Milk Wars is here in all its absurd, insane, collected glory.
Milk Wars was the crossover event from Young Animal that happened earlier in 2018 and now it’s finally available to read in full! Every member of the creative teams involved here put in their all and it absolutely shows.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
What happens when the Doom Patrol meets the Justice League of America? Working together, can they destroy the evil, interdimensional corporation called RetConn? To kick off its plan to use the radioactive milk of psychic cows to take the edge off the World’s Greatest Heroes, RetConn has gone all the way to the top. Meet Milkman Man, previously unknown son of Krypton, who was sent to our planet only to be adopted by an evil dairy farmer and raised to love all things dairy! Collects JLA/DOOM PATROL SPECIAL #1, MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1, SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL/WONDER WOMAN SPECIAL #1, CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE/SWAMP THING SPECIAL #1 and DOOM PATROL/JLA SPECIAL #1.
Tell me about it!
Alright, alright, but I’ll go one issue at a time.
The issue opens up by setting the premise that Retconn is moving from broadcast to real estate by showing a model home to Lord Manga Khan, their new client. The issue then shows the main villain(?) Milkman Man delivering milk to a household in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, which ends with their deaths. The Doom Patrol then come flying out of a portal from somewhere in Danny the Ambulance and landing in the middle of the street.
See, this is where the issue gets slightly confusing. It seems to be going off of the events of Doom Patrol #11 which, as of this trade’s release, have finally been revealed. The Doom Patrol then enter the house from earlier and find that there’s a weird mutated cow-like creature inside. The JLA has been turned into the Community League of Rhode Island and it’s revealed that Happy Harbor was chosen due to Mount Justice apparently being where Earth first had contact with ‘the God of Superheroes.’
The banter throughout the issue is fantastic and I would expect no less from Gerard Way and Steve Orlando. The book also sets up the rest of the crossover including the Cave Carson issue — it was previously unknown how it’d tie into the event.
The issue has beautiful art by ACO which includes a four page spread of the Doom Patrol against the Community League of Rhode Island and it is absolutely stunning to look at. There aren’t many other books that have a four page spread that looks this great — think Jim Lee’s Batcave spread in All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. There is also a two page spread showing the JLA in their Community League forms alongside the covers of their first issue debuts which again looks absolutely amazing. This is one pretty book.
Mother Panic starts off by letting new readers know some basic information that they need to know for both the character and the situation of the issue. This was super helpful personally, as I had no clue about the character before this issue. It summarizes the character well and gives the reader backstory needed for the issue without being too much.
Father Batman is a very interesting take on Batman: take the man who is committed to justice and change it to a commitment to God. Then take his act of turning child orphans into vigilante sidekicks and instead have him make them a small mob of armed orphans who live in his religious orphanage. Seeing small children dressed as Robin and holding guns is a sight I had not expected to see but is an interesting one nonetheless.
Father Bruce is such an absurdist concept that it’s hilarious, right down to how Bruce was sitting in his study when an old man burst through his window to give him milk and turn Batman into the priest that is present in the issue. The machine that turns the orphans into Robins is great and drawn in a very Kirby/Allred style, which matches the craziness of what is happening. The “war against Christmas” comment is both a funny jab at modern day issues while also being a completely stupid thing for the children to chant. The whole puns and jokes by Father Bruce and the children about milk ties in with the event’s theme while also being a very Silver Age-style thing to say. Then there’s the nun at the house being literally a creation of milk. It’s all absurdist and Morrisonesque but also so good at the same time!
The art style fits the issue well as it fits the story and character well. Definitely one of the better artists at DC currently.
Overall, Mother Panic/Batman Special is absolutely absurd, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However I would say it is overall my personal pick of weakest issue of the event.
Shade The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman
This issue heavily focuses on the outdated thinking that a woman should be completely subservient to her husband and revolve her life around him. The entirety of Wonder Wife’s character is to clean, cook and make everything perfect for Steve Trevor. Meanwhile, everything is wrong for Shade — she’s been split into five different parts, each related to a separate emotion. There’s a separate Shade for being happy, being sad, being angry, being scared and being in love. The primary Shade in the issue is happy, with the others still taking a large role.
The issue heavily revolves around concepts traditionally seen as “feminine” such as being very emotional and the previously mentioned qualities that you’d see in a 1950s housewife, as Wonder Wife is created to be. The overall theme of the issue though is about taking these negative and harmful stereotypes for women and breaking away from them by the end to show what Wonder Woman is really about, which is a strong, independent female character rather than the housewife who only wants to impress her husband. When this issue first came out I wasn’t very familiar with Shade, however since then I’ve been reading the book and familiarized myself with the character and while there are some interlinking themes between the special and her own book, it’s not incredibly similar. However, the way she is utilized in this story is a perfect fit and definitely made me want to pick up and read the solo series of the character.
