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(Due to personal situations, I am unable to provide a post of my own today, but pal Dorian has stepped in and graciously allowed me to post his appreciation of one of the finest issues of Grant Morrison’s wonderful Doom Patrol run. Take it away, Dor!)
I wish to tell you all about one of my all-time favorite comic books: Doom Patrol Vol. 2, # 34, by Grant Morrison and Richard Case.
So one day, Monsieur Mallah and The Brain decide to attack their arch-enemies, The Doom Patrol, in their secret headquarters in suburban Happy Harbor. The Brain, for those of you who don’t know, is a super-intelligent criminal mastermind’s brain, kept alive in a jar. Mallah is an inexplicably French-talking communist gorilla. Here’s their introduction into the story:
Meanwhile, back at DP HQ, Cliff Steele, aka Robotman, who has the amazing power of being a brain artificially kept alive in a robot body, has been experiencing unexplained mechanical difficulties with his latest body. In short, sometimes his body refuses to obey his commands. While they work on the problem, the other members of the DP have taken Cliff’s brain out of his body and placed it in a jar hooked up with a microphone and a speaker so that he can speak and hear whats going on around him. Then they decide to take the afternoon off and leave Cliff’s brain alone in the jar for the rest of the day.
It is then revealed that the cause of the malfunction is that the robot body has developed a kind of sentience of its own, and now resents having a squishy piece of organic matter telling it what to do. It rebels, demanding its freedom, wishing to let its ID run rampant without any of that pesky EGO telling it what to do. To wit:
And then, Mallah and the Brain arrive. They decide to steal Robotman’s powerful robot body and use it as the Brain’s new body. Since frankly, he’s a little tired of just being a brain in a jar. A titanic battle ensues in which Mallah attempts to subdue Robotman’s body, and Brain fights Cliff.
Shortly, Robotman’s body has been disabled and Mallah places the brain in the robot. And words that have longed to be spoken finally are:
And so, they kiss. And get blown up. Because Robotman’s body placed a bomb inside itself, set to go off if anyone tried to put a brain back into it and deny it the freedom to enjoy an irresponsible, thoughtless existence.
And Cliff is left to try to make since of it all, which he does in the only way he can:
This comic has everything. Humor, homosexuality, and a serious examination of the eternal philosophical question: “Which rules, the mind or the body?”
So of course, comic book fans, being what they are, react thusly:
But I don’t care, because any comic book that gives us not only a gay gorilla, but the Brotherhood of Dada, a super-heroine with MPD (each personality has a different power), and the use of the word “this” as a swear, can’t be bad!
(Hi! Mike, again…if you want to Read More About It, may I recommend more Morrison Doom Patrol goodness, courtesy David Fiore? [EDIT: LINK DEAD])
Just announced from DC Comics…an 80 page trade paperback reprinting Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s Sebastian O. It’s due in July, priced at $9.95. Yowsa!
1. In trying to find some Super-Turtle information for Rose, I came across the Henry Boltinoff Hall of Fame Gallery which contains tons of scans of Mr. Boltinoff’s fill-in strips for DC Comics. Alas, though Super-Turtle is mentioned in the introduction, no S-T strips appear to be reproduced here. There is an index of some Super-Turtle stories here (down near the bottom of the page) if you want to try to find the original comics.
2. The Existentialism of Charlie Brown. (via pal Andy)
3. After buying the Dr. Doom/Thing Marvel Mini-Mates set on a whim, I find myself oddly compelled by these strange little things. I would really like to see a Galactus Mini-Mate…wouldn’t that be neat?
4. For no good reason, here’s a page with pictures of Kenner’s Swamp Thing toy line. (Personal aside…years ago, a manager of a local toy store gave me the “Official SWAMP THING Toy Headquarters” sign that tied into these toys. I keep meaning to put it in one of my front windows, just to annoy the neighbors.)
As I was pulling out my Cerebus collection to begin, someday, the Great Cerebus Re-Read Project 3000, something about issue #300 kept bugging me. Spoilers ahoy, if you haven’t read the entire series:
Okay, so if Elrod was, as it was revealed around issue 170-180 or so, not an actual person but some kind of magical extension of Cerebus that Cerebus inadventently created, wouldn’t Elrod’s appearance in Cerebus’ afterlife vision in #300 imply that 1) something’s fishy about this particular afterlife, or 2) Cerebus is simply imagining the whole thing? (Or, I suppose, there’s a third possibility…that Cerebus’ creation had enough of an independent will to generate a soul for itself that could make the transition into the afterlife.)
Boy, heady stuff for something that began as a parody of Windsor-Smith’s Conan.
Neil Gaiman points to this cute cartoon about the origins of Vertigo.
It’s hard to believe that DC’s Vertigo line and massive bookstore presence (which, in turn, opened the way for other graphic novels, arguably including the current U.S. manga boom), plus the successful careers of several writers (including Gaiman), can all be traced back to DC hiring a little known British writer to take over a failing revival of a short-lived 70s horror title.
Text on poster is as follows:
FOR CRIMES AGAINST REASON
Doom Patrol writer Grant Morrison is accused of the following unnatural acts:
- Corrupting the minds of impressionable comics readers
- Altering DC characters beyond recognition
- Twisting a nice, wholesome superhero book into his own bizarre personal nightmare
Previous offenses: Animal Man, Arkham Asylum
Those unfamiliar with Morrison’s outrageously surreal writing should pick up the subversive Doom Patrol immediately.
But use extreme caution – weirdness can be addictive.”
This is an official DC Comics promotional poster, dated 1990. I was going through some old boxes of stuff we had stored away in the back room and found this treasure.
I’m amused by the fact that the things DC trumpeted as Morrison’s virtues on this poster are pretty much the same things said by comic book message board Morrison-haters. You know the type: “ew, it’s weird and and I don’t understand it, therefore it’s bad.”
And yes, those are lamps coming out of his head. I believe this is the “light bulbs = ideas” metaphor made literal. God bless Grant Morrison.
To wrap up my week-long tribute to Dave Cockrum, I give you another illustration of Cockrum’s beloved X-Men character Nightcrawler. I’m sure we all wish Mr. Cockrum well, and, credit where credit is due, good on Marvel for helping out.
Special thanks to Tony Isabella for the nice mention of this site in his online column.
Submitted for your refusal…er, approval: another Dave Cockrum link, a page of live-action superhero photos (don’t miss the tattoos), and a great Lois Lane cover:
1. And the folly of attaching Free Comic Book Day to movie releases stands revealed. (via Fanboy Rampage)
2. Your Dave Cockrum link for the day.
For someone who said that he wasn’t going to be posting a lot over the next few days, I sure am keeping Blogger busy. Anyway, just wanted to pop in and recommend Temptation by Glenn Dakin, out from Active Images in that new-fangled trade paperback format. Only $8.95 a copy, it is, and well worth mowing an extra neighbor’s lawn or two to work up the scratch for it. Here’s a link to the publisher’s page for it, which includes a sample strip.
I remember reading these several years ago (either in Honk! or Centrifugal Bumblepuppy, or maybe both) and I’m glad I now have a whole slew of them in one place. Good stuff!
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