Willoughby Kipling is a character created by Grant Morrison during his Doom Patrol run to be the John Constantine substitute because DC Comics mandates at the time forbid him from using John Constantine, since they wanted to perverse the real world feel of John Constantine.
Major Story Arcs
Cult of the Unwritten Book
As an investigator of the strange, Kipling was tracking the actions of the Cult of the Unwritten Book. He observed them increasing their activity, including hiring a variety of assassin teams to help them find the boy who was born with their holy book tattooed on his body. They intended to read from the “book” and raise the Decreator, who would destroy the world. So, Kipling went to the Doom Patrol for back-up. They were able to grab The Boy before the cult’s hired help did.
They still need to find Cuervo, the man with the gash that could be used as a doorway to the mystical city of Nurnheim, the headquarters of the Cult of the Unwritten Book. Kipling thinks if they seal the wound, they will stop the destruction of the world. However, when they split up to find Cuervo, that left the boy vulnerable and was kidnapped. Soon after, the Decreator had been summoned. Every time the giant eye stared at something, it would disappear. Resigned to his fate, Kipling tried to smoke a last cigarette before the Decreator destroyed his smokes.
Crazy Jane convinced him to help her with a final attempt against the Decreator. She realized that his stare used a specific vibrational frequency, so Jane looked for a counter-vibration that slowed the Decreator down. Thus, it was still vanishing things, but it was doing it at a pace that Kipling believed required no alarm to the public.
While trying to get properly drunk, Kipling is interrupted by fellow Templar Agent, The Wallpaper Man. Kipling has been assigned to yet another apocalyptic event. The Templar know that the Doom Patrol is at the center of it, and Kipling was chosen for his previous association. Unfortunately, he finds them in complete disarray. Joshua and Chief were dead, Rebis and Jane had quit, Cliff was deactivated, and Dorothy was so panicked she made a bad deal with her worst imaginary friend, Candlemaker. This allowed Candlemaker to possess Chief’s new nanomachine technology.
Under the assumption that Candlemaker was the prophesied agent of the apocalypse, the Doom Patrol brought Kipling to Will Magnus, hoping his robotic expertise could help them deactivate the nanomachines and stop the Candlemaker. Magnus figured out that the nanomachines were the true agent of the apocalypse. They had been programmed by Chief to take over the world. So, even though the combined powers of Rebis and Crazy Jane were able to purge The Candlemaker from them, Magnus still needed to upload Cliff’s consciousness into the nanonbots to convince them to stop their destruction.
The Doom Patrol series on HBO featured Wiloughby Kipling, played by Mark Sheppard. Sheppard had previously worked with series creator, Jeremy Carver, on The CW show, Supernatural. On Michael Rosenbaum's podcast, Sheppard referenced Richard E. Grant's character from the movie, Withnail and I, which served as part of Grant Morrison's inspiration for the character. Kipling is now an old associate of Dr. Niles Caulder, however, when Caulder goes missing at the beginning of the series, he settles for the Doom Patrol's help when the Cult of the Unwritten Book attempt to raise the Decreator.
He would continue to ask for Doom Patrol's help occasionally throughout the series, usually reluctantly forced to by his employers, the Knights Templar.