I have something to confess to you. I’ve never read a single issue of Doom Patrol. Not even during the heyday of Grant Morrison when he was on the title. I always meant to, but it was one of those things that continually got put off, time after time.
On September 16th, Doom Patrol made it’s triumphant return through DC’s new boutique label Young Animal. The label, curated by former My Chemical Romance singer (and long-time comic fan and writer) Gerard Way, is trying to carve it’s way into what made Vertigo the dangerous comics label of the ’90s. And while I believe Vertigo is still a solid main-stay of creator-owned work, they haven’t had the same bite they had when writers and artists were twisting and turning DC owned properties on their head. And while I agree with the sentiment, and the effort, of what Way is trying to do, it needs to be one very important thing.
It needs to be good.
And if Doom Patrol #1 is any indication, Way could very well pull this mission off.
I wasn’t just transported back to what made those early Vertigo Comics (ie, Sandman, Shade the Changing Man, Hellblazer, etc.) important, I felt like this was a much needed update of that particular formula. Way, along with artist Nick Derington, put their own personal stamp on this book from the get-go. They don’t hold your hand guiding you into the pool, they throw you right into the deep end. That’s part of what I really enjoyed, especially not having any sort of context for who, or what (more importantly), the Doom Patrol are.
Way, and crew, have managed to hook me through great storytelling, giving me enough information about Casey Brinke, our main character for this issue, and the gang of misfits that surround her to keep me buying the next issue. This is the important aspect of an issue number one, it doesn’t feel at all like a throw-away. From the introduction of long-time Doom Patrol character, Cliff Steele (Robotman), to the hilarious meeting of Casey and Terry None (I can’t spoil it for you), the book gives you all the information you need but not enough to satiate you. It doesn’t get any better than trying to figure out why aliens are meeting in boardrooms to talk about fastfood start-ups across the galaxy.
We even get a great one page catch-up with The Chief, aka Niles Caulder, the leader of the Doom Patrol which I found to be hilarious, and enduring.
And Nick Derington’s art is straight-forward in his line-work, but kinetic at the same time. His art makes the characters move, and gives life to the static pages. It reminded me much of Way’s collaboration with Becky Cloonan on the Fabulous Killjoys book. In fact, it shows that Way has an eye for who he works with adding another great artist to the already solid bullpen he has in his corner (Gabriel Ba on The Umbrella Academy and Cloonan on the aforementioned Killjoys).
Much like Gerard Way’s other books (The Umbrella Academy, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) he sets up a world you want to learn more about, but he doesn’t pander, and you can tell he has a tremendous amount of respect to his audience in this regard. It doesn’t feel like he’s trying to ape Grant Morrison (who is a friend of Way’s as well), and the Dada weird-ism that he was going for in the ’90s. It feels like a writer trying to carve out his own stamp on his own terms.
And I definitely welcome that.
Doom Patrol #1; Written by Gerard Way; Illustrated by Nick Derington; Colors by Tamra Donvillain; Letters by Todd Klein; Edited by Shelly Bond; Published by DC’s Young Animal
Doom Patrol created by Arnold Blake