Thursday, March 22, 2018

Doom Patrol

Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol Volume 2 (1990-1991/ Collected 2016): written by Grant Morrison; illustrated by Richard Case, Vince Giarrano, Malcolm Jones III, Mike Dringenberg, Doug Hazlewood, Steve Yeowell, and others: Grant Morrison's early foray into American superhero comics after about a decade writing for UK publications remains its brazen, pomo self all these years later. C-List early 1960's DC superhero team The Doom Patrol offered Morrison the chance to play fast-and-loose with superhero conventions for both comic and dramatic effect. 

Original Doom Patrol member Cliff "Robot-man" Steele remains mostly unchanged, except for his professed level of angst about being a brain in a robot body. And team leader The Chief is still here, wheelchair-bound and pre-emptory as ever. Tempest remains from the brief late-1970's revival of Doom Patrol, but he mostly confines himself to being team medic. Negative Man is now a hermaphroditic hybrid of man, woman, and negative-energy being that calls itself Rebis. Little Dorothy struggles to control her ability to make her dreams becomes true, or at least solid. And Crazy Jane juggles 64 personalities, all of them with different superpowers. But she's integrating them!

This volume introduces Charles Atlas-comic-strip-based superhero Flex Mentallo ("The Man of Muscle Mystery!"), a creation of satiric wonder invested with a poignance based on the ephemeral nature of childhood dreams and visions. A loose plot thread from Paul Kupperberg's previous run on the title is tied up in weird, space-opera fashion. 

The Sex Men, the Men from NOWHERE, the Shadowy Mr. Evans, and the Brotherhood of Dada threaten our heroes. The Chief goes solo against The Beard-Killer in Morrison's hilarious parody of macho comic-book heroes like Wolverine and the Punisher and the sadistic macho monologues of pretty much any hero written by Frank Miller. The volume ends on a bit of a cliffhanger -- the Brotherhood of Dada shows up, but the battle awaits in the first couple of issues collected in Volume 3. Onwards, Absurdist Soldiers. Highly recommended.

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