The blank badge and everything that surrounds it: an Invisibles reread

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The past while I have been thinking about this incredible series and thinking about my irregular reread (well overdue). Since there are others on here who like The Invisibles, would anyone be interested in a group reread?

We could do 2-3 issues a week (though suggest a different pace if that suits), you do not need to analyse in depth! It can be as simple as “the scene where Jack and Fanny dance is great” (it is) or “Helga’s my fave” (debatable, but debate anyway!) However, if you post Quimper porn I’ll get you threadbanned. Can’t say fairer.

I’m happy to, idk, do weekly posts to summarise up stuff and provide a structure, so what do you say? Anyone interested?

scampo italiano (gyac), Monday, 14 September 2020 19:12 (two months ago) link

nice and smooth

mh, Monday, 14 September 2020 19:13 (two months ago) link

my trades are somewhere in the attic, i think, so I’d need to either dig them out or find an, er, alternative source but i’d be up for this - been a long time since i read it and it’d be interested to see what the series means to me now because it meant a lot to me half a lifetime ago

you are like a scampicane, there's calm in your fries (bizarro gazzara), Monday, 14 September 2020 19:15 (two months ago) link

I was in the midst of typing a reply and I could've sworn the regular ILX interface flickered several times and briefly turned into Barbelith. Spooky doin's a-transpirin'...

Don't be such an idot. (Old Lunch), Monday, 14 September 2020 19:22 (two months ago) link

lol i knew this was gonna be irresistible old lunch-bait

you are like a scampicane, there's calm in your fries (bizarro gazzara), Monday, 14 September 2020 19:27 (two months ago) link

When suits to do this btw?

scampo italiano (gyac), Monday, 14 September 2020 19:29 (two months ago) link

been a long time since i read it and it’d be interested to see what the series means to me now because it meant a lot to me half a lifetime ago

Yeah, same.

2-3 issues a week would be my limit, I am also in a chapter-a-day Gormenghast reading group.

All Quimper (even the name 'Quimper') is Quimper porn.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 14 September 2020 19:40 (two months ago) link

Archon police, threadban this man.

scampo italiano (gyac), Monday, 14 September 2020 19:42 (two months ago) link

I was never on Barbelith, but I did know a few of them, partly through my ex - I was horrified to realise that I'd tangled with one of them, posting as Tannhauser, in rec.arts.dc.vertigo in the mid 90s.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 14 September 2020 19:42 (two months ago) link

(we were both arseholes then, we are ... less arseholes now)

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 14 September 2020 19:46 (two months ago) link

Debatable. I was never on Barbelith, though I do own an unofficial guide that I think came off the site affiliated to it?

scampo italiano (gyac), Monday, 14 September 2020 19:52 (two months ago) link

The Disinformation Guide to the Invisibles or whatever it was called? :) I have that too.

Tuomas, Monday, 14 September 2020 20:00 (two months ago) link

xp Anarchy for the Masses?

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 14 September 2020 20:00 (two months ago) link

xposts Oh geez, who didn't tangle with Haus? He'd probably seem completely innocuous were I to encounter him today.

I could get into this reading group/old folks reminiscence of the old 'Lith days.

Don't be such an idot. (Old Lunch), Monday, 14 September 2020 20:00 (two months ago) link

I was on Barbelith, but only for a little while. And I'd be up with joining the reread.

Tuomas, Monday, 14 September 2020 20:01 (two months ago) link

I have Anarchy for the Masses and the much better (read: actually useful) reading guide, Our Sentence is Up.

Don't be such an idot. (Old Lunch), Monday, 14 September 2020 20:02 (two months ago) link

Tho I have reread it maybe 5-10 years ago, and I didn't find as incredible as I did as youngster, it's not even among my top 3 Morrison series anymore... Am I still allowed to join? 😅

Tuomas, Monday, 14 September 2020 20:02 (two months ago) link

Revisitation of the things that pry open your brain is never going to have the same impact as they did when those things first pried your brain open. It's to be expected.

Don't be such an idot. (Old Lunch), Monday, 14 September 2020 20:05 (two months ago) link

It pried my brain open so hard that my ability to properly conjugate a sentence spilled out onto the sidewalk. Alas.

Don't be such an idot. (Old Lunch), Monday, 14 September 2020 20:06 (two months ago) link

Yeah anyone is welcome Tuomas!

scampo italiano (gyac), Monday, 14 September 2020 20:23 (two months ago) link

i said john, john ... hiding in plain sight ... that's not playing the game.

and then edith said to call on buddha, but he didn't hear her properly.

and now it's a rescue mission ... they're trying to unhypnotize him out of his prison ...

i'm trying to explain as best i can

the late great, Tuesday, 15 September 2020 00:04 (two months ago) link

I'd have to get my trades out of the storage unit, but I would be game. It is one I would like to re-read again and would fit in with some other things I have re-read in the past couple of years.

earlnash, Tuesday, 15 September 2020 00:19 (two months ago) link

I’m thinking of starting the reread this Sunday, to run for a week on the first two issues, and then next Sunday three more. Hopefully, earlnash, you can join in at this pace, and you can always backread and contribute?

Thoughts on pace? I’d like to start this as soon as just so I have to hold myself to doing it, lol.

scampo italiano (gyac), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 08:39 (two months ago) link

I definitely understand that impulse, and would be up for that speed. The one thing is that the first story is 4 issues long?

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 15 September 2020 09:49 (two months ago) link

That’s fine though, it’s a reread and going issue by issue forces you to focus on the granular while already being aware of the whole.

scampo italiano (gyac), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 10:12 (two months ago) link

That pace sounds fine.

lol, along with seemingly everyone else itt, I will need to dig these out from storage (99% certain the box in question is in the very back and on the very bottom).

Don't be such an idot. (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 15 September 2020 11:12 (two months ago) link

So.

When I was little and wanking about twenty times a day Back in the early 90s, I had a best friend, Simon - he's still a good friend, but I'm here now and he's there. Simon was a Mac fan, a graphic designer and a fast talker. And at one point in 1994, he convinced the Dublin branch of Forbidden Planet that they needed a web presence, and that he could provide it in the shape of one page with contact information for their shops, and as many reviews as we could provide from our payment of £25 of free comics per week.

This went on for a while - July 1994-December 1995 at a rough measure - until someone at FP realised that what they were getting for their money was frequently plot-summary level stuff of the comics we liked and full excoriations of the ones we didn't. Neither of these were a good return on investment for them, so they pulled the plug.

I've found the remains of the site on archive.org, but annoyingly I can't find the only editorial-type thing I wrote, which was about how the world was holding its breath - Grant Morrison was going to have a new ongoing series coming out soon. Zenith and Doom Patrol had finished in 1992, there'd just been Sebastian O and The Mystery Play since then, and now something was going to come which Grant, in full hype-man radiance, had declared was going to be his magnum opus, and my body was READY!

It's not a co-incidence that this was also the first time since I'd started reading comics weekly (as opposed to borrowing them by the careful bagful from Simon) that any of my favourite creators had started a new thing.

Anyway, there's the link to the rest of it - I cannot emphasise enough that I'll deny writing any of it if pressed.

Andrew Farrell, Wednesday, 16 September 2020 13:35 (two months ago) link

It's sad on the one hand that Barbelith collapsed in on itself but on the other hand it's nice to have gotten most of my more embarrassing youthful online posting out of my system on a platform that's basically disappeared.

I hadn't read much Morrison when the series started but I started picking it up from issue 1. And that first issue is probably the most battered comic in my collection (from my own overuse and from passing it around). Pretty much just a sheaf of disconnected pages at this point iirc.

Don't be such an idot. (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 16 September 2020 13:42 (two months ago) link

OL - does your webmail work? I sent you one the other day, it’s rtyi.

scampo italiano (gyac), Wednesday, 16 September 2020 13:43 (two months ago) link

i'm into this, so bookmarking. i can actually see the trades from my desk.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 16 September 2020 16:19 (two months ago) link

Should be no problem, I've been moving back my comics after I got them sorted at home. I got an idea where the box-o-Morrison is located.

I re-read the Illuminatus Trilogy last year, then Valis/Radio Free Albemuth earlier this year; so re-read of the Invisibles should fit well in this current days/daze.

earlnash, Wednesday, 16 September 2020 22:51 (two months ago) link

I’m definitely up for this. I bought the first four issues from Comic Showcase in Covent Garden, liked but didn’t love them despite being a GM superfan (I had cut up the Animal Man panels from UK reprint “DC ACTION!” and blue-tacked them over my bedroom wall) and then quit comics until Seaguy came out a decade later. I read Invisibles in the mid-2000s after interviewing, er, Cameron Stewart.

2-3 issues a week sounds doable!

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 19 September 2020 22:28 (two months ago) link

Excellent. I’ll do the first post tomorrow, those two issues are the ones we’ll discuss for the week, then do three following week and alternate to let people catch up.

scampo italiano (gyac), Saturday, 19 September 2020 22:32 (two months ago) link

Cool. Just spent an hour this afternoon digging these out of storage. It better be worth my while, Morrison!

Wessonality Crisis (Old Lunch), Saturday, 19 September 2020 22:41 (two months ago) link

Here's how I'll do this: I'll make a post like this with some basic framing and then we can discuss the issues in question. You ex-Barbelith types will no doubt find some of my insights very amateurish but it is what it is.

And so we return and begin again.

Week 1: Vol 1, issue 1, Dead Beatles and issue 2, Down and Out In Heaven & Hell.

https://i.imgur.com/URwsv6n.jpg

People always say the series starts slow but I have never thought this. The first time I read this, it hit with a bang - all these disparate ideas and images and characters colliding and you don't quite know what's happening yet but you like it. First line is spoken by El Fayed, who I've always loved, and
our first "nice and smooth". Flashes of King Mob graffiti as though dreamed. Yeah, I knew instantly this series was for me.

The teaching in this in 2020 is darkly funny - imagine the absolute dogshit coverage you'd get nowadays teaching kids about communism and anarchism as ideas. Three of my favourites right from the start in this issue - Edith and Mister Six.

I really like how Yeowell drew Lennon's face as he lit the cigarette, all long nose and hollows and angles. The invocation of Lennon is classic, and Revolution 9 is a really great song for this issue: all cacophony, reversals and time skips. Side note: I am making a playlist for this as we go, feel Revolution 9 and David Watts are nailed on for this issue, but let me know if I missed any others.

"It was Kropotkin. And you'll never fucking understand me." combined with Dane's bared teeth is a frame that haunts me.

Miss Dwyer and Mr Gelt. Monsters with holes for eyes and glasses that reflect the blankness. Harmony House is a horror.

Dane hears The-King-In-Chains breathing through Gelt's door, the scene that follows is disturbing but also in a very mundane way?

King Mob showing up to rescue Dane from the brain room, like a god into the machine. "Goodbye Mr Chips," makes me giggle every time. The first time you read this, you don't care about the guards, the second and subsequent times, you see Bobby. Dane alone in London ends the issue.

https://i.imgur.com/CDYt2UB.jpg

This is actually one of my favourite issues, I love Tom and the initiation in some ways is very standard origin story but it's the details that stick with me.

The first time I read this, in early 2007, I had never been to London. The first time I went was a few months later, after reading this, and until after I'd moved over here a couple of years later, I had never seen homeless people with the regularity that you do in this issue. There is a lot about this series that comes from you, the reader, and your perceptions at time of reading, but reality changes all the time. Tories then, Tories now. We return and begin again.

Tom in the underground declaiming poetry. Nobody looks at this homeless person, not even other homeless people.

"And see, the rain's off too. That's me that did that." Keep thinking about how Freddie becomes one of the greatest magicians in the history of their species, after Edith had finished burning him in the fire. She was right on that.

