We’re delving into the obscure for our letter C: Coagula, a minor heroine from 90s Doom Patrol! While there are other trans characters in comics, some of whom I’ll be discussing later this month, Coagula, aka Kate Godwin, is the only trans superhero. She’s generous and level-headed, and when she got powers (the ability to dissolve and coagulate matter), the first thing she did was apply to the Justice League! Plus, those powers require a degree of creativity to use, which she’s got.
Trans sci-fi writer Rachel Pollack created Coagula when Pollack helmed the Doom Patrol comic in the 90s, and the biggest impact is the story is about KATE, not about others’ reactions to her. Kate speaks and feels for herself, and you can tell Pollack used her own experiences to make Kate a strong, sensitive character with realistic feelings. She’s also bisexual and unapologetic.
There are problems, though. Coagula’s first villain was the extremely unfortunate Codpiece, and subsequent plotlines also directly related to sex and gender. I think it’s done well, and I like it when themes line up, but all too often LGBT+ characters ONLY have sex-related villains and plotlines. Plus Kate was a prostitute before becoming a superhero, and got her powers by having sex with the Negative Man. She, well, dies at the end. No surprise there. Pretty much everything in Doom Patrol is morbid, disturbing, and tragic, but the real tragedy is that she doesn’t come back. Even the guy who “died” in the exact same incident came back, but not her. Thanks, society and all-later-Doom-Patrol-writers… If anyone deserves a reboot and/or a dramatic comeback, it’s Coagula!
- Complete appearances: Doom Patrol (1987-1995), #70-87. To my knowledge, these haven’t been collected anywhere, so it may take some digging to find them on eBay or your local comic book store. All of them are available on Comixology for $2 a pop, though.
- Essential reading: To save money, get the most Coagula content per issue, and skip Codpiece, just read #75-79. These make up the excellent Teiresias Wars arc. (CN: violent bullying flashback)
This series is dang confusing if you don’t know what’s going on… And pretty darn confusing even if you do. But all you need to know is the Doom Patrol is based out of a haunted house. The Bandage People are from the house — more information about them in Teiresias Wars. Dorothy isn’t from the house, but she’s a little girl born with an apelike face and rejected by her family, whose power is making imaginary friends come to life. The unfortunately-named Crazy Jane was a former Doom Patrol member whose many personalities each had a different superpower, and who was Robotman’s ex. Anything else was just as weird for the original readers!