With Fringe on hiatus until next month, I thought I’d re-watch some old episodes and spackle those holes in my knowledge of the show’s deep, DC comics-inspired backstory. I’ve written before about the preponderance of DC superheroes and supervillains that keep making cameos. From the Crisis on Infinite Earths plotlines to the WW2 super-speedsters, this show is 100% about the old DC multiverse. Sure, string theory’s all the rage these days and JJ Abrams looooves alternate Earths, but the real secret to this show is how many DC characters they keep bringing in. And in Season 2, episode 6, they showed us Negative Man, from the Doom Patrol.
For those of you not steeped in 1960s and 70s comics, the Doom Patrol were like a twisted version of Marvel’s X-Men. A wheelchair-bound big boss brings together a bunch of freaks with super-powers, the handsome and beautiful team leaders become romantically involved, real deaths occur that fundamentally change the group roster, insecurities, drama, betrayal, etc. The whole nine yards. So one of these superheroes is Larry Trainor aka Negative Man, aka a verrrry unlucky astronaut who comes back from space with radiation poisoning so severe that he can actually become a being of pure energy. Leaving his body, he flies through space as a fuzzy black silhouette. And when he returns to his lifeless body, he reanimates the comatose body to live, fitfully, wrapped in protective “Anti-radioactive” gauze.
And that is EXACTLY what happens to the Russian cosmonaut in this scene. Sure, he uses his powers to harm others instead of helping, but the origin and aftermath are totally identical. In this scene, the good guys piece together his story while his guilt-ridden brother wheels the unconscious guy around (all the while trying to control the Negative Man inside.)
If you’re a Fringe fan, you can read more about the original Negative Man on his wiki page here. And if you’re a supernerd like myself, be sure to check out his guest starring role on the Teen Titans!