Monday, 19 September 2016

Doom Patrol #1

Gerard Way & Nick Derington Doom Patrol #1 (2016)
I very rarely review either single issues of a comic or anything freshly squoze from the presses - partially because I tend to wait until I have some sort of confirmation for a comic book not being a massive pile of shit before I'll grudgingly shell out for a collected edition, and partially because I just don't read comics like I used to; but this is the first of a new run of Doom Patrol, which feels like a special occasion.

Back in the nineties, Doom Patrol was the first thing Grant Morrison did which could be described as fucking brilliant in a way that not even Zenith had managed. It had been a superhero book in the sixties, albeit a fairly weird superhero book, and Morrison rewrote the thing as unrestrained Dadaism, possibly as a reaction to the increasing emphasis on superheroes making sense in the wake of Watchmen. The title was revived again about a decade later, but I can't even remember who was supposed to be involved and I'd more or less given up on comics by that point. I know I haven't heard much that is good about that more recent Doom Patrol; but anyway, now we have this...

I first heard that Gerard Way was writing comics when Charlie Adlard told me. Charlie draws The Walking Dead and was surprised to have found himself sharing a convention table with the former singer of My Chemical Romance. 'He's quite a nice bloke though,' he reported with the expression of a man surprised to find himself saying such a thing. Neither of us liked My Chemical Romance, but Way's earlier Umbrella Academy was decent, according to Charlie.

Clearly the lad gets Doom Patrol and what made it work, so this is no reversion to superheroes with neatly modular problems, and with not the faintest whiff of X-Men about it either. Way clearly gets why Morrison's Doom Patrol worked and has somehow invoked the same disjointed brilliance without it feeling like a cover version. Derington's art is happily understated, suggesting freewheeling European comics rather than anything with too many spandex clad ninjas swearing vengance. It's maybe a bit Tintin, a bit Rian Hughes, and otherwise perfectly suited to the tone of this thing.

As we rejoin the gang, Robotman has been in yet another automobile accident and is reduced once again to just a head; Casey Brinke's singing, tap-dancing telegram has accidentally blown-up her room-mate; Danny the Street is about to be launched as a meat-style consumer product, and there's a possibility that our universe might be just a microcosm within some vast existential doner kebab. I've no fucking clue what is going on or what is likely to happen next, but for the first time in over two decades, I'll be heading back to the comic shop in another couple of weeks to find out.

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