They call him Doop: his origins and provenance remain a mystery. To some a savior, to others a monster, he is spoken of in whispers as perhaps the most powerful mutant in the known universe. A mystery, wrapped in an enigma, dipped and batter and deep-fried for tempura, this is his story. Your Major Spoilers review of All-New Doop #1 awaits!
Previously in All-New Doop: The creature known only as Doop was once explained to be a Cold War military experiment, one that eventually brought down the Soviet Union, but there is no clear explanation of his origins to date. An alien who looked remarkably like him once appeared to the X-Men in space, but there’s no clear explanation given there, either, which leaves us with what we know: He’s super-strong, kind of psionic, has the ability to traverse time and space, and once lost his brain, forcing him to install the backup he keeps in his butt for just such an emergency. And now, he gets his own solo series!
LIVING IN THE MARGINS
I kind of love the opening salvos of this issue, showing us Doop in his native habitat, poring over a dictionary in order to create what seems to be a very important document. The narration boxes give us the notion that he is a “marginal” character, and thus able to drop in and out of the main storyline at will, which is both meta and a little brilliant, and sort of explains his time/spacial travel abilities (and also sort of doesn’t), which becomes important when he pops into the recent crossover between All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, during which the young time-lost X-Men nearly lost their leader. The idea that Doop is somehow aware of the greater threads of story is played with again, as he puts in motion the events that saved Young Cyclops’ life, before flipping forward a bit to land in the midst of the ‘Battle Of The Atom.’ Unfortunately, even though I’m a massive fan of Peter Milligan (dating back to 1980-something with Skreemer, and his work on ‘Shade The Changing Man’), this issue proves the adage that some side-characters lose their luster as the central character, as following Doop through the tale makes me a little TOO aware of the line between fiction and reality, making the X-Men’s struggles seem even sillier than they already do. There is a focus, too, on Iceman, especially as relates to his relationship with Kitty Pryde, which leads us up to the important sentiment that Doop worked so hard to write down as the issue opened…
THE LOVE THAT DARED SPEAK ITS NAME
…his declaration of love for Kitty Pryde, and proposal of marriage to her. Kitty tries to politely turn him down, explaining that they don’t even speak the same language, which leads us to the shocking final page (which, admittedly, brings me back around to believing that Doop *can* hold down his own title). Milligan’s story is, as many Milligan stories are, weird enough to throw me, and the fact that a good third of the issue is written in Doop-speak makes for intellectual dissonance for me as well. (Even though there are translators out there, a lot of nuance goes into Doop’s language, which I kind of appreciate.) Artistically, this issue is a strong one, and I kind of prefer LaFuente’s art to that of Chris Bachalo, who drew part of this tale when it originally appeared in Uncanny. LaFuente’s Kitty Pryde is kind of adorable, and the art makes you understand why Doop has such a crush on her to begin with, but the overall effect of the issue is a decent opening, a strong closing hook with a bit of meander in between, requiring some knowledge of recent X-Men storylines to fully parse.
THE BOTTOM LINE: AS WEIRD AS I EXPECTED
In short, while I love Milligan and I dig the hell out of Doop, the issue doesn’t quite get itself over the hill to the side of must-have. The art is above average most of the issue (although I don’t care for any of the various Iceman portrayals we see), and the Doop character fares pretty well in his first solo, though his character doesn’t quite make the transition to being on-screen for the whole issue without annoyance. Still, all in all, All New Doop #1 isn’t a bad issue, and sets up what could be a very interesting new status quo for our pickle-shaped hero, with some lovely art, earning an above-average 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s not perfect, but it’s not the disaster that a few of my associates had predicted his first solo comic would be…