Doop was introduced to the Marvel Universe in the pages of Peter Millgan’s run on X-Force. A floating green potato with bulging eyes and a vid-cam, he was somehow simultaneously sinister and cute, and spoke in a language that few could understand. This was signified with specifically designed characters, but they match the English alphabet with the code revealed here. Now go back and check what he actually said in X-Statix!

A dozen years after X-Statix became the mutant zeitgeist for the new millennium, Milligan returned to the character he introduced as a background visual whimsy. He toys with the form by taking Doop’s role as a background character literally, establishing that he can slip between the margins of the story being told. That story is Battle of the Atom, a convoluted X-Men tale involving time-travel and how messing with it has consequences, although it’s not necessary to be aware of much more than that.

Also revealed here is Doop’s previously unknown crush on X-Person Kitty Pryde, but that soon devolves into a plot involving Doop’s mother, a thoroughly unpleasant and controlling type.

One doesn’t step into a Milligan comic without expecting to encounter the surreal, and Doop’s previous appearances pointed the way. However, unfettered Doop and unfettered Milligan doesn’t really work in a comic that’s nowhere near as funny as intended.

The early stages are illustrated by David Lafuente, who is talented enough to depict the off-kilter aspects of Doop’s existence, but whose figurework is decidedly odd, particularly Kitty Pryde’s pointy nose. As the story continues, though, there are increasingly also pages by Frederico Santagati, altogether unappealing with a surfeit of lines. The one appealing aspect throughout is the vivid flat colours supplied by Laura Allred. Mark this one up to a brave failure.