The most recent episodes of Doom Patrol have begun paving the way for the epic introduction of Flex Mentallo. Alternatively known as the Hero of the Beach and the Master of Muscle Mystery, Flex is perhaps the most powerful hero to come out of the Doom Patrol comics, and is certainly one of the most original ideas for a superhero in history.
Created by writer Grant Morrison and artist Richard Case, Flex first appeared as a background character in Doom Patrol #35 - one of the many outcasts and oddballs who found a home on Danny the Street. Flex's full origins would be explained in Doom Patrol #42, where he was revealed to be "the Mac that was made into a Man" - a character from the advertisements for Charles Atlas' fitness regiment found in many classic comic books. Brought to life by a psychic child who wished to create his own superheroes, Flex stepped out of the funny pages and into the real world, developing the power to rewrite reality simply by flexing the proper muscles.
Doom Patrol began dropping hints about Flex's existence in the reality of the DC Universe series in the episode "Danny Patrol." It was here that Victor "Cyborg" Stone and Larry "Negative Man" Trainor answered an S.O.S. call that was meant for Dr. Niles Caulder. After helping the sentient, teleporting, gender-fluid Danny The Street defend their residents from a team of agents from the Bureau of Normalcy, Cyborg asked Danny if they could offer any help in locating the missing Dr. Caulder or fighting his kidnapper, Mr. Nobody. Citing his need to protect his people, Danny declined to join in a direct fight but did offer Cyborg one thing that might help - a copy of the comic book My Greatest Adventure #51.
The significance of this clue would evade Cyborg, until he showed the comic to Rita "Elasti-Woman" Farr in "Hair Patrol." It was here that Rita read through the book herself and noticed one odd detail - "The Hunk" was missing from one of the advertisements. Rita said she had seen this character - a muscular man wearing only a leopard-print swimsuit - in hundreds of comics when she was a child. Rather than the classic Charles Atlas ad, however, this advertisement was for a cereal called Mentall-o's, which made the bold claim that those who ate it would see their muscles grow a little more every day.
The latest clue came in "Frances Patrol," when Crazy Jane revealed that she had learned that the cereal mascot character was a real person named Flex Mentallo and that he, like Dr. Niles Caulder, had disappeared mysteriously. The good news is that Jane tracked down Flex's wife - a woman named Delores - and that she had agreed to meet with them. The bad news is this turned out to be part of an ambush planned by the Department of Normalcy, who captured Cyborg and took him into custody.
Why Danny thought Flex Mentallo might be the key to rescuing Dr. Caulder is almost as big a mystery as Flex himself. The most likely guess is that Flex's powers to alter reality will make him an effective counter for Mr. Nobody, who also has the power to change the world around him at will. The next few episodes of Doom Patrol should reveal the Master of Muscle Mystery as well as the final fate of the captured Cyborg.