Comic Book Review: Doom Patrol #1
Created by Bruno Premiani, Arnold Drake, Bob Hanley and Murray Boltinoff, the Doom Patrol has gone through many different incarnations over their 50+ year history. Arguably the most notable of these is the Grant Morrison/Richard Case run on the series. The story of the Doom Patrol has always been steeped in the weird and the characters have always been outliers of the DC Universe. This is a big part of their appeal. As part of the Young Animal line, writer Gerard Way has teamed with artist Nick Derington and colorist Tamra Bonvillain to bring back the patrol for a new generation of readers. “Doom Patrol” #1 is a visually stunning introduction to a new team that keeps in tact all the weirdness the series has been known for.
Casey Brinke is an ambulance driver who’s very good at her job but a little off, as pointed out by her partner Sam. Casey is like most young people as she’s really just trying to find her place in the world. Casey’s life has it’s ups and downs but everything changes for her when she rushes to the aid of a hit and run victim – the one and only Robotman.
“Doom Patrol” #1 is very much an introduction. Way uses this issue to hook us into this world and it’s lead instead of treating us to the history of the Doom Patrol. It’s a bit of a risk but I think it allows someone new to the world of the Doom Patrol to find easy footing. Casey’s personality is illustrated very well and she becomes a great point of view in what will undoubtedly be a wild tale. However, Way does keep longtime fans in mind as there are some very good Easter Eggs and his writing has heart. The dialogue flows nicely and there’s something lyrical to it. Where “Doom Patrol” #1 stumbles is in how much it introduces as far as the plot goes. I like #1’s to have just a little more story to it with a good cliffhanger. The cliffhanger in this debut is a good one but there’s a lot happening at once that might come off just a little confusing. “Doom Patrol” wants to read like a puzzle, which is a unique approach, but it also has to be aware of getting too far ahead of itself.
The stars of “Doom Patrol” #1 are not the characters but the art team of Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain. This is a gorgeous book and has the visual power that “Doom Patrol” needs to have. Derington’s character designs don’t try and do too much but are stylized. “Doom Patrol” doesn’t try to live in the “real world” but the amount of energy that exists in Derington’s art is perfect. Casey becomes such a standout because of the visual storytelling that Derington does with her reactions and body language. Without spoiling the finer details, when things get weird, Derington goes there but with a sense of fun. Bonvillain continues to prove how valuable she is for any team with her fantastic color work here. She is really responsible for setting the tone and through the use of lush purples and pinks, she brings an almost fantasy like feeling to “Doom Patrol” #1. There is an amazing use of shadow in the ambulance light that’s nothing like the shadows when Casey plays an arcade game or when Casey stands in her apartment. Her colors are lush and have a depth to them that elevates the book. Even Todd Klein’s lettering goes above and beyond to define voices of characters in a way similar to what we see in “The Wicked + The Divine”.
“Doom Patrol” #1 is a fun time that allows itself to be weird and take risks. This is what the history of the series has been and it’s great to see this team follow suit while still providing an easy jumping on point. Bonvillain and Derington create the kind of visuals that the series needs and they make this one of the more memorable debuts of 2016. Young Animal is a really important imprint for DC Comics and this is the strong start they needed.