Tom pissing on the Churchill monument! Couldn't do that these days.

Fanny is our second Invisible to give Jack money.

How Sir Miles and his mob go unremarked in tearing through the streets in full hunting gear was probably pretty dead on in 1994, but it feels outright painful in 2020.

Luan-Dun, city of the moon. This immediately read as Irish to me, Morrison being Scottish is probably pulling from Gaelic? Or not, because we have another reference to Irish in this part of the story, next issue maybe. Although looking it up, the word luan, is old Irish though the original word survives in Dé Luain (Monday). It is a very glancing reference, I know, but it hooked me and drew me in further, whereas before it had just been a good story.

First meeting with Barbelith. Traffic lights and wet paint under the ground. Cities have their own magic.

Issue ends with Dane being abandoned again - the next part of it is on. The hunters' look is deliberately referencing Harmony House. Onward!

scampo italiano (gyac), Sunday, 20 September 2020 14:33 (two months ago) link

That is some excellent framing!

Yeah, for all that me at 19 was "Oh they say it'll explode your mind but actually they just explode some heads", there's a lot of genuinely weird stuff in the first one - along with the adventures of a supercool bald mod spy.

The world wasn't short of Beatles fans in the 90s, but it's interesting to think about the idea of this total immersion in the time of twitter and tumblr fandoms. That said, I'm glad that I don't know Morrison's views on it - one thing that I like (er, unless I'm wrong) is that he seems to have retired from any attempt at being current - he's happy being DeSade at the disco.

I stared at the phrase 'video card' (as in "Mum, give us the video card, will you?") for a bit until memories of Xtra-vision returned with a thump!

Andrew Farrell, Sunday, 20 September 2020 20:55 (two months ago) link

You've inspired me to re-read along with you online. Tbh, I barely remember the details of this series compared to Morrison's other works. So I'm welcoming all your exposition explaining what the heck is going on!

Interesting that Gaiman's Neverwhere series shares some of the "spooky magical hidden London" vibe, which was probably made around the same time or soon after. It's all alien to me, I've never been to Europe. (Also recently watched the original House of Cards so I suppose a lot of this is in reaction to post-Thatcher UK society?

Nhex, Sunday, 20 September 2020 22:25 (two months ago) link

It is yeah but because there’s gaps of time in between issues there’s also some anti-Blair stuff... mainly as you say though. Original HoC is incredible, btw.

scampo italiano (gyac), Sunday, 20 September 2020 22:27 (two months ago) link

I memorised the membership number on our family video card (I think it was 9713!) because I’d always forget to bring it with me. Inevitably there’d always be some tough-ass clerk who wouldn’t let you rent Tremors on a Saturday night if you didn’t bring the plastic.

The opening arc is fantastic. The first time around, I quit after a couple of issues of the second arc, which iirc was disappointingly Gaiman-y (i.e. long captions written in hard-to-read joined-up handwriting).

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 20 September 2020 22:33 (two months ago) link

Now that I think about it the original Books of Magic also trafficks in this vibe, and that was around 1990; guessing something occulty was in-fashion at the time in London.

xp gyac yeah HoC was great, the ending of the first series is so entertaining. (2nd and 3rd series probably unnecessary but still fun.) I heard the US Netflix version slows everything down and takes a few years to go to that point lol

...not a fan of big pages filled with scrawled cursive, but let's see how it goes...

Nhex, Sunday, 20 September 2020 23:08 (two months ago) link

Some Iain Sinclair / Peter Ackroyd influence in the air too, perhaps, mid 90s onwards.

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 20 September 2020 23:14 (two months ago) link

And V for Vendetta too, obvs.

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 20 September 2020 23:16 (two months ago) link

People always say the series starts slow but I have never thought this.

This was definitely the case for me when I first read this in the '90s, in fact reading the first issue almost put me off of reading the rest of the series. By the time I got to the Inivisibles, the first couple of trades had come out. I was an anarchist/activist, into techno and drum'n'bass and rap, and I was under the impression this series would be exactly for someone like me, but then the first issue has... John Lennon and several pages of some psychedelic bullshit prose accompanied by similarly hippie imagery. I was like, fuck that boomer shit, but thankfully I did continue reading it, and issue 2 was already much better. But judging by the first issue it definitely didn't feel like the sort of zeitgeisty "this is '90s" comic that it had the reputation of being.

Tuomas, Monday, 21 September 2020 12:43 (two months ago) link

Issue ends with Dane being abandoned again - the next part of it is on.

This interesting, because a later storyline involving Boy has a very obvious criticism of V for Vendetta's idea of forcing someone to have an anarchist enlightenment through cruel manipulation, as Morrison (quite accurately) understands that forcibly pushing someone into anarchism goes against the very idea of it. Yet here the Invisibles cell is doing almost the same to Dane... Did Morrison's own ideas regarding this change between this and the later story, or are we to think the Invisibles are wrong to treat Dane like this?

Tuomas, Monday, 21 September 2020 12:49 (two months ago) link

The series ultimately (and fairly explicitly) lands on option b. Forces of control inhabit each end of the spectrum.

Wessonality Crisis (Old Lunch), Monday, 21 September 2020 12:53 (two months ago) link

Also, the very first page of the very first issue seems to imply this is sort of a circular story, where in the end we return to the beginning, so I was waiting for the series to end like that. But as far as I can tell, the actual ending has little to do with the beginning, the line of the story is continously rising and not a circle that returns to itself... Unless we accept the interpretation that the entire story is the virtual reality video game King Mob developed in the final issue, and the ending of that issue is the ending of the first playthrough, after which you can return to the beginning and play it again on a harder difficulty?

(xpost)

Tuomas, Monday, 21 September 2020 12:55 (two months ago) link

About Barbelith: Morrison has admitted that some parts of Doom Patrol bled into this series, with Ragged Robin being an alternate version of Crazy Jane... So with that in mind, Barbelith also seems to be a variation of the similar shape Rebis sees in Doom Patrol when they have their final enlightenment. But what that is supposed to tell us about the connections between the two series, I have no idea.

Tuomas, Monday, 21 September 2020 13:04 (two months ago) link

Or actually I do have sort of a universal theory of how every one of Morrison major DC works are connected to each other, dunno if I've shared it here?

Tuomas, Monday, 21 September 2020 13:05 (two months ago) link

morrison was explicitly trying to make the dc universe literally a self-aware magickal entity in his superhero run iirc but i'd be interested to hear your theory for sure

you are like a scampicane, there's calm in your fries (bizarro gazzara), Monday, 21 September 2020 13:08 (two months ago) link

i still haven't started my invisibles re-read but my current theory is that morrison's chaos magick 'every reader must have a wank to save the series' ritual did indeed save the series but unfortunately it created qanon as a side-effect

you are like a scampicane, there's calm in your fries (bizarro gazzara), Monday, 21 September 2020 13:09 (two months ago) link

#5 - Jill Thompson's on now! - I really like her art, one of the things is being able to go down to something cartoony without losing the essence - Dane at the end of page 17 for a start.

Dane's a joy to watch this episode as well - he's a newborn, sucking up all the knowledge he can from everywhere.

This issue had five different 'dehanced' covers, printed on what felt like brown paper, with different bits of the usual design missing and different slogans - I've got the "twentieth century" / "crash the bus" pictured above . This is kind of typical Morrison taking the piss out of the trading card mentality while also delivering something that might sell more issues. In fact, the sales fell off the fucking cliff - the market for superspies and mental magic in the present day outweighing that for the history of ideas.

On the inside cover, there's a "previously in Invisibles" bit which mentions Ragged Robin as "a witch whose abilities are fueled by disbelief" which... I don't think I knew until I read that just now? On the one hand it explains King Mob in #1 saying that her thinking the tarot is bullshit is why he asked her to read it, but on the other hand, she should know that?

Page 23 - I'm pretty sure that what we're supposed to take away from this is that the pope is Batman. Also the title page of this issue is a loose page!

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 10 October 2020 19:16 (one month ago) link

Week 3: Vol 1, issue 6, Arcadia part II and issue 7, Arcadia part III

Sorry, sorry! Nobody actually said they minded me skipping a week so I guess it happened anyway. Issues 8-10 are this Sunday, and I should have posted these two Sunday just gone. One day I'll post without apologising for lateness (a quality I despise irl, ffs).

Anyway.

https://i.imgur.com/9b1E0xM.jpg
King Mob's comment about the past always kills me, especially when juxtaposed with Jack's shellshocked face. Also his comment about their contact's books - I have a bit to say on the one I did read later, but King Mob otm basically.

Anyway, our gang show up and scare the shit out of a local magician. We're back with Mary Shelley and the mysterious stranger is with us too. He offers Mary an apple, apple for the teacher, snake tempting Eve. Past is present and future.

I love Etienne. "Shit! Half the time I don't even know which side I started out on."

Jack is sick and King Mob gets distracted by a glimpsed cypherman in the eaves.

Ah back in 1995 London. Orlando's rampage is really grotesque and sadistic stuff.

Back in Les Innocents, our guys have realised they're in the shit too.

De Sade's first appearance, he's basically crude and unshockable, as you'd expect.

I have to admit the brief scenes with Mary Shelley and the mysterious stranger are my favourites in this issue though. The stranger says he's older than he looks, of course he's been in and out of this story and others so many times. He leaves Mary with a warning and without his name.

De Sade is horrified and curious and horrified by his own curiosity over the corpse with its entrails exposed. King Mob bursts in just in time and scatters the cyphermen with some style ("You heard me, Jiminy Cricket!") and then things go to shit rapidly as they realise Orlando's found them. KM, de Sade, and Boy end up at the setting for the Poussin painting, but Jack gets back and that's when it gets bad, very very fast.

https://i.imgur.com/iSo28uB.jpg
Ah fuck, this really is the 120 Days of Sodom one. I have to say, as someone who has read a lot of fucked up things in her life, that book absolutely horrified me like no other. You don't even get used to the horror or jaded by it, really, de Sade is very keen that you don't tune out so there's always a new atrocity to shock you. I remember reading this on the Tube and being really nervous the whole time in case someone read it over my shoulder - reader, I was 29. Anyway, KM in the previous issue is otm to say that people don't finish de Sade because you have to be really bloody-minded (or a sunk costs person) to persist with it. It does help, in some small way, if you're me and have read all sorts of filth/violence/etc...but not as much as you'd imagine?!

(I went and looked on my Goodreads and I had one status update which was "Shitting, so much shitting and blood.")

Orlando eats Jack's fingertip and Fanny comes to the rescue. You have to hand it to Fanny, she dresses stylishly but she fights to win and that's really what you need when you're up against the fucking fleshless.

Oh, we're back with Byron and Shelley. I have to admit lads, this part doesn't really do it for me this issue, so I'm going to move on.

I think.... that the various things depicted in 120 Days... might run into legal issues/with the censors, so I'm happy with the limited depictions they've kept it to here. Also lol at the Duke saying "I'll spend my fuck in due course." Has the Duke ever posted on ILTMI? But yeah, if you're going to draw sections of this book, you're best off focusing on the fiends' faces, as they do here.

King Mob saying that de Sade is just a dirty old fucker with no higher motivation is hilarious, especially as de Sade then confirms it. Also, KM's eyes cast up in resignation are hilariously drawn.

Robin is in Rennes-le-Chateau with the mystery traveller who's now the chessman, but she doesn't heed his warning.

Now, the judge intoning "guilty, all guilty" here is very interesting because it taps into an interesting argument that always goes on over such works, about whether one can read - or in De Sade's case, create them, without being implicated in deviance themselves. "You wanted it, what did you ever do to stop us?" says the fictional judge, delivering his verdict on you for reading this and you for writing it and the world continuing on. Or so I interpreted it.

