Week 7: It’s not all Doom and Gloom

Doom Patrol has been without a doubt my favourite comic we have studied to date. For me it felt like a totally new reading experience with the jarring plot changes/interlinks set in such a vibrant world with an ultimately feel-good message of self-acceptance. I wasn’t aware until the bin exploaded that there was actually another world within the burrito – so cool! I thought at first it was just non-sequitur or scene-to-scene transitions to another place irrelevant to the burrito.¬† What isn’t exciting about a fictional universe where worlds can exist inside a burrito?! The plot possibilities this sets up are so wild I find it super exciting!

We noted in class that a lot of the comics we have studied have been about self-acceptance and I think Doom Patrol takes this to another, more literal level. In Doom Patrol they don’t really ever define a normal, from the get-go with Terry None nonchalantly killing Casey’s roomate Doom Patrol asks the reader to accept and not question the parameters of normal. Although, there is definitely a difference between not questioning what normal is for the comic to being critical or questioning of characters/plots/motives etc. In fact, I think the pace of this first volume is greatly driven by the ambiguity and questioning of the world and Danny. If we compare this to comics such as Ms Marvel, the protagonist’s percieved norm is presented to us in the form of Zoe and then throughout the volume that Kamala rejects and redefines normal for herself (or that there is ‘no normal’). In Doom Patrol we see some but less explicit attention drawn to the strangeness of the world in which this is placed and as a result we get to see self-acceptance within and between multiple characters with a greater emphasis on the individuals journey to defining and accepting themselves.

Overall, I am really on board with the message of this comic and the expansiveness of this universe. In a similar way to Planetary I think it makes for a more immersive read when throwing us straight into the universe without a lot of set up – then revealing the origin stories as the plot progresses rather than separately publishing them. Doom patrol incorporates a lot of important messages in a way that is quite touching – I felt Jane’s acceptance of her mental health and admission that ‘healing is a collaborative act, not a relationship of control’ was particularly well done. I look forward to reading more of this series!

>> As a side note, is Doom Patrol just another comic in the original series of comics about Casey where she discovers she is a comic as part of the plot? – does that make sense as a question? <<

Week 6, Planetary: My brain hurts.

I would be lying if i said I didnt feel overwhelmed reading Volume 1 of Planetary for the first time…. or the second…. or the third. Reading Planetary forced me to pause after each issue and seriously think about what was happening and what it was representing (assisted by going down extensive internet rabbit holes – turns out there are some m a j o r Snow stans out there).

over my headGif of me entering my fifth message board to work out all the references in Planetary.

BUT once I had got to grips with Planetary and the characters I realised I loved the plots being contained to their own issue. It was refreshing to dive straight into the work of Planetary as an organisation and who the characters are, with my perspective of them being isolated in the present. Unlike with Black Panther where I felt like I needed to learn the rich backstory of Wakanda and T’Challa, Planetary is set up in a way that this isn’t necessary.

After the first unit of this module I thought I had a pretty good idea of how I defined ‘Superhero’ and had definitely broadened my definition from when I started this course. However, reading Planetary has made me re-assess this definition all over again. Yes, they have super-powered enemies (The Four), their overall goal is to help the Earth, protect it, and enlighten its citizens to some of the wonders of the universe(s). However, as Snow critiques, they don’t really do much to stop these bad things from happening in the first place…. and despite criticising The Four for hiding things from the world we never actually see Planetary share anything with the world either (although correct me if my memory is wrong here- a very likely possibility). I understand they are a secret organisation, and that to be a superhero you don’t have to recieve recognition to validate the goodness of your deeds. Furthermore,¬†following the consequences of Planetary’s actions on the everyday world would not fit into the single plotline per issue criteria but I can’t help but feel like I need more context to the implications of their actions for the ‘greater good’ in order to be able classify them as superheroes. I’m sure the answers to many of my musings regarding their superhero status lies in reading the rest of Planetary… for now I’m content sitting on the fence of this Superhero debate and reading all your blog posts to help me!