June 24, 2010

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Doom Patrol Volume 4

Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Various Artists
Vertigo

Doom Patrol gets back to being good again in this fourth collection. Morrison brings the team back down to earth to add a new and versatile member while we learn the secret of Flex Mentallo. It seems that there was more to those ads at the back of old comic books than we thought there was. Meatime, a plot intro from volume three flames up as a sinister organization from within the US Government threatens to destroy reality as we know it by the use of--telephones? Not if the Doom Patrol can help it! As a quick breather, we get a solo story about a man who dislikes beards, along with some interplay between Cliff and Jane. But the lull won't last long--the DP must fight off yet another foe who wants to infect our minds--Shadowy Mister Evans. Things change all over for the team as they try to beat him--with just a tip of the cap to a Superman foe--and the next thing we know, the whole world is ga-ga for the...DaDa!

There is a lot--and I do mean a lot--going on in this series of issues. Morrison ramps up his insanity factor and throws plot lines all over the place. What is Niles working on? What secret does Dorothy hold in her mind? What's going on with Crazy Jane? Just what in the hell is Rebis, anyway? We of course get answers to none of these things, but what we do is absolutely mind-boggling amounts of weirdness. What makes this weirdness even better is that a) it all makes a strange kind of sense and b) the little jokes and puns are slipped in without seeming to dominate. Who can argue with making a superhero out of a comic book ad, for instance? Or a being that brings lust wherever it goes that has to be stopped by the Sex Men?

I could try to write up all my favorite touches, but I think it's better for you to experience them in the book itself. Suffice it to say, no matter how strange it all gets, no matter how many new foes Morrison dreams up, he always manages to find a way to keep the story moving. There's still plot, but it's buried in magical artists, dreams, and talking clocks.

Then of course there's the Dada. Such a wonderful grouping of turn-everything-on-its-ear that gets aided by a bit of drugs, they return with a bang and look to be set for another grand confrontation. As if the original band wasn't strange enough, Morrison actually writes up more of them to bedevil poor Cliff, the only person in this book who, metallic body aside, appears to be normal. He is the reader's anchor, and when he says, "Maybe they're right," we should all give pause to think.

I love this book and everything about it. You should, too.