'Doom Patrol': Who is Valentina Vostok and why does this Negative Woman have control over her powers?

A quick look at Valentina Vostok, the Negative Woman, and her history in the DC Universe

                            'Doom Patrol': Who is Valentina Vostok and why does this Negative Woman have control over her powers?
(DC Universe)

Spoilers for 'Doom Patrol' Season 2, Episode 6 - 'Space Patrol'

Larry Trainor (Matther Zuk/Matt Bomer) was in for a big surprise this episode when he shook hands with one of the Pioneers of the Uncharted. The astronaut codenamed Moscow (Mariana Klaveno — "the Russian one!") contains within her a Negative Spirit, just like Larry's — only she doesn't have to wear special bandages to keep her radiation from killing everyone around her. Who is this Negative Woman and why does she have control over her powers that Larry hasn't been able to manage in over half a century?

Created by Paul Kupperberg and Joe Staton in 1977, the Negative Woman was part of the second incarnation of the Doom Patrol. This new version of the team was more inclined towards traditional superheroism, moving away from the outsider freaks that the original Doom Patrol was comprised of. As such, Valentina Vostok had complete control over her Spirit and its powers. Where Larry's Spirit would leave his body and render him incapacitated, Valentina was able to use the Spirit's powers with it remaining in her body and without the horrific disfiguration that Larry underwent.

It was later revealed that her accident was engineered by Niles Caulder to replicated the Negative Man's powers, much in the way he had engineered the accidents of other Doom Patrol members. Valentina would later lose her powers, and go on to become an agent of the spy organization Checkmate — even briefly serving as its White Queen for a while, replacing the infamous Amanda Waller.

Interestingly, in the show, Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) is also responsible for her transformation in the hopes of recreating Larry Trainor's accident, although unlike the rest of the Doom Patrol, she went into the radiation field with full knowledge of what it might do to her. In the show, it's explained that she's able to gain the full benefit of the Negative Spirit's power by finding harmony with it — by combining her identity with its, becoming a "we" instead of an "I."

It's that kind of internal harmony that has eluded Larry for decades, which means he has no control over the radiation his body exudes — and probably won't, for a while. This is not Valentina Vostok's first live screen appearance, She first appeared on 'DC's Legends of Tomorrow' as a Russian spy in 1986 seeking to stop Vandal Savage from creating another version of the Firestorm matrix.

While the Legends were able to stop Vandal Savage, Vostok was caught in the matrix's explosion and what happened to her next was never revealed. The door was left open for her to return having been transformed by the matrix into a version of the Negative Woman, but with her appearance on 'Doom Patrol', it's unlikely her character will reappear on Legends. 

The next episode of 'Doom Patrol' airs on July 23 on DC Universe and HBO Max.

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