This week the JLA and the Doom Patrol join forces, and we take a trip to the Motherlands!
JLA/Doom Patrol #1 (DC Comics)
DC’s “Young Animal” imprint has definitely stumbled in recent months. Crippled by delays and waning sales, the Gerard Way curated imprint has been overshadowed by other storylines within DC. But now that this month sees the Young Animal characters crossing paths with their DC pals, there’s hope that it will revitalize the fledgling imprint and restore it to the days of the start of the imprint. With the Gerard Way/Steve Orlando written JLA/Doom Patrol, the hope is that the ACO drawn special, which kicks off “The Milk Wars” storyline, is going to do just that. But is it possible to get new people onto the Young Animal train with so much baggage around the line?
Make no mistake; JLA/Doom Patrol is weird. That’s not surprising, I know, but after dropping the main Doom Patrol a few months ago due to the insane delays, it definitely takes some time to get used to the story, which finds the Doom Patrol entering Happy Harbor, Rhode Island and coming across Milkman Man, who looks an awful lot like Superman. At the same time, Lord Manga Khan is meeting with some weird corporation that can promise him control over all reality (I think).
So yeah, an easy entry way for new readers JLA/Doom Patrol is not. I suppose I was hoping that Orlando could maybe rein some of Gerard Way’s crazier ideas in, but that’s obviously not the case here. That being said, it is cool seeing the Doom Patrol together, something that still hadn’t happened when I jumped ship from the book. The moments they have together are a lot of fun, and it makes for some of the best moments of the issue.
ACO’s art has the same style you expect from the “Young Animal” line. It’s clean and smooth like Mike Allred, but also very weird. That dichotomy between the art style and what the art is depicting works well for this issue, and it’s nice to see ACO get a chance to show off, especially since I don’t remember the last time I saw ACO’s work in a regular comic.
While JLA/Doom Patrol wasn’t the book I was expecting (though it kind of was), I do think that “The Milk Wars” will probably read better in trade. At least that way you won’t have to fork over money and be confused with each issue, only to have it make sense weeks (or in the case of other YA books, months) later. If you’re a fan of Way’s previous work, there’s certainly enough of his weirdness here to make you happy, but if you are expecting something along the lines of say, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, then you’ll be disappointed.
Motherland #1 (of 6) (Vertigo)
What would happen if we were invaded by aliens, but the aliens weren’t from another planet, but humans from other alternate realities? That’s the premise behind Simon Spurrier and Rachael Stott’s Motherlands, a new Vertigo series that’s got some pretty great promise, but needs to focus its narrative a lot more.
Tabitha Tubach is a bounty hunter, except she’s not going after regular felons; she’s going after interdimensional targets. Content with getting by on her bounties, Tabitha continues to punch the clock, hunting down dirt bags and trying to ignore the fact that her mother was a world-famous (and infamous) bounty hunter when she was younger. But when her next target is her long lost brother, Tabitha may have to finally decide between her family and her job.
This isn’t Simon Spurrier’s first foray into independent comics, but you might mistake it for being that by this issue. Motherlands is full of a ton of really cool ideas, but they don’t really gel together in Spurrier’s script. His script does a good job of satirizing our current You tube star obsessed culture, but Spurrier forgets to add a compelling story until the final page. The flashbacks to Tabitha’s upbringing bring some necessary background info into her modern day life, for sure, but they also take up a huge amount of time in the book that could’ve been focused more on the modern day narrative, or Tabitha hunting down bad guys, which is the highlight of the issue.
Speaking of that highlight, Rachael Stott’s art is really solid, especially in the bounty hunting sequence. Stott has a real knack from dynamic panels and action layouts, and she uses it to great appeal in this sequence. Her figure work looks a little distorted in some panels, but for the most part this looks like a great showcase for her talents, and will hopefully lead to some bigger books in the future.
Motherlands is a book that unfortunately tries way too much in too little time. Of course, as the book comes out that may change, but for an opening issue there wasn’t a whole lot here that grabbed me. Your mileage may vary of course, so if you still feel like checking this out than do so. Just don’t be surprised if there isn’t anything that will blow you away.