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Brain & Monsieur Mallah

As a disembodied brain and a gorilla, The Brain and Monsieur Mallah are possibly the oddest romantic couple in DC Comics with John Constantine and King Shark a very close second. The pair along with Madame Rouge formed the original Brotherhood of Evil who fought the Doom Patrol time and time again. Their history pre-dates the Brotherhood’s formation by a decade when the man who would become the Brain took “a superior ape–stronger than any human…more agile than the best athlete” and by using “secret teaching methods and shock trearment” turned him a genius with a 178 IQ. Highly intelligent gorillas were introduced into DC continuity by Flash writer John Broome in Flash #106 with Solovar and Gorilla Grood and Gorilla City.

The Brotherhood of Evil fought the Doom Patrol on other occasions during the original series run in the 1960s and disappeared into comics limbo until Grant Morrison decided to resurrect them during their tenure as writer for a revived series that would soon bear the Vertigo label. “The Soul Of a New Machine” is the title of the pivotal story in Doom Patrol #34 that laid the groundwork for Brain and Mallah’s relationship.

Morrison uses Brain, Mallah, and Robotman for a philosopical discussion on the nature of human existence citing Plato, Descartes, Interactionism, Geulincx De Malebranche, abd Occasionalists. Their plan to sneak into the Doom Patrol headquarters and transfer Brain into an unused body for Robotman is successful. The thrill of having a new body, even a robotic one, leads Brain to confess his love to Mallah who through happy tears admits secretly loving Brain all these years. Alas, this new physical intimacy they’re experiencing is incredibly brief. The Brain’s body blows up though they both survive the explosion. How they survived, especially Brain, isn’t explained. This is comics after all and some things just aren’t told.

DC editorial might have done away with this revealing twist when the Doom Patrol returned inside the DC universe proper. In Teen Titans #36 (a “One Year Later” issue cover dated August, 2006) writer Geoff Johns pits the Brotherhood of Evil against both the Teen Titans and Doom Patrol. The villains have been raiding genetic research facilities. They appear in New York City and the Titans go after to subdue them. During the requisite fight, new Brotherhood member Goldilocks reveals their plan is to unlock the secrets of cloning in order to create a new clone body for the Brain, so he and Monsieur Mallah “can finally be happily ever after.”

The second part of this two issue story arc recounts how Brain and Niles Caulder had been scientific peers. Caulder’s obsessive jealousy of Brain’s awards leading Caulder to sabotage and blow up Brain’s lab. Mallah bravely rescues the newly disembodied brain of his friend/mentor from Niles’ plan to make him into Robotman, a fate which would later befall Cliff Steele. Johns takes a couple cues from Morrison’s story. First, Johns continues the existentialist debate by quoting Nietzsche and returning Brain to a disembodied state with the death of his newly cloned body.

Monsieur Mallah and The Brain were among the many villains transported to a distant alien planet by Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad acting by secret US federal government sanction in the Salvation Run mini series. In a previous issue the villains had split into factions; the two most significant being led by Lex Luthor and the Joker. Grodd sided with Joker and Mallah and the Brain with Luthor. However, in issue #4, Mallah, cradling The Brain in his arms, approaches Grodd. Once away from Joker’s camp, Mallah proposes the idea of taking over and ruling the planet to Grodd. Mallah’s idea greatly angers Grodd, inciting Grodd to attack his fellow super ape, calling Mallah an “abomination” and a “filthy beast.” Whether this is directed at his sexual orientation or simply for consorting with a human (albeit just a brain) is unclear. Grodd’s attack is savage and merciless, and ends with him using the Brain’s case to deliver the fatal, final blow. Mallah’s final words are: “My…my dear Brain. I have failed you. But I die happy, my love. For I know we can finally be together forever.”

The pair appeared in New 52 continuity and have yet to be seen in current DC continuity as of October, 2021. Both Brain and Mallah have appeared in episodes of the Doom Patrol TV series.

The Brain and Monsieur Mallah first appeared in Doom Patrol #86, vol 1. Their love for one another is revealed in Doom Patrol #34. Created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. Their characters were greatly expanded by Grant Morrison and Richard Case.

Art by Richard Case, John Nyberg, and Daniel Vozzo from Doom Patrol #34.

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