Take one very chaotic (being nice here) legacy super team, mix in two issues of event crossovers, one guest artist, and blend on high until smooth. That's what this issue is: smooth. The Doom Patrol concept clicks into place here. To this point in the series, the conceits and generalities of the Doom Patrol concept have been present, but this issue brings it all together.
Rita realizes that she's been a bit of an airhead, Cliff finds his inner resolve against his former outer shell, and Larry puts on a display of power the likes of which are sure to have some more developments for the Patrol in future issues, like the next one.
Justinano's art is gritty and creepy - a perfect match for the Oolong adventurers and their deceased foes. The foes get a little more screentime in this issue -- save for Val Vostok, but her time on panel is, well, let's just say "explosive." Justiniano handles this book very well. I hope he remains in the bullpen as Clark's reliever. The two make a nice tag team.
This book continues to fearlessly blend in new concepts with established characters. For example, in this issue, Caulder refers to the "Science Squad" meaning the collective of mad geniuses who call Oolong home. Front and center on this squad in this issue is Ira Quimby - also known as I.Q., who sets the wrap-up of the "Blackest Night" crossover into motion.
Giffen handles the "Blackest Night" crossover delicately. In these pages, the encounters with the Black Lanterns are loud and gory, but the conclusion to the Black Lantern story doesn't happen here. Apparently it'll happen back in the main pages of "Blackest Night." To be sure, some readers will cry foul over that decision, but in doing so, Giffen focuses on the Doom Patrol and their dead demons and closet-based skeletons. Rounding out the Doom Patrol part of this title is a teaser page that is handled like a movie poster. A nice fun way to wrap up this issue and entice temporary Doom Patrol readers into coming back next issue.
The Metal Men backup continues the story of the Clique and their rampage against humanity. This segment is loaded for bear. It is a dense read, but a humorous one, from Mercury's dedication to "Douglas, Robot Hunter" to Iron's pop culture references. This installment is penciled by Tim Levins, of "Family Dynamic" and more recently, "Batgirl" #4. While he's not Kevin Maguire (and really, only Kevin Maguire is Kevin Maguire), Levins does a great job with this story. He has a very good grasp of the Metal Men and jams an astonishing amount of detail into these pages.
This issue ends without closure and teases of things to come. While this might normally bother me (and certainly other readers) a bit, I find it to be invigorating here. I am enthused at the prospect of the next issue, and hopeful that this tie-in might lead more readers to appreciate this new incarnation of the Doom Patrol. Of course, I'm also looking forward to the pelicans, and hope they turn up next issue.