Sunday, August 16, 2009

Doom Patrol #1

I've never been a big fan of the Doom Patrol. I sought out the late 80's version drawn by Erik Larsen in back issue bins because I thought it might appeal to my post-Crisis DCU palette, but it realy wasn't very good. I did enjoy John Arcudi and Tan Eng Huat's oddball version of the DP around 2000, but that series had very few ties to the older Patrol days. I bought the first two issues of John Byrne's version a few years ago, but found pretty much nothing to keep me coming back.

So I read this first issue a bit predisposed to not like it, but still hoping that I would be proven wrong. Unfortunately, this relaunch suffers from some of the problems plaguing the DCU as a whole these days. In the opening few pages, a teenaged Patrol member named Nudge is vaporized by machine gun fire. Keith Giffen spends much of the issue showing how the other team members react to this, but it still felt totally unnecessary and just added another death to the already mouldering DCU. At some point, DC is going to run out of characters to kill so writers can establish just how important and extreme their titles are. Ugh.

Out of the core members of the Doom Patrol, only the Negative Man is really interesting. There's not too much to Robot Man or Elastigirl, and the Chief just seems like a big jerk. Negative Man's bravado and humor make him the most likable character. Rocky from the Challengers of the Unknown shows up as a priest (?!?) but he doesn't seem very effective since he basically just takes turns being mocked by the Patrol members. I do like the idea that they are strikeforce for Oolong Island from 52, but I can't imagine the island will be as cool if it isn't evil.

Matthew Clark's pencils are fine, but a tad over-reliant on cross-hatching. There's not a lot to bring me back for issue 2.


However, the Metal Men backup is excellent. Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire have established my favorite version of the Metal Men in one issue. Each team member suddenly has a wonderful personality. The running jokes already feel comfortable and fun. To be honest, this is the closest this team has done to recapture the glory days of the JLI. I'm sold on the eventual Metal Men trade for certain.



Martin Gray said...

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the DP story, I had a whale of a time with it. I didn't mind Nudge getting killed, it'll annoy John Byrne if nothing else. And likely she'll be back in some form before too long, along with a revenge-seeking Grunt.

Timbotron said...

You know, they would actually make a decent villain team, now that I think about it. Maybe a new Mallah and the Brain (didn't Mallah die in Salvation Run or something?)

Martin Gray said...

I seem to recall them going over a cliff in Salvation Run, but I can't see that book being hugged to DC's collective continuity bosom.