Jack fucks up shooting Orlando, for which Fanny gets slashed across the chest.

Back in Rennes-le-Chateau, Robin is confronted by a bunch of cyphermen, who are gloating over the head of John the Baptist.

Story is picking up a bit of speed towards the end of this arc, think it really takes off once Jack goes it alone. I'll come back for 8,9 & 10 on Sunday (even if I'm still the only person reading).

seumas milm (gyac), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 23:18 (one month ago) link

I'm still into this!

Nhex, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 02:22 (one month ago) link

I know we're not even done with "Arcadia" but I'm already kinda scratching my head about how this Sodom issue connects to the main arc, or why in general it is happening

Nhex, Thursday, 15 October 2020 15:56 (one month ago) link

1) I imagine they want to let you know what De Sade’s about, and KM/Boy/he need a way of passing time in the story
2) some of the themes of 120 Days are highly relevant to the wider text
3) maybe GM is like de Sade and a dirty fucker, lol

seumas milm (gyac), Thursday, 15 October 2020 17:15 (one month ago) link

I mean, you could say the same (how does it connect / why is it happening) about Arcadia in general - taking a trip back in time / situating the current conflict in a historical war of ideas was important to Morrison but a big gamble (that he lost).

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 17 October 2020 19:23 (one month ago) link

I think that’s debatable but I want to know more about why you think that.

seumas milm (gyac), Saturday, 17 October 2020 19:48 (one month ago) link

There's some interviews with Jill Thompson in 'Anarchy for the Masses' - she said that she wanted Orlando's face to be an actual blur but she didn't put in a note for the inker so he just inked the scratched-up effect she was using for shorthand. Also that there was a lot of censorship of the Sodom issue - a lot of clothes had to be drawn on people, which she objected to when they were just being naked-as-in-powerless. Also the 36 "lost souls" rather than kids. She wonders a bit whether a male artist might have had more problems - the decision to not show any penetration was already hers.

I don't love some of the colouring of her work here - maybe just the first Orlando page in #6, which might've been a rush job.

The Byron and Shelley works on one level as an unsubtle reminder that 'regular people' die in the games of the powerful (as with Sodom, as with the Guillotines) but yeah it seems a bit off considering that she's just invented sci-fi.

Also, KM's eyes cast up in resignation are hilariously drawn.

"We just have to get through it. And try to see the funny side, I suppose"

The letters column for #7 has him defending Dane: He's only shallow because he's had to be in order to survive, but surely self-destructive, thoughtless, rude and offensive little yobs are every bit as deserving of information and illumination as anyone else. More so, perhaps. Surely you don't believe that "arcane knowledge" is the sole province of sensitive, well-brought up, middle-class boys with glasses and treasured copies of the Lord of the Rings, which is an odd description of Harry Potter, except this is 1995 and it's actually Tim Hunter.

I usually roll my eyes at "The barcode is a brand, man", but I do like that the brand on the cover of #7 has just imprinted the barcode.

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 17 October 2020 20:01 (one month ago) link

xp which bit do you mean? Losing the gamble is entirely in terms of him hoping to bring as many people as possible from the big flashy spy stuff to the war of ideas - the sales tanked, from 64k to 20k.

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 17 October 2020 20:03 (one month ago) link

Oh really? Obviously I was reading it in 2007 for the first time, so I was well removed from the contemporary context, but I liked it as part of the whole.

seumas milm (gyac), Saturday, 17 October 2020 20:30 (one month ago) link

I like it too - I didn't make it at all clear above, but when I say that Sodom is as unnecessary to Arcadia as Arcadia is to the main book, I still think they're both good!

Andrew Farrell, Sunday, 18 October 2020 21:59 (one month ago) link

Week 4: Vol 1, issue 8, Arcadia part IV; issue 9, Arcadia part III and issue 10,

We're back in the room.

https://i.imgur.com/tqCFDpH.jpg

The head of John the Baptist is too fucking goofy to take seriously, isn't it? I realise Robin has seen a lifetime of mad shit, but seriously, how did she not burst out laughing? You'd turn your nose up at that in a pound shop, like.

The opening at the S&M club is amazing - the sort of ramble that veers into Invisiblism, then the cut to the dominatrix and KM looking on half-interested while de Sade is riveted.
"I have become immortal," he says, walking through the evidence. He strikes me throughout as very much a man out of time - but in the sense he was born into the wrong one and can only now produce work that fleshes out his ideas. That's the whole point of retrieving him from the past, isn't it?

"Thirty three and a third revolutions per minute," the stupid head says, and for some reason I see a royal blie flag studded with yellow stars.

Robin isn't scared of the Cyphermen at all, which tells you a lot more about Robin than it does the Cyphermen.

I love when KM and de Sade are in San Francisco and KM is shiting on about films and de Sade goes "You must forgive me for interrupting this fascinating discourse..." which is great cos I love the many little moments in this series when someone pops the balloon and brings us crashing back to earth.

In the windmill (poor Jolyon), Orlando is too busy toying with Jack to notice Fanny getting up behind him. I really liked the explanation of his face, btw, Andrew, I think the reality works out well cos it gives you the sense of an ever-shifting void.

Fanny being saved by her breastforms is both funny and reminds me of the Apocalipstick flashbacks; Mictlantecuhtli wonders the same as Orlando, but in the end it doesn't matter to either of them what Fanny is, it matters what she can do.

The smart drinks references are so early Invisibles and Of That Time, idgi but Robin's passion for them always amuses me.

This frame here is intriguing; the cypherman is like a devolved version of Mr Gelt from Harmony House; the angles, the words, the message. Robin looks ethereal in the reflection.

https://i.imgur.com/WoAcW8m.png
https://i.imgur.com/7qQ5zx0.png

In the past, Shelley is burying himself in grief and work. Byron comes along to be like "get over it lol" but Shelley says the future is the only thing keeping him going.

Fanny's channeling the old gods is great, and Jack thinking he's helping is fucking hilarious. Orlando fucks off and disappears into Mictlan, but the cut to the girls tripping right after is incredible work here.

King Mob and Boy say ttyl to de Sade, who's pulled despite bdeing an unwashed obese French aristocrat with no corporeal form from the past. Who says this series isn't inspirational?

Robin and the blind chessman are talking about glossolalia (speaking in gibberish, unformed language). "You don't look that old." Robin echoes Mary Shelley unknowingly.

Speaking of, she's casually brutal in her assessment of Shelley's suffering. "There's much to be said for hanging on a cross; Claire, you need not look down at the people weeping below. You can gaze instead at the sky." She's lost a child too, but she can't lose herself in suffering for her art. But Shelley finishes Lines Written among the Euganean Hills and, seeing her, emerges into wind-blown leaves to embrace her.

In the present, King Mob is trying to piece together how things went to shit so fast and Jack is freaking out.

The present, and de Sade is picking up a young man who's thinking, among other things, of lyrics from Blur's Girls and Boys, so that's one for the playlisy when I update it tomorrow.

I spent longer writing this than I thought, so I'l do 9 and 10 tomorrow. Sorry! I know noone cares, but still.

seumas milm (gyac), Sunday, 18 October 2020 22:51 (one month ago) link

Week 4, Vol 1 contd; issue 9, 23: Things Fall Apart.

https://i.imgur.com/pSMAgVV.jpg
John-a-Dreams! King Mob with hair! I'd forgotten this came so early!

John's comfort with the horrors in the church basement was evidently something that copped KM onto something being not quite right about him, which is why he's disappeared into this 1992 flashback. I'm also interested in the fact that 1992 KM dressed far more simply and he looks almost plain next to John's silver bowlcut, cane, and pearls.

I really like the framing of this panel, like Jack is this silhouetted kid throwing a tantrum in the foreground, and Robin and Fanny are just being sanguine in the background.
https://i.imgur.com/4jfp1GY.png

As usual King Mob chooses the worst possible time to have a revelation. While he's piecing it together, Robin tells them about the squaddies en route. Fanny's comment about strategic withdrawal is great.

Boy's dead-eyed stare at Fanny suggesting they try to give the soldiers lung cancer is amazing.

"What's 'complacent' mean, sir?"

King Mob's reaction here KILLS me :D
https://i.imgur.com/PAiufT6.png

Issue ends with the Invisibles concluding Jack has survived and King Mob saying he needs to call Mister Six. YES!

Issue 10 is really grim and I'm not in the mood to do it tonight. Tomorrow!

scampus milne (gyac), Monday, 19 October 2020 21:55 (one month ago) link

What's up with the title glyph and 23?

Nhex, Monday, 19 October 2020 23:10 (one month ago) link

I assume it's I Ching - though a quick Google suggests that's not actually 23?

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 20 October 2020 08:45 (one month ago) link

could be a nod to the classic
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/23_enigma

mh, Tuesday, 20 October 2020 20:57 (one month ago) link

there are a handful of actual Illuminatus nods in the series iirc. very apt considering they both have a group attempting to immanetize the eschaton

mh, Tuesday, 20 October 2020 20:58 (one month ago) link

Thank you for these, gyac (because I'm aware I'm mostly going to be commenting where I'm nitpicking)!

then the cut to the dominatrix and KM looking on half-interested while de Sade is riveted.

KM's probably heard a lot more of this, though - de Sade's more interested in what he can see.

I've only just now thought to look up Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, I knew he must have theoretically existed but I didn't realise he wrote Venus in Furs, as what the Velvet Underground song is named for.

"Thirty three and a third revolutions per minute," the stupid head says, and for some reason I see a royal blue flag studded with yellow stars.

Always glad to see you hewing closer to the Grand Project - it makes me think of the band fronted by Donal Lunny's son:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/59/Marxman_-_33_Revolutions_per_Minute.jpg

That's Donal Lunny's older son, not the one he had with Sinéad O'Connor, who I've only just heard about.

(It also reminds me of the benevolent racism of Jen prompting me to say "Thirty three and a third" whenever someone claims I don't have much of an Irish accent)

Is opening the bone door the first thing that Fanny really does? It's neat that they're generally being introduced as characters rather than powers.

Sade's practice while a ghost is interesting - I know a fair few people who are disabled in some way (mostly CFS) and the incidence of kink in them seems higher than otherwise - at least one has pointed out that it's a way of getting off that can adapt to great or lesser amounts of available effort.

I mean, it may just be that they're more open about admitting kink because they're perforce more open about things - finding it necessary to say "HEY can anyone come over and help me with this" can affect that.

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 24 October 2020 15:11 (one month ago) link

There's not that much else to say about #9, a lot of it is an action scene themed around what the myrmidons would be more or less likely to expect from a scene.

I'm also interested in the fact that 1992 KM dressed far more simply and he looks almost plain next to John's silver bowlcut, cane, and pearls.

Between that and the hair he reminds me a little of Jolly Roger.

There's some direction in the panel where KM's saying "If it's not John then who is it? One of us?" and there's four in a circle and Robin, whose use thus far has been alerting them to attacks and surveillance.

Another great line: 'What are we looking for, darling? A little lump of smouldering charcoal that says "Fuck" every five minutes?' (except 'smoldering' because Vertigo)

I'm obviously curious as to whether 10 is Grim because of
*General insect/arachnid/scorpion phobia
*Depiction of exploitation of black working classes
*Oh God, GM's doing a 'voice'

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 24 October 2020 15:37 (one month ago) link

The letters column of #9 contains both someone mentioning The Invisibles on Roseanne and someone writing in to complain that if it says "mature readers" why are they censoring the de Sade issue? GM basically tells him that it's the tradeoff that puts the comic in front of him - the bleeding edge isn't available in mainstream comics, and

Let's face it, even the best of the mainstream "mature" books are simply glorified super-hero comics. That's okay - I'm very fond of super-heroes and I like to see them done with a little wit and intelligence.

