So anyway, I just finished reading the last four issues of Doom Patrol (at least for me, the last four issues being #13-16) and just felt the need to share...
I know we've had a couple of other threads on the DP, but I figure it doesn't hurt to start new ones every now and then, especially about a book that's just this good.
When this newest version of the DP started, while I liked it, there was something about the characters that wasn't quite grabbing me, though all other aspects of the book have been terrific. Well, any problems that I had with the characters at the start have gone away now, I think they're all terrific and Keith Giffen has done tons to grow them.
More on Giffen in a moment. First though I want to get to the art. Right from the start, I thought that Matt Clark has been producing the best work of his career so far. He's said in interviews in the past that if there was one book he could see himself drawing forever, it was The Doom Patrol. Well, that love is evident on every page. After the first couple of issues though, the penciling has been credited to both Clark and Ron Randall, and they've been the consistent pencilling team ever since. As an aside, I once had the honor of Ron Randall drawing characters that I designed while I was working for Malibu Graphics (he drew the cover for Keith Laumer's Retief #3, based around my character designs), and believe me, that was cool to see. I don't think it's been brought up before, but I'm curious as to how Clark and Randall work together on the book, because initially, their styles aren't that interchangeable. My own thoughts are that maybe Randall lays the book out and Clark does extremely finished pencils over that, but I just don't know- if anyone does know, please... share it!! Absolutely stunning and detailed ink work is provided by John Livesay, and it really ties everything together making Doom Patrol one of the best looking books on a consistent basis out there.
All that wouldn't matter if you didn't have such compelling writing from Keith Giffen. In the issues that I've just gotten caught up on, we've gotten the secret behind Rita Farr (and it was terrific), the Chief losing his grip on his control of the DP and adopting the powers of a captured Kryptonian, and in conjunction with writer Brian Keane, another member of the past version of the DP returning and bringing along alternate world versions of the DP with him. All the while, Giffen is acknowledging all versions of the DP so Grant Morrison's version lives right alongside John Byrne's right alongside Arnold Drake's and Bruno Premiani's original, for fans of all versions of the Doom Patrol, this is fantastic. And he's been growing the characters ever since and growing the world around them as well, making Oolong Island one of the more fascinating places in the DCU. And if that wasn't enough, we've got Ambush Bug as well and the Bug is a welcome addition to the book.
In the latest issue that I read though (#16), Keith Giffen returned to the drawing board and man... that had to be one of the best looking comics that I've seen all year. Now I'm a big fan of Giffen but haven't always been. I've been following him since the 70s, first seeing his work on All-Star Comics (inked by Wally Wood) and then following him over to Marvel where his biggest impact for me was when he took over The Defenders, at the time though, it wasn't a good impact. Having just loved Sal Buscema's work on the book, I was disappointed at the time to see what I was perceiving as a poor man's Jack Kirby take over my beloved non-team. After that though, Giffen went away for awhile (all sorts of stories around that) but when he came back, he came back with a vengeance, working on Doctor Fate and the Legion of Super-Heroes for DC. His work didn't quite catch with me first on the Legion, but by the time he'd drawn the first Legion Annual, I was born again with Keith Giffen and ever since then, regardless of multiple style changes, I've followed and appreciated his work and even now go back and look at the stuff that I didn't like back in the day, and just think the world of it now (those Defenders issues are just so awesome to me now).
Now he's back at the board with a fill-in on #16 (and still more stuff upcoming, can't wait for the Legion annual) and he's come full circle. His work in the latest issue is quite Kirby-esque, but with a vitality also all it's own. He's not doing wild layouts, sticking to primarily six and four-panel grids, but his storytelling is absolutely top shelf. His actual drawing is just dynamic as hell and it's such a comfort to see him doing actual cartooning in comparison to some of the over-labored attempts at "being real" by other artists out there. This issue was full of life and action and a joy of comics that was just incredible (at least for me). Damn it, I want Keith Giffen drawing a regular book again (and I'm hoping he'll eventually come back to the Legion after the annual, and of course more fill-ins on DP are certainly welcome).
Sorry I went on for so long, but after reading these four issues, I was positively jazzed about the book and just had to share why. this is one of those mainstream comics that just screams to be supported, and if you haven't read the book yet, do yourself a favor and give it a go. If you're reading it and loving it like I am, check in and share the love...