Who's Dr. Bedlam?

Who's This? A god with many bodies.

The facts: One of Darkseid's Elite, the scientist responsible for the "paranoid pill" and able to jump from one synthetic body to the next, he first appeared in Mister Miracle #3 (July-August 1971) and though he can appear in any Fourth World story, has mostly been associated with Scott Free or Shilo Norman (as in the Seven Soldiers project, for example, though known there as BARON Bedlam, which is just confusing). A completely redesigned Bedlam (no doctorate, I guess) appeared in the New 52.
How you could have heard of him: The DCAU never used him for more than a background appearance, so if I look at more high-profile appearances in comics proper, I might point to The Nail and JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice where he plays minor roles.
Example story: Mister Miracle #11 (December 1972) "The Greatest Show Off Earth!" by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
The issue begins as many do with Mister Miracle performing a stunt, but he's being watched by a rather eyeless creature. Or creatureZZZ, as there are at least four of Bedlam's Animates lurking in the woods. The red shorts (it's like Star Trek) bring in a blue shorts and now we'll see how Bedlam's consciousness itself manifests.
Don't question it. He's totally Doctor Bedlam, ok?! He sets the Animates to prepare the Ceri-Skiff, a trap the snare Mister Miracle (will they never learn?) that looks like a giant centrifuge
Back at the Free house (why did they never call it that?), Oberon is assailed by demonic hallucinations that presage Bedlam's appearance.
Dude likes to announce himself. Or his Animates. Because they attack first. Not that they're that great if Oberon can take care of them by himself.
Well, not exactly by himself. They're finished off by Big Barda and the by-then allied Female Furies. But remember, this is only a lure. And they do manage to damage Scott's Mother Box which is, like, 80% of his escape ability. Scott bravely walks into the countryside alone to face what Bedlam has prepared for him. And there he finds the Skiff and enters it.
There's not much you can do to Bedlam physically. He's his own distraction while he springs the trap, sending the craft into orbit and hammering it with a meteor swarm, and then letting physics take their course.
Scott is tougher than he looks, but can he survive Bedlam's next "test"?
He most definitely can, and furthermore, the reports of Mother Box's demise have been greatly exaggerated. As the saucer indeed crashes into the Moon, creating an explosion everyone on that side of the Earth can see, Bedlam fears his trapped consciousness will perish in the blast. We know it didn't, but it probably took a while before someone from Apokolips went there to rescue that baggie full of Animate fragments. (Mister Miracle beamed back to Earth, no worries.)

Not all of Darkseid's Elite have cool power sets, but I always liked Bedlam's. They're pretty unique. And if I were writing Mister Miracle stories, I would definitely bring him back.

Who's Next? A li'l Princess Diana.


Anonymous said…
The panel with the fiery spaceship has outstanding imagery AND dialogue. Very impressive work. - Captain Entropy (no relation to Doctor Bedlam)