Current Reviews


Doom Patrol #13

Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: Seth Fisher

Publisher: DC

The book opens with a dejected Robotman heading out for a walk, where we see he has a meeting with an unusual old man in the park. We then join the team the next morning as they discover a mystery package has appeared in their headquarters, and upon opening it they find a tie clasp that Robotman believes is one that was given to the Chief years ago. After reading the inscription engraved on this tie clasp we see the whole world goes crazy, and Robotman finds himself transported years into the past. The situation gets even stranger when Cliff is confronted by the members of the original Doom Patrol, but he discovers that the minds of the current team are inside the bodies of his former teammates. We see Ted is inside Negative Man, Vic is inside Beast Boy, Ava is inside Elasti-Girl, Shyleen is inside the Chief, while Cliff is inside his original robot body. As they try to figure out what's going on we see that the Brotherhood of Evil are in the middle of one of their evil plans, and if Doom Patrol doesn't meet their demands next 24 hours they'll destroy the city. However, given they have no idea what these demands are, we see the new/old Doom Patrol are in a bit of a bind.

The original Doom Patrol was before my time as a comic book reader, as my first introduction to the group was in their monthly title that came out in the late 1980s, and that book opened with the Robot Man rising from the wreckage, looking to be the only surviving member of the team (Beast Boy was a member of the New Teen Titans at this point). Now Negative Man turned up in the later issues of the book, as did the Chief, so in the end the only member of this lineup that's a complete unknown to me is Elasti-Girl, as even the Brotherhood of Evil were regulars in the pages of the New Teen Titans. However, I've never read any of their original adventures, and aside from a brief visit during the "JLA: Year One" miniseries, I've never seen this team in action together. With that said, the premise of this story has the minds of the present day team setting up shop in the bodies of the original team, and as such this can hardly be seen as an adventure involving the original members of Doom Patrol, as Cliff's the only character whose in his right mind, so to speak. Still the idea does allow John Arcudi to play with elements that I'm sure many longtime fans will be glad to see again, and newer readers will get a nice sample of the early days of this group.

Since it was the personalities of the new team that made me such a big fan of the current incarnation of Doom Patrol, this story looks highly promising, as we see them reacting to the idea that they've been thrown into the past, and are occupying the bodies of the original team. This in turn has resulted in some very amusing moments, like Shyleen finding herself in the body of the Chief, and being subjected to Cliff's rant about how the Chief screwed over the original team. There's also Ted's discovery that he's radioactive, Vic's parade of animals as he tests out Beast Boy's ability, and in a rather odd bit we see that Ava's journey into Elasti-Girl's body has resulted in a far happier disposition. There's also a fun moment involving the Brotherhood of Evil, and as seems to be the case in this book Ted is the one who produces the amusing reaction to the situation, as one has to smile at his plan for dealing with the Brotherhood. This adventure should also be quite a bit of fun, as we see the team make use of the originals’ powers, with Ted being saddled with rather dire time limit, while Ava has to adjust to Elasti-Girl's ability to become a giant. There's also the big questions of how this happened, and how they'll get back to their own bodies.

Seth Fisher steps in for a couple issues, and while I was more impressed with his work on the "Flash: Time Flies" one-shot, his work on this issue certainly makes Tan Eng Huat's absence easier to take. Sure his version of Robot Man is a bit jarring in the early pages, and I have to ask what's the deal with that tree on page three, but as I got further into the issue, the art really started to win me over. From the delightfully bizarre piece of art after Cliff reads the inscription of the tie clasp, to the background detail that has Vic trying out the various animal forms that he can turn into, the art on this issue is a lot of fun. The art also does a nice job reflecting the personalities of the present day members while they reside in the bodies of the original team, as one has to smile at the bed head hairdo that all the animals that Vic turns into are sporting, or the effeminate pose that the Chief takes when Cliff is tearing into him. The art also has fun with Ted's reaction to the idea that Shyleen is the brains behind this operation, and the last page is a wonderful homage to the big monster era of comics. The cover to this issue is also quite nice, as not only is it sure to grab the eye of the older fan, but it also nicely hints at the story inside.

Final Word:
A very interesting situation that is sure to appeal to the longtime fans of the team, while also playing to the strengths of the latest incarnation of Doom Patrol, as we get the best of both worlds. We have the delightfully bizarre Silver Age element of the original group, while we also have the engaging personalties of the new team. Plus, there's a nice nostalgic factor at work here, as this particular lineup hasn't seen the light of day for almost thirty years, and while this might be seen as catering to a rather select group of readers, I do feel that most long running titles benefit from the occasional look back at their early years, if only to show newer readers why Doom Patrol has been around in one form or another for almost 40 years. This looks like a fun little jaunt into the team's past, and John Arcudi makes good use of the premise, as there's some very amusing moments to be found in these pages, as well as a nice sense of urgency thanks to the Brotherhood of Evil's dire sounding ultimatum.

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