June 22, 2010

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Doom Patrol Volume 2

Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Richard Case and others
Vertigo

The short version is that this is one of the best comic runs in history, especially considering the time period it was written in. Alan Moore may have been doing great work with Swamp Thing, but it was great work within a more conventional framing. This is just weird shit, plain and simple.


Continuing the adventures of the DC Universe's strangest team, Grant Morrison picks up where he left off in the weirdness department, introducing a new set of enemies for the Doom Patrol, the Brotherhood of Dada. Yes, that's right, the Brotherhood of Dada.

See what I mean?

The Brotherhood, made up of villains with really weird powers (such as a germophobe that has every superpower you didn't think of), steal a painting that can absorb whole cities at a time (hence the title of this volume) and completely baffle the JLA. Enter, quite literally, the Doom Patrol. Filled with playful absurdist humour, stunning artwork by Case that shows off a range of drawing styles, and a danger only the Doom Patrol can solve, this first arc shows that Morrison is really hitting his stride, writing exactly the type of story he set out to do. My personal favorite line is about how one character, hiding in South America, is stuck reading magical realism all the time. It's little lines like that which make Morrison great.

Once that's over, we move inside Crazy Jane's head for the best story in the collection. Robotman must risk his own sanity to help her recover from the events of the fight within the painting. Dark and yet absolutely perfect, this is a moving story that makes this trade worth it alone.

Finally, with some changes to the team, the Doom Patrol must help a John Constantine wanna-be stop the un-g-d from destroying the world. The un-g-d, by the way, was created when G-d made the sun and created a shadow, His opposite number. (How does Morrison come up with these things?) Worshiped by a cult, they must read the book to free him, which just so happens to be printed on a human being. Can they get past Morrison's veritable army of silly creations (a fingerprint-faced Armon Zola type creature that talks in anagrams, for instance) in time? Well, that would be telling. There's so many interesting and creative ideas going on here (soul kites, Hiroshima Shadows, etc.) that it's a wonder one man can think of them all, and makes me even sadder that Seven Soldiers didn't work.

There's also a one-off with Robotman versus Robman's brain, but that's so inferior to what comes before, it's a shame to end the volume on it.

You simply have to read these things, they're just that good.