BooksOfTheMoon

Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Mystery

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 3 stars

I’m not sure where to even start with this incredibly meta-fictional tale. Flex Mentallo was, as far as I know, first introduced in Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol, where he was revealed to be a fictional creation of a small boy, brought to life by psychic powers. In this collection of a four issue mini-series, he finds the calling card of his old friend (and fellow crime-fighter and fictional creation, who wasn’t brought to life) The Fact. This should be impossible, but as the story progresses, it appears that nothing is impossible in this world. Interleaved with this story is that of a rock star on the phone to the Samaritans who may, or may not, have taken an overdose and be dying, while rambling about comic books.

As I said, the whole book is a musing on meta-fiction as well as superheroes and cynicism, wrapped up in a Morrison-esque bundle. Short, weird but enjoyable (as long as you know what to expect). And for those who want to think in more depth, there’s the Annotated Flex Mentallo.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401232214
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2002

Doom Patrol, Vol. 6: Planet Love

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 4 stars

I wondered at the end of the last volume just how Grant Morrison was going to get himself out of this one and at the end of his final volume, I’m full of admiration for the man as he not only did extract himself cleanly from the cliffhanger at the end of the previous volume, but continued to create a marvellous finale to the story and end it in a satisfyingly Morrison-esque manner.

Restored from backup disk by Willoughby Kipling, Cliff, Dorothy and Kipling race to try and destroy the Candlemaker before he destroys the world, reuniting with Jane and Rebis in the process.

It’s the end of the main storyline that packs the most punch, with Cliff having to go back into the data matrix to disable the nanobots that threaten the world. We are never entirely sure what happens after that. Do the team emerge intact? Is Danny the Street still with them? Or are they all just manifestations of Cliff trapped in the matrix? I know which I’d prefer to believe, but Morrison deliberately leaves it open.

A great end to Morrison’s run on the World’s Strangest Heroes.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401216245
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 1992

Doom Patrol, Vol. 5: Magic Bus

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 4 stars

This is very much a book of two halves. The first half continues with the strange, almost whimsical, feel that has characterised Doom Patrol up until now. The first story finishes the story of the reformed Brotherhood of Dada and the Doom Patrol’s attempts to stop them, while dealing with internal strife. The second is a hilarious Stan Lee/Jack Kirby-style re-imagining of the Doom Patrol, complete with imaginary references to previous issues. The third story is a very odd one that follows Rebis as ze follows through zir reproductive cycle on the moon.

The second half of the book takes a more sinister and darker turn as the chief finally unveils what he’s been working on, shattering Cliff’s world in the process, and a monster from Dorothy’s psyche is unleashed. By the end of the book you’ve been put through the wrangler and it looks like the Doom Patrol is done for.

Both halves of the book work well independently, but when you put them together, they do jar a little, and I especially feel the second half to be somewhat out of tone with the rest of the series. I’ll be interested to see how the final volume can salvage anything from the wreckage.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401212025
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2007

Doom Patrol, Vol. 4: Musclebound

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 4 stars

I’m really not sure where to even begin with this. Volume 4 of Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol takes us through the secret origin of a muscle-bound superhero from previous volumes, the appearance of someone who may or may not be Satan, the reappearance of a new new Brotherhood of Dada and, possibly best of all, a lone vigilante who is the best at what he does. And what he does is hunt beards.

Bizarre, funny, sometimes feeling a little like it’s being weird for its own sake, like other stories in this series, this volume does, however, still very much entertain.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401209995
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2006

Doom Patrol, Vol. 3: Down Paradise Way

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 3 stars

I’ve enjoyed Morrison’s run on the Doom Patrol so far, but this one stretched my patience a little. It’s probably the weirdest volume yet and it’s not so much the strangeness that I found wearing, but the lack of coherence. While Danny the Street is a charming conceit, I’d love to learn more about him (it?) and his relationship with the woman he comes back to at the start. I’d like to know why the leader of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. appears to have a laugh track running in the background of his home and why he values ‘normalcy’ so much that he wants to kill Danny (and, eventually, the Doom Patrol).

