When something inspires you, sticks with you and influences your life, nurture your relationship with it and see what happens. That's what Gerard Way did with comics, and now he's running point on DC's new Young Animal imprint. The first title, DOOM PATROL #1, written by Way, illustrated by Nick Derington and colored by Tamra Bonvillain, is available now, and its entrance is marked with the offbeat tone that will saturate all the series under DC's Young Animal umbrella.
Getting weird is the undercurrent, but it's not piled on for the sake of novelty—it's an intrinsic part of the story that suits the characters. The last part is key. It's these characters that make experimentation possible. The bizarre twists and lightning-fast jumps wouldn't feel natural for heroes like Batman or Superman, but for Casey Brinke and the Doom Patrol? The odder, the better. It's one of the reasons Way dug deep into DC's Who's Who fact files. He searched for those on the fringes, the forgotten, the oddballs—anyone ready to be taken off the shelf and presented to the world, dust and all.
It's that message I connected most to in Doom Patrol #1—being different is the most exciting way to be. Embracing the eccentric means taking a fresh breath of air, exhaling, and seeing what happens. It might not make the most sense at first blush, it might not be minty and clean, but darn it, it's refreshing.
I have to admit I don't know these characters inside and out, but I didn't need to. Regardless of how intimate you are with Doom Patrol, you're going to put the comic down and scratch your head. That's part of the appeal. It's like the Island of Misfit Toys but instead of quirky toys, it's quirky people with special talents. And there's no hand-holding; you're dumped right into the pages of Derington's bold and emotive art. The gateway to the world is Casey Brinke, a woman who's superbly talented at driving ambulances and isn't certain which parts of her twisty-turny past are real. We're along for the ride with her, and given her skills at navigating dicey situations, I feel comfortable in the passenger seat—uncertain about what's coming next, but safe and sound nonetheless.
Doom Patrol #1 isn't all about new blood. Robotman comes into the picture, fitting since he's been a constant in Doom Patrol stories since the team was created in 1963. He's not the only nod to the past, but he's the most prominent one. Way isn't disregarding what's come before this title, but he's looking towards the future and pointing every facet of the story into that big unknown. Unexplored territory offers the biggest amount of blank pages, and Doom Patrol #1 shows the creative team is willing to take risks and get wacky when they fill those pages.
Of course, Doom Patrol isn't the only Young Animal title forging an imaginative path forward, and therefore, consider this column the first chapter of many. As new issues of Doom Patrol along with comics starring the likes of Cave Carson, Shade the Changing Girl, and Mother Panic swing onto shelves in the coming weeks, I'll be right here taking a look at them for DCComics.com. Stay tuned...and stay weird.