Doom Patrol Vol.1: Brick by Brick (2017) by Gerard Way & Nick Derington

“Engage neurotic pain amplifier! Bypass settings one through four and begin at “Disorienting Agony”!” (p.77)

 

31855861After first appearing in 1963, the Doom Patrol has undergone various interpretations by different writers and artists over the years. The most famous one is probably Grant Morrison’s run on the comic when he took over writing duties in 1989. He was joined by artist Richard Case. Morrison wrote 45 issues of Doom Patrol before leaving for pastures new.

I was a fan at the time and remember thinking this was unlike any comic I had read before. Morrison’s narrative dealt with surrealism, psychotherapy, chaos magick, sexual identity, disability, multiple personalities, and more. One of his storylines was about a painting that ate Paris, instigated by the Brotherhood of Dada – a group of super villains named after the avant-garde art movement. Who says comics are just for kids?… I’m listening…

Gerard Way, author of The Umbrella Academy, is the latest writer to tackle the Doom Patrol. Brick by Brick collects the first six issues of the new series, published under DC Comics’ “Young Animals” imprint. We experience the story through the eyes of new lead character Casey Brinke, a young EMT who drives an ambulance that seems to have its own personality. Casey and her co-worker, Sam Reynolds, are called out to a hit-and-run where they discover one of the classic Doom Patrol members. The only problem is they need a box to put all his broken pieces into.

-“Whoa! What is that??”
-“Some kind of robot. He got hit by a garbage truck –Not as sturdy as he looks, and surprisingly light weight.”
-“Cool! Let’s pop it open and take a look!”
-“Is that a good idea?”

 

This was a very entertaining read for me. The writing melds the bizarre with the humorous but also tells a very human story. The artwork is bright and colorful and complements the story very well. The characters are well written, each one having a distinctive personality, and they look fantastic. The first chapter serves as an introduction to the new characters and setting. From chapter two, the plot really begins to take off.

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For readers new to the Doom Patrol, this book might seem a little confusing at first. You should be aware of what you are about to read. This is no ordinary superhero tale; these characters have been described as “super-powered misfits” and “outcast superheroes”. I have the advantage of being familiar with some of the classic characters from Morrison’s time on the series. So, I can’t comment on what a brand-new reader would make of it all. All I can say is that this is a fun, strange, intelligent, and beautifully drawn comic book that should appeal to those in search of something a bit different than the regular superhero fare.

I’m sold on the series and will be buying it monthly from the next issue. I’m also curious to revisit the Morrison era of the comic to see how well the stories hold up today. It’s hard to believe it has been 24 years since his last issue hit the stands, #63, January 1993. I’d love to hear from any readers of any of the versions of the Doom Patrol. Comments and recommendations welcome!

[Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for providing a digital review copy. All opinions are my own.]

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