Weird is good. Weird keeps you fresh, intrigued and original. It feeds the soul and inspires. In a way, that is all that writer Gerard Way wants you to feel whenever you pick up one of his books. He wants you to be inspired, to go out into the world and be passionate about what you do. He wants you to live, just as his characters have come to live. His passion and intricate planning for crafting the best stories he possibly can have led to some amazing series that every comic book reader should pick up and read.
After two volumes of “The Umbrella Academy” and “Killjoys” over at Dark Horse comics, Way was handed the keys to a new kingdom at DC Comics. He became the curator and watchful guide of a new imprint labeled Young Animal, where he and his team would create comic books “for dangerous humans.” Headlining the imprint with his own new take on the “Doom Patrol,” Way has brought all of the greatest elements of his prolific career thus far into the imprint. Of said career, here are the 17 craziest and weirdest moments to feature in a comic book written by Gerard Way.
17. LIFE IN THE GYRO
“Doom Patrol’s” relaunch under the Young Animal imprint over at DC Comics came with promises and questions: the promise of a fresh start that would honor what came before it, and questions as to what exactly this new version of the Doom Patrol was going to be like. And both promises and questions were answered with a gyro: a white cover to issue #1 — by series artist Nick Derington — featuring only an unwrapped gyro (which was also a peel-off sticker underneath which laid the secrets of the universe.)
In the issue itself, while main character Casey Brinke — a new creation for the series — and her EMT partner Sam Reynolds discussed the meaning of life over a gyro and an arcade game, we were taken inside the gyro itself and we saw that, just as the characters theorized, there was a whole other world inside this gyro, a place of deserts and robots and guns and war. The gyro exploded in a trashcan and Robotman was propelled back into the world from inside this very gyro, in what was arguably the best way to show us how weird this new “Doom Patrol” series was going to be.
In preparation for the Spider-Man event “Spider-Verse,” “Edge of Spider-Verse” was a limited series that explored various different versions of Spider-Man from alternate realities. Each issue served as an introduction to a new Spider character, from Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Gwen to the creature known as SP//dr. Introduced in “Edge of Spider-Verse” #5 by Way and artist Jake Wyatt, in a very anime-inspired world, SP//dr was a spider who bonded with a human host, and together they could then pilot a specially-designed exoskeleton suit.
After the death of her father, Peni Parker was the only genetic choice left to bond with Sp//dr and pilot this suit. The process would hurt, and not only did Peni have to let this actual genetically-enhanced spider bite and bond with her, but so too did SP//dr have to accept her first. Together, they became a great and powerful superhero, in some regards even more so than Peni’s father before her. This brief story was merely an introduction to Peni and the concept of the SP//dr, but it is one that we would love to see return to the pages of a comic book.
15. A MONKEY DRESSED AS MARILYN MONROE
The second volume of “The Umbrella Academy” series, “Dallas,” took everything that worked from its more straight-forward predecessor “Apocalypse Suite” and dialed things up to 11. Essentially, “Dallas” was a time-travel story that focused on the young Number Five character who, with his ability to time-travel, had gone to the future for a very long time, becoming an aged man in his 60s, only to return in the present inside his young body. He was now an old man who had seen the worst of futures stuck in the ageless body of a boy.
Haunted and troubled, we saw Number Five in a motel, watching a prostitute monkey dressed as Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” Now, in “The Umbrella Academy” universe, monkeys are evolved beings that also live out in the world along with the humans, but even that couldn’t make this now iconic scene any less weird. This was a clear sign that “Dallas” was going to be much different than “The Apocalypse Suite,” and we would have to wait until the last issue of the series to get some answers about this scene.
14. THE PHOENIX WITCH
“The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys” was a limited series from Dark Horse Comics co-written by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon and illustrated by Becky Cloonan. It served as a sequel to the album “Danger Days” by Gerard Way’s band My Chemical Romance and the videos they had made for their singles “Na Na Na” and “Sing.” The comic brought a lot of what had already been established in the album and in the videos, but it also brought some new elements along with it.
