“I just wanted to talk about the comics, see? All those shitty, amazing comics…”

Questions of our existence come at us from totally different angles. Sometimes we see them head on with a dramatic life occasion or by way of deliberate examine of Camus, Sartre, or Garfield. Other occasions they present up unannounced in unusual locations, like a confounding message on a public rest room stall door, the discarded stays of a half-eaten gyro, or a humorous ebook starring a Charles Atlas pastiche. This latter look occurring in Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Peter Doherty, and Ellie De Ville.

The character of Flex Mentallo first appeared throughout Morrison’s tenure on Doom Patrol. You needn’t fear about any of that (although I do advocate studying that run by itself), as this story is basically divorced from the DC Universe and his earlier exploits. Rather, this offers us a separate journey of Flex looking for an outdated hero, The Fact, and remedy a thriller of terrorist assaults that threaten existence. You needn’t actually fear about that both (although it’s nonetheless extremely entertaining to observe), as a result of that’s finally a car for ruminations on quasi-autobiographical experiences with comedian books through a comics creator (Flex Mentallo’s creator, Wallace Sage) who’s making an attempt to commit suicide, speaking right into a automobile cellphone, in an alleyway.

We’re again into certainly one of Morrison’s favourite motifs of manufactured actuality, although right here it’s probably certainly one of their most concrete expressions of it. Although there’s a bleakness, a sense of a world falling aside, it eschews the cynicism of The Filth and as a substitute presents hope popping out of a dying world of superheroes and the ability of creativeness. Similar to what would come later with the fantastical Joe the Barbarian. Even whereas poking enjoyable at comics historical past, showcasing homages to Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns, and expressing an adolescent’s sexual awakening by way of superhero fetish gear and orgies.

All of it amazingly structured by way of the art work of Frank Quitely and Peter Doherty. Quitely is certainly one of my favourite artists general, however I feel there’s a preciseness and a deliberate method to how he’s visually telling the story in Flex Mentallo that actually elevates the work. It’s not simply the gorgeous web page and panel layouts that pay homage to the sooner comics works, it’s additionally the character designs that hearken again to Justice League and Justice Society characters, the change between his regular fashion and a less complicated “cartoon” fashion for Wallace Sage’s artwork, and the general crowd scenes that actually make this shine. Much like Doherty’s colours, which stability between the darker, extra somber points of Sage’s life and the intense, hopeful colours of Flex Mentallo and the superheroes populating the world.

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It’s fascinating how the disparate components of Mentallo’s thriller are tied collectively to Sage’s suicide, each visually and thru Ellie De Ville’s letters, giving us a blended case font for Mentallo’s narration bins, whereas taking an all caps method for the dialogue and Sage’s bins. The latter persevering with the look of what you’d count on from a superhero comedian.

Flex Mentallo from Morrison, Quitely, Doherty, and De Ville is one other constructing block in direction of The Invisibles and The Filth, rising out of Doom Patrol, however nonetheless standing by itself as an interesting have a look at how a comics creator can finally create and form the universe. All packaged in a tidy little thriller of a muscle sure man making an attempt to thwart a shadowy group.

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Classic Comic Compendium: Flex Mentallo – Man of Muscle Mystery

Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
Colourist: Peter Doherty
Letterer: Ellie De Ville
Publisher: DC Comics / Vertigo
Release Date: May 6 2014 (Deluxe Edition)

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