When DC Comics relaunched Doom Patrol with Gerard Way and Nick Derington, all preconceived notions of what the series would be went out the window. Historically speaking, each iteration of the Doom Patrol is rather far removed from the one preceding it in terms of rosters and tone, the only constants being perpetual weirdness and Robotman, of course.
Way and Derington's Doom Patrol, however, tried desperately to stitch the previous versions of the title together to make it all jibe. They were largely successful but, over time, lost a bit of narrative focus. Thankfully, that focus is regained with Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1.
Don't let the title fool you, this is the 13th issue of the series Way and Derington kicked off. The series has been fraught with delays between issues, so the renumbering on the cover is a smart move. It's a good way to signify the start of a new arc and to entice new readers to pick up the book.
However, despite this being a continuation of where we last saw the team months prior to this issue's release, there is a renewed sense of purpose and excitement on the page which truly warrants the "#1" shine on the cover. That's not to say you shouldn't read what came before this but if you dive into Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1 with zero context it doesn't soften any of the weirdness (as mentioned before, it is perpetual).
This issue begins with Cliff Steel questioning the merits of his own fictional existence after downing a copious amount of Taco Bell in a scene that feels ripped right from the Morrison and Case era of Doom Patrol. The Robotman moments are surprising sparse, but they are quite effective. Within the first few pages Cliff asks a fellow teammate who had to deal with similar quandaries, "Do we have souls?"
The question goes unanswered, suspended in the air like a balloon losing helium at a languid pace. Creation, be it written in blood or ink, is inherently soulful. Robotman's query is an untouched loose thread that could unravel issue after issue of centrifugal exploration on how art shapes the world we live in by creating worlds we can only dream of. This could be another Promethea. But, Way and his co-writer Jeremy Lambert never turn that stone over. The metafiction of Doom Patrol is treated as par for the course writ large.
That's where the other side of this issue comes into play. While Cliff reconciles with his humanity and fabricated existence, the rest of the team are back to business as usual, doing good where only the most bizarre team of superheroes can. We'll avoid spoilers here -- the rest of the team's adventure reads more like an unpublished Douglas Adams or Robert Sheckley story, blending head-trip scenarios with humor and real (albeit often ridiculous) consequences. It's about as light as a Doom Patrol comic can get, but it works like gangbusters.
James Harvey is on art duty this time around and is doing amazing work. While Nick Derington certainly helped craft the tone of this iteration of the Doom Patrol universe through his art style, Harvey may have just elevated it. His style adapts to what's happening on the page. The Robotman scenes are drawn starkly and hearken back to early Frank Miller, but all the other-worldly team stuff is reminiscent of Silver Age Doom Patrol aesthetics and modern indie comics oeuvre.
It's good to have this team back and to finally see #13 of the series. Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1 is bold, funny, and has a renewed sense of purpose for the series. While this issue doesn't explore the more existential questions it sets up, those queries will most certainly lead to answers with interesting results somewhere down the line, especially if the final couple pages are any indication. Doom Patrol is a bit of an acquired taste, but if the spread Gerard Way has laid out looks enticing to you, it's worth digging in and never coming up for air.