The Chief has been removed from the picture – or has he? – and the team moves on – or do they? This issue welcomes Brian Keene on board as the Patrol rush into action to discover another former Patroller in need of assistance. The second “Negative Man” – Ted Bruder, also known as Fast Forward – has begun to cause some bleed from other dimensions into “our” own. It’s a nice spin on Bruder’s powers, and it continues to demonstrate that no piece of the Doom Patrol legacy is out of reach or beneath Giffen’s vision for this series.
Speaking of Giffen’s vision, this issue is a treat of a different flavor as we share Giffen’s literal vision for this series. I figured it would be just a matter of time until we saw Keith Giffen jump in and drop some pencils onto paper for this title. I just would have completely blown the over/under on it, though. I expected to see it within the first year of the title. Giffen’s style is well suited to this book, but he lacks the detail Matthew Clark (and even Ron Randall) brings to the book. Giffen’s page layout and storytelling are wonderful, as he limits the panel count to six or less per page. The overall effect gives Giffen’s art more room to breathe and allows this book to visually seem less dense than it truly is.
This book reads like the very best of Giffen’s work on this volume of “Doom Patrol” to date, with moments of intense action, strange situations, and comedic one-liners back-to-back-to-back. Ambush Bug joins the team on the battlefields and the result is humor as only the Bug can bring it. The tandem of Ambush Bug and Negative Man make for some great moments that help this comic bounce. Throw in alternate versions of characters, a struggle for identity, and more than a few unresolved issues and this comic is a near-perfect issue of the DP for readers new, old, and lapsed.
The issue ends with a moribund Cliff reflecting on who he is – or who he is supposed to be. It’s not a happy ending by any means, but this is “Doom Patrol” we’re talking about here. Happy endings are not exactly their specialty. That scene with Cliff is juxtaposed with a mystery that Giffen hopefully revisits very soon. This title has certainly been unpredictable and this issue proves that.