And then Stuart Moore pops in to defend the de Sade changes and make clear that Grant's views are not the management's :)

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 24 October 2020 20:57 (one month ago) link

lol @ me and my continual failure to get these posts done on time

Week 4: Vol 1, issue 10, Season of Ghouls
So yeah, I've never really liked this issue! Jim Crow even just by himself is a lot, and the whole plot of this is wildly uncomfortable. Which it's meant to be, but it has always been difficult for me to linger on!

https://i.imgur.com/ZqVYSM5.jpg

So! Issue starts gruesomely with the reanimated brutally raping and murdering a girl who knows that they are dead. We see the scorpion emerge on ther tongue of the ringleader, a sigil that the series will return to again and again, but for now it's just an extra bit of grotesque.

The weird new crack going around - this is (I think?) a reference to the fact that the conspiracy theory about the CIA introducing crack into black communities was speculated on at the time, Gary Webb's Dark Alliance stories started publishing the following year. It's pretty on the nose for this though!

Skipping past the fucked up details of the crime and we're in the room with Lamerci,glimpsed with a tear running down her cheek in the scene before, summoning Papa Guedhe to find the killers. The picture of Jimi Hendrix on her tv reminds me of King Mob calling Lennon in the first issue.

Is this the first issue Chris Weston draws? His style is hyperdetailed and sharp, but God, if there was ever an issue where you'd want the art to be a bit more obscure...

So Jim Crow/Guedhe agrees to help, and now we're back with our beleaguered Good Copper Peebles. "These Creole people have traditions..." - haven't they ever seen a film? They're wasting their time being sceptical of the supernatural element!

Dollimore's a real creep and Weston's art is unsparing - he has cold blue eyes, an insincere smile, and he basically looks like the demon he is.

I think this is the first time we see one of Jim Crow's videos? I find it fascinating how both Jim and KM use their magic inventively, like Jim leaving his soul with his onscreen image so it can't be touched.

"I'm not me but I'm more me."

The crow is very interesting to me - it's a familiar, right?

I've always enjoyed the way he peels the puddle off - reminds me of magic mirror.

Dollimore is scum, scum! And I'm angry for Peebles all over again.

This dream city reminds me of the vision of London seen by Tom and Jack early on. The detail really works for it.
https://i.imgur.com/UWcb7TA.png

This whole sequence, especially with the talk of the fallen city and the whole vibe, reminds me a lot of Echo Bazaar/Fallen London, which I've played on and off for over a decade.
Now we see Jim do what we see Fanny and Jack do later - produce magic mirror.

Ugh, the boardroom. Where to even start with this?

"Your wife won't say a thing. I gave her to Stevens there, over six months ago. Surely you've noticed all the weird submissive stuff she's been doing in bed?" This just sort of didn't even sink in the first few times I read this because of the levels of fucked up this issue is, but yeah...

Anyway, the ghouls put their glasses on for a bit of their despicable doings. And we, thankfully, go back to Jim/Guedhe...

Ah, the zozo gun! To charge sex into death, iirc. You see Jim doing his whole thing in this early issue, but you only really learn more about him when he's teaming up with our Invisibles a bit later. A good thing about introducing him so early is his later interventions are all meaningful and pack a punch because you know exactly how powerful he is.

"Patterns in constant kaleidoscope motion."

Zaraguin is here, and again, this is helpful for later parts of the series.

The longer Jim stays there, the faster his horrific disguise fades. Zaraguin tells him King Mob has to pay, and Jim tells Zaraguin he's been tricked by the white men.

Back with Dollimore, Pearson and the rest. Pearson's horror at the feeling of inhabiting a dead body is grotesque (lol are they implying he's a necrophile or is it just the magic?)

They burst in on Lamerci and try to hurt her but thank fuck Jim/Guedhe is here. "Bring out your dead!" - lol this gives me the image of him and King Mob watching Python while off their faces and I love it.

The zozo gun makes short work of the lads, the crow follows, and we have one of my favourite moments of weird levity - "Mmm! I enjoy cake!"

Peebles and Landau are called back, Peebles barges in to see what's going on and, well, he sees.

That Peebles chooses not to shoot is sweet, but they portray his fear and paralysis over the sight - he wasn't going to shoot Dollimore to spare him. Of course, it's great that he's not put off his appetite by Zaraguin's table either.

scampus milne (gyac), Sunday, 25 October 2020 16:56 (one month ago) link

Agree that the artwork was pretty outstanding for this issue, absolutely horrific. Surprisingly the style doesn't feel as dated as some of the other work in this series (still competent and good but definitely feels of its time)

Nhex, Sunday, 25 October 2020 18:18 (one month ago) link

Week 5: Vol 1, issue 11, Royal Monsters and issue 12, Best Man Fall. Doing 11 in this post & 12 after dinner
We have two standalones (ish???) one after the other, both great in their own way.

https://i.imgur.com/hugsCCd.jpg

The narration of Royal Monsters, well, it's obsequious, isn't it? Your man's a total coward, he knows what's going on, but anything for a quiet life, eh? I suppose you could make a point about the horrific circumstances in which ordinary people find themselves, but Best Man Fall does it better, I think, unflinching though it is.

"I suppose they could be anything" - it's clearly a human torso! He's deep in denial for the crimes he's complicit in.

The way he describes the hairs standing on the back of his neck and the beauty of the mirror as he begins the ritual should clue you in, if you weren't already. He likes being a part of this, and rationalises his own importance to validate what he's doing.

I find it really funny how he says he should "know his place" with his aristocratic employers, but he's imagining that the shoggoth and he have an understanding. Or more likely it's just what's behind his ability to do anything, no questions asked and that's why he's the only servant that will feed it.

Sir Miles! His chinless nephew Tarquin is clearly a family favour before he even tells you that.

We're back to them literally hunting the poor. I wonder how people read this in 1996. I know how I read it now.

When I read this, I had never heard of the Monster of Glamis, but instead I thought of Macbeth, and it's still the first thing I think of. All the dark energy around the castle, and that. I would never visit this place, lol. It's like playing with a ouija board, why do this to yourself?

Next couple of pages are the lads cracking into the port over casual discussion of the Archons infiltrating the monarchy - a tape of which is seen by Division X later - and your chinless wonder Tarquin ruining the carpet. So far, so basic.

"I can hardly remember when I wasn't a servant."

He feels sorry for the monster, but not the faceless torsos he feeds to it, or the poor people hunted by his owners.

The hunt scene has minimal dialogue and some beautiful colours, but not much to say otherwise. Sir Miles striking off the poor kid's head with a sickle is darkly funny.

https://i.imgur.com/lbtcOKK.png
class traitors and the banality of evil

The way Jeremy's face and attitude changes when he sees Kate. It's like the facade melts away and there's a human back there after all. Of course, if a fate like this is wrong for his daughter, it's wrong for anyone's daughter (or son). It is interesting the way he goes "I don't know what I'm doing here", and for a moment I usually wonder if Sir Miles has exerted some sort of control on him.

But no, the next scene puts paid to theory instantly. He really is a coward, and it really exposes the contempt with which the upper class view spineless toadies like him, while he's fooling himself that he's indispensable. Sad! Rare moment where Sir Miles is otm.

The Moonchild's hunt is horrific.

The old homeless man and his dog break my heart cos he looks so much like Tom!

"Hate and hurt corrode, Sutton. They made her ours long before she met us." - this echoes a point I was making in *cough* another thread, that alienation and loneliness and hatred create people that are easy pickings for the worst elements in society. The things people will do for a place to belong.

Despicable a character as I find Sutton, this scene in the woods is utterly horrendous, and Sir Miles absolutely delights in both showing him his place and the things the upper class will, and can, do to keep theirs.

Ending is predictable but you know what's going to happen as soon as you see the dish. He seems to have mostly disassociated, which is maybe a blessing?

scampus milne (gyac), Sunday, 25 October 2020 19:36 (one month ago) link

Week 5, Volume 1, issue 12: Best Man Fall

https://i.imgur.com/lF2BK4X.jpg

This one cuts me to the bone. After the last issue, like an almost cartoonishly awful narrator, everything here hits and it hurts!

The flashbacks and forward as he dies are immensely powerful. Explosions on the battlefield segue into exploding fireworks, you could really imagine this issue being filmed.

Bobby losing his balloon is so tragic, because you know what comes later, and we should weep for a world that turns such innocence into the things it does. Bobby is sweet, and hopeful, and takes joy in childish things and life, aided immensely by his awful brother Stewie, beats it all out of him.

The segue between Bobby having his face slammed into the wall and Audrey facing us with a black eye hurts. Even though Stewie treated Bobby like shit his whole life, Bobby still loved him, and Stewie takes care to slam his face in the wall once more before expiring.

"Edith says to call him Boody" remains one of my favourite series callbacks, my God. Again, this is quite obvious stuff, the contrast between the innocent loving child and the man he became, but it's a cliché because it works.

The funeral scene is a thousand tragedies; the death of his mother; Audrey's bruises; the hint at him being the only one of the family present.

There is a lot to say and that has been said about the circle of violence and violence as a learned response. Setting that aside for a moment, I was glad when Bobby punched Stewie.

Without getting personal, I recognise the scene of Bobby trying to feign sleep while his parents fight & it's dead on.

https://i.imgur.com/ng2jCin.png
I think about these panels all the time.

The interweaving of memories is really startling at this point - memories of burying his dog, memories of Jess, memories of childhood hope and fear.

Unlike our hero in the previous issue, Bobby has some qualms about his work.
https://i.imgur.com/TK4GXik.png

The Outer Church can't do their work without help, and that extends to bought-in muscle like Bobby, but there is buying into it enthusiastically, as his colleague does, and feeling unease about what is asked of you. Morally this is a very interesting issue; although Bobby has doubts and fears and this horrific upbringing that has shaped him, he has still done violence to Audrey and many, many others, and if the effect is the same, does the conscience matter?

I think it does, but it doesn't wipe the slate clean by a long shot.

Of course Bobby himself is killed early on by KM, in a scene where we're cheering for that outcome, so this one is all about asking you the uncomfortable questions.

In an issue of such ugliness, bleakness, and violence, the beauty of their two pages on holiday always gets me.
https://i.imgur.com/w7cVORl.png

Not much else to say. Surely the strongest standalone issue in the whole series.

Next week: 13 and 14.

scampus milne (gyac), Sunday, 25 October 2020 21:02 (one month ago) link

Had to go back and re-read it a few times as I was going through to understand who was Bobby and who everyone else was. Gutsy storytelling. Excellent issue (as was the previous one-shot). Glad to hear that you concur it's some of the strongest work in the series

Nhex, Sunday, 25 October 2020 23:37 (one month ago) link

Is opening the bone door the first thing that Fanny really does? It's neat that they're generally being introduced as characters rather than powers.


Yes :) I really enjoy the nonlinear time of the series, because we have Fanny’s backstory (one of my favourites) coming up soon and it goes more into her history and powers, but for now all you see is that she’s tremendously powerful... and it’s not the first thing she reached for regardless. She respects the power she has access to. It all has to be paid for somehow.

scampus milne (gyac), Monday, 26 October 2020 10:29 (one month ago) link

10!

Is this the first issue Chris Weston draws?

Yep. Chris Weston (whose grave Jim Crow is sitting on in the title page) is the first guest artist. I like him for the details, but for some reason I don't get on with his faces - they all seem a bit identikit - on page 6 the Nordau and Dollimore seem to just be facing different directions (with different hair colours)

one of my favourite moments of weird levity - "Mmm! I enjoy cake!"

It's also to an extent why he's there - she promised him a meal that he can use to recharge - which reminds me a bit of On Stranger Tides, where the voodoo requires replenishing by consuming Rum, Gunpowder and er I think Chocolate?

11!

