Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
Colours: Tamra Bonvillain
Publisher: Young Animal
Release Date: September 14th, 2016
Young Animal (DC’s latest publishing imprint) has released its first ever issue and the series that they are launching with…. Doom Patrol! Long-time fans of the Doom Patrol series will be excited to see that the highly acclaimed series from the 80s and 90s is returning and is in the hands of another proven writer. Front-man of the Young Animal imprint and once front-man of the band ‘My Chemical Romance’, Gerard Way, is the writer of Doom Patrol as well as co-writing ‘Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye’ (another series under Young Animal). His quality work on ‘Umbrella Academy’ and his intimate knowledge & love for all things comics more than qualifies Gerard to write this series having been heavily influenced as a reader of the series when Grant Morrison was writing it. Doom Patrol #1 is a great example of what Young Animal has in store for us.
At first this new publishing imprint was faced with a lot of confusion and mystery but up until now it is evident that Young Animal was formed for a very specific purpose. Vertigo (a familiar imprint under DC comics) was known for producing a range of books with serious/darker tones that were loosely based in the DC Universe amd loosely borrowed from the DC Universe giving readers otherwise more real stories and grittier characters. This gave writers a new world of creative freedoms among the chance to write darker stories and explore different avenues for storytelling. Young Animal borrows the same concept as Vertigo but where you have the darker tone with Vertigo, Young Animal aims to craft a mixture of stellar graphic design elements with stories that sort of break the mold of conventional thinking & storytelling. Doom Patrol #1 certainly showcased in many ways how Gerard Way and Young Animal plan to stand out from the rest of the books on the shelf.
At face value on the shelf of your Local ComicShop (or LCS for short), Doom Patrol sits on the sehlf with a nearly all-white glossy cover except for the picture of a big Gyro/Shawarma sandwich in foil sitting right in the middle of the cover. The sandwich has a bevel to it which you quickly notice that the sandwich is actually a big sticker with the words in small print next to it “peel back slowly” with an arrow pointing to the sticker. The rebel that I am, I peeled the sticker off and discovered what was below but for the purpose of excitement and mystery I will leave that discovery up to you, the readers. There is significance to this and it is not just a sticker as you discover after reading this first issue.
Reading the book, we followed the star character Casey Brinke who is a paramedic ambulance driver (a charmingly abnormal girl) with her partner Sam (a hardworking single father who likes gyro sandwiches). The book kick starts full of action sequences giving us a peek of an average night in Casey’s world. The book has some of the most modern & well written dialogue which really bings a down to Earth vibe to the story. When the characters talk it feels like genuine interaction rather than the forced dialogue we see writers create in other books. Lots of really cool design elements are displayed throughout and it is after this intro that we see the story jolt forward with its true purpose. We see Sam toss out his gyro sandwich after he goes into length describing how his gyro has a life/culture of its own, that it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that it might possess a sentience of its own. This is the kind of deep philosophical discussion that makes me wonder if he is a massive stoner… Which is something I can confirm as I typically have one thought like that per day….
Without spoiling the actual rest of the story this book goes to some very meta places. Panels and sequences that are a variety of story shifting moments and a sort of over-arching haphazard journey that finds Casey rather than Casey finding it. Lots of classic Doom Patrol characters show up like Cliff Steel looking rather badass in a leather jacket and Niles Caulder in a random page of absurdity. There is also another story-arc throughout the book as the story shifts to weird cheese aliens and robotic vector-people running corporations of mystery Danny-meat and some guy Ricardo yelling in an abandoned building for someone named Danny. The art has parallels throughout where pages will reflect other pages, and among that with the storytelling and the art combined it is well crafted to provide a really thought-provoking, fun variety book.
Gerard Way provides a modern reverence for the Doom Patrol series and hits the ball out of the park with this first issue. He writes a really fun book that keeps you entertained and is full of mystery to keep you wondering what is really going on among what will happen. He borrows ideas and concepts presented in the original run as well as Grant Morrison’s run on the series and it really feels like it will be doing the original series some justice.This first issue of Doom Patrol truly showcases the out-of-the-box concept behind Young Animal and if the other series under the imprint follow suit they may all have excellent content with a range of thought provoking stories.
Nick Derington’s work in this book is beyond what I expected and has a top tier graphic design strategy behind every element in this book. The panel choices and the paralleled pages really pique my interest to see what more he can provide to Doom Patrol’s world. Doom Patrol being one of the most absurd books that DC has ever published, this book is on an upward spiral towards greatness and possibly living up to the greatness of Grant Morrison’s run. This book will surely be one I will be excited for each month. I only hope that they release a series of covers that have stickers on them because they will then have me buying two copies per week for that precious graphic design for me to add to my comic book pull-box… Give this book a try, if everything I’ve said interests you in the slightest pick up Doom Patrol #1 from your LCS today!
~ T.J. Head