Review – JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Gerard Way, Steve Orlando
Artists: ACO, Hugo Petrus
Colorists: Tamra Bonvillain, Marissa Louise
Letterer: Clem Robins
Release Date: 31st January 2018

The ‘Young Animal’ line has been far and away my favorite thing to come out of DC’s Rebirth. Four titles freed from mainstream comic conventions, telling stories that connected the utterly strange with the human and the relatable, much like the masters at Vertigo did before them.

Finding a wide audience, these were stories packed with heart, love and passion, all about being true to yourself and growing into the person you want to be. Wrapped up in neo-noir vigilantism, cosmic body-hopping adventures, underground Kirby-esque madness and that special kind of crazy that Doom Patrol is known for. And while we’re still a month away from these books returning to our pull lists after their collective hiatuses, the Milk Wars event is shaping up to be a glowing, fun romp to help pass the time.

In a universe outside our universe, our world is viewed as nothing more than sellable product and good entertainment. Retconn™ is a company that specializes in helping putting planets on the market, and Earth-Prime is their new target to sell to a potential buyer.  Using specially designed cosmic milk, Retconn™ is sanitizing Earth-Prime into something more market-friendly, turning Earth into a ‘50s-style utopia where every home is happy and every hero and villain ain’t nothing more than your helpful neighbourhood watch.   Including the Retconn™ Superman manifesto, Milkman Man.

Luckily it seems that our intrepid Doom Patrol have escaped the Milk-washing, and are here to kick butt and stop this company once and for all the only way they know how… crazily and insanely with powers we barely understand.

If this ain’t DC’s craziest event yet, you’ll have to point me in its direction, because I think Milk Wars takes the cake (with a glass of milk, of course – waheyyyyy).   That said, when you consider that it’s coming from the collective minds of Gerard Way and Steve Orlando, we should probably have expected nothing less.

With the characters written as they well as they would be in an issue of Doom Patrol and Orlando’s extensive knowledge of DC’s heroes, this issue brings everything you’ve come to love about both the DC Universe and Way’s Doom Patrol series. The only difference is that it’s not set in an even more crazy world which is just oozing with style, with plenty of its own fun twists and turns on the current world of DC.

It doesn’t explore the heavier and more nuanced side of the YA line, but the way this issue captures the humor, heart and adventure of the line with its crazy shenanigans of a plot and setting means this events starts out as a colorful celebration of just what the Young Animal line is all about.

The only complaint I’d have is that dropping us into this world right off the bat leads to a crazy wild ride, but the issue does slow down considerably in its last few pages for a big, wordy chunk exposition and set up for the next parts of this event. It’s not issue destroying, nor is the dialogue bad at all, but the sudden change of pace may lead to some whiplash.  Plus, it only sorta probably destroyed the fourth wall once, and for an event like this, that’s not a bad tally one issue into a five-parter.

It’s criminal this far in the review to not have mentioned ACO, Petros, Bonvillain and Louise who makes this story an utter delight to watch come to life. ACO, fresh from his Midnighter run (still one of my favs) brings his detailed character work and style, providing depth and emotion to this wide range of strange and peculiar characters and unleashing explosive and dynamic powers that fill the page as superhero faces superhero.

Panel layouts are also a standout here, always experimenting with new designs and ways of framing events playing out; keeping scenes dynamic and varied. One scene is never like the other, nor is a scene ever boring.

And the colors. Ohhhh the colors. I used the term colorful to describe this issue earlier in this review, and this is very much in big part to the two very talent colorists, Bonvillain and Louise. Using a wide color palette and range of hues, they make every page pop and glow in bright, stunning fashion. From outfits to powers to everything going on in the backgrounds, it’s all rendered in fantastic pastel colors. This issue would not have been the pleasure it was without these two.

I don’t wish to say much more about the story, or the issue in general, as it would be spoiling what makes the zaniness of this comic  so special.   But if you love the exuberance and uniqueness of everything Young Animal has put out so far, this issue delivers in droves. With Way’s signature style of storytelling, Orlando’s character work and the art team to make sure this book is nothing less than beautiful to look at, this is the perfect start to this event that I’m sure will continue to escalate its unhinged premise as we meet Preacher Batman next issue…

Oh and the Eternity Girl backup? Now that’s something. That first issue can’t come soon enough.

Rating: 4.5/5.

[Click to Enlarge]

The writer of this piece was: Connor Stephens
Connor Tweets from @diddlesMVP

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