Alastair (ed.). The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 109. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017. Please cite actual comic books rather than this encyclopedia so we can locate source material
- Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Chief", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 81, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 Please cite actual comic books rather than this encyclopedia so we can locate source material
- Browning, Michael (July 2013). "The Doom Patrol Interviews: Arnold Drake". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (65): 38–41.
- "Doom Patrol online". Rpi.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
- Wallace, Dan (2008), "General Immortus", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 136, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017 Please cite actual comic books rather than this encyclopedia so we can locate source material
- Infinite Crisis: Secret Files & Origins (April 2006)
- Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #4 (January 2010)
- Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #5 (February 2010)
- Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #14-15 (November–December 2010)
- Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #22 (July 2011)
- Justice League #27 - Forever Evil (tie-in)
- Andreeva, Nellie (September 5, 2018). "'Doom Patrol': Timothy Dalton To Star As The Chief In DC Universe TV Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 5, 2018.