With an energetic script full of cool ideas and some stellar visual work, this long-awaited return looks to be well worth the wait.

Review: UNSTOPPABLE DOOM PATROL #1 – Your Favorite Freaks Return

From writer Dennis Culver (Arkham Academy, Crone) and artist Chris Burnham (The Nameless, Batman) comes the return of DC’s greatest band of weirdos in Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1. Featuring colors by Brian Reber and lettering from Pat Brosseau, this debut issue offers some cool new twists and some familiar faces in a comic that feels like a solid melding of classic Doom Patrol with the larger DC universe. With a tight, energetic script and stellar visual work, this is a return that so far is worth the wait.

“After the events of Lazarus Planet, more people than ever have active metagenes! Most of these new metahumans have become misfits, shunned and imprisoned by a fearful society. They are hidden away in the dark, lost to a system that only sees them as weapons or guinea pigs-ticking time bombs that can only be defused by the Unstoppable Doom Patrol! Robotman, Elasti-Woman, and Negative Man are joined by their brand-new teammates Beast Girl and Degenerate and led by Crazy Jane’s mysterious new alter, the Chief, on a mission of saving the world by saving the monsters!”

Writing & Plot

Dennis Culver has the unenviable position of following up another cult-classic run with his script for Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1. Gerard Way and Nick Derington’s run on DC’s Young Animal imprint wrapped up a few years ago, and strictly in terms of legacy was the direct follow-up to Rachel Pollack’s and Grant Morrison’s works respectively. This comic eschews much of the conceptual weirdness of those runs to follow more in the footsteps of the original Arnold Drake run, Kupperburg’s work, and the more mainstream Doom Patrol runs as a whole. This isn’t a bad thing, though. Culver has written the most easily accessible Doom Patrol comic in a very long time. All our favorites are here – Cliff Steele a.k.a. Robotman is totally unchanged, and Culver nails his playful yet pissed attitude. Larry Trainor (Negative Man) and Rita Farr (Elastiwoman) don’t get quite as much time on the page here, but they’re well-written and enough is presented to promise that they’ll be more fleshed out in the future. The big surprise here is of course Crazy Jane’s new persona as “The Chief,” with Culver continuing the trend of original team leader Niles Caulder no longer having a place among the Doom Patrol. Her new role and persona have that distinct Silver Age leader charm (think “To Me, My Doom Patrol!”), coupled with specific moments to remind you who Jane is and what she’s capable of. The new additions in the form of Beast Girl and Degenerate are cool, and fit in well with Culver’s new initiative for the Doom Patrol as saviors of new metahuman weirdos. Fans of the Vertigo and Young Animal Doom Patrol runs may be annoyed at the appearances of some major DC alumni in this issue, but they don’t get in the way of these characters being themselves. If you’re expecting Morrison or Pollack weirdness, you will come away disappointed. This is a Doom Patrol for a new generation of mainstream readers.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to see the separation between writing calls made by DC editorial and Culver himself. While the big character features aren’t too obtrusive, they certainly aren’t needed. It’s almost as if DC doesn’t trust that a Doom Patrol comic won’t sell by itself without the Caped Crusader popping up, and this unfortunately limits what this comic can do compared to the prior great Doom Patrol runs. Culver handles the features admirably, but it does leave me wondering just how effective this run will be as a whole.

Art Direction

Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 is brought to life by the distinct pencils of Chris Burnham. Burnham’s defined linework and brilliant eye for design give this new era of the classic cult-favorite team a distinct aesthetic that still *feels* like Doom Patrol. Burnham has always toe-d the visual line between mainstream comics and weird indie book – a style this series demands. His designs for the classic Patrol members maintain their consistent looks from runs past, but with Burnham’s own touches. If I had to compare, these look like a mix between Derington’s interpretation and the original Bruno Premiani designs. His work on the new characters are perfectly comic book-y, if not comparatively safe for a Doom Patrol book. Jane is almost unrecognizable as The Chief, but Burnham plays some neat tricks to bring her more familiar forms back out when the script calls for it. His sequential direction move the story along at a brisk pace, keeping everything feeling exciting with big action and fun character reveals.

Brian Reber’s color art fills in Burnham’s pencils with a deep, vivid color that finishes the distinct aesthetic this comic has. There’s a sort of texture to Reber’s colors here that give the panels an extra sense of dimension. It’s stunning work that helps make this Doom Patrol comic stand out among other mainstream comics. The lettering from Pat Brosseau captures a clean retro-modern style with classic-looking SFX work that fits this comic perfectly. Overall, this is a fantastic comic from the visual end that nails the feel of a new, more mainstream-friendly Doom Patrol book.


Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 is a fun – if not pretty safe – return for one of mainstream comics’ greatest cult-favorite teams. Dennis Culver’s script offers some great action, great character returns, and some genuinely good humor, all held back a bit by editorial inclusions that make the comic feel less sure of itself. The visuals from Chris Burnham and Brian Reber are full of dimension and personality, making for one of the most unique-looking mainstream comic of the year so far. Be sure to grab this first chapter in a new era of Doom Patrol stories from your local comic shop today!

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
With an energetic script full of cool ideas and some stellar visual work, this long-awaited return looks to be well worth the wait. Review: UNSTOPPABLE DOOM PATROL #1 - Your Favorite Freaks Return