Seven months since its penultimate issue and a cancellation courtesy of DC, the latest Doom Patrol offering from the Young Animal imprint finally delivers a satisfying conclusion.
While unfortunate that fans of the characters had to wait so long for the final issue of this forcefully limited run, it could not have been more timely. Debuting its premiere issue a mere two months after the end of the critically-successful Season One of Doom Patrol on the DC Universe streaming service, this final issue now arrives just a couple of weeks after Season Two splashed onto our screens. Now more than ever, Doom Patrol and the mythos surrounding it is on the tip of everybody’s collective tongue and thankfully the brainchild of Gerard Way and Jeremy Lambert managed to stick the landing.
What makes Doom Patrol so popular amongst its fans is the different approach that the writers take when it comes to crafting superhero characters. They are neither all-powerful like Superman or paragons of virtue like Wonder Woman – in fact, they are more or less a bunch of screw-ups. No one would take ownership of that title as much as Cliff Steele does, played by Brendan Fraser in the television series, who at the beginning of this miniseries finds himself back in a flesh-and-blood body thanks to the events of the preceding run.
Unable to reconcile his newly-found humanity with the lack of human connections he has left due to his association with the Doom Patrol, by the end of the first issue Cliff has hurled himself off a cliff in a speeding vehicle in what would be a suicide attempt for anyone else. For the hero known as Robotman, however, it is instead a tragic one-way ticket back into a cold, metal body which is now more familiar to him than the one he was born into. Now inhabiting a much more sophisticated form than he is used to, Cliff is able to receive automatic upgrades depending on how many civilians he helps, resulting in him going off on an obsessive quest to help anyone and everyone that he possibly can like a gamer who just has one more skill tree to complete before maxing out their RPG character.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Doom Patrol such as Rita, Jane, Larry, Flex Mentallo, Casey, et al. are caught up in a series of increasingly unfortunate events as plot threads from previous storylines rear their ugly heads. From a world of spherical creatures ruled by an orb-shaped overlord to a flex-off on a dilapidated beach resort to the confines of Mento’s mind, each and every scenario is wondrously brought to life by the the team of artists who made this miniseries a reality, including but not limited to the much-loved Doc Shaner and Becky Cloonan.
In the end both storylines combine, with a piece of character development for everyone piled on along the way (such as Larry requiring the needs of a service dog), when it is revealed that Cliff is about to turn into DC’s equivalent of Galactus from the Marvel universe by upgrading himself to a planet-sized version of himself. This gargantuan Robotman, corrupted by his own obsession, is hell-bent on cleansing the universe of worlds in need of help and repair rather than undergoing the lengthy and tedious task of helping them.
If this series sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means race down to your nearest comic book store or bookshop and place an order for the trade paperback that is due out in September. Fair warning, however – this miniseries is not catered towards newcomers, and having a knowledge of the previous Doom Patrol series from the Young Animal imprint is a requirement rather than an option. From the very first issue the writers hit the ground running and assume that everyone is already up to date with where all of the characters are both physically and emotionally. Although a handful of footnotes are scattered across the first issue by the editor, these are more of a brief reminder rather than an actual provider of context. With that in mind, this wonderful odyssey through the warped imagination of Gerard Way and Co. is a worthy successor to what came before it provided that you can scramble over that massive hurdle.
Without spoiling the grand finale which has been so long-anticipated, it is safe to say that issue #7 manages to wrap up the sometimes-confusing and often-crazy series of adventures and mishaps in a satisfying way. Without speculating too much, the final page leaves the impression that any future miniseries or extended runs, be they from the current creators or a new team, will serve as a fresh start and a jumping-on point for new fans. Hopefully that comes much sooner than Season Three of the television series.
Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds is a delightful reminder of just how much fun comic books can be when you remove any preconceived notions of what a superhero looks like or how they should behave. It stays true to form and pays tribute to what came before while also setting the stage for future stories, however it does this to the detriment of anyone who might have picked up issue #1 off the shelf because they liked watching Brendan Fraser swear through a voice modulator.