Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 review

The Doom Patrol have a mission – find the new ‘monsters’ of the DC Universe and save them from society. Because they’re not monsters, they’re victims of the Lazarus Planet event, ordinary people changed into something else by a magical resin. They may have great power, but with great power comes people wanting to exploit them. And unusual new bodies that set them apart from families and friends.

Robotman, Elasti-Woman, Negative Man, Beast Girl and the New Chief, Crazy Jane, are the rescue squad out to save the Lazarus victims, show them how to adjust to their new selves and situations. Even if it means a trip to Gotham.

To be fair, that’s not great parking.

The DP have more to worry about than angry citizens when they find the new metahuman whom longtime associate Mento has detected.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, three other old associates of the Patrol – well, enemies – are having a reunion.

The Brain, Monsieur Mallah and General Immortus – the core members of the Brotherhood of Evil. No good will come of that. And back in Gotham…

I think we all saw that coming, but good on the creative geniuses behind this latest Doom Patrol for not sticking a great ‘guest starring’ blurb on the cover. ‘Creative geniuses’? I don’t think that’s too strong, writer Dennis Culver and artist Chris Burnham have come up with the best Doom Patrol story since the glory days of Keith Giffen and Matthew Clark. There’s a clear concept, fan favourite characters, new members – the cute Beast Girl is joined by another freshman by issue’s end – and, of course, dastardly villains. What there’s isn’t is the random weirdness that has too often infected DP series since Grant Morrison’s Eighties tenure. I am very grateful.

Having the team back at the heart of the DCU will put more eyes on this book, while providing creative opportunities to mix the misfits with the more popular kids – the interaction this time between our new Chief and Batman & Robin is a delight.

Other treats include an impromptu training session for Beast Girl, a tease regarding the condition of an old DP cast member, and a new eeeeeevil organisation. And there’s more, this comic is packed, yet it never feels crowded – Culver elegantly weaves plot points throughout as the action plays out via Burnham’s dynamic images.

Talking of dynamic, Batman and Robin are here, and Burnham has history with them. As for the stars of the show, they look terrific – powerful, characterful and very, very human. There’s a moment that isn’t referenced in dialogue or narration in which Rita is on the verge of losing control of her face, but it’s telling as regards her daily struggles. Cliff’s lumbering gait, Negative Man’s slight awkwardness, Beast Girl’s shyness… master storyteller Burnham captures it all.

The new colour scheme for the team’s outfits is a fresh change from the traditional red and white – it seems to be taken from Cliff’s trademark gold. Colourist Brian Reber brings the brights to our heroes, and does an equally fine job with their longtime nemeses (Burnham’s new look for The Brain is rather impressive). Veteran letterer Pat Brosseau adds to the storytelling with his choice of fonts and treatments, including on Burnham’s outstanding title page giving the hero and real names of the DP gang… except Beast Girl, there’s a story there. A couple of words are transposed in one caption, but it’s a tiny thing likely to be corrected in the head when most people are reading.

I buy my comics digitally but have ordered one of the gimmick covers, actually I’ve ordered two copies as I want to see a second series after this run’s six issues are done – Culver has promised a new adjective to replace ‘Unstoppable’, which is obviously an exciting prospect. Meanwhile, I have the standard image and I like it – Burnham’s classic layout, Nick Filardi’s colours, it just works. And dig the stitching on Robotman’s new DP logo patch, it speaks to his racing driver days. As for the logo itself, it’s pretty basic but it’ll do.

So yes, I loved this issue. I think lots of other people will too, if they try it. Let’s get the word out and get The World’s Strangest Heroes the sales they deserve. The monsters will thank you.



10 thoughts on “Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 review

  1. May have to give this a shot. I’ve been meaning to re-read Morrison’s D.P. Have had the issues sitting in a box for maybe 25 years now since I originally bought and devoured them.
    Appreciate your shout-out to Giffen’s run. That’s also on my “to be re-read” list. I think Giffen was the first creator to try to weave all of the prior Doom Patrol eras – the original, the Vertigo – into one history/continuity, even aspects of John Byrne’s reboot from a few years before. And Giffen did a great job doing so!!!!!!
    Speaking of Byrne’s run, I sense that it is not held in high esteem. I really enjoyed it. I think at the time I was done with the Vertigo weirdness. And John Arcudi’s DP was interesting but, frankly, I thought kinda boring/teen angsty and not THE REAL DP. So when Byrne got “back to basics” so to speak, I was primed for it. We have him to thank for bringing Rita Farr back from the dead after a few decades in comic limbo, and I thought his decision to add Metamorpho to the cast was great!
    I tried but couldn’t get into Gerard Way’s recent effort. It just felt like it was trying to re-capture the Morrison/Vertigo years, but I think it’s difficult for anyone to really do that. Morrison’s DP is kind of like Ostrander’s Suicide Squad – a really great single work that is difficult to replicate/imitate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I liked the John Byrne more than many, too, certainly more than the Arcadi/Huat run, which so often seemed deliberately obtuse. I hope you do try the new book.


  2. I think what they have done with Crazy Jane as the new leader of the team was a really interesting way to use the character and her specific powerset. Even the mask she wears reminds you of Niles Caulder’s beard…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this book! So so so good! My thoughts echo many of your own. I read the Morrison run. I appreciated it… but it’s not for me. It’s not one that I go back to, in the way that I do with the original run and the Giffen run. I suspect that this will be one that I revisit again and again.
    I was a little shocked to see the twist in the Brain/Mallah dynamic… but I’ll give it a go and see where it takes us. Even the best of relationships need a shake-up every now and then. This is comics. There’s no reason we can’t go back to what they were, if that’s what folks want.
    I want to do a reread of this issue and just savour each panel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Could be that there’s a double bluff going on with Mallah and the Brain, or maybe Mallah has to do something drastic before bringing the Lazarus resin into play. ‘To Save You, I Have To Squash You!’


  4. One minor quibble with the Chief’s Justice League theory… Zatanna, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Firestorm, Vibe, Gypsy… I could go on.
    None of those characters are “Aliens, Amazons, Atlanteans or humans with special gadgets”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fun debut issue — I’ll be back for me. Although I certainly hope we haven’t seen the last of the Brain; hopefully there’s another twist in that story.

    It’s funny — you guys are mentioning the Giffen series, and I couldn’t even remember it existed. And yet… I might have bought the entire run when it was being published. It just didn’t stick in my brain at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You forgot the DP series that brought back Super-Hip? For shame!

      I’m not worried about the Brain, I’m sure he’s been squished previously. He probably planned the whole thing to fool General Immortus.


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