Nov 9, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 29 - Doom Patrol: Musclebound, 2006

Have I mentioned my love for Flex Mentallo before? I'm sure I have. This week's graphic novel collects the comics that really introduce us to Flex (unlike the brief intro in last weeks GN). A fictional character come to life, star of the Wallace Sage-produced My Greenest Adventure (Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol almost trumps Community as reference-humour reigning champ!), Flex's story introduces the villainy of the inhabitants beneath the Pentagon. Honestly, this depiction of how American politics works, coupled with the next volume and the "Nobody for President" campaign, makes more sense to me than it should. Political maneuverings and machinations have always seemed bizarre to me - it's nice to see that bizarreness taken to the Nth degree, and still seem to make sense, if you see what I mean?

Though this is a really great story, and introduces all sorts of wonderful conspiracy theory stuff that would find later, and more eloquent, expression in Morrison's The Invisibles, it's got a couple of things working against it. First, Dorothy's last-minute save, making a deal with a mysterious, be-candled figure, smacks of deus ex machina (not inappropriate for the story, mind you), and in hindsight seems really to be simply a set-up for the final, apocalyptic story line. I'm sure at the time, it didn't seem so, but reading with the benefit of knowing how the story goes makes it difficult to see this as anything but prelude. Second, another bit of hindsight, Flex goes on to star in a four-issue mini-series that I consider to be one of the greatest articulations of the superhero in the history of the genre. So while this Doom Patrol story has many merits, it pales in comparison to Flex's eponymous title.

All that said, Pentagon Horror story aside, we're reintroduced to the Brotherhood of Dada, or a version of it anyway, and the magical hallucinatory powers of the bicycle of Albert Hoffmann, discoverer of LSD.

It comes as no shock, I'm sure, how much I love this series.

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