Part 2 of Crawling From the Wreckage gives us an even stronger sense of what Grant Morrison’s all about, even if we have to do a little homework to suss it out.
The hospital in which Larry Trainor was being cared for by Dr. Eleanor Poole is now the home of something new and different. Niles Caulder and Joshua Clay are on the scene.
Here sits what once was Larry Trainor, fused with Eleanor Poole and the Negative Spirit. It’s not mere decoration that the Tarot card The Lovers is on the wall behind, as we’ll delve into in further issues.
When the Chief asks if “Larry” remembers him, he is answered with a quote from the 1974 movie “Penda’s Fen” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJmrsRtCYxg). This issue came out in 1989. If you hadn’t seen Penda’s Fen, you’d have no idea what’s being said here.
“Rebis” is an alchemical term, referring to a joining of spirit and matter. I won’t waste time here going into it; there’s enough online to sate your curiosity. Simply know that Morrison’s got alchemy in mind with the Rebis character.
Neither Joshua nor the doctor get it, and see this is some kind of tragedy. Caulder, however, is intrigued. He re-enters Rebis’s room to find that indeed, what used to be Larry’s body has been transformed to a hermaphroditic state. Caulder offers Rebis a spot on the Doom Patrol.
Meanwhile, Will Magnus discusses Cliff’s ongoing work with Crazy Jane. As he’d hoped, Cliff has become absorbed with working with Jane’s unique issues and has stopped feeling sorry for himself.
He also vows to build Cliff a newer, better robot body. Later for that.
We meet Driver 8 (presumably named after the REM song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OSG7YQBKCE)), one of Jane’s… well, she doesn’t like the term “personality”. Essentially, the Jane body is controlled at any one time by one of 64 different personas.
Driver 8 pilots the train that runs through the Underground, which is where all of Jane’s different persons live when they’re not actively manifesting.
We get mentions of a few other persons within Jane. And it’s notable that where other writers might make the castrate line the focus and punchline, Cliff himself deflates it with a comment.
As it’s not my purpose to show every single panel of a given comic, we’ll skip ahead now to where Cliff overhears a voice down the hall.
Richard Case draws some fairly creepy things. This Scream-like visage of Jane, with its empty eyes and horribly gaping mouth, will always haunt me.
But as it turns out, there are other things for us to fear.
The Scissormen are Grant Morrison’s adaptation of the German children’s book “Struwwelpeter” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struwwelpeter); specifically, the Tailor from The Tale of Little Suck-a-Thumb.
Their speech patterns are based on spell-check and the writing practice of forming coherence from randomly-assigned words. David Bowie was famously fond of using this scheme to construct many of his songs.
Strangely enough, the Scissormen’s appearance is the least creepy “villain” appearance Case will draw in this series.
Morrison has a good ear for the halting cadence of language, and he uses it very effectively to introduce disturbing things.
Like the good doctor here, whose extremities are no longer in our reality. Nor, apparently is the back of his head. See, the Scissormen’s scissors don’t just sever matter; they sever reality itself.
Richard Case does an amazing job of turning Cliff’s normally impassive robot face into a horror-struck mask of dread.
What in the hell is happening here? These are victims of the Scissormen. They’re no longer part of our reality, yet they still manifest in these empty, fleeing negative shadows.
You know how there’s that one person in your life who you never see upset or scared or freaked out? And then one day you DO get to see it, and it’s the most frightening thing ever?
With the Scissormen come a wide range of anomalous phenomena around the globe. This is no isolated incident.
The lack of affect on the Tailor’s face here is the scariest thing in this issue.
Holy cats, what’s gonna happen next? Find out this Friday, for Unearthed: Doom Patrol #21, Crawling From the Wreckage Part 3!