Page 45 Review by Stephen
"They're going to... to exterminate imagination and... strangeness...
"They're building death camps for our dreams..."
A second frazzling feast of Grant's mind-melting, uber-arty psychohero series which now contains the original, thinner third and fourth volumes and includes litigation-sensitive Flex Mentallo's first appearance. You know those Charles Atlas adverts where the beech nerd gets sand kicked in his face? Flex is the end product.
On the whole, though, he reflects the saner side of the spectrum when you consider that the Doom Patrol's new team member is their own HQ: a sentient stretch of semi-detached housing called Danny The Street. With a penchant for Palare, he's pretty useful accommodation. Able to do his own dishes, cross-dress his own windows and teleport wherever he fancies, Danny's going to save a hell of a lot in bus fares. Quite good for rescue missions too.
If there's an overall theme to Morrison's tenure, it's constant metamorphosis: Rebis' initial merged state as man, woman and negative energy being, then eventual evolution towards the end; Cliff's constant robotic body upgrades (which here involves an enormous set of crustacean legs); Rhea's emergence as if from a cocoon as much as a coma; or indeed Crazy Jane's abrupt transfigurations as each of her sixty-four personalities with their own unique power vie for control of her body. And that's just the Patrol itself.
Then there are supervillains like Agent "!" in search of The Element of Surprise, Number None ("the person who bumps into you when you're late for the train; the chair that collapses underneath you when you're trying to make a good impression on your girlfriend's parents; that man who seems thin but somehow you can't get past him because he takes up the whole sidewalk...") and The Beard Hunter, a Punisher parody who's really a closet case unable to grow his own facial hair:
"You're thirty-six years old," scolds his mother. "Don't you think it's about time you had a girlfriend?"
"Well, I-I-I've got Shu-Sheba. Sheba. What's wrong with her?"
"Sheba's a German Shepherd, Ernest. I want grandchildren, not a police investigation."
One of the most outstanding scenes is a trip to his police station where all the bobbies are shouting "Mee maw mee maw mee maw" and the notices on the walls prove more ambitious that most:
"Wanted: The Shape Of Things To Come"
"Wanted: Light At The End Of The Tunnel".
The second half kicks off with Flex Mentallo having stumbled upon some unknown horror in the heart of The Pentagon.
"Why is The Pentagon the shape it is?"
"You might as well ask, "Who runs America? Or maybe you just did."
Also on offer this episode: The Kaleidoscape, the Anathematicians of The Mesh and The Tearoom of Despair. Meanwhile The Painting That Ate Paris has resurfaced in Venice, Professor Caulder's building something he probably shouldn't, Rebis is about to engage in sex with him/her/itself, and Dorothy... Dorothy really should tell the others what price she's having to pay in order to use her strange abilities.
Oh yes, there's also a war on...
"Why are they shouting at each other?"
"Because we have entered the Zone of Words That Kill. Now... Where's my dictionary?"