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Issue 31, "The Word made Flesh"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Richard Case

Summary:
written by Robert Kelly (bobek@rt66.com), edited by William Sherman (sherman@netcom.com)

In the beginning of this book, we are introduced to the pseudo- John Constantine, Willoughby Kipling. Kipling drinks all-the-time, smokes all-the-time, lies all-the-time, narrates the whole book all-the-time and has an insufferable ego all-the-time. But he's fun. He also a de-knighted Templar.

Kipling defeats some of the new weird villains of the world: the Cult of the Unwritten Book. The Cult is looking for the Book of the Fifth Window, which also happens to be a fifteen-year-old boy, but never mind that right now.

The Cult is made up of agents, assassins, fools, thingies, and old fables-gone-violent. We meet, and see destroyed, Fear the Sky, three blokes with stellar objects for heads and blood on their shoulders. They end up getting dumped into a children's poetry book (A Child's Garden of Verses) written by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Got that? Good, there's more to come.

Turns out that the Book of the Fifth Window, the boy, is in Barcelona taking showers and singing: "Downtown, you can forget all your troubles and go downtown."

It seems that Cliff is very much used to having his body removed. He appears with a BRAND NEW and IMPROVED body built by Doctor Magnus. He can now smell, feel, and shoot laser beams.

Jane, too, is feeling very, very good as she dotes over Cliff's new body. She gives him a paperweight that snows when shaken. She's so doting that "Baby Doll", a very loving child, comes out and wants to shower Cliff in kisses. It's sort of painfully embarrassing for her, but the DP have to save the world.

Kipling decides that he will have the DP accompany him on this ride through weirdness. He lights a sparkler and draws a door in the air and walks right into DP HQ. Best quote: "Well, don't just stand there screaming, take me to your leader."

Later...
"Why should we help you?"
"Because the Cult of the Unwritten Book is, at this moment, in hot pursuit of the Fifth Window and if they get him, they'll summon the Unmaker and it'll mean the end of the universe. That's why!"

Couldn't have been a robbery, huh?

Meanwhile, the Fifth Book... Oh, I haven't explained why he is the Fifth Book -- there's writing all over his skin. OK, got it? Here we go again.

The Fifth Book has been located by the Mystery Kites, which are made of the "skins of specially selected murder victims, stretched across bone frames" and the souls are imprisoned there by the Cult's Geometry to become slaves. Folks, you gotta read this book to understand how chilling these pictures are.

Suddenly, those three tykes of terror on tricycles are there; yes, the Never-never boys pop up, Wynken, Blynken and Nod. The Fifth Book escapes into the hands of the Doom Patrol.

Annotations:
written by William Sherman

The title is a reference to Christ. As David Puskas (dpuskas@CRDS.EDU) points out: "It's the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 14: 'And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.' Biblical? Yes. Also liturgical, as the phrase 'Word made flesh' pops up _all_ over the place in a service, at least in the Roman Catholic tradition. Who says a theological education is useless? <grin>"

p. 1: This is the first appearance of Willoughby Kipling, who seems to be a substitute for the character of John Constantine, a well-known figure in the DC occult world. Kipling's mannerisms and personality are possibly taken from Richard E. Grant's portrayal of the character "Withnail" in the film "Withnail and I." I am told that some of Kipling's lines of dialogue are directly taken from the film (thanks to John Voorhees [VOORHEES@NSULA.EDU]).

p. 5: the Unwritten Book. There are literary precedents for people with books written on their bodies. In Joyce's _Finnegans Wake_, the book itself is written on the body of the character Shem the Penman, who is also its author. In Kafka's "The Penal Colony", people are executed by having books carved into their bodies.

p. 5: "Downtown", a hit pop song performed by Petula Clark (thanks to Col. G.L. Sicherman [gls@windmill.att.com]).

p. 7: Cliff can smell now, but told Rebis in Issue 27 that s/he was beginning to "smell funny". Oops!

p. 11: Baphomet is quoting the opening theme song of the television show "Mr. Ed", but Kipling doesn't recognize it. As for Baphomet and the Templars (thanks to Michael S. Schiffer [mss2@midway.uchicago.edu]):

Baphomet is the name of the horned idol the Knights Templar were accused of worshipping in secret rites when the order was broken up and many of them burned at the stake. The Knights were a Crusading order originally founded in the Holy Land as a sort of warrior-monk. Later, the order became involved in banking, and was sufficiently succesful that virtually every major royal or noble figure owed them money, and they had vast treasuries. (It wasn't technically "interest", but a "handling fee", getting around the prohibition on usury.) Obviously, this couldn't be allowed to go on, so the King of France trumped up charges of idolatry and heresy against them. The Knights Templar figure in a great many conspiracy theories, as documented in Umberto Eco's novel, _Foucault's Pendulum_.

The Doom Patrol is a licensed trademark of Jost Enterprises and, of course, DC Comics.
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