Quote1.png You know how they say the longer you're away from people, the harder it is to remember what they look like? Well, I have that, but with sensations. I used to hold my arm out when it was raining, feeling the drops hit my skin. I remember doing that but not the feeling. Running my hands through my wife's hair. In my head, I know it felt amazing. But I don't know at the same time. It's all floating away from me. Quote2.png
Cliff Steele src

Clifford "Cliff" Steele is a former NASCAR driver whose body was destroyed in an experiment engineered by Niles Caulder, making it necessary for his brain to be placed in a powerful robotic body. Caulder took Cliff in as a member of the Doom Patrol, and kept secret for many years he was the one responsible for his condition. When Cliff learned this, he at first resented Caulder for it, but soon grew respect for the fact Caulder did it to protect his daughter, as, being a robot, Cliff missed out on the chance to raise and protect his own.

Early Life

Cliff Steele was born on May 35, 1956 to father R.J. Steele and an unnamed mother. By 1988, Cliff had grown up wealthy as a successful NASCAR driver, had a wife named Kate (who he was cheating on with his daughter's nanny), and a daughter named Clara.[1]

The Car Crash

When Cliff was thirty-two years old, Kate discovered he was cheating on her and fought him in front of their daughter, with both of them deciding to split up and Clara leaving with Kate. Despite this, the couple still attended Cliff's race together for publicity the next day. As he was driving, Cliff was informed over the radio by his bitter wife that she was now sleeping with Bump Weathers, Cliff's manager. Screaming in anger that he had been betrayed by not just his wife but also his best friend, he only just barely missed the car that had crashed and was hurtling towards his own. Cliff then screeched across the finish line, winning a great victory, and was celebrated by his crew right before he beat Bump black-and-blue in front of everyone. Still furious, Cliff took Clara's nanny to a trailer, miles from civilization, where the two had passionate sex. Once she was asleep, however, Cliff couldn't help but feel as though he had made a huge mistake.

He decided to call Kate, and when she answered he promised he'd be better and said he wanted to start over. Kate agreed, and Cliff drove over to Kate's parents' house, where she and Clara had been staying. He picked both of them up and began driving home with them, and just as he decided to take a detour to get pancakes, Cliff had plowed his car under the low-hanging bed of a logging truck, which had been placed by Doctor Niles Caulder, nicknamed "The Chief" by his friends, the same man who sent the car hurtling towards Cliff's on the racetrack in a bid to further his own experiments. This second attempt, however, was a complete success. The crash left Clara with mental scars, but no physical ones, while Kate was decapitated and Cliff's body was completely destroyed.[1]

First Years at Doom Manor

Only his brain could be recovered, which the Chief took to his home, a mansion known as Doom Manor in Cloverton, Ohio, and engaged it to a robotic body, which he worked on for several years until he activated it in 1995. This body was supernaturally strong and durable, and mimicked Cliff's original voice exactly (albeit more like it was being heard over the phone), but was slow-moving, lacked facial expression, and any physical sensation outside of sight and sound.

Another of Caulder's experiments living at the Manor, former Hollywood actress Rita Farr, showed Cliff his new body and helped him adjust to it in the beginning stages of his brain's connection with it. Once Cliff was adjusted enough to his new body to speak and think, the Chief introduced Cliff to his second housemate, Larry Trainor, a former Air Force pilot who was involved in a plane "accident" that bound him to a radioactive being known as the "Negative Spirit". This necessitated him to wear bandages lined with lead across his entire body, as to make sure his constantly leaking radiation didn't kill anyone. At this point in time, none of Caulder's tenants, or any of his other experiments, knew he had caused their "accidents", nor did Cliff remember his accident was with the log truck, his brain blocking it out to make him think it was under the hurtling car at the racetrack.

Larry showed Cliff around the Manor grounds, even though he mostly kept to himself, and even helped Cliff learn to walk again. At first, it seemed hopeless that Cliff could ever walk as he did before, but after a few days and being motivated by the kind words of Larry and the thought of his daughter, Cliff found the strength to do so almost instantly. Cliff proudly made his way to the Chief's office and thanked him for his work, telling him he would leave and go to see his family. In response, Caulder gave him the tape recording he used to replicate Cliff's voice for his new body. When Cliff listened to it, he was in shock: it was the phone conversation he'd had with Kate the night of the car crash, telling her he'd do better and wanted to start over. Suddenly his true memories came flooding back to him, telling him his wife and daughter died along with him that night. Enraged and in grief, Cliff screamed and pounded the wall, but no matter what he did, his family was still gone.

Completely devastated, Cliff returned to his room and shut himself inside for seven long years, contemplating his mistakes and his family's demise. In 2002, deciding he needed some cheering up, Larry entered Cliff's room and left him a miniature toy race car track. Cliff ignored it at first, but eventually he began piecing together Larry's kind gift, slowly adding to it over the years, making it larger and more expansive. By the time 2019 rolled around, the track covered a large rectangular table and had remote-control cars that went around it in seconds. Cliff even opened his room to Larry and Rita, who came in on occasion to play with or simply observe the track.[1]

Meeting Jane

In 2019, another one of Caulder's experiments, a woman born under the name Kay Challis, returned to the Manor after several decades of absence. Challis was sexually molested by her father as a child and developed at least sixty-four separate personalities to help her cope, the primary being called Jane. These personalities were all given unique metahuman abilities by the Chief's experiments, yet still none of them knew he had caused their abilities. When Cliff first met Kay, he met her aggressive guardian known as Hammerhead. Hammerhead insulted Cliff and the Chief before storming away outside. A few hours later, Cliff went outside to find Kay, this time Jane, painting a picture. Jane apologized for Hammerhead's rude behavior, and the two started to form the beginnings of what would later become a close and complex relationship. Before it could develop any further, however, Jane transformed into Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, a depressed persona with the single desire to paint, just as it began to rain. Her musings about life's futility and how the rain ruined her painting made Cliff feel sad for her, causing him to usher her in out of the rain.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Cliff and Jane would begin to grow close, with both being sarcastic, angry, and aggressive much of the time, but somewhat joking and teasing towards each other. However, even as they got to know each other better, Cliff still knew practically nothing about Jane, something he wouldn't realize until all of his friends were in grave danger.

The Farting Donkey

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Powers

Abilities

Weaknesses

  • Technological Reliability: Cliff is just a brain in a robot suit, suffering from all the vulnerabilities and strengths that come with it.
  • Restricted Senses: Because Cliff is now just a brain in a rudimentary robot-body, he's lost connection to his five basic senses, often longing for them. He also can't experience an orgasm. [2]
  • Restricted Mobility (Formerly): Cliff had to adjust to his robot body, requiring physical therapy with Larry Trainor over time to learn how to climb stairs again. [3]


Related

Footnotes


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Doom Patrol member
This character was at some point primarily a member of the Doom Patrol. A long-running team of rag-tag misfit heroes who work together for the common good, fighting evil against all odds. This template will categorize any article that includes it into the Doom Patrol members category.

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