Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Doom Patrol #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

Let’s You and Him Fight 
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Todd Klein
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: October 12, 2016


Here in New York City, we know all about the power of negative energy. Even our positive actions are usually motivated by narcissism and greed. It’s something that works for us, and (probably because I was born here) rings truer to me than the sycophantic pleasantries traded elsewhere in this country between people who would rather have nothing to do with one another. Of course, this does sometimes put me at odds with humanity, like the times I have met perfectly pleasant people whose manners made me suspicious. Or the tendency I have to perceive civil volunteers as power-tripping toadies. Yeah, I’m naturally negative, but in my defense the world does suck. If only I could live in the psychedelic, weird world of Doom Patrol—and hey, it’s time for another trip back to that world! Why don’t you come along?
Explain It!

I think most people would agree that we have, within our one body, two personalities: one that facilitates our hidden, inner selves, and another that we present to the world. The truth is that each of us is actually several people, perhaps dozens or hundreds of people, each one tailored for specific instances or interactions. We behave one way around our parents, another way around our co-workers. Our body language and very sense of ethics can vary depending on the company we keep and the circumstances that present themselves. This human situation is compounded with weirdness for Larry Trainor, test pilot who pulled an Icarus and came back to Earth infused with…well, we’re not sure what. Negative Energy, it was called, and it crackled as a pitch black humanoid figure that possessed qualities both tangible and incorporeal. I can’t say what holds for the Larry Trainor in this series, and from the looks of things, he’s in the same boat. Larry, looking sort of like a sporty John Constantine, despairs before a stand of Matroyshka (aka Russian Nesting) dolls that he’s taken apart and thrown to the ground, screaming “WHERE IS LARRY TRAINOR?!” How about you clean up this mess you made and go figure it out elsewhere, bud? Nearby, a beefy gang member bumps into a New Wave fan, and Larry incites them to fight. They trade some entertaining barbs—the New Wave fan is a member of a gang called the Lexicons, who I presume speak in the parlance of would-be high school poets—and then turn their ire on Larry, who gets shoved to the ground. His sunglasses are knocked off, and then it is shown that he’s got them Negative Man eyeballs.

Back at Casey Brinke’s crib, she’s standing before her bathroom mirror, yanking an offensive back tooth out of her mouth. She notices a hole in the tooth, then removes a small scroll from it with a pair of tweezers. Casey reads the paper, which says “good job,” when her attention is pulled by a loud BANG! from the living room. Emerging from her boudoir, she finds her new roommate Terry None making breakfast while a completely reassembled Cliff Steele—minus the brain—sits on the couch. The brain is in a pan on the coffee table, and Terry tells Casey she can do with it what she wishes—but before Brinke can decide, her EMT partner Sam is outside her window, hollering for her to come down for a special dispatch—to go check on Larry Trainor, ultimately. Before that, Niles Caulder takes a hot air balloon past a mountain carved in his image, which reacts to his floating. Then, at the Matroyshka doll stand, Casy and Sam show up to find a babbling and twitching Larry Trainor thrashing on the ground. With the promise of cold fruit, Sam gets Larry to trust him and haul him away in the ambulance. Once within, however, Larry starts freaking out and asking Sam to argue with Casey—he needs negativity, you see. Then he pukes some black shit on himself.

Back at Casey and Terry’s apartment, Cliff’s brain has been jammed into his half-skull but his body has been restrained by the angular, ruby-skinned staff from intergalactic fast food operation Goobfoobers, and they’re prodding his pink matter to discern the location of Casey Brinke. Cliff doesn’t know anything about a girl, having just blinked back into cognizance seconds ago, but he’s happy to snap his bonds and start beating the snot out of three Goobfoober goof offs. Just then, Casey gets a call from dispatch about a disturbance—at her apartment! Despite not having taken Larry to the hospital, she heads right over to her pad, which I’m pretty sure is against regulations. As they arrive, Cliff tumbles out of the apartment by way of smashing through a large section of the living room wall, and tumbling down a few stories to the street (with Casey’s cat Lotion in his clutches.) More folks from Goobfoobers have arrived, and they do pack some serious-looking hand cannons. This doesn’t keep Cliff from shattering each of them in turn as they come downstairs and out of the apartment building’s singular exit. Having dispensed of the ruby-skinned antagonists, Larry steps out from the ambulance and rushes over to hug Cliff—they recognize each other! But Cliff is annoyed that Larry got to be handsome…it’s okay, ya big lug, you’re far from ugly!

Casey is pretty annoyed that her apartment is demolished and her cat has run off (more annoyed about the cat), but there’s no time to worry about that because Mercy General Hospital has called to demand they return to, uh, home base or whatever. There, they are both suspended for acting erratically and making off with hospital equipment—though each time, they were responding to something that came over the walkie talkie. Sam isn’t thrilled about this forced, unpaid vacation, so he takes off while Casey investigates the ambulance; its back doors are open despite her being positive about having locked them. Over the walkie talkie, there’s some singing, then a voice that should be familiar to long-time Doom Patrol fans comes over and the radio and introduces itself as Danny. When Casey comes into the cab, the ambulance falls apart around her and she finds herself in an empty night club, save for Flex Mentallo who should also be familiar to long-time fans. In fact, much of this should be familiar to readers of past Doom Patrol volumes, depending on the level of interest and absorption. Flex invites Casey up on stage and pulls back the curtain to reveal—Dannyland! The Trippiest Place on Earth!

I really loved the implications for Larry Trainor, and how it looks like Way is folding several versions of the character into one not-very-neat unwrapped package (even the “Negative Man” from the Arcudi/Tan run is hinted at here!) but establishing some kind of history between he and Cliff. But again…I wonder if a Doom Patrol neophyte would get much from this. The panels are crammed with information and the callbacks to previous runs are endless, and I am just not sure how someone brand new to the thing will take it. Then again, I was once new to Doom Patrol, and I kept reading it because it spoke to me and my weirdness, and I can only hope that this comic speaks to others and their weirdnesses as well. For my part, I am absolutely loving this comic book, it looks terrific—expertly detailed artwork with some daring color choices make it a pleasure to see at face value. The story is highly compelling but again, I am somewhat predisposed to enjoying Doom Patrol comic books.

Bits and Pieces:

The reintroduction of some favorite characters brings the usual chaos and confusion that seems to surround Casey Brinke's life, but the team is coming together, piece by piece. The artwork is absolutely wonderful throughout and there are lots of intriguing moments that might be meaningless to a brand-new reader. I have a solution! Read every single Doom Patrol comic book from 1963 to 2011 and then come back to this series! You might get a lot more out of it.



  1. Can't get enough of this book, I love every panel.

  2. Against all reason and logic, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this second issue. I can't say I have a handle on where the story is going or that it even makes any sense. But so be it. Page 8 reads "What are you doing Niles Caulder?" And page 21 - Casey screams "What is going on?" Neither question is really answered and encapsulated perfectly the glorious confusion I experienced reading this issue.