Some Early Grant Morrison - All Week

DOOM PATROL #28, DC Comics, December 1989
That Grant Morrison book only makes me want to cover the same series it does, and it's none too difficult for me since I'm a Morrison nut anyway. The man changed my comic book reading experience with two books in particular: Animal Man, which I've discussed before, and Doom Patrol. Man, do I love his Doom Patrol.

A superhero hero comic with the sensibilities of Jorge Luis Borges (one of my very favorite authors), how could I not love it? It totally flipped me out. Take #28, for example: The Doom Patrol vs. the Brotherhood of Dada.

In one corner, Morrison's version of the DP:
*Cliff Steele, the guy you know as Robotman: A human brain in a mobile jar (literally a "total amputee"), he's the "everyman" of the team, the one you identify with (I'm not kidding).
*Rebis: Half-man, half-woman, and with a negative energy being trapped inside of "hir", Rebis is... I don't know what Rebis is.
*Crazy Jane: A girl with multiple personalities... 64 in fact... EACH WITH ITS OWN POWER! That's insane, and it's pure Morrison. But not as insane as...

The Brotherhood of Dada:
*Mr. Nobody: Their leader, a man who was never noticed, so isn't really there at all.
*Frenzy: A kind of Jamaican wind elemental with bicycle wheels on his back.
*Sleepwalk: A girl with incredible strength, but only while she's sleeping.
*Fog: A sentient mist that eats up souls, but then has to contend with their nagging.
*and my personal favorite, Quiz: She has every power you haven't thought of yet. Here's how you fight this icon of radness:
My brother and I had this thing where we would imitate Quiz's obsessive-compulsive cries of "Dirty Dirty!" around the house (hi Dan!). We're not right in the head, that much is clear.

And where does this battle take place? Inside the Painting That Ate Paris!
The Doom Patrol get their asses handed to them inside various artistic visions of the City of Lights. Futurist, photo-realist, surrealist, impressionist (sorry, fauvism only in the next issue).
It's a delightful idea, and the kind of thing that could only come from the mind of Grant Morrison. Now that they've destroyed Paris, trapped Justice League Europe somewhere in the Rob Liefeld section of the Painting, and beaten the Doom Patrol, what is the Brotherhood going to do? Quoting directly from Mr. Nobody's agenda:

"Paint faces on Superman's bare bottom!"
"Use Batman as an ashtray!"

These guys are totally my kind of crazy!


De said...

I remember seeing the Brotherhood in the loose-leaf Who's Who and thinking this is really weird. When I took a global history course with an emphasis on philosophy and discovered Dadaism for myself, I realized I had to start finding Doom Patrol back issues tout de suit.

It was fun trying to figure out the changes Morrison had brought to the book. Even today, I'm still trying to figure some of them out.

Siskoid said...

Callahan makes a good point in the book that Morrison actually brought it back to its origins, namely that each member represents some of his or her era's great anxieties, but of course, the change in era changes everything.

Classic DP: Robotman (mechanization), Negative Man (atomic energy) and Elasti-Girl (anorexia).

Morrison DP: Robotman (disconnectedness), Rebis (sexual identity) and Crazy Jane (mental illness).

JdR said...

I've always looked at early Doom Patrol as Morrison's high point. Perhaps because it was so new and unexpected. Everything since then has been, well, great but unsurprising.

Nik said...

While I've loved almost all Grant's work, Doom Patrol and Animal Man together were like the first time the Beatles took LSD for me -- blew my mind open at the age of 17 or so, made me realise what comics could do, and I ain't been the same since. The first 10 issues or so of Morrison's run are just some of the craziest stuff I've ever seen, and impeccable.


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