It is interesting the way he goes "I don't know what I'm doing here", and for a moment I usually wonder if Sir Miles has exerted some sort of control on him.

Yeah, I agree that we're supposed to be faked out a little by this, and the idea that he's coming to his senses. It's also filling in a bit the talk about agents who don't know who's who - he's largely forgotten not the who but the why.

Also I owe Tuomas an apology - when I'd said that Dane barely talks to anyone who's not an Invisible in issue #2. I was forgetting the side that Kate was on.

I'd forgotten that Diana would still have been very alive when this issue came out! I'd also forgotten that the wheels were still coming off - the Annus Horribilis was 1992, but at least Charles and Andrew were still married. "The Royals are finished now" seemed pretty likely at the time, sadlol.

And yeah, a very vivid and pointed underlining of some of what had just been thrust upon Dane previously - control and despair are the goals in themselves. Good thing we're the good guys, then.

12!

God I love this issue, this is up there with The Coyote Gospel in terms of Morrison expanding the available frameworks of what the series deals with. It's not as "here's what the story is about" - except for

(from www.grant-morrison.com except I can't find it there so I'm searching on it on the internet based on reading it in a book)

"I believe THE INVISIBLES to be a work of great emotional depths, but I realise most people tend to concentrate first on the surface glamour of the book, which is fine and pretty much as intended. Go back and read it again, concentrating not on the clothes, but on King Mob’s attempt to get over the loss of his girlfriend and the death of his cats by turning himself into a pop god with a gun. Read it for Edith Manning’s guilt, humour and unstoppable enthusiasm or most importantly, read it for the invisible backstory of Audrey Murray, the book’s central character, and her refusal to let a shitty life turn her into a shitty person."

Anyway I love the proposal scene as well, and the callback to the balloon among the fireworks and the (only visible to Bobby?) bubbles when he hears Edith.

I've only ever seen Steve Parkhouse in his cartoonish art for Alan Morre's BoJeffries Saga, and he's fantastic here, partly because of the slight cartoonishness ("What did you say your name was?")

Which has got me thinking - one of the things about these three issues is that to start with, nothing much happens plotwise within #10 - someone dies, Jim Crow is called for, goes to talk to someone, and then triumphs twice. Most of the issue is GM presenting facts or ideas or come see this thing I made by jamming two things together. There's more twists and turns in #11, after some walking through about the cruelty and idiocy of the upper class. And #12 can swoop and dip like it does because it's assuming that everyone knows the territory completely, the fucked Scottish town, Thatcher and the Falklands, people in wreckage and wreckage in people.

It's good to do these three together - Morrison considered them a failed experiment up to a point, he's said he originally wanted to have these runs of shorts between things (I suppose a comparison is Sandman?) but after trying it he wanted to bring everything back to the five main characters and keep the focus on them. (apart from where he heads off again after the end of the next year)

Andrew Farrell, Sunday, 1 November 2020 00:24 (one month ago) link

Next week: 13 and 14.

― scampus milne (gyac), Sunday, 25 October 2020 21:02 (two weeks ago) bookmarkflaglink


Oops.

Week 6: Vol 1, issue 13, She-Man, Part One: Venus As a Boy and issue 14, Sheman, Part Two: Day of Nine Dogs.

https://i.imgur.com/a16NXEW.jpg

So, Fanny's backstory.

A word before we go on: Hilde/Fanny's identity has always been very difficult to define in a word: she dresses and presents as a woman, but sometimes also as a man, but generally prefers to be referred to as she afaict but sometimes is also referred to as he, sometimes in spite or error. I have always called Hilde/Fanny 'she', but that's not quite right as the dressing up scene shows. So I'll try to use the most appropriate pronouns in line with that.

Regarding the plot itself, if you have any thoughts on how I write about it, do share. There is a LOT going on in these issues so I'm bound to fuck up somewhere.

The butterfly imagery through these two issues is with us from the start and is your fairly classic symbolism: transformation, several cultures consider them to represent the soul, and of course they are representative of Hilde/Fanny's patron goddess Tlazōlteōtl.

This is actually the first time we see Fanny as Hilde.

What a line to sign off on.
https://i.imgur.com/I4RJR1z.png

Next we're in a shop called Transformation, and Hilde/Fanny is lookimg for some breast forms to replace the ones Orlando ruined.

Hilde/Fanny instantly clocks what the two homophobes are about, and protects the shopkeeper.

The next scene where Hilde/Fanny is getting ready to go out and her thoughts are all over the place, she thinks "Let her deal with it - wig - she can handle it."

The "her" is obviously Fanny the persona and all that comes with it.

I've always really enjoyed this juxtaposition:
https://i.imgur.com/vXjjtht.png

We meet Brodie talking to Sir Miles about a dream. Sir Miles is impatient and misses the obvious foreshadowing. You love to see it.

Lol at the "they'd lock you up for that nowadays". All the way from 1995!

First mention of Division X!

Now we're in a club. Someone mentions Kirby, who we meet slightly later in worse circumstances. Fanny doesn't feel well and goes to vomit up superfluid in the sink.

Cut to King Mob and Edith, who's unimpressed with King Mob's Harmony House adventure. You have to admit, right after Best Man Fall, that page feels a lot different.

Edith is her usual sharp self when KM asks her for help finding Jack. She accuses him of complacency, which is interesting considering what happens very shortly.

In the bathroom, Fanny is dreaming of Rio and her family. She was not meant to be her family's magical inheritance, but that's just how it turned out.
"I looked. I looked and it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen."

Fanny's mother was killed by a man in a papier-maché dog's mask during carnival - remember that for later. The Morales family is indigenous Mexican at least on the maternal side, Nahua I think as Fanny speaks Nahuatl, so the gods Fanny learns about from her grandmother are the old gods of the Aztecs.

I've always liked how evocative this panel is.
https://i.imgur.com/vDrR5So.png

The pages with Brodie and Kirby are really stark in contrast to the detailing of Teotihuacán on the previous page, it's like a jolt from the past to the future.

It's interesting that Brodie here, and Sir Miles later, both threaten to make their victims ugly.

For the first time, Edith explains a little to us about the structure of Invisibles cells. Earth still strikes me as the worst role, tbh!

Past is present is future as Fanny is chosen by Tlazōlteōtl and we're in London with Brodie entering the bathroom. And things are about to get very bad, very fast. Sidenote: Fanny is only 23!

The shade of Mictlāntēcutli in the mirror here is great, reminding us of Fanny's origins and the debt still to be paid.
https://i.imgur.com/Dlfe8mU.png

Last page is an amazing cliché, the phone ringing in the empty room, but yes! Division X are back!

https://i.imgur.com/LjS3PVd.jpg

An interesting foreshadowing of something a little later here: Tlazōlteōtl refers to the initiation of a sorcerer.

"I knew all the stories. I had known Tezcatlipoca all my life. I truly believed in Tezcatlipoca. I just didn't ever think he was real."

The Florentine Codex says this about Tezcatlipoca:

It was well into the night when the night axe rang out for a great distance. Much did it frighten people. This night axe was Tezcatlipoca making sport and fun of people.

In the present, Brodie is shocked by what Fanny has vomited into the sink. He starts seeing his own past. You get a sense of it when Fanny dispatches Orlando, but this is another hint as to how powerful Fanny is.

In Paris, King Mob is still with Edith, and there's some great detail of her life in the cloud of smoke she's exhaling:
https://i.imgur.com/jZ2jDKu.png
As she says later, her memoirs are extremely readable.

Fanny's memories are coming in flashes now, her meeting with Tezcatlipoca and her later life as a sex worker. She snatches the heart in the chest, and asks for the thing that will be more useful than anything else: to learn the secrets of magic from Mictlāntēcutli. Tezcatlipoca doesn't understand why Fanny isn't afraid.

The stripper Jack Flint is watching has makeup just like Fanny. "You've just been reactivated, my son."

The Boy and Ragged Robin ministrips are incredible! As is King Mob driving a conspiracy theorist who's just that bit off, as he listens and enjoys the talk.

Does Adult Fanny base her look on the woman glimpsed in the unseen land or is it a spectre of the future?

The dog calls Fanny "boygirl".

"Nothing like a biscuit to bring you back down to earth." - King Mob otm!

https://i.imgur.com/14pmyHh.png
Robin's squint at the card in the third panel is amazing.

Fanny speaks English, Spanish, Portugese and some Nahuatl.

In the past, Fanny is in Mictlan. In the present, King Mob's just missed her leaving with Brodie, and she's saying she's a witch.

"There is only one day. There is only ever one day, and it is today, the day of nine dogs, day of magicians, day of initiations."

We end on a cliffhanger that's more than a bit tasteless. But the story's not over yet.

liberté, égalité, scampé (gyac), Sunday, 8 November 2020 23:47 (three weeks ago) link

Week 7: Vol 1, issue 15, Sheman, Part Three: Apocalipstick and issue 16, London.

https://i.imgur.com/APYw8cq.jpg

Present: Brodie has his gun in Fanny's mouth and is reporting in to Sir Miles. Past: Hilde clutches Mictlāntēcutli's leg and watches, saying "Is that me I see? God, I look like a tramp!"

Hilde wants to escape but Mictlāntēcutli says that's not possible. We see the star demons, including Orlando who we've seen before of course, and who scares Hilde, not knowing that Fanny has sent Orlando back there. Now Mictlāntēcutli tells Hilde to pay for Fanny's intervention but Hilde, being a child, has nothing.

Back and forth, back and forth we go. Now the party with the bloodstained men in the animal masks, now on her knees with Brodie. The man in the dog mask is supposed to be the one responsible for the death of Hilde's mother, right?

"High heels. Crap in a fight," Brodie says smugly and fuck it, can I just say?! He's right. Drives me mad when they're so prevalent in comic books. You would never.

Enter King Mob:
https://i.imgur.com/EDTPIM6.png

In the past, Hilde is staggering home after being hurt by the men in the masks. It's Carnival and "there are fireworks bursting overhead, like flowers. The night sky is a garden."

As Hilde crouches in pain on the bathroom floor, butterfly's wings are at the window, and in that moment, rebirth.

And in this moment of rebirth, John-a-Dreams steps out into the world to recruit the soon-to-be Lord Fanny.
https://i.imgur.com/V7H8HjL.png

I think Hilde/Fanny's sense of humour is one of her best characteristics, and it is key to helping her turn shit into gold.

King Mob and Brodie are fighting and it's brutal: broken furniture, King Mob's glasses smashed in his face, and plenty of wounds.

In Mictlan, Hilde has a (deeply tasteless joke) for Mictlāntēcutli. It's tasteless, but I enjoy Mictlāntēcutli's eyes shining in their sockets as he ponders it. The ensuing laugh is enough to leave.

While learning magic through blood, Hilde encounters another butterfly, Ītzpāpālōtl, but this time she's not afraid and then she's seeing Barbelith and images from the past and present sliding over each other. "And so, against the wishes of the others, she blows gently, and the membrane shivers."

Brodie gets a lucky break and shoots King Mob while Fanny is reviving. Fanny promises Brodie in her place, and the debt is paid, but not just yet. First Fanny comes at him with a shard of glass, slashing him right across the crotch, before collapsing. His old cat comes to see him off, and while Brodie almost-jokes about having been neutered, the fact that Darkie is able to spray on him indicates he never had been.

https://i.imgur.com/FrRfL0L.png

Hilde exults in the dawn sun as the butterfly departs and Grandma says "You'll make a fine sorcerer, as good as any woman."

