Deadshirt is Reading: Doom Patrol and All-Star Batman!

Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.

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Max Robinson is reading…

Doom Patrol #1

Written by Gerard Way

Art by Nick Derington

Colored by Tamra Bonvillain

Lettered by Todd Klein

DC Comics

“Maybe we’re all inside someone else’s gyro.”

The strangest comic in comics is back! Doom Patrol, via DC’s new not-quite-Vertigo imprint Young Animal, is here courtesy of former My Chemical Romance frontman/Umbrella Academy writer Gerard Way and series artist Nick Derington. Given that Way is Grant Morrison’s protege, it’d be easy to expect the book to feel like a Diet Coke version of G-Mo’s groundbreaking ’80s run, but thankfully, Young Animal’s Doom Patrol is very clearly its own beast.

Brand new viewpoint character and pedal to the metal ambulance driver Casey Brinke is a magnet for weirdness. So it’s only natural that explosive gyros, exploding Robot Men and even exploding-into-birthday cake roommates barely phase her. A traditional synopsis would be pointless, but just take my word for it that it’s all very interesting.

Derington, whose style is a comfortable median between Cameron Stewart and Dan McDaid, is extremely confident on the page despite this being his Big Two Quinceanera. Phenomenal character designs, plenty of dynamic action amidst a few quiet moments and, oh yeah, an impressive versatility in his own style when the book cuts between the “regular” universe and Robot Man’s adventures in a macroscopic gyro-verse. This is a debut people will be talking about for a long time to come; it’s a book you’ll be showing your friends.

Gerard Way is one of the few crossover talents in comics where his celebrity is very secondary to his skill as a writer. “Happy Birthday, Casey Brinke” is excellent in that young and hungry first-issue-of-an-Image-book way, essentially throwing endless concepts and raw creativity at the reader until we put the issue down. Dialogue isn’t talked about enough when it comes to comics, and Way’s natural aptitude for lyrics makes lines like “You see things on this job that make you want to put your brain through a car wash…but I’ll still hold your hand” really shine on the page.

The debut of Doom Patrol is clearly Young Animal as a line putting its best foot forward. Here’s hoping this particular brand of brash, bold weirdness sticks around for a good long while.

Joe Stando is reading…

All-Star Batman #2

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by John Romita Jr. (pencils), Danny Miki (inks) and Dean White (colors), and Declan Shalvey (pencils and inks) and Jordie Bellaire (colors)

Lettered by Steve Wands

DC Comics

“Because when it comes to human secrets? To human evil? There’s always something worse down the road.”

All-Star Batman is a wild ride. I wouldn’t call any of Snyder’s Batman run subtle or quiet, but this book is explosive pretty much from page one, stuffed full of an absurd number of villains, set-pieces and great lines. It’s Snyder and JRJR reinventing and refining wide swaths of the rogues gallery, with a central character and dynamic in Two-Face that drives the story beautifully. It’s a big bombastic blockbuster, but it has the kind of auteur feel you’d get from a Tarantino or Edgar Wright summer movie.

This issue dives deeper into the All-Star version of Two-Face, and it’s a take that’s both novel and a solid lens through which to view the character as a whole. Here, the character of Two-Face isn’t an attempt at a realistic personality disorder, but something akin to a fairy tale or parable. Two-Face is the dark presence inside of Harvey Dent, and the two battle one another for control from time to time. It establishes the old “2nd National Bank robbery” Two-Face as a valid part of this process, but a transitional one; when Two-Face has settled into himself, he’s less theatrical and more brazenly evil and corruptive. JRJR’s design is a perfect distillation of this, a Two-Face look that’s solidly grim and stylish, instead of a clown suit. Two-Face as the gambler, the amoral keeper of everyone’s darkness, is a great idea that’s much more interesting to explore than dodgy stabs at Dissociative Identity Disorder.

The only letdown of this book so far, for me, has been the backup story. I love Shalvey and Bellaire’s art, and visually it’s a solid companion to the main book. The focus on Duke is nice in a similar way, allowing Snyder to build his arc without taking a few pages every week from the momentum of the main narrative. I just find the story of Duke’s parents, two upstanding citizens driven incurably (very incurably. EXTREMELY incurably; we’re reminded of this constantly) insane by Joker toxin so off-putting that I can’t get into it.

But that’s a small price to pay for a book that gives us a gag with Killer Croc’s hired muscle that just keeps topping itself, and an armed to the teeth JRJR version of KGBeast. Let the good times roll!

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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