Should we bring the Morrison discussion over here now? I don't know how...

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Although I do plan to re-read it again someday, I'm not a huge fan of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol (I frankly wasn't in the mood to re-read it at this time), and I didn't care for his Invisibles at all. In fact, I don't even own it; I read a friend's copies until I finally said, "No, thanks." But Animal Man, OTOH, is the one I've been waiting for. I've had it pulled out of its box since this discussion began on the other board. Also, the current Last Days of Animal Man series (by Gerry Conway) has got me jazzed to re-read it. I hope to get to it this weekend if not sooner.
Morrison is funny that way.

His work goes all the way from accessible, mainstream and popular (JLA) through to arcane and impenetrable (The Filth) with many graduations in between.

I think I'm showing that as far as Animal Man - Doom Patrol- Invisibles go, each builds on and develops the ideas he used before. In fact he claimed somewhere that Ragged Robin was originally conceived as Crazy Jane from Doom Patrol who had slipped into another, somewhat more 'real' world at the end of Grant's Doom Patrol run. She says she was born in 1988, for one thing. Grant dropped the idea as the series progressed, much as Gaiman dropped the references to the DCU as his Sandman series progressed. Perhaps the links to the League of Long-underwear was too embarassing for both series, that were then breaking out of the superhero ghetto.


He does have a limited 'area of interest' but he's able to present them in all these different 'modes' that are very different in tone. I was impressed that family man Buddy was written by a (presumably) single, carefree alternative-scene Smiths fan. Animal Man is probably the warmest in tone, as Buddy brings a lot of heart to it.

As for Doom Patrol I'd recommend some of the one-off issues to any superhero fan. There's a huge range from comedy to tragedy, and he stretches what you can do with a superhero story, especially ones set firmly in a shared universe with a long history.

I had a dim view of Morrison for the longest time. I just thought he was a wilfully obscure, shallow, self-important, upstart. Lots of folks think he still is!

This thread looked at the first half of Animal Man Vol 1 starting on page 1, but you mightn't be aware that I posted on the second half of vol 1 on this thread in the Morrison discussion forum on this site. It's rapidly sinking...

I'd love to read any commentary you post on Animal Man Vol 1. and I have the rest of the run on standby if you want to get stuck into that afterwards.

BTW, I eventually got my hands on Gothic and posted on it over there too.

Looking at it now, I see some similarities between Gothic and The Invisibles. The persistence of the child within the man. Bruce's dad being able to 'communicate' with his son as if the time since his death meant nothing. The fallibility and limitations that the Devil works under in this story is like the dark gods in The Invisibles.
The first issue closes with Miles asking the old Mickey Mouse Club opening question: “Now. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.”

Morrison is more than likely quoting a line from a children’s radio programme that ran from the 1920’s(!) to the 1980’s called ‘Listen with Mother’. Each episode’s story began with that line.

I hadn't heard that before. Presumably the creators of the MMC knew it, and possibly were deliberately quoting it. This brings up another thing about The Invisibles that we haven't talked about directly: it's very British. A reference like this is something most American readers wouldn't get. And since the primary audience for a Vertigo series would be American, that was probably another barrier to the acceptance of the series. As if the surreal subject matter and constantly shifting art team weren't enough! I appreciate your British perspective, Figs, in addition to your careful reading.

He would take this to a ridiculous extremes in the Seven Soldiers maxi-series. (Well worth your time, if you ever get a chance to read it Mark. 30-odd issues as densely plotted as this sequence of Invisibles.)

Thanks for the recommendation. I've thought about reading that, and I know the library has at least some of the collections. I'll have to investigate further.
I appreciate your British perspective, Figs.

That's fighting talk, where I come from! Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

But seriously Photobucket its a fair point that it's probably a further level of alienation for some.

For people who've been exposed to British culture, there are a lot of little 'Easter eggs' scattered around. The reference to the Oasis brothers for instance. I even recognised the street where King Mob joined his team before the Windmill adventure. Old Compton St in the heart of London's gay district. That's Regent's St where Jim Crow complains about the traffic in issue 19.

I have a feeling that there's probably also little references that perhaps only people from the gay community would get.

As I said, a lot of the way Bobby's social circle speak and express themselves would be more familiar to someone from my Scottish-influenced part of Ireland than to someone even from the South of England.

