A slacker brat finally finds his purpose but his parents aren’t pleased. Bane’s first date is equal parts hilarity and violence. The Secret Six invades Oolong Island. And something fishy this way comes as the Doom Patrol mops up after one of the departed Chief’s shady experiments.
The Doom Patrol? Yes, it’s crossover time, as DC’s craziest villains take on DC’s freakiest heroes on behalf of new criminal organisation S.M.A.S.H., as the logo on its flying craft states. Or maybe it’s C.R.U.S.H., as new Sixer King Shark claims after biting off one of Elasti-Woman’s legs.
Whatever it is, it’s a hoot, as layabout Eric gathers his gaming pals in an operation aiming to put ‘the fun back into world domination’. The players want to be Players and are soon modelling themselves on the Rat Pack, with babes as important as bombs. While it all sounds a bit silly, perhaps Eric isn’t to be underestimated – he does organise a heck of an operation in a fortnight. We’ll find out if he is the formidable leader, or simply a kid with too much money and too little sense, when this story concludes in Doom Patrol #19 any week now.
Meanwhile, there’s an awful lot to enjoy in this issue, from Gail Simone’s typically assured handling of the Six to her delightful take on the Doom Patrol. The interplay between the groups, in a story that reminds me of Vertigo’s old spy spoof Knockout, is a nice balance of action and antics. It’s no surprise that former Deadpool writer Simone gets Ambush Bug, but it’s reassuring to see that she doesn’t miss a beat with the likes of Negative Man and Bumblebee.
The only tweak I’d make to the story would be to add a roll call: we’re in crossover mode, so the guest heroes should be introduced to readers who aren’t familiar with them. Doom Patrol sells a fair few copies less than Secret Six, so there can’t be an assumption that Six fans know that Elasti-Woman was recently revealed to be, basically, Silly Putty Girl, explaining her odd shark-shaped injury here. And likewise, not all Doom Patrol aficionados will know who Scandal Savage and co are.
Jim Calafiore’s pencils and inks bring the story to dynamic life, with standout scenes including a Catman/Robotman face-off and Elasti-Woman’s unique approach to catching fish. Colourists Jason Wright and John Kalisz make the art pop further, while Travis Lanham letters with neatness and style. Daniel Luvisi’s cover pairing of Catman and Deadshot is not strictly relevant to the issue – you’d expect a confrontation between the groups – but it’s great-looking nonetheless.
This is the first $2.99 issue with a page count of 20, yet there’s no reduction in entertainment value, for which the creative team – under the guidance of editors Sean Ryan and Rachel Gluckstern – deserves praise.