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Doom Patrol #17

Posted: Monday, February 10, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: Tan Eng Huat

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Cliff's unmoving body being mistaken for a dead body, and as such when he wakes up he gives the investigating sheriff a good scare. The book then jumps back to the year 1969, where we see an elderly couple make the mistake of opening the mystery package addressed to Wia Lu Sung that has slowly made its way into the country. We then rejoin Cliff in the present where we see he come across a young man having car trouble alongside the highway. However when Cliff's efforts to help the man result in the discovery of a young woman tied up in the trunk, we see Cliff is quick to jump to the conclusion that this is a kidnapping. However, after he frees the young woman, Cliff finds she isn't exactly thanking him for the rescue, as she slams a rock upside his head, before trying to bash his head in with a stick. We then see the kidnapper arrives to grab the woman, and with an incensed Robot Man speeding after them we see the two seek shelter behind a convenient police barricade. After Cliff makes it clear that he's not the villain of this piece, we see him discover the young couple were simply goofing around, and that the woman willing let herself be tied up and placed in the trunk, in a bid to spice up their love life.

Comments:
While it does result is a rather amusing little moment where the highway patrol officer has to apologize to Cliff for opening fire on him, I did find this sequence to be a little hard to believe, as there's a few too many moments where the man's cute explanation for why he had a woman locked up in the truck of his car doesn't seem to be enough. I mean, why isn't Cliff a little more curious about why the man emptied a shot gun into his chest immediately after he opened the trunk to discover the woman, or why the man was trying to run him down in his car. I mean if this really an innocent game whose sole purpose is to add a little excitement into their lives, then this man's use of excessive violence would seem to exist solely to give Cliff & us readers the exactly opposite impression, and it's never a good sign when a writer has to actively trick the reader. Of course is the man hadn't acted in such overly aggressive manner then chance are Cliff would've stuck around the car long enough to listen to the explanation of the woman, and we would've been cheated out of what was a fairly exciting bit of action. Still, if I was Cliff I would still be openly wondering why the man choose to try and kill him rather than attempting to explain himself.

As for the rest of the team, it would appear that Fever has taken the Purple Purposeless' message to heart as she is doing absolutely nothing, and given she has been thrown in jail for destroying a cabbie's vehicle, and leaving a person in hospital suffering from serious burns, it should be interesting to see how well her "do nothing" approach to problems holds up. As for the person she put in hospital, from our brief one panel look at Vic it would appear that his injuries are actually quite severe, and I can't see him being all that happy once he's awake. We also see Ted's little trip into the future has left him in a pretty bad way, as his mind is still reeling from the multiple possible futures he was subjected to. Then there's Ava who is back to being the dark, rather creepy character who we know very little about. I have to confess that I still have no idea how John Arcudi is going to get the team back together, as he's left them all in pretty bad spots, and I can't see how any of them are going to simply shake off their various problems & go back to being a team. Then again this is probably why he's playing the role of the writer, while I play the decidedly less creative role of the reviewer, and the decidedly more enjoyable role of the reader.

Tan Eng Huat is one of the primary reason why I find this title so enjoyable, as while the cast are a collection of engaging personalities, and John Arcudi has them involved in some fairly interesting plots, it's the art that really makes this book stand out from the crowd. From his inventive panels designs where the actual shape of the panel itself is used to convey a specific action, to the wonderful design sense when it comes to how it decides to deliver the action shots, this issue is a wonderful example of what an artist can add to a book. I mean the sequence where Cliff is chasing down the suspected kidnapper's car is a great display of raw power, and even more impressive is the page where Cliff is racing forward through a barrage of gun fire. The page where he blows a gasket upon arriving at the police barricade is also a great looking shot, as is the panel where Cliff arrives at the door of his brother's house. Speaking of this last shot, I also like the idea that Cliff's size always plays an issue when he's interacting with others, as everything looks so tiny when compared to Cliff. I also have to say that Tan Eng Huat delivers some of the best looking covers out there, as this issue cover image is not only instantly compelling, but Cliff's robotic nature is perfectly captured.

Final Word:
The plot that Cliff gets involved in suffers from some rather funky logic, as the explanation for why the woman was in the trunk fails to explain why the man responded in such an openly hostile manner after Cliff made his discovery. I mean surely he knew how such a discovery would appear, and opening fire with a shotgun is not likely to make anyone believe it was all just an innocent game. The explanations’ failure to address this point didn't help matters much either. Still, the scene where Cliff confronts the trigger-happy highway patrol officers made me smile, as did the scene where the officer learned what had prompted Cliff's behavior. The action also does a nice job of playing up the idea that Cliff's new body is pretty tough, as he's run down by a speeding car, and absorbs a hail of bullets without taking any real damage. The brief visits with the rest of the team also do a nice job of playing up the idea that the entire team is in complete disarray.



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