Key among those new additions was the Phoenix Witch, a sort of personification of Death, a new spiritual wrinkle in this sci-fi dystopian world that Way had created. Before her appearance in issue #5, she was more of an idea, a story told from one character to the next. But then we actually got to see that she was real. With her coat of fur, her bandages, her white mask and her shopping cart, she floated an inch above the ground, collecting masks left for her — something close to the soul, so that she could help bring them home.
13. GOD IS A COWBOY
One of the Umbrella Academy kids, The Séance, has the power of telekinesis, the ability to project his spirit and even speak to the dead — as long as he doesn’t wear any shoes. It only seemed natural then for such a spiritual yet agnostic character to come to die and find himself in Heaven in the pages of “Dallas.” But there were no clouds there, no bright colors or angels, no cloak-wearing God with a luscious beard. Instead, he discovered that heaven was a desert and that God was a cowboy.
Arriving on horseback, God introduced himself and The Séance was accordingly unsure of the veracity of the cowboy’s claims. However, he knew it to be true. Not without his own special words of wisdom, God went on to tell The Séance that he couldn’t stay in Heaven, partly because he didn’t like him very much. Adding that the devil wouldn’t take him in either, he sent him back to the world of the living. This was a quiet, more introspective moment that played on the popular expectations of what Heaven and God are generally supposed to be, and yet somehow in this off-kilter world, we just went along with it.
12. TERRY NONE INTRODUCES HERSELF
The ending of the first issue of the new version of the “Doom Patrol” introduced us to a new secondary character in the form of Terry None. In an issue that was already pretty heavy on the strange and the questionable, we were given a whole new set of weird when Casey Brinke’s roommate answered the door. Terry then proceeded to perform a song and dance number to celebrate Casey’s birthday, a number which ended with Casey’s roommate exploding in celebratory confetti.
Only it wasn’t Casey’s birthday. And no one had hired Terry. She had just come to help out, unannounced and uninvited. While neither women mourned the sudden departure of the confetti-splattered roommate, Terry instead invited herself to be Casey’s new roommate and the two proceeded to become friends. We don’t know what Terry’s story is as of yet, and we have no idea how she made a man explode into confetti. But then, this is all just another day’s work at the Doom Patrol.
11. THE EIFFEL TOWER ATTACKS
“The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite” was the first comic book to be published by Gerard Way. From Dark Horse comics, it told the story of seven children born with super-powers who were brought together by a rich and mysterious man to save the world. While that seems like an approachable premise on the surface, the series turned into so much more than that thanks to Way’s writing and Gabriel Bá’s wonderful art. First in line to convince us that this book wasn’t going to be your standard superhero comic was the opening scene of the first issue.
In fact, after a quick prologue, the series started with the Eiffel Tower going berserk and attacking its citizens, first by pushing them off of it down to their 300 metre-deaths and later by unleashing deadly rays. The Umbrella Academy children arrived on the scene to punch the Eiffel Tower into submission, and we discovered that not only was the tower being controlled by a villain named Zombie-Robot Gustave Eiffel, it was also a spaceship. And with that, “The Umbrella Academy” was at the top of our reading lists.
10. HAZEL AND CHA-CHA
With so much of the story of “The Umbrella Academy: Dallas” revolving around the character of Number Five and his trip to the future, we came to find out that in his old age, he had come under the employ of the Temps Aeternalis, an agency whose sole purpose is to protect and preserve the time stream thanks to the work of their agents. Key among those agents are two mask-wearing, sugar-crazed killers by the name of Hazel and Cha-Cha, who are dispatched to retrieve Number Five.
These two characters are never seen without their colorful smiling masks, something that only adds to their creepiness. They love to eat pie, red licorice and Girl Scout cookies just as much as they enjoy torturing and killing people. Often seen covered in blood, Hazel and Cha-Cha are the ones responsible for The Séance’s torture and death, something that also led to them coming into possession of some very nifty nuclear weapons that only led to the destruction of the planet itself. Nothing less.
