Plot: A group of pan-dimensional contractors have come to retrieve Danny the Brick (all that remains of former Doom Patrol ally Danny the Street), threatening to demolish our reality if the team doesn’t surrender it. Strong words are exchanged and punches are thrown.
Comments: This title reads like a weird mixture of all previous Doom Patrol series, mainly Grant Morrison’s celebrated surrealist take from the '80s and '90s, and the more recent straight superheroic incarnations that plagued the 2000s. It’s an odd and busy book, but that’s fine. That’s the way it should be.
The concept of the story and its clever resolution feel like they’re lifted directly from one of Morrison’s issues. They even involve some of the same characters. Besides the aforementioned Danny, another returning star is the lovely Crazy Jane. It’s strange to see that pair outside of a Vertigo book, but they were both introduced when the series was still published by DC proper, even if they’ve rarely interacted with the mainstream DCU until now.
As I was saying, the idea feels all Morrison. However, the manner in which the team deals with this threat (by punching it), is more in like with the way guys like John Byrne wrote the book. As derisive as that might sound to some people, this approach is all that saves the book from becoming redundant. A revival of the Morrison Patrol would be pointless, especially if it wasn’t written by him. Treating the Doom Patrol as if they were the X-Men (even though they were the X-Men) has proven unsuccessful multiple times. But combining these two disparate styles works surprisingly well. What’s surprising about it is that no one thought of it before.
The dialogue is all over the place, in a good way. Robotman talks like the Thing (lots of “Damn its,” and “Shut yer traps”) while the Negative Man sounds like he thinks he’s in a quirky indie book. Watching one tell the other he suspects he’s being stalked by a pelican is a joy.
Having said that I’m lowering the grade in this one because, sadly, it fails at some basic stuff. A large cast of stand byers has been assembled in the past few issues and Giffen doesn’t even try to let us know who they are or why they’re here. The only recognizable one is Oberon (having miraculously survived the decimation of both the Fourth World and the JLI), but it doesn’t help that he’s inexplicably wearing a monocle and a toupé. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that this book features a dwarf with a monocle and a toupé, but I feel, perhaps foolishly, like this should be pointed out by another character at some point. Maybe they’re all just being polite, but a thought balloon above Negative Man’s head with the words “Hellooo Wig!” wouldn't hurt.
About the art: I like Matthew Clark, but I’m afraid he only adds to the confusion. He’s a very good artist, which is why I hope to see him improve his storytelling skills sometime soon. A scene where the Negative Man is disappointed when his naked touch doesn’t hurt an enemy could’ve been delightful if paced correctly, but Clark completely wastes the opportunity. I get the feeling this series could improve considerably if they got another artist to do the breakdowns. What’s Keith Giffen doing these days?
Correction: The scene in question was actually drawn by Ron Randall. Apologies to Mr. Clarke..
Despite all its flaws, this is still a very interesting and very enjoyable book. That’s a great combination. Also, since it was spoiled by the “Next on Doom Patrol” box last issue I think I can safely say it here: Ambush Bug shows up in the last page, carrying his bags, his child, and his “Sales Bump” pin. The next one should be a doozy.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!