Doom Patrol is one of the most weird and wonderful shows on television. That’s because, since its inception, the series has looked to its own brilliantly strange source material. Drawing from the Doom Patrol comics has given the show a vibrant originality. It’s also given viewers a dynamic cast of characters that are the beating heart of the story. But season three introduced a trio of new heroes, two of whom hail from another landscape of the DC Universe… Sandman. Yep, in episode three of Doom Patrol‘s third season we meet the Dead Boy Detectives, best known for their escapades in the esoteric Vertigo dreamscape. But their arrival is one of the most exciting moments of Doom Patrol so far, and we’re here to introduce you properly.
Who Are the Dead Boy Detectives?
The darkly humorous Sandman #25 introduced Charles Rowland (Sebastian Croft) and Edwin Paine (Ty Tennant). The issue from Neil Gaiman, Matt Wagner, and Malcolm Jones III takes place in a desolate boarding school. When Charles becomes the only ward of the institution over the holiday season, he soon realizes something is amiss. The school becomes home to the ghostly alumni of years past, which puts Charles in grave danger. It’s here he meets Edwin Paine. While ghosts and ghouls terrorize Charles, Edwin supports him through his untimely death—and the hands of some cruel spirits—and then through his ghostly future. When Death—one of Sandman‘s beloved characters—shows up to take Charles away, he refuses. Instead, he and Edwin stay on Earth, becoming boy detectives of the dead variety.
How Do They Play Into the Rest of the DC Universe?
Like a lot of the folks we see in Doom Patrol, the Dead Boy Detectives are a pretty deep cut. Compared to most of their screen mates, Charles and Edwin don’t have many appearances in comics but they still have a solid canon. After their debut in Sandman, the pair established themselves during The Children’s Crusade. Gaiman helmed the ’90s Vertigo crossover centered on the two ghostly PIs and their child counterparts. It’s also where they crossover with the Doom Patrol. Another of the kid characters from the crossover was Dorothy Spinner, the Chief’s daughter and current HBO Max Doom Patrol star.
Other than that, though, the Dead Boys are relatively isolated, which makes their intro to the Doom Patrol a pretty big deal. It’s especially exciting as they’re fan favorite characters, and the show gives them a chance to live outside of their few and far between comic book appearances.
Who Is Crystal Palace?
When we meet the boys in the series, teen medium Crystal Palace joins them. While Crystal might not be an original member of the Dead Boys, she did debut in the comics prior to joining Doom Patrol. After gaining a cult fandom among Sandman readers and DC Comics diehards, the Dead Boy Detectives got a 2014 self-titled series by Mark Buckingham and Toby Litt. It was there that the duo met Crystal Palace Von Hoverkraft. Named after the London neighborhood and its local football team, she inadvertently became entangled with the boys after Charles saved her life during a performance art project by her own mother. Trying to find out more about the boys who saved her, she enrolled at the old school where they both died. That didn’t go too well for anyone, but it did cement the trio as a new iteration of the team.
What Does Their Arrival Mean for the Doom Patrol?
This is the biggest question. What we know after episode three is that Dorothy has left with the Dead Boy Detectives. She’s hoping that their connection to the underworld and Hell will enable her to find her father again. But Dorothy has been such a key character over the last season that we don’t think this’ll be the last we see of her. In fact, it’s pretty likely that her dangerous quest will leave her in dire need of her friend’s help. That, or we’ll see Dorothy and the Dead Boys come back to help the Doom Patrol if they get in trouble. The one thing we definitely know, though, is that the Dead Boy Detectives have a pilot order for their own show, complete with some reported casting information. So we’ll definitely be seeing more of the creepy child PIs on our screens soon.