Sir Miles, in the present, walks into the post-fight carnage and he's the only one happy with this scene, which is bad not good. Obviously.

https://i.imgur.com/EYx72uN.jpg
But before we go any further, we have some catching up to do with Jack, who's on the run in London. He's eating a stolen sandwich and he's passed by by Boy and Ragged Robin, who are, hilariously, complaining about the heat in London:
https://i.imgur.com/5tuWhkt.png

The way they walk past him without seeing or even sensing him makes me remember the time Tom hid him in plain sight from the cop, and makes me wonder if he was taught that particular trick. I'm guessing so cos Boy's face shows us that Robin should be looking straight at Jack.

Aw, he's feeding the pigeons!

The newsagent who Jack stole from can't see him on CCTV. Tom's magic is the best. But the shopkeeper clocks that he hasn't got the ordinary police. Except the police don't really know about Jack either.

Jack is walking around London and Tom keeps him company in his memory, as he touches the wet paint of Barbelith on a wall, and remembers that Tom gave him a locker key for when the time is right.

Now we see something of Jack's initiation. It's pretty trippy, as ypu'd expect, and the scene with the magic stone being put in Jack reminds me of Neo and the bug in the early part of the Matrix. Possibly one of the Wachowskis' many Invisibles references?

"Which side are you on?"

Dane is ripped back to reality by Sir Miles, who's trying to persuade him to join them. He fakes out Sir Miles with a handshake and runs. He gets the poshos pretty good, Sir Miles actually vomits.

As Jack runs from them, he's smiling in the way he did in the park with Tom after his rebirth. And he remembers what Tom tells him about not being afraid of who he is, to use it.

https://i.imgur.com/dVB3sNy.png

Needless to see, as per the news story in a previous issue, he wrecks the place. Then he fucks off but Sir Miles gets to him. Sir Miles tries it but you see here exactly how powerful Jack is, even new to his magic as he is:
https://i.imgur.com/M3LbX3F.png

The art in this issue is so visceral: Sir Miles's dead cold eyes, the rage in Jack's, the facial expressions.

"In the end, I've only one true teaching for you, Dane, one simple word: disobedience."

After that, Jack cuts his hair and heads north. I'll pick up Sunday with 17 & 18 and then we're bang up to date. I think I'm pretty much just writing these posts for myself now, but I enjoy doing it.

scampus fugit (gyac), Monday, 9 November 2020 22:54 (three weeks ago) link

I think it's just 17 you're short, if it's 2-3-2-3-2-3-2 - thanks a lot for this, it'll give me a kick up the arse to catch up.

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 08:40 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah not that you’d guess but it takes me a bit of time to write these posts, so I thought two issues per week would be a more achievable pace for now, I can always do three if I feel like it.

scampus fugit (gyac), Tuesday, 10 November 2020 09:09 (three weeks ago) link

That is a very fair point!

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 09:12 (three weeks ago) link

i found my copies of the last volume yesterday, the ones that count down 12 to 1. which is odd because i didn't recognise any of the covers when i looked them up online around the time this thread started.

koogs, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 12:39 (three weeks ago) link

(didn't find volumes 1 or 2 though, so can't really contribute)

koogs, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 12:39 (three weeks ago) link

On an entirely unrelated note, does your webmail work?

scampus fugit (gyac), Tuesday, 10 November 2020 12:43 (three weeks ago) link

I wonder, where did the trope of "new team member replaces old team member, who died a mysterious horrific death" come from? The Boys did a very similar thing.

Nhex, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 13:45 (three weeks ago) link

I don’t think they ever knew John-a-Dreams died, did they? They assumed it but it’s not ever explained beyond what King Mob remembers. I’m not sure it’s a trope per se, is it?

scampus fugit (gyac), Tuesday, 10 November 2020 14:20 (three weeks ago) link

I must make time to read this thread properly - just scrolling past the scanned covers is giving me a huge nostalgia rush! I would've been 17/18 when I was reading them as they came out.

chap, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 19:12 (three weeks ago) link

The vol 1 era was definitely my favourite.

chap, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 19:15 (three weeks ago) link

Welcome aboard chap, good to see you!

scampus fugit (gyac), Tuesday, 10 November 2020 19:44 (three weeks ago) link

Morrison considered them a failed experiment up to a point, he's said he originally wanted to have these runs of shorts between things (I suppose a comparison is Sandman?) but after trying it he wanted to bring everything back to the five main characters and keep the focus on them. (apart from where he heads off again after the end of the next year)


I think timing wise they fit within the structure - three fairly key parts of the story slotted in early on so when they eventually reappear later, it means something. End of one story arc and beginning of another too- from this point on I don’t think there’s any similar point of breathing space.

scampus fugit (gyac), Saturday, 14 November 2020 15:20 (three weeks ago) link

Good point - I definitely wouldn't have minded a few more, of course!

Thanks for these again.

13!

I see what you mean about pronouns - I don't know if it's notable that this is I think the first time we've seen Hilde/drag-less Fanny (other than when disguised as someone else), and King Mob not only doesn't gender her but doesn't call her by a name at all. I mean "I will refer to you by name when it's just the two of us in conversation" is a terrible comic book trope of course...

But yeah, am I picking you up right that you're reading the "let her deal with it" as meaning that Hilde doesn't think of herself as a her?

I like that even without the scare from Fanny, it's clear which of the kids is a bit more into it - "It's disgusting, ent it?"

Anarchy for the Masses has some notes on the various styles that Jill Thompson is pastiching - Rob Liefeld (incredibly difficult according to her because you're going against all your training), Sin City for Brodie and Kirby, Watchmen for King Mob & Edith (I guess so) and Love & Rockets for the scenes in Brazil (really not seeing it). Oh and the "Teotihuacan is" panel is apparently in the style of Ripley's Beleive It or Not comics!

Also it points out that Lewis Brodie is a zipping-up of Lewis Collins, who played William Bodie in the Professionals. I didn't get that because I've never seen it, but I was thinking of him as Bond even before they mentioned it in the next issue - what would a Bond comfortable with the gay scene be like? He'd use people and treat them like shit, just like he does women.

14!

I'm not sure what the page with King Mob and Edith and her keepsakes is pastiching - Toulouse-Lautrec?

The Jack Flint page has strong 60s-70s energy, but on the other hand there were definitely pubs like that in the 90s - today maybe not so much?

I choose to believe that the mystery passenger is all of the conspiracy theories that Morrison wants us to think about being in the mix, but everyone in the comic is too cool to believe in :)

(haha "I choose to believe" - the page opposite the Jack Flint one in the issue is an ad for the first set of X Files trading cards!)

Regarding the third panel in the first Boy & Ragged Robin (which are great, and have I mentioned how much I like Jill Thompson's cartoony work) - there's an interview in Anarchy for the Masses where they ask her "So, you're Ragged Robin" and she basically says "No! No, no, no - well, I mean, Grant asked me to draw a long-face woman with red curly hair, so he knew what he was getting - but I didn't give her the nose!" Sometimes, she gave Robin the nose.

Jill Thompson for reference: https://www.alamy.com/jill-thompson-during-the-chicago-comic-and-entertainment-expo-at-mccormick-place-featuring-jill-thompson-where-chicago-illinois-united-states-when-22-mar-2019-credit-adam-bielawskiwenncom-image244613495.html

15!

I mean yes of course, Mr -Of-Dreams, if you wanted to make clear that you're not here for sex, introducing yourself as 'John' is exactly how I'd do it.

The Sir Miles and Pennington page is another Frank Miller, from The Dark Knight Returns.

If I don't have a lot to say about this issue, it's not because I don't like it - I really love all of Sheman. And Jill Thompson is an amazing action artist!

This was also probably 80% of my framework for anything trans at this time.

16!

I'm not an enormous fan of the art to be honest (partly because I am an enormous fan of Jill Thompson) but I think it does a good job on heightening Jack trying to get his shit together for more than just rage.

I know that the /(...)/ things in the alien section are supposed to be untranslatable, but I like the impression that they're madlibs for whoever poor fucker they've got their hands on - You are the <something> This is <something> Your world is dying but you can lead your people to <something>

Something I didn't catch but Anarchy for the Masses did - Mictlantehcutli in #15: "We Gods are only masks. Who wears us? Find it out!" vs the aliens in #16: "Now we will show you the /(truth)/ Watch the /( )/ Find it out"

I had completely forgotten but the letter column in #15 starts with "Hope no-one's gone blind after last issue" and end with "Next issue: Bad news for Baldy! King Mob is finally in the hands of the Enemy. He's strapped to a chair"... etc. Which is weird because that's not what happens. But #16 starts with er, we ran this month's letter column last month by mistake, here's what should have run, and that's the 'Wank for the Invisibles!' column, including "I think this should hit the stands in November, so lets all try this on the #23rd". I honestly can't remember if #16 came out in time for it, but that is still pretty hilarious. And then "Next issue: Bad news for Baldy!"

Andrew Farrell, Saturday, 14 November 2020 21:28 (three weeks ago) link

Week 8: Vol 1, issue 17, Entropy in the U. K., Part One of Three - 18 tbc tomorrow

My God, I am so bad at this! And to add insult to injury, imgur has totally fucked their interface, meaning I now have to register an account with my phone number to upload images for this thread? Nah, you're graaaaaand, lads, so on we go with postimg & whatever that's like.

https://i.postimg.cc/85tcnwZv/9184.jpg

We open with the Gideon Stargrave scenes! Part Bond, part St Trinian's, part just pure Morrison.

"Type O - common as muck." I think about this line perhaps more than I should?

Think this scene - visuals and the interrogation under mind-altering substances, was part of the Matrix inspiration that so annoyed Morrison. But I have to say I prefer this one (it goes harder too).
https://i.postimg.cc/mD2CDPqQ/kingmobchair.png

The eyeball technique Sir Miles describes is very similar to one used in the first series of Utopia iirc?

I cannot tell you how much I like the detail that even in King Mob's fantasy stories, he saves a cat.
https://i.postimg.cc/FKcNLGtv/gideon-cat.png

Elfayed is back! I love that guy so much. "As above, so below."

Fanny is in custody, and, contrary to what Sir Miles just said to KM, is unharmed. Fanny ignores Sir Miles trying to bounce her and keeps asking for water. We know why, and they do too, as they won't help.

Lol @ Fanny asking for Leichner powder right after though, and fuck Sir Miles so much here! Honestly, he is such a complicated character with such an interesting history, but I always despise him for this scene.

Fanny, though, won't let that be the last word:
https://i.postimg.cc/GtbyNHPB/sirmilesfanny.png

Miss Dwyer is back and she's still fucking terrifying. I really enjoy the possibility, however faint, that Sir Miles leaves open for Gideon Stargrave to be the reality. She brings the King-of-all-Tears through and Sir Miles is furious, because he's not ready for what the Archons do to environments they're in.

Boy and Robin are waiting for Fanny and King Mob, and Robin is telling a highly relevant (to this arc) story about a man who bonds with his cancer cells so they stop killing them. But they soon realise something's up.

This is one of these things that makes no sense on a first read but is absolutely great on rereads:
https://i.postimg.cc/4x2jxcmg/dejavu.png

George Harper from Division X! Getting the band back together!

Sir Miles is starting to buckle under the strain of invading KM's preliminary defences and he hasn't even hit the jackpot yet. Frankland gets him a paper tissue to wipe up the blood dribbling onto his chin.

https://i.postimg.cc/1z5Cw3VK/stargrave2.png
I'm watching The Crown right now and imagining alternate universe Anderson-Thatcher croaking the line about the wicker man and I'll be honest, it's hilarious.

"I'm cultural imperialism coming home to roost."

I need to update the playlist but I'll do that tomorrow!

In Sir Mile's projection, King Mob is being chased by the ball from The Prisoner.

King Mob is Polish!

