EXCL. PREVIEW: Marvel's "Darth Vader" #9 Puts the Sith Lord at a Crossroads
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to comics from one decade. This week’s decade: the 1960s! Today’s page is from Doom Patrol #105, which was published by DC and is cover dated August 1966. This scan is from DC’s Archive Edition (volume 3) of Doom Patrol, which was published in 2006. Enjoy!
Doom Patrol was a fun, bizarre comic book even before Grant Morrison got his hands on it, and this splash page is a good example of it. It’s by the regular team of Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani, although I can’t find a colorist or letterer for this story. In the previous issue, Rita Farr – Elasti-Girl – married Mento, hence the “Honeymoon of Terror” of the title.
Drake leads off the story with a text box, in which he catches us up. Elasti-Girl has gotten married, and “married girls don’t have time to fool around with death rays and flying saucers or floating brains,” but then Drake undermines that statement by asking “or do they?” Unlike a typical comic book of this time, Rita has no intention of giving up her superheroing with the Doom Patrol, which is a source of tension throughout this issue (it’s the last issue of the collection, and I don’t have Volume 4, so I don’t know how Rita’s marriage resolves). Drake does a nice job setting up the status quo and implying what’s coming. He also gives readers a good idea of the weirdness contained within, what with the mention of “floating brains” and all. But in this issue, the bad guy is Mr. 103 (he can control all the 103 elements, which is humorous because later he got upgraded to Mr. 104, as another element was discovered), and Drake tells us that at the bottom of the page.
Premiani’s three-in-one splash page is very cool, showing us how Mr. 103 (John Dubrovny) can change his shape at will. All of the villain’s appearances are angled toward the bottom of the page, where we see Beast Boy (I don’t know why he’s purple), Elasti-Girl, Robotman, and Negative Man. Premiani does a good job with Dubrovny as a wooden glider on the left and as a man made of “jellied gasoline” on the right, but I love the image of him as a “human energy transmitter” in the middle. The rays emanating from him anchor the entire page, keeping us within his orbit, and the “face” is terrifyingly human even though it’s made up of metallic parts. Premiani wisely keeps his “body” indistinct except for his freakish hands, which are simply wires with caps on them. It’s a superb image, and Premiani was smart to keep it in the center even though, in the story, the fiery Dubrovny comes first, then the glider, then the robotic version. There’s a lot of action on this page even though it’s a splash page designed to introduce the story, and we can see how overmatched the DP is. Very nice work by Premiani, and a good inducement to turn the page and find out what the heck is going on!
Next: More Doctor Strange? How much can we take? Ditko’s version from a few days ago wasn’t the first time we’ve seen him, as you could discover in the archives!
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