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Doom Patrol #19

Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: Tan Eng Huat

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Cliff forming a bond with his young niece, but this Hallmark moment is cut short when Tycho Bray crashes through the yard, riding a giant green horse. As he rushes the young girl to the relative safety of her home, we see Cliff makes a rather surprising discovery as Tycho's horse has changed into a green bear, and Cliff is able to connect the dots rather quickly. We then jump back in time a bit where we see Gar Logan (aka. Beast Boy) is busy enjoying a moderately successful career in Hollywood, but as he makes his way off a job, we see he's attacked by Tycho & another entity. While Gar puts on a pretty impressive display of his shape-shifting abilities, we see he is unable to keep himself from becoming a host body for one of the seven spirits, and this in turn makes him into a willing ally of these villains. We then learn the second entity who was working alongside Tycho is named Nao Yut, and he is master of the seven spirits, one of which he places inside Tycho. We then see that the reason for the attack on Cliff was so that he would be a third host, but when they attempt to impose the spirit upon Cliff, they are surprised to discover Cliff possesses no soul for the spirit to replace. We then see the puzzled villains head off to visit Doom Patrol, as they have been targeted as the other host bodies.

Comments:
Back when I was growing up on a steady diet of Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Justice League of America & New Teen Titans issues in the early 1980s, Gar Logan (aka. Beast Boy) was easily my favorite character on the DC side of the fence, and I can't tell you how disillusioned I was toward the end of the first Titans series, when Gar was cast into the role of a villainous lackey, and then proceeded to spend the better part of the next eight years making little more that a handful of guest appearance (plus one miniseries). So with him poised to make his return to the DCU in the pages of the new Titans monthly, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by this issue, in which we get an early preview of how utterly cool Gar is when he's in battle. This issue offers up a five page sequence where Gar gets to show off his rather impressive array of forms he can draw from, as he's attacked & has to defend himself. Gar has a power that is a nice litmus test for both the writer & artist, as in the hands of a solid creative team Gar in action is a very entertaining display, and to this end this book's creative team passes with flying colors. Now I must admit I was a little disappointed to see the battle end so quickly, but I can draw solace from the idea that Gar did last longer that Cliff did.

Speaking of Cliff this issue continues to expand upon the idea that Cliff is not what he appears to be, as in this issue we see the villains make an attempt at possessing his soul, only to discover that Cliff doesn't have one. Now with the final issue fast approaching I do hope John Arcudi has time to expand upon this idea, as the mystery of what exactly Cliff is has been one of the more engaging elements that this new series has brought to the table, and it would be a shame to see the book end without first providing a definitive answer to this question. This issue does seem to make it clear that Cliff does look to possess all the memories & personality traits that he had back when he was alive, as his brother seems to be convinced that this hulking monstrosity is Cliff. This issue also acts to fill in the gaps when it comes to events leading up to this issue's final battle, as we learn what the deal was with the mystery body that spent a couple of decades jumping around the postal system, and we also learn why these villains appear to be so interested in Cliff & the members of Doom Patrol. It also doesn't hurt that Gar looks to have fallen under their spell, as he's playing host to one of the seven spirits that the main villain is looking to find hosts for.

I'm really going to miss my monthly dose of Tan Eng Huat's art when this book draws to a close as it's rare that I find myself this impressed by the debut of a new artist. Now I hope I'm not the only one who noticed how strong an artist he is, as his action sequences alone should be enough to have editors lined up outside his door to work on their latest projects. This issue delivers two fairly impressive action scene, with the Gar's little bout being my personal favorite, as Tan Eng Huat has a lot of fun with Gar's shape-shifting ability. I mean one has to love the reveal shot as Gar turns himself into a T-Rex, and the art also manages to deliver a fairly impressive little shock as Gar has a sword run through his heart. The possession of Gar is also nicely handled as his animal forms do take on a more Asian influenced appearance. As for Cliff's little encounter, the art does a very nice job of conveying a sense of speed, as Cliff races his niece to safety, and the explosive entrance of the possessed Gar through the wall of the house is also pretty impressive. There's also a great sequence where Cliff is rammed through a wall, before he finds himself sporting a massive sword through his chest. I also enjoyed the quiet panel that follows where the gathered villains wait for something to happen.

Final Word:
Given I've been a big fan of the character for most of my comic reading life, I'm delighted with the renewed attention that Beast Boy looks to be receiving, and this issue offers up a fairly enjoyable sequence that manages to convey Gar's power in a highly impressive manner. The book also does a pretty fair job of following up on the story we received in the previous issue, as we get a good idea of what this group of "villains" are trying to accomplish, and how it involves the members of Doom Patrol. It is sad to realize that this book's days are numbered, as this is a highly engaging series, that managed to follow rather nicely in the footsteps of the previous Doom Patrol series, in that it offered up plots that were nicely situated outside the box, while not losing sight of the main goal, which is the delivery of an entertaining twenty-two pages of story month in and month out. I do hope the question of whether Cliff has a soul is resolved before the final issue rolls around.



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