We end on a dark note, and I have to finish this week tomorrow, and then Sunday's too, it takes a little longer but that's ok, I have time this week that I didn't the last two.

scampus fugit (gyac), Monday, 23 November 2020 23:59 (one week ago) link

Week 8: Vol 1, issue 18, Entropy in The U. K., Part Two: Messiah

After my complaining yesterday, imgur is now working ok so...well then.

https://i.imgur.com/g9BGxnm.jpg

We open with yet another Gideon Stargrave story, this time on a bus hurtling around a dangerous mountain pass being pursued by a madman in a biplane. When you see King Mob in India later in the series, you understand how he pulls threads from his own life seamlessly into his fiction. Like the dangerous state bus journeys lol.
https://i.imgur.com/jlPTFiQ.png

"Zen-crazed aerial madman" has always been very funny to me.

Back in reality, with Sir Miles and Frankland and it's room 101, the worst place in the world. They show King Mob a bucketof his fingers they've cut off him, except not really, because he's been doped out of his mind on Key 17, which he doesn't understand yet.

https://i.imgur.com/umAvht6.png
Really enjoy the tools of destruction here (yes, all of them).

https://i.imgur.com/GZA1Wym.png
I think about this all the time, not just because Mary reappears in ...worse circumstances later, but the fact that she's been asked to come in, to serve these two mem torturing someone, the way she doesn't even blink at the scene when she asks if "the young man" wants anything, Frankland going from wanting to get to work on KM with his instruments to asking for a Fruit Club with his tea. How many of these scenes has Mary witnessed and filed away in her mind? Is that why they chose her, and the King-of-All-Tears found her such easy prey? Because this detail. Christ! What a scene! It tells you everything about them.

Sir Miles is starting to sweat, and threatens Frankland because he knows Miss Dwyer will go through him with no effort and even less remorse. Damn.

We're in Brixton with Boy, spying on the police searching "Kirk Morrison's flat. King Mob has done well enough from his writing to be a millionaire!

The unimpressed copper reading KM's stuff and going "it's quite good, this" is always amusing to me. Boy is loitering outside the door but she's found by a cop she hadn't seen. We go straight to Uluru, in King Mob's memory.

King Mob is with Joey and Gerry, Aborigine men who are connections of his. KM wants to go into the Rock. Yet another example of KM's grandiose myth-making being swiftly punctured by someone else (perhaps this is why his writing is so successful lol):
https://i.imgur.com/NQPAsrZ.png

Sir Miles is rummaging through all these memories of magic and myth like he's ransacking a drawer, and suddenly KM hits him back:
https://i.imgur.com/QQ63IKU.png
These are all little traps destined to enrage Sir Miles so he won't miss the big trap waiting. Nevertheless, Sir Miles is shook, and you realise he probably has got a bit lazy in his old age, isn't using his skills on interrogations as much as he should be.

You can tell how much he hates having to ask Miss Dwyer for help, he's sweating bullets. The way Miss Dwyer keeps needling Sir Miles about his class...you can see exactly why she was such a good candidate for modification, why she has done the things she has.

We're back in Brixton and Boy is putting her training to use by escaping from the cops with little hassle. Love this fella, one of the most memorable one-off characters:
https://i.imgur.com/vgsw7cG.png

King Mob is inside Uluru and sees the most indescribable fish-vessel. He starts speaking the memory through bruised and broken lips, in the real world.

There's a struggle as King Mob's pulse and vital signs flicker, and Sir Miles decides he needs to force entry before it's too late. And then he's in with Edith first.
He doesn't recognise her, slightly strange given his relationship to Beryl.

I absolutely love the detail here, and the intimacy of it without nudity or it being obscene or lewd in any way:
https://i.imgur.com/4xz37n7.png

Then we see a crack, and King Mob's connection to Dane is laid bare for just a second. It's out of time and context but it's enough for Sir Miles.

Boy is running back to meet Robin, and telling her that they have big problems and then we get this great Robin face:
https://i.imgur.com/9pIcoDH.png

Jim Crow's back, and things are just about to get fucked up.

scampus fugit (gyac), Tuesday, 24 November 2020 22:20 (one week ago) link

Week 8: Vol 1, issue 19, Entropy in The U.K., Part Three: Assassin and issue 20, How I Became Invisible

https://i.imgur.com/5akAiUO.jpg

Sir Miles is in King Mob's mind, wearing his fucked-up aristo on his summer holidays outfit. He sees some flashes of memory, but he's further in than he realises, because he starts speaking to Frankland in the real world, who hasn't said anything. Sir Miles is bleeding from the nose, and asks Frankland for a tissue as he's misplaced his hanky. He tries to persuade King Mob to cooperate, again, while in a nearby room:

Fanny's reflection in the soldier's visor is distorted and slightly inhuman, as if a hint to her powers.
https://i.imgur.com/0W0JxxK.png

It's revealed that she somehow has Sir Mile's missing hanky and has twisted it into a humanoid shape.

Sir Miles is still shiting on to King Mob, and sounding like a centrist dad.
https://i.imgur.com/Rx8I2QM.png

As if to prove my point, he then starts talking about Orwell. "Political pornography drooled over by those who talk of freedom, yet thrill to depictions of absolute control."

He then talks a little about Key 17, and about imprisoning people through language. I am reminded again of Tom's talk with Dane earlier in the series along the same lines, with different intent.

More memories come while Sir Miles is breaking the last door down. He's so far into it, he stops talking about "he", and instead says "we"...is this a sign that King Mob's actual power over his mind is stronger than he's allowing Sir Miles to believe?

Back in London proper, Robin, Boy, and Jim are coming to the rescue. Boy doesn't appreciate Jim's car being a hearse, and in that light, his reference to the train station is unfortunate. Echoes of Eazy E in the next issue? ("Hey Martin, maybe I can catch a train.")

https://i.imgur.com/xqYqnZ5.png

Boy's muttered response to Robin going HEY GUISE SMART DRINKS really amuses me.
https://i.imgur.com/YUXKsC1.png

Fanny twists the hanky-figure's head and, in the adjacent room, Sir Miles is abruptly halted in his interrogation. Inside King Mob's mind, the wall is finally falling, but it's not due to Sir Miles.

This sting in the tail is King Mob tearing off Sir Miles's aura as taught to him by Zaraguin (no wonder he wants to be paid!)
https://i.imgur.com/gun6bKD.png

This was great:
https://i.imgur.com/Tyi3htv.png

This reminded me of Fanny's grandmother, the witch powerful enough to abort a baby by stepping hard on its mother's shadow. Is Fanny even more powerful?
https://i.imgur.com/4dAKq9g.png

Ah, the nostalgia of your classic London A to Z there! Useful for sights, tips, and tracing your fellow Invisibles.
https://i.imgur.com/rwzksrq.png

Back in the interrogation room with King Mob, where it's all gone horribly right. KM takes out Frankland with a scalpel hit directly to the temples - bye, you Nazi fuck - and King Mob tells Sir Miles "at least I'll die free." He reunites with Fanny in the corridor.

This such a touching and funny interaction between them:
https://i.imgur.com/9F2tsXx.png

More Gideon Stargrave! This reminds me of King Mob and Mr Six drinking champagne together towards the very end. Nice and smooth.

In the other other room Miss Dwyer knows that something's wrong. The descriptions that follow are dreadful, but I'm not sure I've ever been more chilled than my the words "Miss Dwyer dressed for the hunt" in this series.

And my God, the imagery.

One last issue tomorrow - had no intention of doing them all spread out like this, but have been preoccupied and they take me longer to write up now! Still, we're then up to date until Sunday.

scampus fugit (gyac), Wednesday, 25 November 2020 23:14 (one week ago) link

The most striking thing to me about these three is how much I'm not into it - if you'd asked me I'd have said oh yeah, the buildup is great but once we get to King Mob in captivity that's when things really take off. But I'm not as into it - unless I misremember there's great heights to come though.

A lot of that is just how really badly the Gideon Stargrave stuff has aged - I know Morrison frames it as "this is the kind of trash that you'd build up as a baffle for psychic interrogation" but he's also his own proud mum putting it on the fridge - and getting Phil Jimenez to illustrate it! I probably wouldn't mind so much if it was cartoonier, but the high-rez panties of a dying orgasming 15-year-old - blech. To say nothing of the tourism. Of course, some of the reason that I'm bored with some of the metaphysics here is because I _was_ really excited about them 25 years ago...

(I mean also fuck a Michael Moorcock, as far as I can tell from the negative space of everyone talking about him but without me actually reading any)

Anyway, now that I've gotten over that the rest is still good - I like the gimmick that this is an origin story of someone that Morrison has no idea of providing an origin story of, so to an extent our protagonist is Sir Miles.

The eyeball technique Sir Miles describes is very similar to one used in the first series of Utopia iirc?

He's quoting an actual handbook - I also like that the lighting for his first appearance makes his face look like a mask.

I'm choosing to believe that it's a deliberate two fingers to the modish fop Stargreaves that Sean Philips has drawn him as Liam Gallagher on the cover of the second issue.

The scene with Mary Brown is amazing alright - it reminds me a little of the stenographers in the film Brazil, and I think you could argue it serves as a critique of the idea of just being kind to everyone as a way of life.

I can't think of Miss Dwyer without picturing Priti Patel, no lie.

Andrew Farrell, Friday, 27 November 2020 20:02 (one week ago) link

Week 8: Vol 1, issue 20, How I Became Invisible

I really have no excuse to be as bad at this as I am, particularly as I've been off work all week, but you've shamed me once again AF. Oh well!

https://i.imgur.com/xjOnhoA.jpg

So: I really like the art for this one! But I don't think Tommy Lee Edwards returns during the run, so guessing Grant Morrison didn't agree, or they didn't work well for the series maybe? But regardless, I like the lineless sort of style and it works really well for this story.

Also, I will take a few weeks before I start Volume 2, so if people want to catch up then's probably a good time.

So previously we've had Dane's story, some of King Mob's story and Fanny's story, and now Boy gets an issue to herself. I like Boy, for the most part, but I think her role in the series is pretty thankless and I was pleased she ends up happy towards the end. If it's not become apparent by now, I misplaced my Invisibles reading guide somewhere in the house so I'm winging these posts, but I need to track it down before her V2 storyline cos...yeah.

Anyway.

Boy is canonically good-looking, but despite my liking the art style, it does her no favours.

Her writing is like her and tells us a bit about her - compared to the others she's a pretty "normal" person who doesn't like thinking about how she got into the Invisibles.

Boy is anosmic! She and Oscar have a nice rapport; it's nice to see a light sort of interaction to start this issue. But unlike some other members of the crew, Boy seems to get on with everyone, she's not abrasive like Dane can be or fiery like Robin (thinking specifically of Jolly Roger). Maybe that's part of how she's invisible.

"That was when the scenery cracked and I saw the ropes and pulleys and wires in back of everything."

The Feds move in and clear the decks; Boy and Oscar leave them to it but Lucille is thinking.

I really like this panel of Boy's face in half-profile, with the guy in the background.
https://i.imgur.com/oE0Qb3n.png

The guy on the street rambling is telling the truth in his way, but Lucille doesn't hear it. But there's a reason his words have stuck with her six years later.

Lucille's father is a bully, and she idolises her big brother Martin in part because Martin stopped their dad hurting them.

Enter Eezy D. Immediately you can see Lucille and Martin opposed to him, they're very literally on different sides and the siblings can't stop themselves goading each other, even on their mother's birthday.

"Shit! Maybe I can catch a train, huh, Martin?" This line burns at me, lads.

"I guess I never really knew him. I never really knew anything."

Oscar is talking about a conspiracy theorist who's been talking about black people rounded up on trains. Rex 84 of course was a real thing, I suppose it seems almost adorably naive to read their conversation about this in These Times.

