When you think of Gerard Way, you probably don’t picture him writing comics. To most, Gerard Way was the former lead singer and co-founder of the pop-punk band My Chemical Romance, a group most famous for the song “Welcome to the Black Parade.”
After the release of the Black Parade record, Way wrote a comic called The Umbrella Academy for Dark Horse Comics, a comic publisher most known for Sin City, Hellboy, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Umbrella Academy would go on to win the Eisner Award ( the comics equivalent to an Oscar) for Best Limited Series. Now, Gerard Way has his own imprint of DC Comics called Young Animal, and the comics produced within contain some of the best and most humanizing comics out there.
Of the five comics produced under Young Animal, Way writes Doom Patrol and co-writes Cave Carson. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Doom Patrol is like DC’s version of the X-Men, in that it features a team of super-powered misfits, is led by a guy in a wheelchair, and was first published in June 1963 (a whole three months before X-Men). So, technically you could say that Marvel’s X-Men is a version of DC’s Doom Patrol. You’ll eventually see a lot of copying between Marvel and DC, as each character created pretty much has a similar character on the other side.
Doom Patrol and X-Men have many differences however, as while X-Men was focused on social issues such as the branding of mutants vs. humans, Doom Patrol was more concerned with being as weird and unconventional as possible. It was all due to Peter Milligan and Grant Morrison’s runs in the late 80’s-early 90’s, two writers that were always trying to be controversial, dark, and strange. Their comics took on plots involving the JFK assassination, Dadaism, and even the true concept of nothing. Needless to say, it was very surreal, even down to the art.
Easily enough, Gerard Way carries on the tradition and style with his new run on the Doom Patrol, and it’s the most meta and self-referential its ever been. It helps to have a working understanding of Doom Patrol’s past, but it’s also as crazy and hard to understand what’s real even if you do. From characters lifted out of comics like A-ha in the “Take on Me” video to a sentient, talking street, Doom Patrol is one of the wackiest comics on the shelf once again, and even though it takes multiple reads to fully comprehend the plot within, it’s entertaining even from the art let alone the first read-through.
Told through the story of Casey Brinke, an EMT who doesn’t know the power stored within her or where she came from, an otherworldly power brings together all of the old and new members of the Doom Patrol to save their world from an evil alien race. Through all of this, Way also has the time to include themes such as the exploration of sexuality and jabs on consumerism and capitalism. I may not have enjoyed My Chemical Romance save “Black Parade,” but Gerard Way’s wacky and fresh take on the newest iteration of the Doom Patrol is truly something out of this world.
Want to read Doom Patrol? Start with these collected editions below:
– Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Brick by Brick by Gerard Way
– Doom Patrol Vol. 2: Nada by Gerard Way
– Plus read the classics from the 90’s with Doom Patrol Book One by Grant Morrison (plus Book Two and Book Three)