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Review: ‘Doom Patrol Vol 1: Brick by Brick’ is impossibly fun, if completely baffling

If you are interested in the arts, you are an oddball to the general public, but being an outsider allows you to be creative, no matter what weird ideas that comes out of your mind. However, there is a tendency of being too weird and when it comes to comics, no one epitomizes this more than Grant Morrison, a man with such a unique imagination that either rises or falls depending on the material. Amongst the number of creators Morrison has influenced, Gerard Way has been very local about his love for the Scotsman, in particular his run of Doom Patrol, which not only inspired on his Dark Horse series The Umbrella Academy but also his own run of Doom Patrol as part of DC’s Young Animal imprint.

Doom Patrol Vol 1: Brick by Brick
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
Publisher: DC Comics

As a young EMT, Casey Brinke doesn’t have much of a personal life and only finds comfort on the driver’s seat of an ambulance and saving lives with her working partner, Sam Reynolds. During one night of their graveyard shift, a gyro explodes and a mysterious figure escapes from a world within the dish, revealing himself to be Cliff Steele AKA Robotman; thus beginning a journey for Casey in reuniting the Doom Patrol and stopping an evil race of black robots from creating a food chain made out of people. And yes, it gets even weirder.

As you can tell from the above synopsis, there is a lot to take in and even this reviewer struggled to know what is really going on, and if you can’t cope with the first issue that seems to chuck in a series of random set-pieces, Doom Patrol is not for you. However, those who have read the numerous incarnations of the world’s strangest superheroes over the decades will get a good kick out of Way’s loving tribute to these characters, who throughout the course of this initial arc, have been away from each other with newcomer Casey being the key in putting the band back together.

Although there is perhaps a need of knowledge of the previous Doom Patrol comics to properly read this arc, Way uses Casey as your gateway into this multi-dimensional narrative as her mystery into what she really is leads into a superhero origin as told by David Lynch. Despite his writing that perhaps invests more in ideas than the characters, Way keeps it humorous, from the wacky interactions of Terry None to even the random single pages of the leader of the Doom Patrol, Niles Caulder.

Considering the many visual ideas Way has in his head, it is a credit to artist Nick Derington that he successfully draws them on the page along with colorist Tamra Bonvillain. His rather experimental artwork fits nicely into the whimsical tone of Way’s script, as well as providing a visual and stylistic departure from the conventional presentation of recent DC works. However, Derington’s art does pay tribute to not only Doom Patrol’s history, but also DC’s, from the first issue of Detective Comics to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

To quote the writer himself: “It’s really a comic to be experienced”, whether you feel positive and negative afterwards. Yes, it is weird, and Way is overly ambitious with his ideas, but if you can open your mental horizons to this story that transcends space and time, Doom Patrol is a fun if baffling re-introduction to DC’s strangest superheroes.

Doom Patrol Vol 1: Brick by Brick
Is it good?
If you can open your mental horizons to this story that transcends space and time, Doom Patrol is a fun if baffling re-introduction to DC’s strangest superheroes.
A great central heroine whose journey is meta and unconventional for a superhero origin.
Nick Derington’s art is colorful and vibrant, and despite being stylistically different from other DC books, it pays tribute to the publisher’s history.
Way’s writing humorously mixes action and mystery…
…even if you’re left scratching your head by what is really going on in the narrative.
It’s a book that will be more enjoyable for those who have a knowledge of previous Doom Patrol comics.

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