Doom Patrol #21

For this iteration of "Doom Patrol," this is the penultimate issue. It's only fitting that this issue would turn the spotlight over to Cliff Steele.

Keith Giffen set out to introduce new characters and concepts while simultaneously reminding the comics reading populace of how wonderfully quirky the Doom Patrol can be. In doing so, Giffen offered up a set (this issue completing the set) of three profile issues. Those issues closely investigate the members of the Doom Patrol, but still allow the story of this series to move forward. This Robotman-centric issue is, without question, the single comic in the history of the Doom Patrol that contains the most dialogue from Cliff Steele. It also connects the dots between the various iterations of the team and Cliff's place with each. Being the second character in the history of the DC Universe to bear the moniker "Robotman," we learn of the connection between Cliff Steele and Robert Crane.

As Giffen has done all the way along, the larger DCU plays into this series as much as this series plays with the DCU. Will Magnus is here, as is Super-Hip and General Immortus. Giffen doesn't stop at simply giving us a Doom Patrol history lesson here. Giffen provides some wry humor, and also makes Steele a character worthy of our sympathy.

The art for this issue is the standard-order patchwork we've come to expect over the past year-plus from this title. Matthew Clark and Ron Randall split the issue, but not necessarily evenly. Clark gets some great scenes, as does Randall. Each artist makes the most of their moments, but Randall has a few moments I would have really loved to see from Clark's pencils, such as any of the team flashback splash pages. Randall's a competent artist, but Clark has a quirky flair in his work that hits this title pitch perfectly.

As far as stories go, this issue of "Doom Patrol" has quite a bit going for it as Cliff Steele is set upon his introspective journey by an old foe who may pose as a temporary ally. If I didn't know that the next issue is the scheduled final issue, I would expect that Giffen is building an epic tale here. The end of this issue is rife with drama, and the promise of next issue's great adventure has me anxious for more, no matter how bittersweet that may turn out to be.

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