Nov 16, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 30 - Doom Patrol: Magic Bus

I enjoyed reading this just around the time of the 2016 American Presidential Election.

Vote for Nobody, indeed.

The return of the Brotherhood of Dada is wondrous. It's been a while, though it never seems like it in trade, since we've seen Mr. Nobody and his bunch of dandies - well, Nobody's back; the dandies are different.

One of the most fantastic things about Morrison's run on this series is the artifacts he creates. James Robinson picks up on it slightly a few years later in Starman, but Morrison's weird little corner of collectors in the DCU isn't seen again after his departure from the series. In the lead story in this volume, we're witness to the manic magic that is the Bicycle of Albert Hoffmann, possessed of psychedelic energies ever since Swiss chemist Hoffmann rode it home while accidentally tripping on LSD.

Which Nobody uses to power a psychedelic bus that travels the U.S. tripping out whole cities.

And then there's the Aenigma Regis. I seemed to see more this time. Maybe next time...

Jane's back story. Brutal.

And then that last issue. This is where Morrison blew my mind. Y'see, in tracking down all the issues of this run, I'd been side-collecting the rest of the Patrol's titles from across the years. And I'd come to know and care for the characters. So when "The Nature of Catastrophe" dropped, I was stunned. It' so good.

But back to Magic Buses and elections. An interesting thing happens as Mr. Nobody begins campaigning for President. Not only do members of the public flock to him, but when Cliff says the Patrol should stop him, both Jane and Rebis decline. They don't feel that he's a threat. And in many ways, he's not. Cliff does point out that Nobody isn't giving anyone a choice about living inside the Painting that Ate Paris, and in taking away that choice, he was in the wrong. But the others see him as a way to really change things, to shift life into a new paradigm. Much of this series is about that. The posthuman experience doesn't have to exclude we humans.

As I near the end of reading through this series, I really can't recommend it highly enough. I was chatting with a friend about it the other night, and this is Morrison taking on superheroes in a raw kind of way that we don't see in his later superhero work. JLA is full of big, amazing ideas, but it shies away from the inherent strangeness of the genre. It's amazing writing, but it's definitely conservative superheroing. Doom Patrol is anything but.

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