Doom Patrol #7
It's been proven over and over again, if you can't sell the Doom Patrol to Doom Patrol fans, you're fucked--or your book is at least. So I know Keith Giffen really wants me to read this book. And he's making good on his promise to unify the Patrol's complex history of reboots over the years--sort of.
The idea is clear--try to get as many fans of the various incarnations of the DP on board to bolster flagging sales before it's too late again (again). The book itself is going to be retooled without the Metal Men back-up. My guess is that DC felt the two stories were not synergistic--fans of one did not necessarily enjoy reading the other, and vice versa. That definitely seemed to be the case with a number of Outhousers, most of whom preferred the Metal Men offering ironically, as it seems MM is the one to get the axe after the conclusion of the storyline in this issue.
Last issue, Giffen pulled a few rabbits out of some fairly ill-fitting hats to unify the history of Larry Trainor and Negative Man over the years. I'm not completely sure, but I think it implied some of the Patrol's history was all in Larry's head, and that he had been somehow cloned or reconfigured using coma victims a few times. I can't say it was a very satisfying issue from the perspective of a life-long fan of the character, but then there is really no good way to reconcile the different Doom Patrols anyway. At least someone is finally trying to.
Issue #7 perhaps tries too hard. This is a book you won't understand if you don't have at least a bachelor's degree in Doom Patrology. Even fans of certain runs may not recognize Thayer Jost (financier of the Arcudi DP team), even with the interesting text at the bottom of page two alluding to his corporate launch of the DP years ago.
Most DC fans will recognize Oberon, of New Gods and JLI fame--here, it reminds of the loss of Barda and Scott Free in Final Crisis, as Oberon has a moving company for metahumans now. The infamous Painting That Ate Paris is mentioned, from Grant Morrison's time as writer of the DP. Likewise, the costume of The Quiz is shown, and Dorothy Skinner is mentioned. It's not out of the question Dorothy might appear in Giffen's Patrol, but here only her portrait is shown as Oberon and crew prepare to move Steve Dayton's house.
Again, references to Morrison as a mysterious portal seems to show a devastated Danny the Street (World?) about to be replaced by a corporate "pan dimensional realty" corporation. For those of you not in the know, Danny was a sentient transvestite street, who later grew into a world. (I always thought one of the worlds in the new DCU multiverse should have been Danny.)
Then the big one. Crazy Jane has appeared out of nowhere on Oolong Island. Huh? She was another Morrison creation based on the real life Trudi Chase--CJ was really a woman named Kay Challis who had developed Multiple Personality Disorder resulting from horrific childhood abuse, and later gained a different meta ability for each personality after the gene bomb went off in the DCU and created a big batch of new metas. She and Cliff were very close, and that will be an interesting reunion assuming it happens next issue.
An old foe not seen in years is revealed--the Animal Vegetable Mineral Man. (He was too outrageous even for Morrison!), and Jost is also revealed to be more than he appears. And, FINALLY, on the last page the DP themselves, Cliff, Rita, and Larry, are shown. (And Cliff has lost an arm, but still has the regrettable surfer shorts. sigh.)
As far as the Metal Men back-up storyline goes, it ends with a bang at least.
All right, Keith Giffen--I am intrigued. I am not sold on this completely, but I appreciate the respect for the various DP scribes, especially the immortal Arnold Drake and the inimitable Grant Morrison. (Also, kudos for flushing Byrne's take on the Patrol down the toilet.) Of course, the only incarnation of the book not really represented here is Rachel Pollack's aborted run that followed Morrison's and resulted in cancellation. That's probably for the best as it was not memorable, and for this reader at least, in Review Group terms, was like going from a 10 to a 1.
You know I'm coming back for Crazy Jane and AVM Man, and to learn the fate of poor, dear old Danny.