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Doom Patrol Book One Paperback – February 23, 2016
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Fortune Teller - You have a very long life line. It goes all the way around.
Crazy Jane - That's a seam. I'm wearing gloves.
That day, "Negative Man" (or, at that time, probably "Negative Hermaphrodite") became one of my all-time favorite superheroes. The enigmas that spilled out of Negative Person's bandage-swaddled mouth were amazing, the casual manner of floating just above the ground instead of walking was great, and the whole sense of bizarre atmosphere that infused the story set my imagination a-tingle. I thought it was probably just a particularly weird plot arc, and sadly I did not get to read more than a few issues before losing track of it. Years later, I learned that kind of bizarreness was "normal" for Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol stories.
A couple decades after that Shadow Cabinet story, I found out Doom Patrol got rebooted, so I started reading it. Different writer, different artist, different feel. It was nowhere near as intriguing as I remembered. I dropped it after a few issues. It did not really leave an impression.
I finally got around to ordering the first collected volume of the Morrison/Case run (Case didn't illustrate all the Morrison issues, apparently, but at least most of them), and this time Doom Patrol did not disappoint. I'm pretty sure I never read any of the issues collected in this volume, but it's excellent. It ended on a hilarious note, left me with a smile on my face and an urge to write this review. I await the next volume on the edge of my seat; I'll order it shortly.
If you're the kind of person who likes stories written to comfort the disturbed and (most importantly and dramatically) disturb the comfortable, get this book.
Doom Patrol starts off at issue #19 of the series. This is the same situation as Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, where DC and fans recognize that the series only really got good once these writers took over. Now, it's a bit more of an awkward start for Doom Patrol, since Morrison didn't devote as much time as Moore did to explaining backstory, but we do get a brief introduction to our main characters. The Doom Patrol isn't like normal super hero teams, consisting of people who are in some way damaged. From a woman with multiple personalities, to a brain stuck in a robot body, to a hermaphrodite-energy hybrid...well it goes on like that for a while. This brings me to my first problem with this volume and the series so far. The three main characters get plenty of screen time, but there are at least four other Doom Patrol members,and outside a focus issue or two, they don't do much. It doesn't really get in the way of the series, but it does feel like it isn't living up to it's potential.
So, moving on to the plot of this series. Well. Ok, let's put this bluntly, Doom Patrol is a series that goes weird for the sake of weird. It is an extremely avant-garde, absurdist series, and has the artwork to back it up. To give one example, there exists in this comic a group of police that work for a cult, who operate by drawing the fingerprints of their victims onto their helmets so that those they kill will get trapped in the whorls, and speak entirely in anagrams. Now, that's not to say it isn't engrossing. Some villains are actually quite well developed as characters. But this isn't a series that's going to make a lot of direct sense. Still, it's tons of fun, has great artwork, and I would be remiss if I didn't recommend it.