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The Doom Patrol are dispatched on another perilous mission which not only has some unexpected repercussions, but also results in the brutal demise of a team member. After returning to their home base the group are reluctantly subjected to a mission debriefing from a priest who in his own personal history has dealt with some serious challenges of his own.

The Metal Men have also been sent out to deal with a deadly threat but even though they do eventually triumph over their adversary, it is only with the usual group bickering that always occurs between these elemental characters. Meanwhile Doctor Magnus is having to deal with a delegation of his irate neighbours on Kanigher Street who are not happy with a living chemistry set setting down in their community.

Doom_Patrol_Cv1.jpgJude Thaddeus is the patron saint of lost causes and if any comic book team ever needed that kind of divine assistance it’s certainly the Doom Patrol. This current incarnation represents the seventh differing version of the main group since their creation forty six years ago and life is really not getting any better for Doctor Caulder’s clan of misfits.

This particular revamp drops the reader straight into the action with the team fighting a mad scientist called Amanda Beckett and her invidious Botfly hybrid creations. At first everything seems to be going well for the Patrol: the villain is defeated and her genetic birthing chamber is completely destroyed but on the way out of the facility their young team member Nudge is violently killed by the incoming bad guy reinforcements. Even though the team take instant lethal revenge it’s really just another in a series of very bad days for Robotman and his maverick crew.

On their return home to Oolong Island the group are forced to individually endure a debriefing session with a priest called Leslie Davis. Each of the team members are asked about their feelings regarding both their assignment and the death of the young woman they hardly knew. Their reactions are perhaps typical of a collection of warriors who have been fighting for far too long on the front line. In conversation their hard exterior belies the displayed anger and passion that the reader witnessed during their bloody escape but this team has always been close mouthed with anyone out with their immediate circle. It’s only in the discussion with Robotman that the writer gives newer comic fans a strong clue as to the priest’s previous existence in the D.C universe, which had nothing to do with church matters but perhaps had a strong connection to Saint Sebastian. The priest reports back to Dr Caulder that maybe the ‘Doom’ side of the team name is taking on rather more significance that usual and perhaps its time to rethink the ongoing strategy. Caulder’s reply shows that he is totally indifferent to the fate of his protégées. In his mind the ends justify the means and the means are totally dispensable.

Frances de Sales is the patron saint of writers and I don’t know if Keith Giffen directed a silent payer in that direction before he stared writing this script but it couldn’t have been easy to start chronicling the adventures of the most famous antisocial team in comics lore. To his credit he dives straight into the insane kind of adventure that this book was justly famous for in its first incarnation under Drake, Haney and Premiani. This new group now appears to be organised along covert military task force lines: Train every day for the next task / Be dispatched onto a mission /  Return to base / Get debriefed /  Have some recreational downtime /  Back to the training ground first thing tomorrow morning.

These people never were the JLA but to me they now seem a lot colder and dispassionate than they have ever appeared before. Hopefully Giffen will further explore this interesting direction in subsequent issues and to be fair he does seem to have a handle on the differing strengths and weaknesses of the Patrol’s members. The only palsied points in the whole script are that the latter half of the book is really just a collection of talking head shots that are there to impart the other informational plot points that the faux computer file entry’s haven’t already explained. A bit more action in the third act would have been appreciated although I do admit to being intrigued about the savage sentient singularity denouement.

Matthew Clark and John Livesay do their part to make this an entertaining read as well. Clark’s renderings are extremely clear cut and his action sequences flow very nicely indeed. Livesay’s inking line perfectly enhances the art while at no time overpowering it. Unfortunately both illustrators are somewhat hampered on some pages by the inordinate amount of space that is required for the fake Wikipedia computer info dump boxes that the script requires.

And before I move on to I just want to point out for the sake of completion that the front cover of this book shows Robotman tearing down the cover of a previous Doom Patrol comic. Obviously this is to reinforce the salient point that this revamp is a brand new start that owes nothing to the past and just in case anybody was wondering: the comic that is being ripped apart is the old Doom Patrol issue 109 (February 1967) I know this because I went into my own back issue collection to check it out. Your welcome!

Luke is the patron saint of artists and his spirit must have been present in the room when the Metal Men backup strip was being drawn by Mr Kevin Maguire. It was a genuine pleasure to see this wonderful comic craftsman return to work on a Giffen and Dematteis scrip again.

The whole thing is a total delight and at times while I was reading this story I was strongly reminded of the madcap antics of the Marx Brothers. The writers manage to make every robot into a distinctive character and they breathe new life into their animatronic interactions by injecting wonderful slapstick humour but it’s the artists justly famous facial expressionism™ that really makes the story a knockout. It’s not so much ‘Who’s on First?’ – it’s more like the ‘Monty Python’ done as a chemical based situation comedy. Its total burlesque gold and well worth the price of admission.

In summation I believe that three and a half stars is a fair number for this comic debut but it would have been four if the Metal Men had been the lead feature. So if D.C are out there listening, I would just like to say that  there is nothing wrong with this Doom Patrol revamp but the correct reply to the question ‘Who’s on First?’ really should be Doc Magnus and his crew. So maybe the patron saint of New York City, St Nicholas, could work his seasonal magic on the inhabitants of 1700 Broadway and affect a line-up change.

