Doom Patrol #18

A comic review article by: Thomas Crawford
The Doom Patrol face off against a family of decadent sadists known as the Aristocrats (Don’t worry, the joke gets referenced), with the fate of Veronica Cale in their hands! So, y’know, 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 month’s Doom Patrol. This isn’t a series I’ve been following with any regularity, so I was happy the former Titan was getting face time somewhere. Turns out, she’s just one of a number of good things this issue has going for it.

For starters, if you didn’t already know, man is Keith Giffen a funny writer. There’s 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-Woman’s 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 doesn’t really have a purpose here. Even in the role of moral compass she doesn’t do a whole lot. In the future I hope she gets a bit more face time.

On the art front, I’ve always had a certain fondness for Matthew Clark. As such, I’m 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, I’m a fan of Guy Major’s 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. It’s not that his pages are bad, per se, it’s just clearly a different style from Clark’s. 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 Clark’s 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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