Doom Patrol #1
Written by Gerard Way
Art by Nick Derington
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters By Todd Klein
Review By Matthew Iung
The team known as the Doom Patrol first appeared on the pages of My Greatest Adventure #80 in June 1963. After its brief initial run, the book changed creative teams, underwent a relaunch and, inevitably, fell into the hands of Grant Morrison, who is still thought of as the definitive writer on the series. While there is more than enough to talk about regarding the forty-four issues that will no doubt bend your mind, that’s not where the ball stops. After Morrison left the book, Rachel Pollack took over. This was not only a change in author; Pollock’s first issues marked that official move to the Vertigo imprint. Pollack used her time on the book to cover a wide range of things topics like menstruation, generation gaps, transgender issues and questions of humanity. Pollack wrote and worked with more than one artist until the book’s cancellation with issue number eighty-seven. After that the title had a rough go of it, first moving back to DC’s main line and only ever making it any where between eighteen and twenty two issues in a run before cancellation. The team was briefly mentioned in an issues of justice league during the early days of New 52, and it seemed as if the Doom Patrol would be lost to the shuffling of time and universes. That is, until now.
DC’s new imprint Young Animal is being spearheaded and is a creation of singer, song- and comic book writer Gerard Way. He personally oversees the kick off his new line with clever dialogue, big ideas in small places and just enough “what the hell?” to hook any reader regardless of exposure to new or old material.
Starting before we even open the book up, most everyone will notice that Doom Patrol #1 is marked for “Mature Readers,” but it’s important to point out that while the book has its moments where it is graphic or uses profanity these are not in any way overused and are there naturally. This is a credit to both Way’s writing and the art team’s care for each page. The use of the Mature Readers label also gives the book freedom to express itself and possible explore things like sexuality, intimacy and/or it could provide the reader with more graphic or intense sequences. It also provides a certain amount of unpredictability as the reader turns the pages. You never know: there could be something shocking on the next page. Gorgeously drawn and fantastically colored of course, but shocking nonetheless.
Nick Derington in this single issue really shows a range of penciling ability that all manage to come out gorgeously. His art is appealing to the eye and carries just enough cartoon bounce to remind you of your favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Tamra Bonvillain uses a wide spectrum of colors and lighting effects and like Darington changes style for a couple of pages making for a pleasant surprise. The last couple of pages yous few colors but take advantage of contrast to make everything pop, managing to really leave an impression as you close the issue. Without a doubt this art team will have no trouble impressing its readers each month with well designed characters and stunning color use.
Way’s style of storytelling is unique and fun. There are quick one-page cutaways that provide humor and seed story beats for later issues. There also seems to be voice over that changes or shifts as the book progresses, almost like it’s more than one person or it switches with each character. Way’s dialogue flows naturally even in the strangest of situations. Characters also have a unique voice and cadence to them. All that really makes the book flow with a kind of lyricism accenting this springy quality that could just as easily have been a sequence of chopped up pages that didn’t flow in any way. Within the first six pages Way is already exploring big ideas in fun ways that wind up paying off in the strangest of forms. Everyone finally understands why there is a gyro on the cover of this issue. (I’m going to break form here and just point out how awesome it is that the cover image for Doom Patrol #1 is now on the laptop that I’m writing this review from). It’s the little things and the conversations about huge ideas that we have all had and keep popping up throughout the book that give the reader reason for a second or third read.
Without a doubt any book with the title of Doom Patrol is going to be a specific type of adventure. The history of the title alone means that crazy mind bending and possible psychedelic ideas and imagery are just beyond this insane cover image. But Way isn’t riding those coattails. the story that is being put forward here goes beyond just simply having a title that congers up expectations and ideas. The characters feel new and free of the baggage from former runs and the insanity of previous teams has been replaced with a more low key vibe that is still pretty nuts. Each page in this issue seems like it was put there for a reason even if we don’t have all the pieces just yet everything means something and from what we have so far that’s is going to be an adventure like nothing that has come before it.
Verdict, buy and buy in bulk, I have four issues of this already. The creative team is in sync on every level the book is funny, intriguing, confusing and over all a lot of fun. Making this an excellent way to kick off the Young Animal imprint and if this is the standard for the books to follow I have no reservations about picking those up just a quick. Now as a new reader you may have some reservations about starting a book like Doom patrol with its long history and some of you may know that Way is a student of Morrison, making things seem even more complicated. Having read issues 19-50 from Morrison’s run thus far, I can say that that the only “advantage” I have is knowing the background of a couple of characters. That aside I’m as confused and excited as everyone else by what Way puts forth in this first issue and can not wait to see what’s next for our heroes.