Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1
After the events of Lazarus Planet, more people than ever have active metagenes! Most of these new metahumans have become misfits, shunned and imprisoned by a fearful society. They are hidden away in the dark, lost to a system that only sees them as weapons or guinea pigs-ticking time bombs that can only be defused by the Unstoppable Doom Patrol!
Robotman, Elasti-Woman, and Negative Man are joined by their brand-new teammates Beast Girl and Degenerate and led by Crazy Jane's mysterious new alter, the Chief, on a mission of saving the world by saving the monsters!
Doom Patrol has risen to the forefront of its pop culture zeitgeist with the final season of its HBO Max series ending, lending a perfect time for a fresh start. Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 kicks off this new series with a supervillain, Brain, proclaiming, “Things are about to get weird.” A phrase like this perfectly sums up everything you would need to know, jumping into a series about the Doom Patrol, one of comics’ wackiest, off-the-cuff style teams. Under superstar writer Grant Morrison, the Doom Patrol has seen some wacky days. More recently, I saw a more modern yet equally insane revival under My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way and artist Nick Derington. This time around, writer Denis Culver, artist Chris Burnham, colorist Brian Reber, and letterer Pat Brosseau have come together to give us a wholly new take on the team, keeping in theme with their weirder side of the DC Universe but focusing on the unique circumstances that allow them to coach others through trauma.
Spinning out of the world-altering effects of Lazarus Planet, the DC universe is now full of new metahumans. Culver subverts the expectation, revealing that these new meta-humans are not all forces of good like The Flash or villains like the countless rogue galleries of the Justice League. Still, instead, they are regular people whose lives have been upended by grotesque transformations. Enter the Doom Patrol. This team knows what it’s like to be forced to learn to live with these life-altering changes, which also makes them the most qualified to help those with newly awakened powers. This status quo shift is a perfect next step for the Doom Patrol, which coincidentally fits in with the evolutionary theme of Dawn of DC, allowing the team to progress past the groundwork laid out by past creative teams.
One of the best parts of this issue came in the appearance of Batman and Robin and their discussion with Crazy Jane’s new Chief persona. Batman immediately views these new metahumans as problems, proposing they be thrown into Arkham for rehabilitation. Chief quickly refutes this idea and completely dismantles Batman’s philosophy throughout two pages. The Chief not only points out how flawed Batman’s form of justice is, but she also proposes a fantastic solution. Arkham has never helped anyone; instead, it either breeds a new villain for Batman’s rogue’s gallery or feeds into a pool of people to be taken advantage of by the existing rogue’s gallery. This clearly comments on the corrupt prison system within the United States, where prisons fail to rehabilitate inmates.
The Chief’s solution mirrors the recent Defund the Police campaigns, which strive to find alternative solutions to throwing the police into a situation that someone like a social worker would be more equipped to handle. Later in the issue, Robotman and Beast Girl confront the metahuman who has been destroying Gotham, calm him down, and end the chaos with a simple conversation, giving validity to Chief’s proposal. This not only further dismantles Batman’s philosophy but also puts the entire thesis of this narrative neatly on display. These concepts are excellently explored in this introductory issue, setting up a series that will be as socially relevant as exciting.
Beyond the social commentary and thought-provoking narrative, Culver also infused this issue with classic Doom Patrol humor. No one is sligining one-liners, but each member exudes their character in a way that makes their banter feel naturally humorous. Robotman, in particular, has a rough personality, allowing other characters to irritate him easily. This is all done out of love, with the back-and-forth feeling natural, like the family that the Doom Patrol has become.
On the art side of things, Burnham jumps into Unstoppable Doom Patrol, swinging with several highly detailed panels that convey the chaos throughout the city. This pairs excellently with the narrative, with constant reminders of how careful the team needs to be with all the destruction erupting around them in each panel. Burnham also is tasked with drawing three characters, Chief, Robotman, and Negative Man, whose obscured faces often make it difficult for artists to convey emotion. Even with that restriction, Burnham fills these characters with life, using their body language and scenery to create genuinely natural reactions from these fictional characters. Brosseau’s letters further ease Burnham’s job, leaving room to let his art speak while filling empty spaces with the dialogue that builds on the characterization narratively. Brosseau also does a fun thing with Negative Man and his Negative Spirit, where their two speech bubbles overlap. The Negative Spirit’s dialogue hides in the back, conveying that Negative Man can only hear this dialogue.
Reber colors the Gotham skyline with a mirroring orangish hue that accentuates the uniforms while keeping in theme with the smug, classic look that Gotham is known for. Furthermore, Reber’s sharply contrasting purple color for the new character Beast Girl helps highlight her naïveté and also makes her pop off the page as a fun new addition to the team. Finally, Reber’s colors seal the deal, with the new Doom Patrol uniforms quickly standing out amongst the frantic settings.
Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 kicks off a new series with a more grounded, socially conscious approach. This introduction sets up a lot for a bright future that is destined to come for this title.
Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1: Save the Monsters, Save the World
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10