“Hair Patrol,” episode 10 of Doom Patrol season 1, just introduced what may be the most disgusting superpower in the history of comic books. In doing this, it has also turned the Beard Hunter – one of the Doom Patrol’s strangest enemies – into a credible threat, while still leaving him a complete joke.
First appearing in Doom Patrol #45 in July 1991, the Beard Hunter was written as a parody of The Punisher, who waged a one-man war on facial hair instead of crime, killing bearded men and claiming their beards as trophies. The action of the issue saw the Beard Hunter hired to track down the Doom Patrol’s leader, Dr. Niles Caulder, and remove his beard by any means necessary. It was suggested over the course of the issue that the Beard Hunter’s hatred of bearded men was partly due to his own inability to grow a beard because of a hormone imbalance. It was also suggested that the Beard Hunter was a closeted homosexual, who wanted to make every man as smooth and hairless as the professional bodybuilders he lusted after.
Doom Patrol‘s take on the Beard Hunter is more politically correct, with this version of the character being an out-of-shape wannabe soldier of fortune, who is hired by the Bureau of Normalcy to find Dr. Caulder. He has the same hormone imbalance and still lives with his mother, like the Beard Hunter of the comics. The two characters are separated, however, by the fact that the television Beard Hunter is a metahuman, who possesses what made be the oddest and most revolting superpower imaginable.
The Beard Hunter is revealed to possess a combination of telepathy and clairvoyance which allows him to know the mind of a man as if it were his own and sense his location anywhere in time and space. Unfortunately, utilizing this power requires that the Beard Hunter “consume the essence” of his prey, which is an artful and polite way of saying that he has to eat their beard trimmings. It should be noted, however, that it is never confirmed that he specifically has to sample their facial hair. Indeed, it is strongly suggested that this just the Beard Hunter’s particular kink, after he passes out in what can only be called orgasmic delight, just after snaking Dr. Niles Caulder’s drain and eating his shaving scum.
While his metahuman ability is disturbing, it is also effective. The Beard Hunter psychically discovers a secret that Cyborg had been hiding from the rest of the team after inhaling just a single stray chin hair. He also seemingly finds a way into the extra-dimensional space commanded by Mr. Nobody, where Dr. Caulder is being held captive by the episode’s end. While it seems unlikely the Beard Hunter will be returning to plague the Doom Patrol in future episodes, his appearance showcases the commitment of the show’s writing team to replicating the same sensation of weird horror inspired by the original comics.
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