9. DESTROYA RETURNS
Both in the “Danger Days” album and the early issues of “Killjoys,” we heard mentions of Destroya, a robotic god that all of the droids of Battery City believed in. They foretold his return to the city, an act that would bring freedom to these robots, freedom from their oppressors at BLI Industries and from the limits of the city that powered them. We would hear crazy rambling from broken droids on the streets, calls for help, shouts for Destroya to come and save them.
Little did we know that this Destroya was a real robot, an earlier, giant model left powerless in the desert outside of Battery City. Once his head was discovered by the prostitue droid Blue and brought back to life (read: power), Blue brought the giant robot back to the city so that it could fulfill its mission. Destroya may have only been an old robot created and then discarded by BLI Industries, a creature seeped in reality with a tangible and explainable background, but the mysticism surrounding the character as well as his shocking return convinced us that he truly was godlike.
8. A GOLDFISH COMMANDING OFFICER
As Number Five revealed what he had been through when he traveled through time in the pages of “The Umbrella Academy: Dallas,” we came to learn more and more about the Temps Aeternalis, the agency dedicated to the preservation of time itself. This agency employs killers like Number Five and Hazel and Cha-Cha to eliminate anomalies or targets so that time may remain uncorrupted, to correct things that had gone wrong in the time-continuum.
One of the Commanding Officers of said agency is a super-intelligent goldfish who goes by the name Carmichael. This fish leads the Temps Aeternalis, and he is able to talk and walk around thanks to a specially designed body that has an aquarium for a head. It is a design that is fondly reminiscent of something you would find in the pages of “Hellboy and the BPRD.” But make no mistake, Carmichael is absolutely ruthless and nothing will stop him from getting the job done.
7. JUST WHAT IS NILES CAULDER UP TO EXACTLY?
Every now and then, over the course of the first five issues of the “Doom Patrol” series, we have seen interlude pages that veer from the main story with Casey and Robotman. Small, unusually quiet scenes that show us Niles Caulder, the founder of the Doom Patrol, doing… Niles Caulder things. These interludes always start with a title panel, and we see Niles either playing a piano, riding a hot-air balloon — as a mountain with his face looks up in wonder — working on a new robot design or keeping tabs on Casey Brinke.
These scenes all benefit the series in a wonderfully weird way, as these issues that bring with them confusion and wonder are added a new wrinkle with every new Niles Caulder scene. There seems to be a pattern to his actions, something that will lead to him helping the team he founded so long ago. But for now, we can’t help but look back on these scenes and search for some hidden meaning. After all, his keyboard did play the sound of a fly… and flies have a history with the “Doom Patrol” under famed writer Grant Morrison’s pen.
6. DANNY MEAT
Danny The Street is already a very strange character, one that has been a part of the “Doom Patrol” series for a long time. As his name suggests, he is an actual sentient street. He can talk and move around from city to city, bringing happiness to the weird and lonely people he takes in. He also served as the Doom Patrol’s headquarters for a time. But after suffering so many hardships, Danny left the world and decided instead to create his own. His own streets, his own structures, and his own people.
However, a race called the Vectra then kidnapped Danny — who had taken on the form of an ambulance — and took all the people he had created in his own world for the sole purpose of grinding them into meat, a meat that they could then sell for a strong profit to compete with a rival food chain company. In an absolutely gruesome scene, Casey found her ambulance, broken and tortured into producing more people for the Vectra’s meat grinders. It was a truly horrifying, crazy and gasp-worthy moment in a series already filled with craziness. And yet somehow, it all made sense.
5. VAMPIRES AND GIANT MUMMIES IN THE VIETNAM WAR
In an attempt to find their brother Number Five in the past, Umbrella Academy members Spaceboy, Séance and Kraken time-traveled back to the sixties, but they arrived years in advance. Stuck in a time that wasn’t his own, the battle-hungry Kraken joined the US army to take part in the Vietnam War. But this war was very different from the one historians are familiar with. Not only were monkeys fighting alongside the U.S. regiment, but the Vietcong were also quite different.
