Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1
Written by Gerard Way and Jeremy Lambert
Art by James Harvey and Sajan Rai
Published by DC / Young Animal
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
”We’re the Doom Patrol and we’re here to help.”
The World’s Strangest Heroes return with a wry, focused new volume in Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1. Though not exactly hot on the heels of the first volume, writers Gerard Way and Jeremy Lambert return to the exploits of the team with a renewed confidence and far more structured script.
While it might not read as experimental as the pre-Milk Wars issues, this new #1 finally cuts to the chase. Delivering a fun, self-contained weird-as-hell adventure for the team, starting this crop of issues on the right foot narratively. And speaking of weird, artists James Harvey and Sajan Rai deliver a completely different kind of strange on the art side. Standing as a sort pop-art mixture of the character modeling of Michael Avon Oeming and the old-school layouts of Ed Piskor, Harvey and Rai nail the visual oddity that is the team, standing strong in comparison to the Nick Darington era. Shaking off the rust after a long hiatus, the Doom Patrol looks to be bearing the weight of a new #1 well.
It has been some months since we have seen the Doom Patrol on shelves. Thankfully, writers Gerard Way and Jeremy Lambert take that into consideration and begin this issue with a sort of role call. This is just one of the better structure decisions this new volume makes. Abandoning the sort of stream-of-consciousness vibe that drug down the previous volume in single-issue format, Weight of the Worlds reorients itself as the sort of off-beat, strongly conceptual superhero tale the Doom Patrol made their name with.
“Take us where there’s hurt. Take us where we can help,” says new team leader Crazy Jane to Danny the Ambulance, who serves as both the team’s headquarters and mode of interdimensional transportation. Dragging Casey Brinke, Flex Mentallo, the Negative Man, Rita Farr, and new addition Lucius, Slayer of Margoth across the universe, Danny finds them a problem only they can fix. An alien world obsessed with fitness, worshipping a “perfect form” with a marathon that goes on for eternity, ran on an endlessly running treadmill that takes up their entire planet.
This is the second major structural improvement to this new volume. Setting heavily serialized ongoing narratives aside for the moment, through this issue does have it’s own threads to introduce, Way and Lambert’s script is much, much more centralized. Better still, it has a Doctor Who-like hook. By positioning Danny as a sort of “beacon” for trouble, this issue has a much more focused direction and momentum. It’s almost like an annual in a way, thought the ongoing thread surrounding newly human Robotman baits the hook nicely for a binge read. This opening issue is so much stronger now that it has the clarity that comes with a co-writer.
But while the narrative is (relatively) straightforward, the artwork is as esoteric and phenomenal as ever. Artist James Harvey, alongside Sajan Rai, add a whole new texture to the Doom Patrol. For one, it’s packed with dreamy, theatrical set dressing, such as the team’s credits being built into the neon sign of a gas station. (It’s even funnier when Danny then drives away from in the background, hilariously suggesting that it’s just incidental this issue’s creative team were being advertised.) Harvey and Rai’s work keeps the visual level of the title good and insane.
The pair don’t stop with the detailing either. In the main action pages, the pair deliver snappy, broadly expressive characters set into consistently engaging layouts, including a segmented look into Jane’s brain as she undergoes therapy or a tight nine-panel grid of one of the many lives Larry Trainor is forced to live every time he separates from his Negative self. Admittedly, it lacks the neat consistency of a regular art team, especially ones as top-notch as Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain, but James Harvey and Sajan Rai keep the odd visual spirit of the Doom Patrol alive.
If you have been missing the Doom Patrol in comic book form, then Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1 will be the welcome return you’ve been waiting for. Armed with a clear direction, appropriately insane plot, and dynamite visuals, Young Animal’s flagship title is back in a big way. Though you’ll have to wait until July 3 to get a look at the strangeness yourself, we assure you Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1 is a re-debut you won’t want to miss.