At a Reading Festival back in the 2000’s I watched a hailstorm of piss-filled bottles rain down on Gerard Way and his band, My Chemical Romance. It was a beautiful sight watching the constant stream of bottles rebounding off the performers and I thought it the most Punk thing I’d seen at Reading for some years.It was fresh, exciting and fun,
This brings me to DC’s latest Doom Patrol reboot, this time written by Gerard Way and drawn by Nick Derrington for the new Young Animal imprint which is a sort of Vertigo-lite and the blurb goes like this…
The atoms are buzzing. The daydreams crowd sentient streets, and the creative team has been warned, “Turn back now or suffer the mighty consequence of sheer, psycho-maniacal mayhem.” Generation-arsonists unite—this is DOOM PATROL, and the God of the Super Heroes is bleeding on the floor.
A blenderized reimagining of the ultimate series of the strange, DOOM PATROL combines elements from classic runs, new directions, and things that could not be. Our entry point is Casey Brinke, a young EMT on the graveyard shift to abstract enlightenment, with a past so odd that she’s not entirely sure what is real and what is not. Along with her partner, Sam Reynolds, the pair blaze a path through the city and its denizens, finding the only quiet that exists at 3am is the chaos of the brain. When the pair answer a hit-and-run call, they find themselves face to face with a familiar figure: Cliff Steele, AKA Robotman.
“It gets weirder from here,” writer Gerard Way had to say about the book, with artist Nick Derington gripping tightly on the wheel of the ambulance. The pair’s only communication? Shouting out of the open windows while at high velocity. Who needs a new roommate? Who names a cat “Lotion”? And when do we get to see all those muscles?
When did the blurb for new comics sound like someone trying a wee bit too hard? Make you miss the days of Stan Lee’s Bullpen Bulletins.
The first thing that are apparent is that Derrington’s not a bad artist at all and that Way’s doing a Grant Morrison ‘homage’ in terms of writing, which does lead to panels loaded with dialogue trying to be ‘weird’ or ‘edgy’ but ends up just making panels look clustered. The one on the right above would work better if there were less captions or none at all, but this is about creating an internal narrative but this is comics. I get what the characters are doing from looking at the panels. I wish writers would break away from their fifth generation Alan Moore style and be confident enough to let the artists do their job.
Anyhow, Casey Brinke is a paramedic, and is very good at her job because Way has to tell us often. As for the Doom Patrol, Robotman is still around.
As is NIles Calder and Danny the Street.
Brinke is then brought into the weirdness when this happens…
Eventually Brinke meets another new Doom Patrol member over the remains of Robotman.
Doom Patrol works as a cover version of Grant Morrison’s run on the title back in the 1980’s and early 90’s. If you’ve read that run and want something which is sort of like that but not as original, witty or interesting then this is for you. This is sort of like the guy in the office that wears ‘zany’ ties for Red Nose Day. It is basically trying too hard which is a pity as Doom Patrol is a great concept. The original Arnold Drake written stories are bizarre while still playing it straight. This is too aware, too knowing, plus Way’s narrative captions become so painfully excruciating in it’s sixth form Morrison prose that it renders the comic a chore.
Which it shouldn’t be. The art is very good, and when Way turns off all the bollocks he thinks makes him Grant Morrison, Doom Patrol is fun. It isn’t as fun as watching Gerard Way being pelted with bottles but it could be a passable fun bit of superheroics if Way was told to dial it back. Seeing as Young Animal is his own imprint that isn’t likely.