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The Author

Marlowe Lewis

Marlowe Lewis

Marlowe Lewis is old. I mean really, really old. So old in fact, that the first ever sequential art that he ever saw was when his lifelong friend in their small clan began painting bison on the cave walls. This was a true turning point in his life. Firstly, he was immediately and irrevocably hooked on the visual arts, and secondly he discovered another use for dried bison dung.

Marlowe Lewis is British. This is not an apology.

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11 Comments

  1. Greg A
    August 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm — Reply

    While I am really on the fence about this comic, the character who caught my eye and may keep me purchasing future issues was the priest. If I am not mistaken, Leslie Davis is Rocky from the Challengers of the Unknown. When was the last time Rocky (or the rest of the Challengers) made an appearance in the DCU.

    I’m curious about what lead Rocky (if it is indeed Rocky from the Challengers) from being the bruiser on the Challengers to being the Doom Patrol’s councellor.

  2. August 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm — Reply

    The action of Doom patrol was kind of confusing, it felt like it was too compressed. The characters are interesting, well I kind of guess, but they all have some kind of annoying personality. I like how the growing girl don’t grow equally all of her body. I also liked the doll house. I dint like this first issue, but I still feel that the serie can be interesting. I am curious to see how the next issue will do with (maybe) less need for exposure and installation. The Metal Men part was a nice read :) Thanks for the reviews.

  3. Ricco
    August 9, 2009 at 4:58 pm — Reply

    No comment on the Metal Men? It’s the team I know better, they feel very different from their last mini, Gold is much more of douche, Copper is suddently invisible to the others for some reason and they all look very different.

    @Greg: You’re probably right about Rocky since Robotman makes a comment on how the name “Challengers of the Unknown” was

  4. Slappy
    August 9, 2009 at 4:59 pm — Reply

    My main question is how will this Doom Patrol fit into continuity. After all, Rita Farr (Elasti Girl) is the adoptive mother of Gar Logan (Beast Boy), plus all of the adventures of them and their other incarnations,
    Didn’t Valentina Vostok at one point merge with Larry Trainor to be come the Negative Man/Woman under grant Morrison, and doesn’t she have something to do with Checkmate?
    Not ready to get into this unless I know that it goes under the F* Continuity heading.

  5. Scott Isaacson
    August 9, 2009 at 8:47 pm — Reply

    It’s been the first time since Rachel Pollack wrapped up her run on DP that i’ve looked forward to seeing them again. John Arcudi’s run was solid, and it did show us what happened to Dorothy Spinner, but…it was just okay. The less said about John Byrne’s run the better. I’ll be back next month. Even in this economy. It’s that good.

  6. Navarre
    August 9, 2009 at 8:47 pm — Reply

    I haven’t read this yet but your comments about “annoying” personalities, mission debriefings, and talking headshots made me think of Guardians of the Galaxy. Any similarities?

  7. Ricco
    August 9, 2009 at 8:52 pm — Reply

    @Navarre: it’s similar, just with no humor and darker then all Hell.

  8. Navarre
    August 9, 2009 at 8:55 pm — Reply

    Gotcha. Thanks, Ricco.

  9. ~wyntermute~
    August 9, 2009 at 10:00 pm — Reply

    I’m a big fan of the Metal Men, but not at all attached to the Doom Patrol (but Gar gets a pass, cuz he amuses me as a Titan)….. So, like, can I pay for half of this book? Like, I know the point of the co-features was so people would “give things a chance”, but, like, I don’t wanna. It’s that simple. *lol* I want the Metal Men, no fries, no drink, no combo. Just the ‘bots, please? :D

  10. August 10, 2009 at 10:36 pm — Reply

    Didn’t Valentina Vostok at one point merge with Larry Trainor to be come the Negative Man/Woman under grant Morrison, and doesn’t she have something to do with Checkmate?
    Not ready to get into this unless I know that it goes under the F* Continuity heading.

    Yes and no.

    When John Byrne revamped the Doom Patrol a couple of years ago, he went for a “Day One” approach, ignoring/retconning the previous continuity. A Tom Welling Prime punch restored the original Doom Patrols to continuity, with some adjustments, and a random comment in Teen Titans referred to The Chief having resurrected Rita because of her elastic powers. Basically, it’s another example of characters being returned to the state that most of the readers remember them, regardless of logic or consistency (see also: “Barbara Gordon should be BATGIRL again!”)

    I liked the Doom Patrol bit of this book a lot more than the first one, especially the rather cavalier way that Grunt and Nudge (minor characters, to be sure) were moved off-screen to make way for what the writer wants to do. Still, it’s Giffen, and Giffen could give a rat’s ass about anything other than telling a fun story… I’m on board.

  11. samuel
    August 16, 2009 at 11:36 pm — Reply

    i dont really know anything about doom patrol or metal men but i like mathew clarks art and i enjoyed both i really like DC so i try to embrace everything they bring out. I was wondering if that preist was suppose to be someone we knew and i believe that last time rocky from the challangers appeared was DC last will and testament by Brad Metlzer(?) during final crisis talking to Geo-Force and Grace

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