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67. “The Painting That Ate Paris” by Grant Morrison, Richard Case and John Nyberg (Doom Patrol Vol. 2 #26-29) – 153 points (3 first place votes)
After his excellent debut on the title with “Crawling Through the Wreckage,” Grant Morrison, along with artists Richard Case and John Nyberg, began pushing the boundaries even further with their second arc on the title, which introduces a fascinating new variation on the longtime Doom Patrol foes, the Brotherhood of Evil. The new group is the Brotherhood of Dada, and we see them trying to find a living painting. When they acquire it, it ends up, well, you know, eating all of Paris.
In the early days of his run, Morrison still had the Doom Patrol fairly well planted within the DC Universe, just a weirder area of the DC Universe. I always liked to see that contrast. We see it early in the story when the Justice League shows up to examine the missing Paris and the Doom Patrol similarly shows up and we get to see just how the Doom Patrol is viewed in the DC Universe…
Ultimately, the Doom Patrol and the Brotherhood discover that the addition of Paris into the painting has awoken a powerful and destructive force within the painting known as the Fifth Horseman. If it escapes the painting, it could mean the end of all life on Earth. So the Doom Patrol and the Brotherhood are forced to team-up to stop the Fifth Horseman (how they do is so is very clever).
The Brotherhood of Dada are such great characters. They end up staying behind in the painting even after the Doom Patrol saves the rest of Paris as in the end, it is not so much that they are villains as much as they are just outcasts, and while they cannot fit into the real world, in the painting they can create their own reality.
This was a wonderful follow-up to Morrison’s first arc, one-upping an arc that rescued the Doom Patrol from fading into obscurity. Case and Nyberg fit the book’s sensibility beautifully.
66. “Super-Human” by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and Andrew Currie (Ultimates #1-6) – 154 points (1 first place vote)
In the first story arc of the Ultimates, we are first introduced to Captain America during World War II.
When he is discovered almost 60 years later, he becomes part of the Ultimates, the United States government’s own superhero team.
Headed by Nick Fury, the team is quite dysfunctional – since Captain America’s disappearance, scientists have been trying to perfect the Super Soldier Serum that made Captain America, well, Captain America, and two of those scientists, Hank Pym and Bruce Banner, have developed other powers due to their work – Pym can grow to giant-size and Banner has accidentally created a monstrous being called the Hulk.
Along with Pym’s wife, Wasp (who can shrink – ostensibly because of Pym’s work) and the armored hero, Iron Man (who is a drunk), the Ultimates are not exactly taken all that seriously. A powerful hero claiming to be the Norse god Thor, refuses to join the group because he feels that they are just government lackeys.
When the Hulk goes on the warpath in New York City, the Ultimates have their first mission and, through the assistance of Thor, save the day, but not before many New Yorkers are killed.
In the epilogue to the first story, Pym takes out his frustrations on his wife, in a brutal scene of domestic violence.
There is not a ton of action in the first arc (the second story has tons, though), as Millar spends a lot of time establishing the various characters. However, there is also a lot of examples of “widescreen comics,” as Hitch uses the approach that made him famous in the Authority to great acclaim in the Ultimates – there are many breathtaking pages of art in this series, like the famous fight between Hulk and the Ultimates…
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