Rita Farr is being disposed of by Retconn for straying from the script. Elsewhere, Milkman Man (still an awful name even as a joke) is torturing Cave Carson when his eye arrives with the Doom Patrol, the JLA, Wonder Woman, Batman, Shade the Changing Girl, and Mother Panic. A fight ensues between the group and Milkman Man, who is backed up by the bovine stormtroopers of Retconn. Meanwhile, the executives of Retconn continue to give their Prime Earth sales pitch to Lord Manga Khan.
The interim issues between this Doom Patrol/JLA Special and the previous JLA/Doom Patrol Special improved on “Milk Wars.” As you might remember, I was no fan of the JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1. It came off as a very self-satisfied comic with delusions of metanarrative cleverness.
Unfortunately, Doom Patrol/JLA Special—this naming convention is stupid and deliberately confusing, by the way—is the same level of self-satisfied and deluded as the original.
I can’t remember the last time I brought this up, but comic books that build metanarratives about comic books should have something clever to say or a point. Eternity Girl #1 had an interesting premise at the core of its metanarrative. Deadpool and Harley Quinn—though I am no fun of either—are at least supposed to be funny.
The Doom Patrol/JLA Special seems to have nothing of interest to say about with its metanarrative. It takes potshots at its publishing company, DC Comics, but there is no apparent point being made. Rita Farr is literally crucified with nails wearing the DC Comics logo. However, there is nothing behind this provocative imagery. It only seems to be provocative imagery for the sake of provocative imagery.
The closest the comic comes to any sort of emotional engagement or worthwhile message consists of two points. Casey Brinke’s moments with her son, Milkman Man, were somewhat touching. The Ray reminding Robot Man that, even if he is a fictional character (ugh), he is still important to someone.
Those moments are badly drowned out by the endless metanarrative references, a scene of someone leaving a coffee stain on a Multiversity map, Retconn trying to detonate reality, and our heroes literally inflating into blimps.
There is also the lettering during the Rita Farr segments, which is ridiculously small and painful to read. Even Luke Cage’s subpar lettering was a little better than that.
Dale Eaglesham’s artwork is the highlight of the comic. It’s oddly realistic compared to the art in the other issues of “Milk Wars,” but it still looks great. It’s offset by Nick Derington’s more cartoonish art in the epilogue, which does admittedly fir the overall story more. Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise’s color art is fittingly bright and wild throughout. The art holds together better than the narrative by far.
Metanarratives can be interesting, but they have to mean or do something, otherwise you’re just breaking the suspension of disbelief for no reason. Doom Patrol/JLA did that. I could not begin to be engaged with this story. The moments of emotional resonance were view. Eaglesham’s artwork at least made the pages look good, but it couldn’t make up for the utter nonsense drowning out anything resembling a coherent plot. Stay far from this one. Give it a hard pass.
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