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Comic Reviews

Doom Patrol

Latest installation, led by Gerard Way embraces the weird

By Desmond Fox
Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol, Vol. 1: Brick by Brick

Gerard Way and Nick Derington
DC Comics/Young Animal
176 pages
$16.99

For readers in the know, Doom Patrol has always been synonymous with weird. From its 1963 debut, to Grant Morrison’s definitive '90s run, Doom Patrol has been the go-to place for team superhero action with a sense of humor and a taste of the bizarre. Now, headlining DC’s new Young Animal imprint, My Chemical Romance’s celebrated frontman Gerard Way steps into the ring with the latest iteration of the team.

Assisted by Nick Derington’s gorgeous pencils, Way and company waste little time before seating the reader with Casey Brinke and her incredible ambulance. With fantastic and impossible memories of superhero-ism and space adventures, Casey feels disconnected with the fantastical world she loves, but is driven to serve her community as a medical E.M.T. Before long, the reader, along with Casey, discover her truly unbelievable origins, in a story equally enjoyable for newcomers and Doom Patrol veterans alike.

Classic members of the Patrol are present in this tale, including Robotman and Negative Man, along with the Chief himself, Niles Caulder. Way employs Caulder primarily for visual gags, all of which add up to meaningful story tidbits by the story’s end. Way expresses a mastery over comic scripting which was seemingly underdeveloped in previous projects.

Firmly stationed at the crux of rock and roll and graphic literature, Way exists as something of an anomaly. Infamously contentious in its heyday, My Chemical Romance has been the butt of many a joke, while those in the know proudly display their multiple copies of The Black Parade, happy to argue anyone who challenges the musical merit of Way’s ambitious vision. In the world of comic books, Way has chosen to emulate the equally divisive Grant Morrison (The Invisibles, The Multiversity) with tales of artistic expression, occasionally opting for spectacle over cohesion. At their worst, Way’s stories have been entertainingly bizarre despite choosing nearly impossible to follow narrative threads. Despite that, Doom Patrol serves as a new high water mark, with a story that’s just as lovably bizarre as it is expertly written.

Nick Derington’s art is a feast for the eyes. Where Way’s script calls for living cities, alien fast-food tycoons and a walking, talking, cuddly tape cassette player, Derington delivers, with consistent visual flair that is infused with his own unique sensibilities. As a team, Way and Derington offer a visual synergy which echoes other classics, such as Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. Despite these thematic connections, Doom Patrol stands as a wholly unique work, building and expanding on the groundwork paved by the Vertigo comic-auteurs of the '90s.

With Doom Patrol as its foundation and Gerard Way behind the wheel, Young Animal is set to take Vertigo’s place as DC’s top adult imprint. There’s a punk rock sensibility present, attractively at odds with the rest of the Warner Brothers machine. While DC’s main brand is hard at work rebooting their heroes and severing plot lines every couple of years, Way and his team have carved out a little piece of paradise with some comics that just don’t give a care.

Let’s get weird. Let’s read Doom Patrol.

 
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