Happy Sunday, geeks and geekettes! It’s been a long birthday weekend for yours truly, and what better way to celebrate another year here than to settle in for some Doom Patrol: Weight Of The Worlds, the strangest superhero team in existence? Here, Gerard Way and artist James Harvey expand upon the original Young Animal series (led by Way and artist Nick Derrington), bringing a much more cohesive, character-based story, but not losing track of what makes these misfits who they are.
While ostensibly a continuation of the original Young Animal 12-issue series, opening up this book — free of context! — works just as well. It begins most appropriately, with a now-human Cliff Steele pondering his own meta-fictional existence while sitting on the crapper after downing an obscene amount of Taco Hell. Being human isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And while he wanders about, trying to tie up the loose ends of his human life, his teammates are busy using Danny the Ambulance to travel to the planet Orbius, which is being overrun by Jud’la, who is obsessed with fitness and physical perfection. So absolute is his obsession, he has forced the inhabitants of Orbius to run in the Marathon Eternal, in order to reach peak physical perfection, despite their natural bodies being floating massive blue globes.
While Cliff’s story is much more intimate and, in comparison, mundane, there is great use in differing art styles to show just how drab and unimpressive his human life is. Stark, drab color palette, with sharp, almost aggressive ink work characterizes Cliff’s story. Against this, the Doom Patrol’s work on Orbius is a smorgasbord of color and surreality, as if Douglas Adams had illustrated these pages…
Doom Patrol is nothing without its metatextual commentary, and here it’s almost spot-on: the citizens of Orbius are obsessed with an ideal that is unnatural for them, for no other reason than they are told to adhere to this ideal, personal happiness be damned. And, on the flip-side again, Cliff’s growing realization that being human isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, not when there’s a much more exciting, and heroic story that could be told about him; as his estranged mother says to him, “You’re just a sad flesh-bag like the rest of us, now. Just a rotting husk, waiting to expire.”
Whereas the initial Young Animal run of Doom Patrol lost some of its narrative focus by trying to tie together the entire history and iteration of the group –by utilizing Danny as a divining rod of sorts to lead them in the direction of trouble– we already have a much more focused book on our hands. This sort of weird, mextatextual work is exactly the sort that makes me excited to be a comics fan, and is yet another great addition to my monthly pull-list. And even if the story itself is usually gonzo, the artwork likewise is as well. 4/5 Taco Hell Burritos.