By Keith Giffen (writer), Matthew Clark (artist), Livesay (inker), Guy Major (colorist)
So is everything old new again, or is everything new old again? Either way, Doom Patrol is back, and nothing will ever be the same. Or maybe everything will stay the same. I don’t know. I’ll admit that I’m a bit confused as to why DC chose to reactivate this title, but you need to understand that I first read Doom Patrol during Grant Morrison’s run on the title and thought he had done a stellar job telling their story and resolving it. Then again, with all of the earth-shattering, continuity-raping big event stories DC’s been birthing over the years, maybe Morrison’s Doom Patrol continuity has been erased and rewritten and become obsolete.
In this latest iteration, Keith Giffen uses the traditional team roster, consisting of Elasti-Woman, Negative Man, Robot Man, and team leader Niles Caulder. There were a few more in there, but they were all as disposable as the guys in Star Trek who wear the red shirts and die as soon as they touch down on that alien planet. The issue opens with the team already in the middle of a case involving purple, leech-faced humanoids that ends too quickly before it’s ever fully explained. The other half of the story sees the Doom Patrol returning to Oolong Island, a sovereign, tropical island nation that serves as their new headquarters. Here amidst the palm trees, the team unwinds and we come to better understand them through the most annoying new character of 2009: Father Leslie, the team’s de facto therapist who seems to have been dumped into the story by Giffen solely for the purpose of trying to make them talk about their feelings. The pathos that Leslie pushes on each member was incredibly irritating, and my biggest fear is that we’re only going to see more of this tool as the title progresses.
Fortunately, Matthew Clark turns in some solid art, and if there’s any reason to continue reading this, it’s to see more of what he can do. On a final note, this is the first issue of DC’s new pricing plan that I’ve picked up, and my first impression is that this can really work. Basically, even though this is Doom Patrol #1, you’re paying $3.99 for 20 pages of Doom Patrol (2 pages less than a typical 22 page comic retailing for $2.99) and 10 pages of a second feature story. This issue featyred the Metal Men as the backup, which I thought was a ridiculous waste of time as I hate everything about them, but I nonetheless can appreciate that DC is at least offering me more content to justify their price, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for Marvel. Based on this first issue, I don’t think I’ll stick around to pick up the second, but I may come back to try the graphic novel if and when it’s released. Buy at your own risk.