Yesterday, I raved about how Adventure Comics lived up to my lofty expectations. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
Last week, I read The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I'm a fan of Del Toro's films, and Chuck Hogan has apparently won awards for his mystery writing. (I thought I had read good reviews of his novels, as well as comics by him, but I was confusing him with Charlie Houston, I only just realized.) Unfortunately, this book, the first of a trilogy, wasn't particularly good.
To me, it reads like the treatment for the first act of a movie. It's 401 pages long, and not only does nothing really happen, but the characters are almost nonexistent. Only one is really fleshed out to two dimensions, and he's still not that interesting. I can see that if the characters were played by charismatic actors, and the action was unfolding visually on the screen instead of being described--sometimes in excruciating detail--on the page, this could be the first third of a cool movie. Instead, it's a fairly uninvolving opening installment to a prose trilogy, and there's not really enough there to make me want to read part two, a whole year from now.
Also a bit disappointing--though nowhere near as much--was the first issue of Doom Patrol from DC Comics. I've been a Doom Patrol fan since the 80s, through all its various permutations. I was particularly looking forward to this one, because it features the original characters, and it's written and drawn by creators who I like. And it is very pretty, and the characters are fleshed out more than those in The Strain.
Unfortunately, it's not a particularly good first issue. It opens at the tail end of an adventure that doesn't seem very well set up, and the rest is follow-up on the consequences of that adventure. I didn't feel as if it really established the current status quo for the team so much as it expected me to already know it.
I get that I'm not always going to be completely up to speed on every comic book character, because I don't read every comic. But if any issue of a series should help the reader get caught up on background and current events for a character, it should be the first one. I felt as if this would be an effective second or third issue, but as a "welcome back" for the Doom Patrol, something felt missing.