Sunday, October 16, 2016

DOOM PATROL #2 Review

Larry Trainor takes the spotlight on the cover, and leads the action inside Doom Patrol #2, which opens with a flashback to the fateful flight where Trainor made his connection to the negative energy that would become Negative Man. Except this is the origin filtered through years and through the creative processes of writer Gerard Way.

Way latches onto the "negative" aspect of Negative Man and centers Larry Trainor in some spots that stoke uneasy feelings, evoke nastiness, and cause problems. And all of it makes sense, from a certain point of view.

Way uses the rest of the issue to check in on Casey Brinke and Terry None, the latter of which has rebuilt the robot man we all know and love as Cliff Steele, aka Robotman. An interesting set of attacking forces and comic book coincidences brings Larry and Robotman together, with Brinke and her paramedic partner, Sam, in the middle of it all.

Way's writing is creative and playful, fun and entertaining. He certainly seems to be doing what he wants to do with the characters and circumstances in this story, which makes Doom Patrol #2 a wild ride in every sense. Every page turn packs a new surprise, and some of those surprises bring new plot developments, returning characters, and even a headscratcher or two.

The characters each have their own beats that they move to, Terry None is as disturbingly peppy in Doom Patrol #2, Casey is wonderfully optimistic and flexible with the madness unfolding around her, and Cliff Steele is an ass-kicker with heart, as he makes sure to protect Brinke's cat, Lotion, during the battle at the heart of the issue. Lotion gets lost in the action, but I have no doubt there are leads to follow from there that will spin into fantastic tales and added detail for the world Way is building.

The writer provides readers with another Niles Caulder interlude that seems like a playful six-panel romp. I'm sure this interlude and the one from Doom Patrol #1 link together and are telling the reader more about Niles Caulder's whereabouts and doings, but these pages alone are fun enough to showcase the wackiness that can be farmed from the Doom Patrol brand.

Artist Nick Derington is as much to credit with the whimsical nature of Doom Patrol #2 as Way is. The duo meld nicely, playing to one another's strengths. Derington continues to churn out deceptively brilliant designs and brilliantly animated characters with a stunning array of emotions. Sometimes those emotions and expressions are transformed into simplistic, comic strip eyeballs, other times its something a little more subtle, like the parting of lips or a character tilting his or her head.

Derington has no shortage of imagination to draw from, and he shares quite a bit of that with us readers. Whether it's the destruction Steele causes when fighting the angular aliens, or the decorations in Casey's apartment, Derington packs detail into every panel and makes every page of Doom Patrol #2 a playful wonderland.


Colorist Tamra Bonvillain adds to the visuals quite nicely. She drops an uneasy yellow hue that soaks the opening scene where Larry antagonizes the two opposing gang members, that shifts to orange when Larry is distressed in the back of the ambulance, and shifts once more to red when Casey arrives at the cabaret in the last scene of Doom Patrol #2. Likewise, letterer Todd Klein gives sound density, packing the battle sound effects around Robotman as he kicks ass. Klein uses a variety of word balloon styles to transmit variance in language and sound, as the angular aliens have white type in black hexagon balloons, other aliens speak in gristly mixed case, and all of Cliff Steele's lines are packed with power and determination.

All in all, Doom Patrol #2 is a wonderfully impressive second chapter in a brand new, imaginatively disturbing world. There are familiar bits, there are brand new bits, there are bits that are seemingly fully formed and slowly exposed. Amazingly enough, Doom Patrol #2 is just as, if not slightly more, accessible than Doom Patrol #1, and it pays back with interest, quite literally unpacking a whole new world for readers by the end of the issue.

Go out and get it, my friends. HIGHLY recommended. 


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