Unstoppable Doom Patrol #4 (of 7)
Writer: Dennis Culver
Artist: David Lafuente
Color Artist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Reviewed by Davydh Tidey
Unstoppable Doom Patrol #4 sees our weird and wonderful heroes dealing with their demons and coming to terms with their trauma. The issue shifts focus to the new character Dr. Syncho (or Jerry when they’re working), the team’s resident therapist.
Yes… you read that right. The gang’s going to therapy!
This issue takes an interesting approach to telling everyone’s stories this issue. Instead of heading off on another adventure, we’re staying in-house, and talking through all the personal and mental issues that are clearly underlying, for the whole team. I’ve been saying it since my first review, these people are very broken, and an issue dedicated to them getting better is exactly what this series needs.
The inclusion of a therapist in this heavy a capacity is a bold choice for a superhero action comic, but it’s the perfect representation of everything the Doom Patrol and the creative team are trying to do. What could feel like a book about building a superhero fighting force and recruiting powerful individuals instead feels unique. The DP isn’t interested in building an army; they’re interested in helping people, not just physically, but by providing aftercare as well.
Superhero events and powers kicking in are life-changing events, and I can’t think of many other books that really deal with the trauma behind all that. Not since Tom King and Clay Mann’s Heroes in Crisis have I seen a wider interest in recovery and mental health, and it’s refreshing to see this point of view represented so plainly in comics.
The closest similar story I can think of right now would be Leah Williams and Marguerite Sauvage’s backup stories in Action Comics, Head Like a Whole (an excellent series and Nine Inch Nails reference), and even that doesn’t directly deal with these issues in the same way that Unstoppable Doom Patrol does.
As always, Dennis Culver does the job and he does it right; by perfectly nailing each personality and their struggles. What we have here is expertly choreographed character work and earned emotional beats, both of which have become the hallmarks of this series, with good reason.
The section focusing on Negative Man and his coming to terms with himself and his condition really had me feeling things, and in the hands of a less capable writer, this scene wouldn’t have done that. Culver continuously shows a deep understanding and relation to these characters and was the perfect choice of writer to bring the DP back to the DCU.
Guest artist David Lafuente had some BIG Chris Burnham-size shoes to fill in this issue, but with Brian Reber coloring his work, he more than met the challenge. The splash pages visually chronicling each character’s journey through their recovery are all done beautifully, and tell all their stories in a much more effective way than dialogue. A picture really is worth a thousand words.
I want to give a shout-out to letterer Pat Brosseau as well, his work is flawless and widely under-appreciated. A Good letterer can make or break a book, and Brosseau is doing great work with this title.
This issue was added to the series quite late in the game, being announced just weeks before the first issue was released. This only further highlights that this series should be an ongoing title so that the plot has space to breathe and wrap up to its natural conclusion. 7 issues just aren’t enough, dammit!
The one is perfect, though, no complaints!
A short aside from the main story of the title, Unstoppable Doom Patrol #4 adds essential context and character development to all our heroes, new and old.
The hope springing forth from these pages is palpable, and the positive message behind the story is clear to see. If these guys can carry on after what happened to them, you can too!
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment