Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: Tan Eng Huat
The book opens with Ted receiving a package, and inside is a cellular phone which he quickly discovers was sent to him by his mother, as she spends the rest of the issue pestering him with phone calls. We then look in on Robot Man as he's in conversation with Mr. Jost, who is upset by a recent poll that suggests Robot Man's the only member of his team that the public seems to like, let alone recognize. As Ted overhears the suggestion that everyone but Robot Man be replaced by heroes with a wider public recognition factor, we see a concerned Ted sets out to raise the team's profile, and to this end he's overjoyed by the news that JLA enemy Amazo is on a rampage nearby. As Doom Patrol races to take down Amazo we see they are sidetracked by the cloaked figure that triggered Ava's attempted suicide, as we see mystery man's ability is to make others try to take their own lives. However, as they try to track down this figure the team stumbles across a nest of hellish creatures, and while they manage to take down a giant worm-like monster, they are knocked out cold by another. They then awaken in Hell, which apparently has cellular service.
This book easily rates as one of the funniest comics on the stands, but it's almost entirely character-based material, and as such this book evokes memories of one of my all-time favorite series (everybody now), the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League. We have the cute, but incredible na´ve Shyleen who could very well be Ice's kid sister, Ted who's obviously a proud graduate from Guy Gardner's class on how one functions within a team setting, and I'd love to see Robot Man have a sit down with the Martian Manhunter to compare notes about how one copes with the idea that their teammates are all friggin' idiots. Now I'm not suggesting John Arcudi is simply lifting ideas from that earlier series, as this book is very much its own title, with its mixture of weird ideas, and its ability to find humor in the most unexpected sources (e.g. who would've thought a cellular phone could make for such an amusing running gag). However, if you're like myself, and consider the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League the high-water mark for humor-based titles, then John Arcudi's Doom Patrol should be right up your alley.
I also love how John Arcudi incorporates the powers of his characters into the material, with Ted's ability to glimpse into the future continuing to be a regular source of clever humor. I mean Ted's power doesn't seem like it would be of much use, but John Arcudi has used it to come up with some fairly inventive moments, and this issue Robot Man & Ted have a charming little exchange about why he didn't use his power to figure out that there was a giant worm creature lurking in the sewer tunnel. Ava also gets a pretty solid showing as we see her shadow tentacles pack quite a bit of power, as she's able to halt the monster's considerable forward momentum, before taking on the creature all by her lonesome. The issue also offer up a fairly engaging threat, with the mist attack that also serves as this issue's cover visual being one of the more chilling takedowns I've ever seen in a comic. I also enjoyed the final page discovery by the team that makes it appear they've been dragged down into Hell, though the final panel does offer up a rather amusing moment that makes one question whether the team is in the real underworld.
Tan Eng Huat's work is a wonderfully energetic style, and he's also one of the relatively few artist to pick up Jim Steranko's torch and actually view the shapes of the panels & the sound effects, as something the artist can manipulate to create an exciting visual. I mean I love the look of this book when the giant worm arrives on the scene, as the art contains a sense of energy & speed that I'm not seeing in any other title, though I wish I was. There's also some great little visuals, like Ted's little dance after hearing about Amazo's rampage on the news, or the wonderfully chilling sequence when the team is subjected to a "mental floss" and Robot Man's body crumples to the ground. The art also delivers some absolutely stunning one-page spreads, as our first look at the giant worm creature is an amazing visual, as is the final page shot of Hell. There also some nice work on the facial expressions, as Ted's face is an open book during his conversation with Robot Man about raising the team's profile, and I absolutely loved the array of expressions on the team's faces when the big worm erupts out of the sewer.
While Geoff Johns' "Flash" is offering up top quality super-hero action, and the "JSA" continues to be one of the most entertaining team books on the stands, as of this issue John Arcudi's Doom Patrol holds the top spot, as my favorite DC title. I mean, first one has to admire the idea that John Arcudi has created almost an entirely new cast on the series, and that he's also managed to generate entertaining stories, without the use of a single big-name villain. There's also the fact that this title is easily one of the funniest titles on the stands, as starting with the super arrogant Ted, this book's cast is a fine collection of amusing personalities, and John Arcudi has a wonderful grasp on how to poke fun at the conventions of the super-hero comic. Combine this with the wonderfully energetic work of Tan Eng Huat, who has now delivered ten issues in a row (an impressive feat for the modern day comic artist), and you have one of the best new titles to come out of DC in years.
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