Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Brick by Brick
Written by: Gerard Way
Art by: Nick Derington
Colours by: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by: Todd Klein
Published by: Young Animal
Review by Stephanie Cooke
In my head as I started this comic, the Doom Song from Invader Zim kept popping into my mind. It has exactly zero relevance here and yet, as I write this review and think Doom Patrol again, it’s back.
Doom Patrol is one of the big books coming out from DC’s latest imprint (for the youths!), Young Animal. Gerard Way returns to comics post Umbrella Academy with this series that he clearly has a deep passion for and to give it a shot alongside artist Nick Derington.
The story follows an EMT team, Casey and Sam, as they go out on their rounds and do their thang… saving lives, eating burritos, saving more lives. The usual.
While on patrol (not THE patrol… you know, the DOOM Patrol… just a regular patrol), they come across a few strange things starting with a robot man thing (Way’s words, not mine). From there, things start to get interesting as Casey inherits a strange new roommate (which I have some questions about…….) and a sentient ambulance (actually, I think I just generally have a lot of questions).
I won’t tell you too much more of the plot here but there are a few things going on within this volume and several characters to be introduced to.
The first thing that struck me when I started reading this book, before the writing or art, was the colours. Oh my god, the colours. Tamra Bonvillain has always been a good colourist (in my opinion) but with Doom Patrol, she takes it to a whole new level for me. I was honestly super mesmerized by her work here and couldn’t help but notice all these amazing things that were put into the book solely by her.
Colourists and letterers do not get enough credit, they truly don’t. I’m guilty of not always saying stuff about the lettering but someone once told me that you shouldn’t necessarily notice the lettering. The only time you’ll super notice it is when it’s bad. I think that’s sort of true but you also notice it when it’s really exceptional too and there’s no one better in the business than Todd Klein who happens to be the letterer on this book. What can I say about Klein that hasn’t already been said with 90% of the lettering in comics awards at the Eisner’s and Harvey’s? He’s freaking great.
But I’ve gotten sidetracked here…
As mentioned, Bonvillain NAILS the colours here and I was floored.
The line work is amazing too. I’m sure I know Derington’s art from elsewhere although without doing any Googling, the name doesn’t automatically register for me. That being said, beCAUSE of Doom Patrol, he’s definitely someone that I’ll remember now going forward. His style was fantastic, incorporating some really great elements from older classic comics and blending them with a modern and unique style.
And then Gerard Way’s writing in the book… it was hella fun. There were several moments when I genuinely connected with the book and laughed out loud, smiled or thought about taking a photo of a panel to show a friend who would appreciate it. I held off on reading Umbrella Academy for a long time because of My Chemical Romance, which I know is a crappy thing to have done. It’s not that I don’t like MCR but I felt like since it wasn’t music I would naturally seek out to listen to regularly, the books might not translate to something I would enjoy either.
Then I realized that Way has always loved comic books and that his music career just happened to happen for him before comics did. Once I saw it that way, I realized I was being silly and I dove into Umbrella Academy, which was just brilliant (with the equally brilliant Gabriel Bá on art). Doom Patrol is the same calibre of comic as Umbrella Academy but better. Way has had years to read more, grow more and hone his craft and he comes to Doom Patrol with a passion for the book and the medium that shows through.
I adored Casey so much and wanted so much more of her character development in the book but it’s a team book and I know Casey had to share her page space… but hot damn, she’s so rad.
My biggest issue with Doom Patrol is the fact that I always felt like I was missing something. Doom Patrol isn’t a new series and folks like Grant Morrison (nbd) have worked on it in the past. I generally enjoyed the book and the characters but it doesn’t do an excellent job at providing you context for the characters. I couldn’t tell if they were new, pre-existing or whatever. It all felt a bit jumbled to me.
Because of this, some of the big AH HA moments where there’s a reveal or a plot twist didn’t really hit it home for me. I was taken out of the book continually as I tried to process if what was happening should be a bigger deal to me. Did I miss something earlier? Is this an Easter Egg for fans of previous iterations of Doom Patrol? Am I just not getting it? were things that I couldn’t turn off.
The writing was a lot of fun and I smile, laughed and enjoyed the ride but it didn’t ultimately leave me feeling satisfied.
Buy it! Despite the fact that some stuff didn’t really work for me overall, I still think that the calibre of writing, the art, and the colours (oh my god, the colours!) are well worth your hard-earned dollars.
Not to mention that I think Young Animal is the kind of imprint that DC needs right now to bring in a more diverse audience. Young Animal has become the new Vertigo as it takes on titles that we formerly would have seen under that umbrella. I don’t know exactly what that means for Vertigo but that’s something to be elaborated on in another article on another day.
I’ll leave you with this: a comic that includes a whole scene with an epic burrito world war (IN burrito world war) is definitely one to be checked out.