Where is Larry Trainor? Who is Larry Trainor? What is Larry Trainor? A negative space in a negative world. He’s here, and he’s not pretending.
If you found the Morrison-esque blurb above provocative, then you are in for a treat with Gerard Way and Nick Derington’s Doom Patrol #2, the second entry in the first title of the new Young Animal imprint. Way made his intentions for Young Animal very clear during the DC All Access Panel at Emerald City Comiccon when he stated, “I am thrilled to help bring DC’s Young Animal to life, having been raised on experimental 80s and 90s takes on superheroes. I see Young Animal as a place to try new ideas- following the spirit of those books from the past but bring them somewhere else.” The original solicit for this new Doom Patrol series also included this little snippet, “…in the spirit of Grant Morrison’s legendary run on the series…”
Two issues in, he is on track to provide exactly what he promised. Way manages to present a story structured very much like what you’d expect Grant Morrison would write if he stepped back into the pilot seat of Doom Patrol. This is not to imply that Way is simply aping that oft-revered, fan-beloved run from the early 90’s. Quite the opposite, in fact. While we see the return of criminally underused characters like Flex Mentallo and Danny, the overall atmosphere of the book feels informed by the world around us today and not Morrison’s world from 26 years ago.
Way’s take is set firmly in the sweet spot of stylistic authenticity and integrity, while still allowing a fresh perspective to shine through. This makes the book extremely easy to recommend to fans of Morrison’s run, fans of Doom Patrol in general, and even those who’ve never heard of Robotman or Negative Man before. Any DC fans who were (justifiably) put-off by the news that these Young Animal books operate outside of the Rebirth continuity can rest easy. If the first impression can be trusted, Young Animal might just be the heir to Vertigo’s glory of yesteryear.
For the sake of clarity, though, I might emphasize that Way and Derington are absolutely not providing you with a mainstream superhero comic book. It doesn’t look or read like anything else releasing at DC right now, although I expect the tone of the books sharing the new imprint to fall in line. While this second issue might not feature anything as psychedelically challenging as issue #1’s micro-universe within a gyro, Doom Patrol #2 still proudly wears its strangeness like a badge. Whether a character is finding a message hidden inside her tooth, or another is having a crippling existential crisis on a public sidewalk, this is supremely and delightfully weird.
This surreal quality is made possible due in large part to Derington’s art. He falls somewhere in the ballpark of a Michael Allred or a Tyler Crook, with beautiful cartooning and lush, bright colors. I could make an argument that the book is worth reading for the artwork alone. Stylistically, Derington evokes a spirit of ambiguity. In one way this lends to a dream-like approach, everything seeming slightly off-kilter. In another way it gives the art a timelessness, an inability to be pinned down to a specific epoch.
I’m all in. Doom Patrol has very quickly sold me not just on its own worthiness, but has heightened my anticipation and expectation for the Young Animal imprint as a whole.
- Delightfully strange and esoteric
- Gorgeous visual storytelling
- Flex Mentallo and Danny!
- Will not appeal to those seeking a straightforward superhero comic