All these sub-cultures play on the notion that the opposite of a monolithic obediant culture of control is a diversity of micro-cultures and sub-cultures.

Morrison and myself would have very similar cultural touchstones. We were both influenced by 2000AD and a whole post-punk culture of opposition to Maggie Thatcher's vision. Question everything. Don't trust authority. Bobby's life story brought back a lot of personal memories of dole queues and the Falklands War - or the Malvinas War, as some call it. I was just a kid watching the news, but still.

It mightn't have made marketing sense, but I do get the feeling that this series was aimed at ME, which is a nice feeling, but it's very hard for me to see The Invisibles as it would have appeared to readers across the Atlantic.

It seems the producers of The Invisibles reached the same conclusion because the next arc was an attempt to 'Americanize' the series and make it more accessible to that market. The primary one as you say
Figserello said:
Morrison is funny that way.

I would certainly agree with that. I have often remarked that I have a love/hate relationship with Morrison's work. The strngest impression I've taken from Morrison's Animal Man is that it seemed to me to be written with DC Silver Age sensibilities taken forward and extrapolated to the present day. Let's face it, some of those John Broome and Gardner Fox stories were pretty far out! The way I see it, Animal Man is Morrison doing Broome, JLA is Morrison doing Fox.
The battle with the Archons resumes in the next three issues. “House of Fun,” “The Last Temptation of Jack,” and “Good-Bye Baby Rabbits” are really parts 3 – 6 of “Anarchy in the U.K.” (or parts 1 -3 of “House of Fun”), even though they aren’t labeled that way. Steve Yeowell returns as penciller, this time inked by old pro Dick Giordano. The Archon King-Of-All-Tears has manifested on Earth, accompanying his nun Miss Dwyer, and their mere presence is reality-bending and corrosive. King Mob and Fanny fight the literally cancerous effect by injecting themselves with some of Sir Miles’s blood, which was infused with Archon nanites. Jim Crow allows himself to be taken over by the Voodoo loa Papa Guedhe, while Ragged Robin has a bracelet that can generate a protective shield. When Mister Six, Boy, and Jack Frost follow them in, Six quickly discovers an abscess developing in the reality mesh. Dane is in Liverpool in 2012, telling the story…he draws a protective circle around himself (using stuff from the Tesco shopping bag he pulled out of the locker, and has been carrying everywhere) and confronts the Archon. He remembers more of his childhood, especially his disappointing first love. A future version of himself warns him that it’s all a game, and he can’t trust anyone. Dane has an enlightenment experience, and realizes it’s all a cheap trick. Six stops the reality abscess by sacrificing his identity as Brian Malcom to it. KM and Fanny defeat Miss Dwyer by injecting her with Key 17, the drug which had been used on KM during the interrogation: it makes words appear to be the objects they describe. Dane forces the King to withdraw by telling him he knows his real name. Dane heals KM, using magic mirror. And he restores Sir Miles’s aura—which KM had torn away—saying “Nobody knows what I am.” King Mob announces that they’re headed to the United States.

All of this feels like the end of Vol. 1 of the story, but there’s one more issue. “And a Half Dozen of the Other” features Mister Six and the reactivated Division-X (penciled by Mark Buckingham, inked by Mark Pennington). They are an X-Files style police unit from the 1970s, called in to help the Paranormal Investigations Squad look into the events at the House of Fun. A lead takes them to a club in Soho run by a strange masked midget named Mr. Quimper. There’s more reality bending, and a video of what looks like an Archon…Quimper gives them Sir Miles’s name. I found this issue very disorienting. We just saw Mister Six at the House of Fun as one of the Invisibles, yet here he is in an anachronistic cop drama that looks like it took place earlier in time, and he acts as if he knows nothing of the events from the battle with the Archons. I take it that this was Mister Six’s pre-Invisibles identity, so this would be another “origin story,” except it’s set in the present! But we also meet Mr. Quimper, who shows up on the cover of a later collection, so he must be more significant than he appears.
One more detail. The exact date in Dane's future is Dec. 22, 2012: one of the possible last dates on the Mayan calendar. This has been variously interpreted as either the end of time (Armageddon), or the dawning of a new age. As usual, actual experts think both interpretations are nonsense. But I'm sure that's where the date came from; it's not random.
I think I screwed up.

When I posted on October 27 (at the top of this page), I was responding to the last post at the bottom of page one, which I thought was the last post at the bottom of page six.

