Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 is an engaging fusion of meat and potato superheroics and off the wall antics. There is a robot gorilla in this comic. Set in Gotham City, it has one foot firmly in the DC Universe and another in heart on your sleeve surrealism. For example, Crazy Jane is the Chief now. (Don’t ask, just read!) With his experience doing fucked up body horror (Nameless) and globe-trotting superhero team-up’s (Batman Inc.), Chris Burnham definitely was the perfect artistic fit for this new iteration of the Doom Patrol, and he and writer Dennis Culver and colorist Brian Reber lay down a first issue that functions as a done in one adventure, a mission statement for the new miniseries, and sets up some fun plot lines down the road rooted in both the original Silver Age Doom Patrol and Paul Kupperberg’s late 1980s Doom Patrol run (If it had more action and fun and less monologuing.) that paved the way for the classic Grant Morrison run.
Until a passionate Cliff Steele monologue towards the end of the issue, Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 goes for big and bold in its layouts and approach to storytelling. The first page is Monsieur Mallah and the Brain fighting General Immortus’ incredibly crumbly zombies (Burnham’s art has great and occasionally unsettling textures to it.) in a full splash before a double pager that’s a cool title page and gives you everything you need to know about the current Doom Patrol lineup. Unlike the recap pages at the house Mickey owns, Burnham and Culver dish out this information visually and verbally with a classic team shot of the current lineup and three panels setting up the trip to Gotham that Robotman isn’t looking forward to.
And speaking of classic, Dennis Culver and Chris Burnham have gone with a Doom Patrol cast that is both traditional and breaks new ground. Of course, there’s Cliff Steele, Larry Trainor, Rita Farr, and the Chief (With a twist.) But there’s also Beast Girl, who is a hyperactive riff on Beast Boy’s appearances in the pages of Doom Patrol before finding fame as a Teen Titan, both New and Go. Culver and Burnham use her abilities in a clever way in the big climactic fight sequence, and she’s pure id with some added splashes of color from Reber. Her and Robotman also have a pleasant father/daughter dynamic that I hope gets expanded on in future issues.
However, the most intriguing part of Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 is one of Jane’s alters becoming a new version of the Chief complete with cloth mask, a keen strategic vibe, and the ability to deconstruct DC Comics’ cash cow at will. Like in previous incarnations of Doom Patrol, the Chief sets the tone for the team and series, but Dennis Culver and Chris Burnham do away with the toxicity and manipulation of Niles Caulder in past comics and replace it with radical honesty and compassion. The Doom Patrol isn’t here to fight monsters, but to save them, and there are factions and folks in the DC Universe that aren’t into this setting up future intrigue in the miniseries. But, for now, it’s cool to see this team kick ass and give heartfelt monologues while simultaneously deconstructing and rebuilding the superhero genre.
Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 has loads of nods to past Doom Patrol stories, but Culver and Burnham find new wrinkles especially in their take on Jane/The Chief and how the team interacts with more mainline superheroes although I was totally substituting Lazarus Planet with Invasion! in the page where that’s mentioned. All in all, the book features a quirky cast of characters rescuing societal outcasts and saving the day, but in an offbeat way with Burnham flexing his horror muscles in a PG-13 way and still providing a lot of big action and bright colors courtesy of Brian Reber and shows it’s okay to get weird sometimes and express big emotions.
Story: Dennis Culver Art: Chris Burnham
Colors: Brian Reber Letters: Pat Brosseau
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: TFAW – Zeus Comics – comiXology/Kindle