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Doom Patrol #16

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: Tan Eng Huat

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens by looking in on Ted who has decided that if he's going to make it as a hero, he's going to have to improve his ability to see into the future beyond its current one-minute range. However his efforts are a little too successful, and he jumps further into the future than he wants, and to make matters even more confusing he's also treated to the a barrage of possible futures. We then look in on Fever who is waiting anxiously at the hospital for news about Vic, who was caught in the explosion that she generated when she lost her temper at the end of the last issue. However, a chance meeting with a crackpot who calls himself the Purple Purposeless gives Fever a new outlook on life, and her anxious worry is replaced by a detached approach to life. However her new carefree attitude is likely going to be challenged when the cabbie whose cab she made explode points her out to the arriving police. We then look in on Robot Man who is discovering that it's rather difficult to hitchhike across the country when you are a hulking robotic monstrosity, and the one car that almost picks him up is carrying Tycho, the blind samurai that the team fought before the real Cliff returned to the book.

Comments:
Of all the issues we've gotten thus far on this new Doom Patrol series, I have to say that this one takes the cake for being the most bizarre. Oh sure it picks up on where we left off last issue, and it doesn't even come close to touching the sheer weirdness that was Grant Morrison's take on the team. However, there are several moments in this issue where I had to admire this book's willingness to embrace the odd little additions it added to the mix, with the Purple Purposeless being one of my favorite additions to these pages. I mean first off one has admire a man whose beer gut rivals that of a woman nine months into her pregnancy, and when this gentleman decides the ideal clothing to display this impressive physique is purple spandex, then I can't help but love the character. There's also his claim that his exposure to agent orange gave him hay fever. His advice to Fever is also rather clever way of looking at the world, and his credo made me smile. The issue also has Ted attempting to expand his future seeing ability beyond its current one minute range, and this results in a fairly twisted trip that offers up some fairly curious revelations about a couple of characters. There's also an odd little subplot involving a letter that was mailed back in 1969.

Given last issue pretty much scattered the team to the four winds, I have to say that I'm rather impressed by how well John Arcudi has managed to keep this book from feeling disjointed, as we have three separate arcs running through these pages that link together quite nicely. Now we don't really have a common theme that ties them all together, but they all manage to deliver a shared sense of weirdness that made it seem like they were all part of one bigger idea. Now Fever's section of the issue is probably my favorite, as it has itself a nice mix of comedy, and some pretty intense drama, with the final panel being particularly gripping. I was also surprised by the revelation that Slick was seriously injured when Fever let her powers rage out of control, as I had just assumed his powers would've protected him from the blast. As for the situation with Ted & Ava, one has to love the rather disturbing possessive streak that Ava is sporting, and Ted's glimpse into the future left me with a couple questions. As for Robot Man's cross country journey, the last panel offers up a pretty unexpected surprise. One also has to smile at the idea of Cliff trying to hitchhike across the country, as the reaction of the one driver was quite amusing.

Tan Eng Huat is proving to be a real find, and I have to give Andy Helfer full marks for making this discovery. Tan Eng Huat's ability to tell the story is a visually engaging manner is very impressive, as he's one of the few artists who uses the sound effects & the very panels themselves to convey a sense of impact, and his art is also some of the most expressive work out there. From the look of sheer anger on Ava's face before she smashes the phone, to Fever reaction shot after she learns what ailment the Purple Purposeless is suffering from, the art does a wonderful job of playing up this issue's key moments. The humor of the Purple Purposeless is also nicely conveyed by the art, as his physical appearance, and his grandiose poses makes the character all the more entertaining. The art also does some nice work on the scenes where Ted is viewing the future, with the one page shot of the future cityscape being the most impressive. The art also does a nice job of simply telling the story, as there's some fairly complex ideas in these pages, and yet the art is never gets confusing. For example the idea that Ted was seeing multiple futures is clearly conveyed, and the last page does a nice job with its surprise revelation.

Final Word:
Aside from the rather amusement that the Purple Purposeless provides, this issue is far more serious than we've seen thus far, and it's also off the beaten track when it comes to some of it's ideas. However, the book still remains one of the truly original titles coming out of DC, and John Arcudi has his cast jumping through some fairly interesting hoops. Now the team is broken up so the interaction that made the earlier issues so engaging is missing, and I do hope the group is brought back together fairly soon, as while they are all interesting characters who can carry a plot all by themselves, the real magic occurs when they're playing off each other. Still, this issue is an enjoyable exercise in that the ideas it's offering up are offbeat enough to be interesting, and the cliffhanger situations that the various arcs end on leave me eager for the arrival of next month's issue. Plus, one has to love Purple Purposeless, and his "do nothing" approach to life.



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