In the jungles of Vietnam, emerging from their spiderholes, the Vietcong were screeching, clawed and fanged blood-thirsty vampires. Kraken’s only hope for victory laid upon a plan to use an ancient mummy, a symbol that he hoped could help broker peace. But instead, that ancient mummy woke up, turned giant and started shooting energy from its eyes. This was all presented to us as a part of history that the characters were aware of, and not a deviation of what was supposed to be. Simply put, “The Umbrella Academy’s” version of history was quite different.
4. THE WHITE VIOLIN’S MUSIC BRINGS A PIECE OF THE MOON DOWN
In “Apocalypse Suite,” Vanya, one of the Umbrella Academy children, had always felt neglected by their adoptive father and was never allowed to actually participate in their super-heroic antics. This was due to the fact that she seemingly didn’t have any powers of her own. Harboring a lifetime of anger and resentment, as a an adult she was recruited by The Orchestra Verdammten to become their ultimate weapon of destruction. As it turned out, Vanya wasn’t without powers. In fact, she was the most dangerous of all her siblings.
After being experimented on, brainwashed and transformed by the Orchestra, Vanya became the White Violin, a powerful villain whose music could destroy everything in its path. As she played the Apocalypse Suite to bring an end to the world, her siblings in the Umbrella Acadamy managed to stop her, but not before her music, as powerful as it was, managed to break off a piece of the moon that fell straight to Earth. As finales go, this one was up there with the greatest and craziest, and the series went on to win the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.
3. THE GIRL FREES BATTERY CITY
“Killjoys” was a story of good versus evil, a story of a city controlled by an evil corporation, and of the young people who would fight to set it free. It was a story about legacy, respect and belief. But more than anything, at its core, it was a story about growing up. About accepting one’s role in the world and moving towards it. The Girl — the nameless main character of this story — did just that when she walked into Battery City and used the power inside of her to detonate a bomb that freed all of the souls trapped inside the city’s electricity.
These souls belonged to the departed, the people who had died and been transformed into mindless, obedient hunter drones — the Draculoids — by BLI Industries. With the corporation defeated, the city was freed, but the Girl wouldn’t stay. Now that she had played her role, she was ready to move on, to grow up. “Killjoys” is a fascinating and engrossing read that is only made richer by the musical genius that is the “Danger Days” album. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and go get both. You won’t regret it.
2. CASEY BRINKE’S ORIGIN
Ever since the start of the new volume of “Doom Patrol,” Casey Brinke was our gateway into this very strange and colorful world. She was our window character, the one who asked all the questions we did and who reacted accordingly to all the crazy stuff that was happening around her. She wasn’t without her quirks or confusing moments, but we just chalked that up as a byproduct of the book. What we didn’t know however, was how much of an actual product of this book Casey Brinke really was.
In fact, while Casey was inside Danny’s world, it was revealed, through the very meta use of Danny Comics, that Casey had actually been created by Danny as a comic book superhero to entertain the people of his world. But as Danny grew more powerful, he brought her to actual life, the first superhero he was able to create. He revealed to her that she had powers that she could use, and that it was time for her, this new character, to join the Doom Patrol.
1. THE MURDER OF JOHN F. KENNEDY
All the pieces of the puzzle came into place in the final issue of “The Umbrella Academy: Dallas.” We had come to learn that Number Five, while he was working as an assassin for the Temps Aeternalis, had gone against his orders and prevented the death of president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, at Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. We also knew that Hazel and Cha-Cha had come into possession of a dangerous nuclear weapon that led to the explosion of the Earth in the present.
But as it turned out, this nuclear weapon had only come into existence thanks to J.F.K. still being alive. And so, the Temps Aeternalis’ job was in fact to ensure the failure of this older version of Number Five, and to allow J.F.K. to die so that the world could be saved. While most of The Umbrella Academy members couldn’t sign off on this turn of events, their sister Rumor, who was under threat by the Temps, secured her place aboard J.F.K.’s automobile. With the power of everything she says coming true, Rumor simply stated what she knew to be true, and thus led to the death of the most famous president in U.S. history. Bang.
What is your favorite moment from Gerard Way’s comic books? Let us know in the comments!