Putting aside the controller for his Lexbox 360, Larry Trainor decides to tell the reader all about the adventures of Larry Trainor, Valentina Vostok, Thomas Munroe, and Phillip Sloan. He also gives us some Negative Man-style thoughts on the various incarnations of the Doom Patrol and loosely throws a thread through them all. Or, at least, that's the story in this comic. Larry Trainor, after all, is completely fictitious, right?
Matthew Clark returns to "Doom Patrol" with this issue and instantly proves his love of this franchise in a story that attempts to bind the disparate incarnations of the Doom Patrol together. Clark gives us his homages to Bruno Premiani, Joe Staton, Steve Lightle, Erik Larsen, Richard Case, Tan Eng Huat, and even John Byrne while also delivering some iconic imagery of the history of the Doom Patrol certain to make fanboys (and girls) and original art collectors drool. The single page of the Byrne Patrol alone makes this issue worth buying. That's right, the era of DP that a great deal of fans remember least fondly looks great. Beyond that, we get just enough teases of the various characters set throughout the DP legacy. This gives me the urge to demand more of Matthew Clark. Give me a full issue featuring the Kupperberg/Lightle DP drawn by Clark. Let Clark draw a flashback issue from the early days of the team. This is mastery on the printed page and well worth the wait for the two months Clark was breaking from "Doom Patrol" while we enjoyed fitting fill-in work from Justiniano.
Throughout the issue though, Clark reminds us who is drawing this comic, as all of the "current" Negative Man, er, sorry, Larry (after all, "L" is for Larry) images are distinctly Clark's designs and delivered unquestionably in Matthew Clark's style. In his first issue providing page layouts as well as penciled art, Clark is spot on.
Giffen's story, however, is sure to leave more than a few Doom Patrol fans -- regardless of DP iteration -- feeling disappointed or disgruntled. Heck some of the fans may even be gruntled, whatever that means. Giffen takes on the task of trying to reconcile the dalliances of some of comicdom's most opinionated thinkers, and he surely leaves some things out or unanswered. For instance, Giffen explains away Rebis with a little more than a wave off. Cliff's "recognition" of Rebis during the "Blackest Night" issues leaves hope for those fans of that interpretation of the negative being.
It's not perfect, but Giffen really does give a whole-hearted attempt at rectifying the history of the Doom Patrol from misfit freaks to Vertigo frontiersman and back to the DC Universe proper. Perhaps Sisyphus had an easier task than Giffen. For my money, however, this issue's interpretation works for me. Sure, there are unanswered questions, but isn't that why this series is an ongoing?
This being the issue of returning artists, Kevin Maguire rejoins Giffen and DeMatteis for the penultimate chapter of the Metal Men backup. The story wraps up the Metal Men's confrontation with the Clique while also providing more madcap fun for Will Magnus' band of Metal Men. This issue is on par with expectations which, considering the creative team, are really, really good. I've enjoyed the Metal Men as a nice change up from the storytelling of "Doom Patrol." I look forward to seeing how "Doom Patrol" #8 reads, though, without the expectation of any lighter fare at the end of the book.