This review contains minor spoilers.
If you’re tired of all the regular super folk, you should be checking out what Young Animal, DC’s latest imprint, has been serving up. One of its flagship books is Gerard Way’s Doom Patrol, which has taken psychedelic inspiration from Grant Morrison’s run and blended it with Way’s energy and quirkiness. Now, in issue #7, it goes back to the future and returns with a familiar face that’s sure to warm the hearts of longtime fans of this outlandish series.
Welcome back to the Chief, Niles Caulder, who returns in all his manipulating glory. While he says he’s grown and wants to heal the world of its hurt, we should all know better by now. Naturally, he suckers in Robotman, Negative Man, and Space Case by offering to fix them in his laboratory and then sending them off to do his bidding.
This time, the World’s Strangest Heroes encounter Scants, other dimensional creatures that plant bad ideas in your head (kind of like Fred Durst’s lyrics). When your brain accepts these bad ideas as good, a substance called Idyat (funny!) secretes from your ears, and these little critters steal it and take it back to their world. And things get progressively more insane after that…
Way should definitely check his family tree because there’s a good chance that he’s related to Morrison. As if they’re drinking from the same Kool-Aid, this tale gets strange faster than Space Case can grow a new leg. Just when you think you’ve reached the peak of insanity, however, it gets even weirder with imagery that’ll live on and find its way into your own future doodles. Even so, the narrative and concepts still remain easy to follow and not too heavy on the old noggin. That’s certainly one area where Way holds an advantage over Morrison.
Onto the negative side of things, the issue does suffer from Way’s desire to overdo the eccentricity part, which is a common trait of his writing if you’ve been following him since The Umbrella Academy days. While a slightly off-center story is always welcome, there are parts where it feels forced. To rub further salt into the wound, he goes and explains everything at least twice, unnecessarily increasing the exposition factor of the story. You can stop doing that, Gerard, we get it the first time round.
Michael Allred brings his pop-art style to the book and it’s as retro as you can imagine. He has such a distinctive and feel-good approach that it’s hard not to fawn over every panel of his. While most modern comic book artists are trying to imitate each other, Allred continues to blaze his own trail and produce off-kilter work. It’s fair to say that his art is the perfect companion to the stories from Way’s mind. Also, credit must go to Nick Derington for his work on pages 23-24; his penciling is so neat that you don’t even notice the changeover at all.
It might not be at the same level as Morrison’s run yet, but Way’s Doom Patrol has shown positive signs that it’s moving in the right direction. Bizarre, whacky, and unafraid to take massive creative risks, issue #7 is a good jumping-on point if you haven’t read this new interpretation of the World’s Strangest Heroes. It’s certainly the most original book you’ll pick up this week – and that’s a guarantee. Oh, and notice how I didn’t use one single My Chemical Romance reference in the entire review? You’re welcome.
Gerard Way ensures that Doom Patrol #7 is the weirdest comic book you'll read this week. It might be too on the nose at times, but it's still a wild 'n' whacky ride.