I probably enjoyed the second half of the book better, where we have Rhea Jones waking from her coma, except running around naked with no face and with an eye growing just above her chest (not a spoiler, it’s on the front cover), and being kidnapped to take part in an alien war. Incidentally, disturbing chest-eye aside, I can’t help feeling that Rhea’s lack of clothes served no real plot purpose other than to portray a curvy lady.

The antagonists of the war that the Doom Patrol get involved in are very interesting and I thought that plot was done well, but it did come at the expense of any sense of closure of the Danny the Street plot.

I’ll keep reading, but I’m more wary of the Morrison factor now. Oh, and I found the prologues at the start of each issue tantalising and irritating in equal measure, as they’re setting stuff up, but there’s no hint of where they’re going with them, never mind any resolution whatsoever in the whole book.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401207267
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2005

Doom Patrol, Vol. 2: The Painting That Ate Paris

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 4 stars

Volume two of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol run sees things start to get really odd. This volume sees them first going up against the Brotherhood of Dada, the only villains that approach the Doom Patrol in strangeness. After they escape from the titular painting that ate Paris (part of the Brotherhood’s plan to make life ‘weirder’), Robotman has to go into Crazy Jane’s head to save her and then he has to cope with mutiny: from his own body! Possibly my favourite (or at least, most WTF?) moment was the kiss between Mallah and the Brain which came completely from nowhere!

I definitely enjoy the strangeness of Morrison’s Doom Patrol, which is entertaining, but not ramped up to saturation point, where it just gets wearing. There’s still recognisable story here and even recognisable traditional superhero tropes, but all just a little squint.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401203429
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2004

Doom Patrol, Vol. 1: Crawling from the Wreckage

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 4 stars

My roleplaying group has just started a superhero campaign and the GM handed out some graphic novels to get people in the mood. I borrowed this very odd volume. I’ve read other Grant Morrison so came to this with a degree of wariness (The Invisibles is a little too odd for my tastes) but ended up really enjoying it. The book starts with the Chief, Prof Niles Caulder, putting the Doom Patrol back together after previous events that I don’t know about. The Doom Patrol’s defining feature is that its heroes are ‘defective’ in some way. Robot Man is a human brain residing in a robot body with barely any human senses; Crazy Jane has a multiple-personality disorder, with each personality having a different superpower; Rebis was formed by joining a man, a woman and a strange spirit-thing; Dorothy is a teenager with a Neanderthal’s face and who can project her inner consciousness into the physical world. The most ‘normal’ member, Joshua, who can shoot energy beams from his arms, has no desire to be a superhero and stays back to provide medical assistance where required.

Once he pulls himself out of his depression, mostly to help Crazy Jane, Robot Man proves to have a sharp wit and cracks great one-liners (“sorry about the writing, robot fingers, you know?”), and is the de-facto leader of the Doom Patrol as they face a city that’s trying to break out of fiction into reality, with pretty damn scary Scissormen literally cutting people out of reality. And after that, they have to deal with someone with a penchant for pain who may or may not be God. “Strange” merely scrapes the surface of what this is. But not so strange (so far, at least) that I get freaked out and leave it behind (*cough*The Invisibles*cough*). I’ll certainly be asking to borrow volume 2 soon.

Book details

ISBN: 9781563890345
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 1989

We3

By Grant Morrison

Rating: 4 stars

Think “The Incredible Journey” with cyborg animals, surface to air missiles and lots of violence. I really liked this graphic novel. It’s short, not very wordy, but there’s a lot to it. It’s definitely something that I’ll be re-reading. There’s a lot of warmth between the animals which sharply contrasts with the humans and you really find yourself hoping that these incredibly dangerous cyborg animals (a dog, cat and rabbit) escape.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401204952
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2005

Powered by WordPress