Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Again With the Comics is re-reading FLEX MENTALLO!

Flex Mentallo was a four-issue miniseries from Vertigo by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. It’s a stunning piece of work, and owing to legal difficulties with the Charles Atlas corporation, may never be reprinted. Flex was introduced during Morrison’s tenure on the Doom Patrol, and was an analog for “Mac” from that famous vintage funnybook ad “The Insult That Made a Man Out of Mac.”

Flex Mentallo was pretty much ignored when it was first published, but luckily, I was a DP nut, and preordered the series, nabbing this rarity for myself forever. Owing to legal and bandwidth concerns, I wouldn’t dare reprint the entire series, but I do want to give a sampling of this suppressed classic. Consider this a condensed version. Hopefully DC does reprint this book, because everyone should be able to have it. It's the cat's pajamas, baby!

Flex Mentallo #1:
In FM #1, we find Flex relaxing at the airport, people watching. His breakfast is ready, and he’s about to eat when suddenly: a bomb! Flex disarms the bomb with his powers of muscle mystery, but it proves to be a sham, a hollow shell. Flex takes the bomb to the police, and the Lieutenant shows him a drawer full of weird artifacts. One of the artifacts is a smudged green Fact card, the calling card of his onetime ally, the Fact. Flex theorizes that if he could manifest into the real world, so might the Fact. Flex sets out to find the mysterious crime fighter, and his investigation takes him to an abandoned school for boy sidekicks, and a cryptic conversation with the janitor, who advises him to check the railroad station. A parallel story runs throughout the series, featuring Flex’s creator, Wallace Sage. As a child, Sage created Flex Mentallo in a series of hand drawn comics, but as an adult, he’s a burnt out rock star attempting suicide, relating his thoughts on comic books to the Suicide Hotline operator as he dies. Sage is a substantially different character from the Wallace Sage shown in the Doom Patrol, which implies that this story is not necessarily in that continuity.

This one's for the ladies...and some of the gentlemen.

Crusty Lieutenant Harry is the shit. He's like a hairier, lumpier Ed Asner.

Morrison and Quitely scatter amazing, insane new characters and concepts like confetti throughout this entire four issue series.

I love the street people in this scene. Quitely does the best bystanders in the biz.

That's some great kinetic action on this page.

Coming soon...Flex Mentallo#2! Unless someone yells at me about this!


Spencer Carnage said...

I just read this recently. Absolutely fantastic stuff. Can't believe I was reading crap like X-men and Stormwatch when this came out.

Greg said...

DC is bringing out a trade of the Doom Patrol issues where Flex first appeared, so perhaps they have either ironed out any legal issues or just don't care anymore. Either way, that's good news, because it might mean a trade of Flex Mentallo. Too many people have been denied the greatness of this series, because the back issues are rare and expensive.

Brian Hughes said...

I was aware of the Doom Patrol reprints, but that should fly under the radar pretty easily. I think I read somewhere that a Flex Mentallo trade would be too expensive, too much hassle, or both to produce a trade that DC doesn't expect to sell well. I sure hope they do reprint it though - it would make mine less valuable, but I'm not selling anyway!