By: Keith Giffen (writer), Matthew Clark & Ron Randall (pencillers), Art Thibert & Sean Parsons (inkers), Guy Major (colorist)

The Story: A mercenary group of ne’er-do-wells facing off a team of super-freaks on the beautiful shores of Oolong Island as a volcano explodes?  Can someone say reality show?

The Review: Given the outcast nature of the Doom Patrol, it’s no wonder team-ups are a rarity for them.  On one side, they’re pretty much outmatched in number and power by almost every other team in the DCU—even the Outsiders.  On the other side, their specific dynamic doesn’t mesh well with conventional superheroes.  The Patrol serves best when left to their own devices, and not mixed up with characters that call attention to the small scale of their doings.

The one exception may be the Secret Six, who are nearly as weird and antisocial as their Oolong opponents in this issue.  Besides creator of the Secret Six, Gail Simone, one of the few writers capable of delivering the special chemistry of the Six is probably Giffen.  He doesn’t have the subtlety of Simone, being broader and leaning more toward slapstick, but he gets in a pretty good joke here and there (upon being beset by the Science Squad, Scandal remarks, “I think we’re about to be attacked by the chess club.”).

Still, despite having few dull moments between the two teams’ battle royale, some noticeable flaws keep the story from achieving the quality it should have, given the promising premise.  Being a crossover plot, if you happen to not be a Secret Six reader (though, on that note, why wouldn’t you be—it’s only totally awesome), you’d be hard-pressed to get exactly what’s happening here.

And if you did read the first part of the story, you’ll notice how truncated that story seems in this issue.  After all, S.M.A.S.H., the Six’s current employers, basically come to annex Oolong Island as their own, then end up fleeing with their tails between their legs in the course of four pages.  It just feels like the story never gets to build up before it winds down.  There’s little hope the next issue of Secret Six will continue the story, as the Six aren’t likely to work again with people who abandon them to the mercy of their enemies.

As fun as the action gets in this issue (love Ambush Bug introducing Jeanette to Danny the Street), it doesn’t really lead anywhere.  Maybe this all has something to do with Doom Patrol getting canned in a few months, but it feels like Giffen rushed events in this issue to set up the premise for his (probably) final story arc.  He also neglects to give much of anything resembling a resolution to this two-parter story, which feels a waste of two issues for both series.

Clark and Randall offer some generally solid art, especially where the action sequences are concerned.  There are, however, some inescapable weird points, such as Alice’s death-white skin, which has never been a feature of the character before, or Bumblebee sometimes appearing way bigger than she should be, due to some perspective messiness.  All in all though, a good, though unremarkable effort.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, the Doom Patrol has never found much of a purpose for themselves, and this issue seems to emphasize that point, making the cancellation of the series a sad, but not unsurprising, event.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Here are the matchups: Rita v. Alice, Ambush Bug v. Jeanette, and Larry v. Ragdoll—leaving Bumblebee and Cliff to take on Catman, Scandal Savage, Deadshot, King Shark, and Bane.  Something seems off here.

– Bane grabs Bumblebee; Rita grabs Bane and throws him; therefore, Rita also threw Bumblebee, her teammate.  QED.

– What with Alice and King Shark tagging along, you can’t really call them the Secret Six anymore, can you?