January 11, 2012

Review: Doom Patrol: Musclebound

Who knew that a minor character from a Grant Morrison storyline would prove popular enough to have his own miniseries? That's what happened with Flex Mentallo, the "Sensational Character Find of 1991" alluding to the Simon Bisley cover artwork showcasing his origin, who along with Robotman, still has some lasting connections to Morrison's run on Doom Patrol.  Doom Patrol: Musclebound collects Doom Patrol issues 42 to 50 showcasing the Flex Mentallo/Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E storyline. Overall, readers will enjoy a wide glimpse of the amazing and strange stories from Morrison's run on Doom Patrol.

Flex Mentallo was first featured as a minor character living out his now-mundane life on the sentient being known as Danny The Street.  Danny The Street was an actual living street who could teleport anywhere and blend inside urban dwelling.  Mentallo was originally known as "Mr. Elbows On The Table", a quiet figure living out his remaining days challenging anyone to arm wrestle him.  Subdued by the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E, Mentallo has no memory of his past life. It's only during a battle with the Doom Patrol and the Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., that his memories come gushing back.

Together with the Doom Patrol, Mentallo must stop a plot deep within the Pentagon, to rid the world of eccentricities, uniqueness and individuality. Mentallo made cameo appearances in issue 35 which is not collected here. Despite the general tone of oddness within most of Morrison's storylines, I found this particular one to be one of my favorites, featuring a tale of government conspiracies ("Why is the Pentagon, the shape it is?") and coverups.  Fans of X-Files will probably enjoy this arc but it's unfortunate that the preceding issues featuring the buildup were not featured.

The rest of the stories that follow the Flex Mentallo storyline are really forgettable.  Even the Simon Bisley cover artwork which is fabulous most of the time, gets a bit stale with certain issues.  There's a Niles Caulder/Chief solo story with him battling the "Beard Hunter". Also included are Cliff Steele and Crazy Jane's solo adventures, also begin the underlying attraction between both characters that unfortunately was never really featured during Morrison's run. Readers will also see the beginnings of the second formation of the Brotherhood of Dada in the latter issues collected.  This new group is a radical departure from the first incarnation that the Doom Patrol first encountered during their new formation.  Whats interesting to note, is the Brotherhood storyline focuses on an anti-establishment theme that counters the Flex Mentallo storyline.

Selected cover artwork by Simon Bisley collected in Musclebound

I think it would have been best not to include most of stories featured in this collection, considering the latter issues have no real tie-ins to the Mentallo storyline. However, it does provide readers with a broader range of the entire Morrison run on Doom Patrol.  With Doom Patrol: Musclebound, Grant Morrison dazzles readers with interesting concepts that will just amaze you. From the Charles Atlas-themed origin to little subtleties that tie and connect it altogether at the end, Musclebound will not be disappoint readers with the fall and rise of Flex Mentallo and his attempt to save world from mediocrity!

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