Eezy confronts Lucille when she's out one night. Briefly want to talk about these panels.https://i.imgur.com/FqtjiLo.png

On the left: Eezy appears with people crying out from the train behind him - they don't look like revellers. He's wearing a red shirt, and in the right panel, Lucille's dress is the same colour for this one panel only (her dress is shown in every other frame to be lilac). Is this because when Eezy mentions the train, which she's uneasy about, she knows he's telling the truth and for a brief visual they are on the same page? I like also how we don't see her face as he says this, but instead we see the smiling, oblivious faces of the white people she's turned towards.

"The beast's staring you right in the face and he's counting on the fact that you don't even believe that he exists."

Oscar vanishes, and Lucille starts to come around to Eezy's side. Even more so when she finds the calendar with train times in Oscar's desk.

She hides and watches her beloved Martin, exactly as Eezy had said, complicit in the train running. Like his namesake the mouse Marty, he has been lost to her a long time. When they try to put him on the train, Lucille intervenes, and Martin begs her to shoot him, but she can't do it.

https://i.imgur.com/xSGTF1N.png
The soldier's features shadowed through the visor look like a skull.

"Shoot me!"
"Any day of the week, motherfucker!"

Eeezy appears; of course he's there, spying on Martin. He hits Martin (in the arm?) but then the police fill him up and Lucille howls.

"It was like somebody turned the volume down on the whole world." And at that moment, Lucille's anosmia breaks and she is painfully aware of the scent of Eezy's death and the train.

While Lucille holds Eezy as he dies, Martin is hustled onto the train. Lucille snaps out of it and fights, but her life is saved by Oscar.

https://i.imgur.com/Q6JscUn.png
"Fucking traffic," is weirdly, darkly funny to me. Oscar became invisible and he tips Lucille off about King Mob, who finds Lucille two days later. She walks out of her old life and disappears like everyone else.

Lucille is very clear-eyed about her motivation; when you think of King Mob waxing lyrical compared with Lucille's bluntness here, it's pretty startling. The end of the issue makes it clear by the lingering on the chimney smoke that the camps are not just prison camps, they're death camps.

Andrew, I will respond to you later!

scampus fugit (gyac), Saturday, 28 November 2020 08:52 (one week ago) link

The most striking thing to me about these three is how much I'm not into it - if you'd asked me I'd have said oh yeah, the buildup is great but once we get to King Mob in captivity that's when things really take off.

That's interesting - for me, the series takes off when we get Fanny's backstory and picks up speed here. I really enjoy the capture-rescue storyline and the wide cast of characters drawn into it, and it's got some of my favourite scenes.

A lot of that is just how really badly the Gideon Stargrave stuff has aged - I know Morrison frames it as "this is the kind of trash that you'd build up as a baffle for psychic interrogation" but he's also his own proud mum putting it on the fridge - and getting Phil Jimenez to illustrate it!

Yeah, there's a lot going on here & irl lol at "putting it on the fridge" - great way to put it. Basically it's GM's id in some ways, y/n?

He's quoting an actual handbook - I also like that the lighting for his first appearance makes his face look like a mask.

I guessed about the book but didn't want to confirm it by googling with The Irish Name That I Have! And yes, otm re lighting. They return to this again and again, but what can I say? It works.

The scene with Mary Brown is amazing alright - it reminds me a little of the stenographers in the film Brazil, and I think you could argue it serves as a critique of the idea of just being kind to everyone as a way of life.

Which factors back into Audrey Murray. I've never seen Brazil but I should, it seems like it ticks off a lot of interests for me.

I can't think of Miss Dwyer without picturing Priti Patel, no lie.

SIGH.

scampus fugit (gyac), Saturday, 28 November 2020 23:14 (one week ago) link

Week 9, vol 1, issue 21: Liverpool and issue 22: House of Fun

Well now.

https://i.imgur.com/hoTG8UX.jpg

Jack turns up at his mate Billy's house carrying Tom's bag and after having cut his hair with kitchen scissors or something.

Billy's weird twisted half-pose looks like he's doing the time travel moves. I agree with Dane, it's annoying as fuck when people won't sit down.

"When did I stop?" When he was with Tom, I think?

The way Dane brags about Boy to Billy compared with how he actually acts around her in reality...sad lol. But he's still sharp enough to notice Billy's suspiciously nice lighter.

We travel back to Dane's time with Tom, and all the things Tom left him with which will come to the forefront of Dane's consciousness in this and the next few issues. We see Dane and Tom both plummet, but Dane falls through space into Barbelith, which breaks his fall. Barbelith calls Dane a "lost one."

Billy has a new stereo too and tons of CDs, including Jim Crow's band Root Doctaz. Dane is naturally suspicious of this, but Billy, doing the near-identical nervous twist, tells him it's fine. Dane has flashes of memory from his time with Barbelith; the Invisible Academy, illuminated in green, then back in the present he starts talking about the things he's done before waving a gun at Billy.

Dane trails off into sullen silence as Billy gets the door but something - his natural suspicion, something Tom taught him? - makes it click just in time.
https://i.imgur.com/Bv3B9bf.png

The cops burst in just in time to see Dane racing away from the flat having shinned down the drainpipe.

Mr Six! In a newsagent! Is he too deep in the role of Mr Malcolm to not be caught totally flatfooted, cos Dane gets away from him luightning quick!

Dane's with his mother.

"Doctor Who shite about space aliens and fucking time machines and fuck knows what else."

The masks in the background remind me of the Harlequinade.
https://i.imgur.com/tiJ2zWJ.png
Dane is trying to explain things to his mother but she doesn't understand and gets angry with him.

"Oh Jesus Christ, love. What's been happening to you?"

This is the first time Dane's seen his mother since Tom stripped away the layers he built onto himself to prevent himself feeling anything. His mother doesn't understand, because she's still got hers, but Dane reaching out to her manages to touch her anyway (she is his mother after all).

Dane is back with Barbelith, which tells him that he created it. There follows some extremely Catholic imagery - he is trying to prise the nails from Christ on the cross. In the present, he cuddles up to his mother and cries like he's never learned to forget how. All his mother can do is pet his hair, as though he's her baby again, and try to listen.

https://i.imgur.com/o0Jfcxk.png
I really like this panel of the two of them, Dane clinging and soft, but his mother's eyes fixed on the door are hard and her mouth is set. Dane (wrongly) thinks she's sold him out too, but it's just Mr Six come to save Dane, although Dane doesn't yet understand this either.

"I'll wipe the fucking floor with him if he starts anything!" And you suspect she would too.

Tom's magic pops up in Dane's conscious mind, just when he needs it most. "Totep." And all the windows go and the building cracks.

Boy shows up just in time to knock down one of the coppers who's not been knocked out - the one with a metal plate in his head.

https://i.imgur.com/3ocyHjw.png
"Except wake up, I guess," always amuses me.

Dane asks Boy why should he care, and then Barbelith, surfacing in his consciousness once more, tells him (and us). As above, so below.

Dane has already decided to go with Boy by the time she's making her case. The issue ends with Dane asking "are we going or aren't we?" So the band is getting back together, finally! It's been like 13 issues!

https://i.imgur.com/ASUqf0z.jpg

Everyone looks glam on this cover, ngl.

Jim Crow and Ragged Robin are outside the creepy joke shop. Maybe all joke shops are creepy by default and that's redundant phrasing? The vibes are bad enough that Robin's vomiting everywhere.

We go straight to the source - the King-of-all-Tears and Miss Dwyer. "Death-prayers and obscene rosaries...The world sickens and begins to change." Ok, he lays it on with a trowel here, but you do feel the dread!

Fanny is trying to get King Mob up, but he's in a dreadful state and is having difficulty. Fanny perceives it first.

"There's something in here with us. Something that shouldn't be in the world."

Fanny has to drag King Mob down the widening corridor because he can't walk.

Outside, Robin has been to the shop. On the list:
https://i.imgur.com/ggqqeP8.png

Now we see the payoff from issue 10 and Jim's debut - we already know how he works with Guedhe and the things he can do.

Robin has to spit the rum into Jim's eyes to help ensure Guedhe comes, and does he?
https://i.imgur.com/6RTASQ2.png

Does he ever.

Fanny is panicking because they're developing little growths on their bodies and they don't know why. At King Mob's request, they go back into the room where Sir Miles is. You get a quick reminder that Frankland is dead - unnecessary but nonetheless welcome.

Our crew quickly realise Sir Miles is immune to whatever's happening to them. Sir Miles clues them in quick, they're getting cancer because of the nanomachines the archons use to reconfigure the environment for themselves.

Weak as he is, King Mob realises what the solution is.

"Who'd have thought we'd end up...blood brothers, Sir Miles?"

Outside, Jim and Robin have finally got their way inside the shop with the help of Guedhe.

Flashback to a few hours ago in Liverpool, where Dane is saying goodbye to his mam for the last time.

https://i.imgur.com/4YG18zZ.png
I've always really liked this panel; the lack of colour and the tiny scale makes it look as unreal and meaningless as the normal world now is to Dane.

Outside the shop, Dane also feels the bad vibes coming off the place, but there's nothing to be done but go in.

Fanny and King Mob are watching their tumours disappear, before Miss Dwyer bursts in and King Mob shoots at her with what are pretty decent reflexes given his condition. I really like the weary resigned look on Sir Miles's face as he says "That was my...superior. That was Miss Dwyer."

Ah no. The Mary Brown scene. I've written about the earlier one a bit upthread, but this one is always a hard reread for me. We are spared from seeing her final fate by the closeup of the dead insect eyes of Miss Dwyer's 4D armour, but it's horrific.

In the next scene, Jim/Guedhe remarks that somebody just "died bad". But Guedhe/Jim is laughing at the skulls and horror paraphernalia all over the place. It doesn't reassure Robin much, because zombies that have hijacked the bodies of soldiers come shambling towards them.

Robin uses her nanobot bracelet!

Back with Sir Miles who is grimly telling Fanny and King Mob they can't hope to win. KM collapses and Fanny goes to him, calling him "Gideon", which is interesting. A reminder of how young Fanny/Hilde still is.

Boy and Mr Six are separated from Jack. They're beside an abscess in reality and Jack is running through God knows where. And suddenly he breaks through to meet the King-of-all-Tears.

https://i.imgur.com/JstRBL6.png

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY.

scampus fugit (gyac), Sunday, 29 November 2020 22:28 (six days ago) link

I have a very high opinion of Brazil, but I don't think I've seen it since moving to the UK - it's one of those things where I don't think there's anything specifically terrible (some "lol rich women are vain" is all I can think of) but I'd still be a little nervous.

SIGH

This is not the venue for your Tory ws of shame!

The Boy issue is a weird one, partly because in the context of the Invisibles, Boy stands out as the 'normal' one - she has no magic / sufficiently advanced technology - and so neither does her origin story. In the framework from the last few standalones, there's a lot that happens here because it's assumed that everyone already speaks the language of US cop show.

I say there's no magic but there's still the same questions about backstory and twists - how long is "all this time we've been partners", is it just co-incidence that it's the invisibling of his partner that's the upshot of all of this? See also: how long had Mister Six been Big Malkie?

And "is it just coincidence?" is the eternal question of the conspiracy theorist (or rather "no" is the eternal answer) - one angle hinted at here is that for decades conspiracy theory belief was higher in African Americans than the rest of the population, partly because a lot of conspiracy theory-ish stuff did happen - there was a Black Wall Street, and the government did bomb it. I'm just guessing, but I wouldn't be surprised if the racial pendulum has swung back in the last 4-5 years. There's a passage from Grant Morrison in the letter column of #18 bigging up Paradox Press's Big Book of Conspiracy Theories, which I wish I still had a copy of.

I hadn't intended this to be topical, but I see that the idea of anything to see in Pat Finucane's death is also now a conspiracy theory.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 30 November 2020 20:14 (five days ago) link


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