Doom Patrol #1
Written by Gerard Way
Art by Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Todd Klein
Published by DC’s Young Animal
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
“The World’s Strangest Heroes” receive a suitably weird reboot in the pages of Doom Patrol #1. Written by My Chemical Romance frontman-turned-writer Gerard Way, this debut issue, though sometimes puzzling, introduces us to this new incarnation of the Patrol anchored by new series lead Casey Brinke.
Though the plot aims for purposefully odd, Way’s poetic, Grant Morrison-style scripting keeps the reader interested, even though they may not know what the hell is going on at times. While Way brings the charm with his quirky new characters, artist Nick Derington hammers home that charm with smooth, Cliff Chiang-like pencils, backed by the neon-inspired colors of Tamra Bonvillain. DC’s Young Animal is an ambitious gambit, but Doom Patrol #1 starts the imprint off on a stylishly bizarre note.
Now, when I say that this first issue is puzzling, I truly mean it; I had no idea what was happening during certain scenes. Clearly inspired by Grant Morrison’s crazed take on Doom Patrol, Gerard Way throws a lot of weirdness at the reader with little to no explanation or lingering gazes. Though head-scratching at points, I honestly expected as much and the hints that he does drop are too crazy to shrug off as just set dressing.
For example, Way devotes an entire scene to the introduction of the villains, a group of fractal-skinned aliens and a pair of two heavy set men who seem to be melting. They all discuss their plans to expand their outer space fast food franchises and its vaguely threatening, but... that’s it. Way touches on it and then quickly moves on to the next scene of Casey being adorable with no connection between the two. From a possibly dead angel to a quick shoutout to Danny the Street, Way takes the moniker of “Strangest Heroes” to heart and leans into it with aplomb.
While Way’s plot veers way off the path at times, his characters are worth the experience alone. Our lead is Casey Brinke, a daredevil ambulance driver that may or may not be some sort of extradimensional lead. Way’s introduction of Brinke is fast-paced and sharply-written, and that sharpness continues throughout the issue. Brinke is even given a hilarious foil in the form of Terry None who enters the issue as a singing birthday telegram and follows it up by exploding Casey’s roommate into what looks like cotton candy. Though returning characters like Niles Caulder and Cliff Steele are given quick and bleakly hilarious cameos, Way’s original characters and his quirky scripting of them gives this debut a strong cast to balance out its strange plot.
Though Doom Patrol #1 goes off the reservation few times with its script, the visuals provided by penciler Nick Derington and colorist Tamra Bonvillain are consistently strong throughout. Employing a glossy, indie comic booklook in the real world and a chalky visual style for Robotman’s mission inside a gyro (yes, you read that right), Derington displays an interesting duality of styles for this debut. While Derington’s smooth blocking and instantly-endearing character designs impress, Tamra Bonvillain’s colors, which easily shift from scene-to-scene suiting the tone take the pencils to a whole other level. Shifting from lush dark greens in Caulder’s keyboard garden to a rave-inspired palette of pinks and purples when the gyro explodes, Tamra Bonvillain keeps the tones and colors suitably weird along with Gerard Way’s script.
With a fair bit of interesting insanity and compellingly adorable lead characters, Doom Patrol #1 is a solid opening salvo for DC’s latest imprint. Gerard Way, a writer known for both his poetic way with words and his eye for oddness, proves to be the right mind to handle the Doom Patrol and their crazy adventures. While Way brings the Patrol to a whole new generation of readers, the art team of Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain kick the series off with a blast of style and blazing colors that set the bar very high for the rest of the Young Animal line. I may not have completely understood what all was going on in Doom Patrol #1, but I sure did have a hell of a lot of fun with it, and sometimes that’s enough.