Friday, March 25, 2016

I was reading comics in 2008, right? How'd I miss this?

The Doom Patrol. Flash. Metamorpho and the Challengers of the Unknown. Mark Waid and George Perez? Why the ever-living hell didn't I buy the Brave and the Bold #8 back in 2008? Tell me! Oh, and inks by Bob Wiacek, who's also pretty great.

This month, the Challengers of the Unknown are still trying to wrap their heads around the Book of Destiny; while Wally and Linda West are looking for help for their kids, Jai and Iris. They had their dad's powers, sort of, and were unstable: I think they'd only been around a year or so, yet in the best soap-opera tradition were already 10 or 11. But there's help Wally is reluctant to take, from Dr. Niles Caulder, the Chief of the Doom Patrol. Wally thinks the Chief is creepy, and appearances and testimonials seem to back him up: he lives in a creepy castle, doing creepy experiments with his creepy super-team, and Beast Boy didn't speak too highly of him, either. (While this is set in Flash's then-current continuity, Waid takes a sort of traditionalist take on the Patrol; their next series was still a year out.)

Flash's kids take to the friendly-too-friendly Rita, but then get spooked by her stretching, and run smack into Robotman, then Negative Man. The subsequent brawl rubs Flash the wrong way, but he is placated a bit by a friendly visiting freak, "the one and only" Metamorpho! (That statement may not have been true...)

Over dinner, Linda accuses the DP of enjoying scaring the kids, what with radioactive mummies and visible brains. Iris is observant, and more unnerved by the constantly smiling Rita: Wally points out she's overcompensating.

I had a hard time getting a read on the Chief, here. Is he planning some experiment for his own goals, or is he genuinely trying to help and protective of his "freaks"? His procedure to use Metamorpho to stabilize the kids for a scan goes awry, though, when Metamorpho disappears midway through! (I think there's a clue there, though; that may have tied into the most recent run of Outsiders, but I could be wrong: it may also have been Waid and Perez trying to justify getting rid of those curlicues added to Rex.) The Chief gives Wally the choice of which child to save with Robotman's alloy body, but thinking fast Flash uses Negative Man to save Iris.

The kids are saved, or at least not killed, and the Chief rather uncharitably puts the accident on Metamorpho, who left a mysterious clue: the word "Megistus" etched in the rock. The Flash family, distrustful and scared of the Chief and the Doom Patrol, leave in a hurry. Later, Wally admits to Iris that while he was thinking, he did choose one child...and the guilt eats at him. I have to say, on this re-read, I'm siding with the Chief. The Flash family may have their problems, but the Doom Patrol are living with brutal trauma, if with a morbid sense of humor about it. I would ask Cliff not to take his brain out at the dinner table, though.

Arrgh, I have a couple of these issues: we checked out #13 last year, but #12 would be the conclusion to this Megistus storyline!


SallyP said...

Oh, this is a great book. Terror and hilarity all mixed together. Wally and Linda trying to ride herd on their kid's table manners just cracked me up... as a mom, I've been there.

I am glad you found this!

Mr. Morbid's House Of Fun said...

Yeah I really should track down this run as well, especially this issue, 'cause everyone speaks highly of Waid/Perez's 2-year B&B run.

"I sincerely apologize you chose to react this way." Oh Chief, never change.
Personally I think Wally and his wife overrated here. Sure the Chief's an apologetic asshole, but the rest of Patrol were just having fun with the kids, Cliff in particular. Goddamn this makes me wish Waid was allowed to write his own DP series 'cause I'd read that motherfucker in a heartbeat!