Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Doom Patrol season 2, episode 7, “Dumb Patrol.”
The latest episode of Doom Patrol saw Rita Farr take her first big step towards becoming a superhero and, in doing so, inadvertently upholding one of DC Comics stupidest superhero legacies: the proud(?) tradition of the crime-fighting beekeeper.
Rita was a changed woman as the second season of Doom Patrol began. No longer the prissy princess lost in her memories of better days, Rita began seeking greater control of her shape-shifting powers and training with Cyborg and Flex Mentallo, though she denied she was thinking of becoming a real superhero. After being returned to normal size in the season 2 premiere, Rita also began preparing for a return to acting, albeit it as part of the Cloverton Players, a community theater group. Ultimately, Rita’s efforts to change herself for the better while trying to get back to who she was led to her being cast as a beekeeper in the Cloverton Players’ next show.
Ever the method actress, Rita acquired a beekeeper’s suit and spent most of “Dumb Patrol” shadowing a local beekeeper to learn how to truly become her character. She was still wearing the beekeeper suit as she was walking home and happened across a mugging. With a single stretchy punch, Rita knocked out the mugger and quipped, “I’m sorry- did that sting?” before striking a suitably dramatic pose. The whole scene was played shockingly straight, with all the fog and intense music one might expect from a Zack Snyder project.
Surprisingly, DC Comics has a long tradition of crime-fighting beekeepers. The most famous is Richard “Rick” Raleigh, who fought crime in the 1940s as The Red Bee. An assistant district attorney and amateur beekeeper, Rick became frustrated with how helpless he and his boss were at acquiring evidence against the corrupt politicians that ran Superior City and the organized crime syndicates that backed them. Somehow, Rick got it into his head to turn to beekeeping to deliver justice where the law was helpless.
Armed with a single trained bee named Michael and a self-designed Stinger-Gun, the Red Bee did not have a long or distinguished carer as a crime-fighter. In the reality of Stargirl, he reportedly died after he made the mistake of answering to his real name while in costume and was killed shortly after his secret identity was exposed. The comics afforded him a more dignified death, where he sacrificed himself to save the All-Star Squadron and was inducted into the Freedom Fighters posthumously.
Decades Later, Rick Raleigh’s grandniece Jenna took up his name, but not his gimmick, arming herself with a robotic bee drones and an armored suit when she became the second Red Bee. It seems unlikely that Rita Farr will be going quite that far in her newfound heroic identity in future episode of Doom Patrol. Still, the petty criminals of Cloverton had best bee-ware of The Beekeeper… at least until she thinks of a better name or gimmick.