Doom Patrol review: The Cult of the Unwritten Book reenacts comic panels


Doom Patrol brings upon the end of the world. Well, sort of. They didn’t cause it, but the writers did revive the comic apocalypse.

“Puppet Patrol” clearly foreshadowed this week’s episode of DC Universe’s Doom Patrol, and the ultimate end of the world (don’t worry, we trust the team will retcon the apocalypse). The series used the momentum from the familiarities in Fuchtopia’s puppet show to enact Grant Morrison’s Puppet Theater arc, as well as the moments leading up the to the Cult of the Unwritten book’s televised debut.

Apart from truly embracing its comic book origins, Doom Patrol is strongest when it is interweaving simultaneous threats — big, small, and apocalyptic. Apart from building the team’s dynamics, even while they’re separated, the series finds time to displays its beautiful world building in Nurnheim.

Doom Patrol (1987) #33. Photo Credit: DC Comics.

Drawing refreshing inspiration from the Doom Patrol (1987), specifically #31-33, “Cult Patrol” resurrects some classic Cult of the Unwritten Book characters, from the Hoodmen, the Decreator, and even the living book (Elliot). It’s a weirdly nostalgic experience to see a comic-based end of the world arc come to life on any screen. It’s also pleasant as a fan to see Doom Patrol finagle with the original narrative to create new side conflicts and plots that worked with the 1987 comic’s tone. Even with the unexpected but very much appreciated changes to the team dynamic and the arc, it still plays out as the classic introduction to the Decreator.

Doom Patrol (1987) #33. Photo Credit: DC Comics.

Doom Patrol isn’t timid and loves to take risks even amid a pre-apocalyptic narrative. That presents itself best with the way the series juggles complex relationships between the characters, as well as their own. Though the comics painted Cliff and Jane as more amicable during this same arc in Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol (1987), the series takes a new approach to Cliff and Jane’s complicated journey to their ultimate friendship.

Doom Patrol (1987) #31. Photo Credit: DC Comics.

Jane felt safe with Cliff, despite her traumatic past. However, Paraguay’s bloody fight scenes made her think she couldn’t trust Cliff, because to her (and Hammerhead) his fighting was senseless —without reason. But Jane’s internal turmoil is for a reason — caused by the trauma in her past. From her perspective, there’s no reasoning behind Cliff’s rage and violence in Paraguay or otherwise.

The episode adds more context to Jane’s issue with Cliff by portraying his anger as less likely to tame, unlike her underground system that acts as a system of checks and balances for her emotions and traumas. To her and her alters, Cliff seems like a threat now, hence why some other alters have temporarily taken over Jane’s duties as the main personality. While the conflict between Jane and Cliff isn’t necessarily in the same timeline as this comic arc, that still doesn’t prevent Doom Patrol form showcasing dozens of Easter eggs and comic book parallels.

Doom Patrol (1987) #31. Photo Credit: DC Comics.

Just like we’re grateful the series didn’t turn the glowing blue horse head from Doom Patrol (1987) #31 into a bloody mess by the end of Willougby’s sing-songy chat with it, we’re also glad to see the series continued its rhythm with its almost artful fight scenes and special effects. From Victor’s arm cannon, Willougby’s firey sword, and several carefully choreographed fight sequences against the Decreator’s nearly innumerable henchmen, the series makes this supernatural and pocket-dimensional story even more fun.

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The world building in Doom Patrol “Cult Patrol” is unreal, in the most surrealistic comic-booky way. While the team still hasn’t figured out the secret pathway in the ominous snowglobe (as seen at the end of the episode), we’re sure to see more mayhem, more living comic panels, and more of the Decreator.

New episodes of Doom Patrol  are available on DC Universe every Friday at 9 a.m. ET.