Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Doom Patrol #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

Journey to the Center of the Gyro Sandwich

Written By: Gerard Way
Art By: Nick Derington, Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered By: Todd Klein
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: September 14, 2016


When DC’s “pop-up” imprint Young Animal was announced, uh…like three or four months ago, Jim immediately said that the books therein would be under my purview. Eric and Jim considered the projected titles to be “Reggie books,” that is to say they looked weird as hell. And you know what? They’re right! They do look weird as hell! And that’s right up my avenue. Doom Patrol is hands down my favorite team in comics, and one of the few groups where I own some readable form of their every appearance. And the other books certainly tickle my psychedelic freak-out bone—which is why I roped in podcastin’ comrade and fellow fan of the four-color bizarre Chris Sheehan from to handle a book or two on the list. And you want to know something else? I think that before too long, Jim and Eric are gonna regret giving up these books! It’s definitely premature to say, but everything I’ve seen so far looks really promising. All we’ve got to hand, however, is the first issue of Doom Patrol. So let’s get to it!

Explain It!

I read an article about this sixty-plus year-old lifeguard who was being kept from his summer job due to some union-busting tactics by state management—look, I know that opens a bunch of questions: “Why is a senior citizen employed as lifeguard?” “Lifeguards have a union?” “What kind of tactics could be employed to keep someone from lifeguarding? Put sharks in the water?” The point is that this guy was very wistful about his rescues—his “victims,” as he called them—and the thrill he got in running out to the water, diving in, and saving a life. Sort of put his job, which I’d mostly considered to be hanging out at the beach professionally, into perspective: saving lives isn’t only noble and selfless, but it can be really exciting. That’s the perspective of protagonist Casey Brinke, who drives an ambulance while her EMT partner Sam stabilizes the infirm in back. It seems like her daring driving technique isn’t where the thrills end in Casey’s life: everything happening around her is weird.
Take, for instance, Sam’s gyro: a pita-wrapped sandwich of compressed meat, tomato and lettuce, and tzatziki sauce to him, but to a fly there is a microbial world of mechanical druids made to fight against a weapons-wielding force (that might be mechanical as well, for all I know.) Cliff Steele aka Robotman is among the cloaked robots (naturally) when he hears a voice calling out to him…from a remote subway station…so I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say this is Kay Challis, aka Crazy Jane, calling out to him from her labyrinthine subconscious. Whoever it is, Cliff heeds the call, rushes some compound, and presses a big launch button that, in the macro world, makes the discarded gyro explode like a grenade. I tell you, there’s lots of weird stuff going on around here…like this fellow Ricardo, a member of resort staff on Oolong Island, who is sifting through a pile of bricks in search of Danny the Brick. Or Niles Caulder, who sits outdoors in a lush forest composing music for flies. But let’s check back on Casey and Sam, who are responding to a weird call that came over their walkie-talkies from someone calling themselves “Em.” They’re at the location described, but there’s no victim—until Cliff Steele comes stumbling out of an alleyway, dressed in his classic Morrison-era leather jacket, and promptly gets destroyed by a passing garbage truck. Ya can’t win for losing!
Over at Rondo Inn, we peek in on a conference between some alien forces involved in a back-door meeting of the interstellar fast food industry. Seems popular chain Goobfoobers, run by pristine and calculating ruby-skinned folk, is in cahoots with Moofgoobers, run by a couple of more slovenly and poorly-dressed fellows that appear to be melting where they sit. The problem? They’re running out of cheap meat, and the folks at Goobfoobers have a plan to fix that permanently: capture Danny the Brick and, uh, use him to create Danny Burgers somehow. I can only assume they would cull the populations from whatever spontaneous worlds Danny creates, but I don’t know for sure. Maybe Danny can just spit out hamburgers now. At Casey’s apartment, her annoying-as-hell roommate is annoying the hell out of her, hectoring her for being too perky and bringing home a box of Cliff Steele body parts. He blathers on even as there’s a knock at the door, which he opens to reveal a woman in a classic pixie haircut and a sparkly red jacket who performs a singing birthday telegram! She concludes the song by turning Casey’s roommate into wads of pink cake. And it’s not even Casey’s birthday! No matter, the woman’s name is Terry None, and she’d be glad to move in and pay half the rent! Actually, she probably won’t.
There’s a bit of an epilogue, but you can make your own determinations about that. I really enjoyed this issue thoroughly, it gave me real Morrison/Pollack vibes and also picked up on some of my favorite aspects from the Arcudi/Huat and Giffen/Clark runs as well. It’s sort of hard to recap, since the story isn’t exactly linear, but it does all make sense and is better seen than told. Indeed, the art in this is great and chock full of eye candy to keep you staring at every panel. The style changes on the gyro sandwich battle world, but it’s still in keeping with the overall look, and I appreciate that. My only misgiving about this book is that I wonder if it will be a total mystery to Doom Patrol neophytes. I’m not a Doom Patrol neophyte, so I loved this issue and I am really excited to read the next!

Bits and Pieces:

A pretty surreal comic that may be impenetrable to readers that are brand new to the team, Doom Patrol #1 is packed with stuff to dazzle your eye and fry your brain in the grand tradition of the series. Our new hero Casey Brinke is really intriguing and all of the new concepts introduced in this comic are highly strange. The art was perfect, like a psychedelic TinTin. Buy this book if you think your workaday life has gotten stale.

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  1. I will never regret a couple less books to review! Too much work!

  2. I really enjoyed this, laughed out loud at the page where it goes "let's see what dr caulder is up to" and it's just hm messing with keyboards and making some sounds and then it goes back to the wackiness of the rest of the issue.


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