This issue features the debut of Super Chief. Not THAT Super-Chief, but Super Chief. I suppose that sounds better than SuperNiles. Super Caulder just sounds lame. Super Chief has been dissecting and analyzing a Kryptonian in his secret lab on Oolong Island. After one final experiment – a conversion test – Caulder realizes that he can assume Kryptonian-like abilities himself. Giffen puts the reader in the lab with the Chief and shows us just how absolutely power can corrupt.
“Doom Patrol” has always been a fringe book: fringe characters, fringe stories, fringe sales. This run of the title, however, has been more a celebration of all things Doom Patrol, focusing on all that has preceded this while adding depth, craziness, and oddity into the mix. It’s not Morrison’s “Doom Patrol,” nor is it Kupperberg’s, Drake’s, Arcudi’s, or Byrne’s, but it is informed by all of them and then blended into one of the most unique, self-sufficient, weird titles on the racks today.
Inspired by the recap pages of the marvelous competition boasts, this issue of “Doom Patrol” has a singing introduction furnished by Ambush Bug. I picture the intro to be to a beat similar to that of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and I think Bug’s voice is probably pretty close to that of Colin Mochrie, so I had no problem whatsoever singing it out loud. Good thing no one else was home.
The art for the issue is once again a shared enterprise between Ron Randall and Matthew Clark. While I’d like to see whole issues done by Clark, I also enjoy getting this series on a regular basis. Randall’s artwork is certainly serviceable. He’s a very capable comic book artist, and he does a great job pumping detail into the pages he handles, but when he draws Rita, well, there’s just a disconnect between Randall’s rendition and Clark’s. Clark’s Rita seems more disconnected from humanity – Hollywood-starlet perfect, but not quite right. Randall’s Rita, meanwhile, seems like the girl next door who just so happened to stroll into this comic.
Chief’s lunacy in this issue adds an extensive amount of creepiness to this issue, but through it all Giffen adds in some fun bits with Caulder, who is struggling to contain and control his newfound power. Caulder has been portrayed as a manipulator, a psychopath, and more throughout the many Doom Patrol incarnations, but as Caulder himself says in this issue, “They’ve never understood, no one has ever understood.” Giffen is taking this volume of “Doom Patrol” in directions the title hasn’t gone before, which is saying quite a bit considering what has happened in previous volumes. This issue is deep with previous happenings and subplots, but it doesn’t stop to navel-gaze.
This book is different from the rest of the DC catalog, and it is certainly distinctive beyond DC’s offerings. It’s fresh, despite its deep roots, and it always provides a chuckle (or two), a surprise (or three), and some fine comic book art. If you’ve got an “Atlas” sized whole in your comic reading collection, you just might want to check this book out. It’s a pretty close fit. If this title isn’t here in a year for you to check out then, well it may just be your own fault, but let’s not point fingers just yet.