Peter Milligan and David Lafuente's "All-New Doop" #1 is an oddball of a little book. It's certainly high on charm and the visuals are gorgeously fun, but it's pretty insubstantial in the final analysis. There's a fine line between simply reading a fun comic, and reading something that can move you and stay with you. At $3.99, I think a book has to do the latter (and preferably do both with some regularity) in order to stay in the "must read" pile.
Doop is one of those fantastic bit players that it's impossible not to love and that as a reader one wants to believe, given a moment in the sun, could level up to become a lead character, if only for a time. Unfortunately, this first issue isn't very convincing, even though it leaves off in a place poised to change things dramatically.
Milligan's approach is solid, with a third person narrator for Doop's story, thus partially side-stepping the issue of Doop's language barriers. Giving him an unrequited love for Kitty Pryde, a love he's trying to make known to her, also seems like a smart move that can help humanize him, make him relatable and give his story emotional resonance -- but that part of the story falls a bit flat, at least so far. Doop spends most of the issue skirting around in the shadows, observing events from "Battle of the Atom." Unfortunately, because readers don't get anything particularly interesting from his previously unseen point of view, this aspect ends up feeling conventional when it should have been innovative.
It can be fascinating to view an existing story through an entirely new lens, but the reveals are mostly Iceman arguing with his multiple timeline selves. Even that might have been good for some laughs, but Milligan's take on Iceman is not particularly funny and so this too falls flat, leaving readers with an unengaging Kitty being pined for, a Doop that can't communicate well, and humorless Iceman. In the end, the issue is impossible to care about once you stop reading. The final reveal promises a change in the series -- one I suppose you'd need to have in order to make Doop a "leading man" -- but as a reader I confess it's a more traditional approach than I would have hoped for in a book called "All-New Doop!"
Though the story presented thus far feels too weak to support the idea of a limited series, Lafuente's illustration work is gorgeous throughout. Lafuente is perhaps the perfect illustrator for this title as his work is just cartoonish enough to skirt the line between realistic "human-looking" superheroes and the "green potato looking thing" that is Doop. Lafuente's Doop is expressive and adorable and the physical comedy is easily the best thing about the entire book. At the same time, Lafuente handles the other characters with ease and finds a way to blend the two worlds to make them feel like one. The action is seamless and kinetic, with an almost restrained energy that works well tonally for what Milligan and Lafuente are trying to do. The book is beautiful and wonderfully expressive on the whole; with Laura Allred's vibrant and evocative colors serving as the perfect complement to Lafuente's style.
In the end, I admit to interest in where Milligan plans to take this book and more specifically where he plans to take Doop as a character, since the end reveal is a rather aggressive new direction. However, I liked the character before, and almost resent the idea that he has to change so much in order to get a "real" story. Why pine for Kitty? Doesn't nearly everyone already pine for Kitty? I'd rather learn more about what Doop does and who he/it/whatever is, than see him fall for the most loveable of all mutants. Time will tell if Milligan can turn this into a worthy limited series, or if it indeed will fall by the wayside as fun but ultimately inconsequential.