[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
While it may be easier to describe Doom Patrol as a drug trip, it can just as easily be described as a stream of consciouness narrative. While this may be off-putting to some, it actually opens the door to a broader style of story telling. Doom Patrol effectively uses the freedom of storytelling, while at the same time utilizing the classic “everyman” motif in Casey Brinke as the gateway to the world of the Doom Patrol, despite the irony in Casey’s existence as a creation of Danny the Street. No, wait, Danny the Ambulance. What!?!?!?
Casey recruits Sam to help her go into the past and rescue Cliff. Along the way she encounters her father and mother. At least from the Danny Comics. She ends up fighting a doppelganger that her dad created. Casey ends up rescuing Cliff, while at the same time, the presumed dead Flex Mentallo is revived and Larry Trainor completes his re-merging with the Negative Energy entity.
Additionally, we see Crazy Jane in a brief cameo as well as The Chief visiting Larry in the hospital as time is not only malleable, but apparently Casey’s playground as she drives Danny the Ambulance.
For anyone who’s read and enjoyed the Grant Morrison run on Doom Patrol back in the nineties, this series is a real treat. But to Way and Derrington’s credit, it is also fresh and new without being derivative. The important thing is to focus on the characters and not get bogged down in understanding EXACTLY what’s going on. You sort of have to go with it and trust the storytellers. Casey is a likable young working girl (no, not THAT kind of working girl) who has to adjust to the reality of her existence, which is in itself, quite unreal. Literally. The rest of the Doom Patrol is no more normal, and it’s this aspect which echoes the folks on the fringe in the real world that we live in. It’s this quality that makes this book accessible to readers unfamiliar with the history of the Doom Patrol.
Nick Derington’s clean lines have a very expressive quality in both facial and figural delineation. This is also helpful in conveying the otherworldiness of the story, keeping things as clear as possible. The colors by Tamra Bonvillain are light in value and keep the book feeling positive despite the often dire and bizarre nature of the narrative.
It should be no surprise that Doom Patrol is not for everyone. For a straightforward fan, this book is going to seem angular and difficult. But, that’s okay. This book isn’t for the average comic reader. This book is for a reader looking for something different, just like the rest of the Young Animal line. And to the credit of the line, all of the Young Animal books have their own feel.
As the team comes together, the weirdness becomes more and more apparent and the playing field expands. The Doom Patrol, it seems, will not be bound by time, space or psychological coherency. You should’ve known you were getting yourself into this sort of thing…