When Gerard Way and Jeremy Lambert were coming up with a new approach for Doom Patrol, the series Way launched in 2016 as part of his Young Animal line for DC, the two writers decided the key would be to lighten up.
Describing this story arc as “cosmic weirdness and positivity,” the duo are giving this volume of the book a new name - Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds.
Way and Lambert will work with a variety of artists this time around (with Way having launched the book with artist Nick Derington, then adding Lambert as a co-writer later in the series). The new story arc kicks off July 3 with artist James Harvey.
The new Doom Patrol story will also help launch a new season for the Young Animal group that Way curates. Coming up this summer is: Collapser, a sci-fi adventure by Mikey Way, Shaun Simon and Ilias Kyriazis; and Far Sector, by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell.
Newsarama talked to Way and Lambert to find out more about this installment of Doom Patrol, how the “positivity” and decision to “lighten up” play into the series, and what readers can expect from the other new Young Animal books.
Newsarama: Gerard, as you were coming up with the approach for Doom Patrol after having a bit of a break on the book, how would you describe the idea you land upon for the book?
Gerard Way: You know, after the experience of the first two arcs and trying to create this really massive storyline, with all these connecting dots and pieces and things like that, it was really important for me to kind of lighten up and stretch a little more and not get locked in to one major thing.
Obviously, there is a through-line to this arc. But it wasn’t our main focus.
We kind of wanted it to feel like each episode was its own, almost stand-alone thing, in some ways.
But it was important to have fun and not be so stressed out, and not overthink things. So this is really a lack of overthinking for this arc.
Nrama: I’m interested in your working relationship with Jeremy. You brought him on board as the official co-writer last year, and now you’re launching this new story together. How did you land upon Jeremy Lambert as a co-writer? And Jeremy, what’s it like working with Gerard?
Way: Jeremy and I became friends, in a way, because we’re both gamers. We kind of like, you know, would play Warhammer together, or Dungeons & Dragons and things like that.
And I really liked his personality. He was a storyteller and I’d read some of his stuff, and I liked his storytelling.
And I thought it could be really fun to collaborate with somebody on this arc.
I just love the way he writes certain characters. And it’s really fun to be able to sit here — we work in the same office, usually. And we sit at different desks. And we just fire stuff off, back and forth to each other. And we’re working on, like, a live Google document — like, a living document that either of us can change at the same time.
So it’s a really fun way to write comics.
Jeremy Lambert: Yeah, for me, it’s a dream come true to work with Gerard, but also to be dealing with the Doom Patrol, as such a huge fan.
We sort of shared storytelling sensibilities through a lot of the games that we would play. And just generally, it worked in such an organic way when we started scripting, because we work out of the same office.
Doing that is extremely helpful, because I think it creates such a good collaboration when you’re working off the same document in the same room, and you have conversations back and forth and writer together in that way.
Nrama: I can just imagine one of you typing something in the document, and then you hear the other guy laugh right behind you. Right?
Lambert: [Laughs] That happens constantly.
Way: Yeah, that happens, for sure.
Nrama: OK, let’s talk about this new volume, Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds. Is it a continuation of the last Doom Patrol story? Or does it kind of start anew? Or is it a combination of both?
Way: It’s a continuation, but it feels very fresh. It feels like a great starting point.
We get you up to speed on everybody. We don’t spend a lot of time doing it either, because I’m always a big believer in the intelligence level of the audience being very high, so we just quick-fire some captions at you, and then you’re just in the story.
Nrama: I think one of the surprising changes that new readers might see is the change in Cliff Steele’s character. It’s a key element as you kick off the new #1.
Way: Well, he’s human for the first time since the accident, I believe. I don’t know all of the continuity, so I don’t know if he was ever human again briefly, but he gets to be human again.
And yeah, he’s adjusting to that.
He’s a little different. Cliff as a robot is a little more tough-talking. Since becoming human, he’s a little more reserved. It’s all new to him being human again.
Nrama: The set-up for the team is also taking them to different places for each story. What does that offer you as a writer?
Way: It offers us the opportunity to change it up every single month and try something totally new.
Lambert: It opens up different facets of the characters that we haven’t really seen before.
Certain people, in certain situations, can take the lead if it’s a bit more suited to them, or something that’s important to them. So having that ability to move just changes things up for everybody, and it sort of gives you a fresh perspective with each issue.
Nrama: I think one of the terms that was used in DC’s publicity was “cosmic weirdness and positivity.” You were even quoted saying it, Gerard. What does that mean to you?
Way: You know, this arc is very cosmic. They’re dealing with being in space. They don’t have a home. And they’re just putting it out to the universe that they want to help. They just want to help. That’s what Jane decides Doom Patrol is there to do, help people.
So that’s the cosmic element.
And then the “positivity” thing is kind of Jeremy and I’s objective. It’s an experiment or an exercise in seeing how much positive energy we can put out into the universe for people.
That’s really the driving force behind this arc.
Lambert: It’s amassing as much positive energy as we can, and imbuing it in each issue, just because it’s something that’s extremely important to both of us, especially with how the arc was going to go from start to finish.
Nrama: I know you guys are working with James Harvey for the first couple issues. But you’re also working with a lot of different artists. How’s that been as writers. And are you skewing the different issues toward the artists? Or working with them at all?
Way: I always like to write for the artist. To me, you have an advantage when you’re writing for the artist. You have an advantage when you know who you’re writing for and who’s going to be drawing it.
There were a lot of decisions we made writing those first two issues, because those are the ones that James does.
In writing those first two issues, a lot of the decisions we made while we were writing, I was like… James would do a crazy version of this.
Or James would do an amazing … like, there’s a Dannyland map that you get, and I’ve been wanting to do that for so long. And I knew James Harvey would be able to pull that off — it’s just, like, a big, two-page map.
Nrama: Gerard, to finish up, can you talk about how you curated the brand new series that are debuting for Young Animal. Are they similar at all to Doom Patrol? Or are they completely different and meant to round out the line?
Way: With Collapser, it was actually an idea that Sean Simon and my brother Mikey Way had been working on for some time. They were developing something else for DC, and as it turned out, the more they got developing it, the more interesting character in the story became the character who had a black hole stuck inside him.
So the whole thing completely switched.
I loved the story, so I wanted to put it out. It felt very Young Animal, especially because it deals with anxiety.
And then Far Sector, I was a big fan of N.K. Jemisin’s writing, reading "The Inheritance" trilogy. I was just a fan of her work.
I thought, you know, I was talking to a friend and we were like, wow, wouldn’t she do a great Green Lantern?
So we reached out. And she wanted to do it. So we’re really lucky.
They’re all very different from each other. They’re all doing something different. They’re all an alternative to the mainstream. You’re going to get a very different Green Lantern story. And you’re going to get a very different space story out of Collapser.