Monday, June 19, 2017

Why new Doom Patrol comics don't matter.

By Alex Ness
June 19, 2017
Agari あがり

This is a word that has more meaning than simply translated as Sushi bar Tea.  

When a customer is done eating at a sushi bar they will say to the server, Agari.  It is not simply, GIVE ME TEA, but, instead, I am finished eating, the meal is over, please serve me the end of the meal tea.  That is, it isn't at all what it is.  Asking for tea is different than saying Agari.  Agari means you are satisfied and are done.

The Doom Patrol was a team led by a genius in a wheelchair, and the team was composed of people whose lives were changed dramatically when they experienced terrible accidents.  This was their chance to tempt fate and deny destiny.  They were weird, and reveled in it.

I've read all of the Doom Patrol comics from the beginning to 2009.  And I have to say "Agari." AND, I should have said it when the issue #87 ended. 

I was a fool to think anything after Grant Morrison's run, or Rachel Pollack's run could ever approach what issue #19 to #87 accomplished.  This is opinion, of course, perhaps I am wrong.  Or, my taste was so satisfied that, after the end of the Doom Patrol #87 I didn't ever need more.

I am writing this because my son wants me to read his hero Gerard Way's Doom Patrol.  He says it is great.  I highly doubt it will be.  I am willing to try, however.

But I am already full.

20 years since, I am still satisfied fully.

I did love the old Doom Patrol.  They were more than a team, they seemed to be family.  And the evil doers they fought were not typical super villains.  The team of the Doom Patrol was weird, and so were their adventures, and I loved it.

The 1987 series was normal at the beginning, written by Paul Kupperberg, illustrated by Steve Lightle and Erik Larsen.  It emphasized the past, but, while good, it was not great.  And then it got better.  Starting with issue 19, Grant Morrison's first issue, the whole series took a turn, a few turns, and it was no longer a super hero comic.  It was an impossible to define the genre comic.  Among the many different things encountered, were, a street that is sentient, paintings that come to life, and fears that the Chief was not as benevolent as we once thought.  In fact, what he did was not just gather freaks of horrible accidents and unite them as a team.  He was more than a leader.  I won't reveal what he was... but it was perfect.

The events of this run were painted in such a way that they still linger in my mind.  I've spoken with numerous art teachers and professors, and in each case they said, this is a post modern work of genius.  It might not be to your taste.  It was a perfect fit for my own taste.

2001  I read the series that started with this.

I found it pretty, but horrible, boring, and unoriginal.

The stories felt like the writer and artist had no idea what made the Doom Patrol great.


And then I read this horrible series that seemed to have as its goal regurgitating shit.  It was unoriginal, and a bit like a vanity project to correct errors in previous works.  But, what that author did was pretty much create a pointless work.  It was pretty, put together with care and talent.  But it was a bit like wanting to read William S. Burroughs and instead reading Mickey Spillane.  Mickey Spillane was great, but the cognitive dissonance between your stated desire and what you instead read, is massive.  I might have liked this, if I had never read any previous version of the team, but, as it is, this is a work that had precious little new, different, or worthwhile.  (And, briefly, I think that John Byrne is very talented, and has many skills from his years in the drawing and writing world.  This wasn't his best moment)


And I bought a couple issues of this last series, and I could see it was about to stink.  Again, it was not an empty void, but wasn't able to capture the depths, differences, or intrigue of the early works.

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