The artwork by Mirka Andolfo continues the really nice and weird art style that has been in all of the Milk Wars issues so far. It’s a beauty to look at and the colors by Marissa Louise complement the artwork completely to make it a stunning visual to look at. The layouts are great, the characters look great and just overall this is a very nice looking issue.
Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing
This issue tackles the idea of brand identity with Cave, his daughter and Wild Dog working in an office building where milk is regularly given out to the employees. Throughout the office are Pop! figure stand-ins called Retconn PopStars. Cave makes a comment on how due to their popularity he feels like a bandwagoner while Chloe disputes that the variety shown is great. Wild Dog also mentions multiple times the company’s motto of “the brand maketh the man.”
The inclusion and appearance of Swamp Thing is great and his entrance is one of the weirdest parts of this already weird event. His introduction is made even stranger by the art style — and that’s not a bad thing at all. This issue also continues the trend within the event of having one of the brainwashed good guys being surrounded by someone made of milk or just milk itself. There’s a lot of milk here.
Retconn’s whole work within the event to change the DCU to fit a cleaner, more brand- and consumer-safe style universe is great and honestly is one of the most fun things DC has done in a while, as it allows so much room for parody and making fun of anything they want that fits with the brand-safe message that the antagonists are going for.
Rita Farr, one of the original Doom Patrol members and Beast Boy’s mother, seems to be a large part of the event too, though primarily as a recurring ancillary character. The writers have been building to her return lately in both Doom Patrol and Milk Wars, the latter where she’s been appearing as a famous actress in each of the scenarios due to The Disappointment’s fixation on her (who has stated he wants to wed her in Doom Patrol). By the end of this event it is extremely likely that she’ll return and join the Doom Patrol full time. Here’s hoping.
Doom Patrol/Justice League of America
This issue finally does what Doom Patrol has been building up to for the past two years: reuniting the Doom Patrol completely into the full team as it was present previously to the New 52 — primarily the Grant Morrison roster, due to Gerard Way being very much a student of Morrison, minus the presence of the Chief who was previously in the second volume of the book. The roster is finally rounded out to Space Case (Casey Brinke), Negative Man (Larry Trainor), Flex Mentallo, Robotman (Cliff Steele,) Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl,) Crazy Jane and Danny the Ambulance (previously Danny the Street, Danny the Brick and Danny the World.)
Doom Patrol/Justice League of America is the perfect blend of all the previous issues of Milk Wars and a culmination of Young Animal. Each issue has been wonderful and captures the spirit of the weird imprint perfectly. Having been introduced to Shade through this event has always made me want to go back and read her solo series and wish to see her newly relaunched ongoing. Overall, Milk Wars has been fantastic and one of my favorite events ever done by any publisher.
The art team throughout the book is fantastic; Nick Derington (who did the epilogue) was amazing as usual and the primary artist Dale Eaglesham was phenomenal.
I’ll end with a message that I read in a review of previous issue of Doom Patrol as well as said originally for both Milk Wars and Doom Patrol that I think rings true here still. Like with Doom Patrol, Milk Wars is a series that isn’t really able to be reviewed in a meaningful way. It’s more of an experience that has to be read yourself. One thing I can do is recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the weird side of comic books. Do yourself a favor and go out and buy Doom Patrol volume 1, Doom Patrol volume 2 (once it’s out) and any of the other Young Animal books that catch your eye as well as all five issues of Milk Wars. Hell, you could even just solely pick up Milk Wars, decide which characters interest you and go back from there. Young Animal really is an imprint that needs to be experienced. Now with the story available in one go it’s a great read and is even better if you start with Doom Patrol volume 1, work through that and volume 2 and then read Milk Wars.
I haven’t talked much about Eternity Girl by Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew throughout this review so far as I feel like it’s best spoken about all in one go, rather than how each piece slotted into the issues. The way they introduced this new character in two page backups in a total of eight pages in four issues was nice as they also set it up as if she was a longstanding character. This issue has her enter the DCU through the events of the issue, only appearing in two pages maximum which I was slightly sad about. I thought she’d be part of the event instead of them using it as a backdoor pilot almost for the character. However, now that her book’s out, I very much recommend reading it or at least checking out reviews by other members on this site!
I’ll leave you with the best three covers I have seen for a comic in a long time all drawn by Frank Quitely referencing back to his famous cover of All-Star Superman.