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Doom Patrol #18

Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2011
By: Thomas Crawford

Keith Giffen
Matthew Clark, Ron Randall, John Livesay (i), Guy Major (c)
DC Comics
The Doom Patrol face off against a family of decadent sadists known as the Aristocrats (Donít worry, the joke gets referenced), with the fate of Veronica Cale in their hands! So, yíknow, I guess they should do something about it.

All this month, DC is putting out books with the lead characters striking iconic poses on the covers. Imagine my surprise when I saw Bumblebee on the cover of this monthís Doom Patrol. This isnít a series Iíve been following with any regularity, so I was happy the former Titan was getting face time somewhere. Turns out, sheís just one of a number of good things this issue has going for it.

For starters, if you didnít already know, man is Keith Giffen a funny writer. Thereís lines dotted throughout the issue that made me chuckle. One particular exchange between Cale and Negative Man that had me laughing out loud. At the same time, there were some surprisingly dark moments (in a book called Doom Patrol, right) that were also very poignant, specifically Elasti-Womanís interrogation of Byron III.

And yet, between the cold hearted acts of violence and wacky antics, Giffen manages to make it all feel natural for these characters. My one complaint is that Bumblebee doesnít really have a purpose here. Even in the role of moral compass she doesnít do a whole lot. In the future I hope she gets a bit more face time.

On the art front, Iíve always had a certain fondness for Matthew Clark. As such, Iím probably more forgiving than I should be when he slips up. This issue was not his best work, with some of the detail clearly sacrificed, likely for the sake of deadline. Also, since I missed the previous issue, I have no idea why the Aristocrats are covered in blood and the art does not help answer that question. That said, he also draws an excellent fight scene between Robotman and the matriarch of this devilish family, complete with a very disturbing shot of a broken neck. Also, Iím a fan of Guy Majorís color work, and with the exception of some bruises that are a bit odd-looking, his work is par for the course.

Unfortunately, Ron Randall does not fare so well. Itís not that his pages are bad, per se, itís just clearly a different style from Clarkís. I suppose it might be a matter of preference, but the difference between the two still took me out of the story for a moment and I think Clarkís scratchier linework was a better fit for this particular story.

I think as far as team books go, Doom Patrol absolutely nails the dynamic between characters, creating an interesting group of real people that I want to continue reading about month after month.



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