Nevermind.
Thought you were a bit out of synch alright...

If you reread Animal Man book one, that podcast I linked to is well worth a listen, if only for the rage and frustration of the Tom Clancy fan.
I left my copy of Entropy... on my desk at work so these are just a few notes bouncing off your entry.

Sticking with King Mob's interrogation for a moment, Sir Miles' question about revolutionaries pulling things down but not having any alternatives to build things up is very pertinent. Perhaps Sir Miles' side have a point. If only they wouldn't keep rounding up homeless people to be hunted down and torn apart by Lovecraftian horrors... I think the volume Counting to None, where King Mob goes back the early C20th and there are Anarchist dynamiters working for the Invisibles, might go into this more. We've already learned that the Terror during the French Revolution was a result of Invisible manipulation which got out of their control.

The battle with the Archons resumes in the next three issues. “House of Fun,” “The Last Temptation of Jack,” and “Good-Bye Baby Rabbits” are really parts 3 – 6 of “Anarchy in the U.K.” (or parts 1 -3 of “House of Fun”), even though they aren’t labeled that way.

These three issues don't have the same intensity as the King Mob or Fanny three-parters. Perhaps because the storytelling is more linear, and plot rather than character-driven. Morrison plays with time where Jack's group seem to be in Liverpool one minute and then turn up outside the House of Fun the next. (It'd take about 8 hours driving to get from one to the other on a good day.) We realise that just because the events of the two strands were intercut, they weren't necessarily synchronous.

House of Fun is a song from Madness. They don't make em like that anymore. I only mention it because Morrison has a lot of pop-song references in The Invisibles.

For the 2000AD superhero saga Zenith, which he did with Yeowell, each chapter had a title from a famous song. I think one of the reasons that series can never be republished was that the rights weren't cleared.

Speaking of Yeowell...

Steve Yeowell returns as penciller, this time inked by old pro Dick Giordano.

This was something of a treat, to see th every individual Yeowell pencils done by a classic DC silver/bronze age inker. I still preferred the finished look of Yeowell's art in the First volume though...

The Archon King-Of-All-Tears has manifested on Earth, accompanying his nun Miss Dwyer, and their mere presence is reality-bending and corrosive. King Mob and Fanny fight the literally cancerous effect by injecting themselves with some of Sir Miles’s blood, which was infused with Archon nanites. Jim Crow allows himself to be taken over by the Voodoo loa Papa Guedhe, while Ragged Robin has a bracelet that can generate a protective shield. When Mister Six, Boy, and Jack Frost follow them in, Six quickly discovers an abscess developing in the reality mesh. Dane is in Liverpool in 2012, telling the story…

This was a strange way to start an issue set in the middle of a life-or-death battle with an otherworldly dark diety. Thinking about it now, perhaps this flash-forward to the future was another 'temptation' by the Archon. A reassurance to Dane that he doesn't have to fight hard. It'll all turn out ok. Its an unlikely interpretation, but its hard to be sure of anything in this story.

Morrison admits to having trouble ending some of his storylines. With this flash-forward to Dane in 2012, he lets the air out of the tension he's been building up in the 'House of Fun' arc, and also is starting to give away the ending of the entire storyline. Already he's signaling perhaps that the ending is by-the-by, its the journey that's important. This is one of the ways he tries to get us to read the series for more than just where the story is going next.

he draws a protective circle around himself (using stuff from the Tesco shopping bag he pulled out of the locker, and has been carrying everywhere) and confronts the Archon.

My copy of this volume has an introduction before the story starts telling us 'the story so far'. It's a bit strange as it seems to give away more than Morrison has actually told us in the series itself! Sir Miles side are given a name, which I don't think we've seen yet in the story and we are told that Tom a Bedlam taught Dane the old Green magic or somesuch. The magic Dane has learnt is very much of the here and now. Tesco shopping bags, old cigarette butts, and Top of the Pops. (BTW this was a hugely important pop show on the BBC for about 40 years. It did the top 30 every week and its a big part of all the childhoods of people of a certain age. It's finished now. I linked to Morrissey and the Smiths appearance on ToTP in the last Doom Patrol post. It's all connected!! :-) )

He remembers more of his childhood, especially his disappointing first love.

This is just me riding my own little hobby horse, but Grant is subtly acknowledging a facet of Liverpool culture in the details of Dane's life. Like Dane himself, Christine Quinn has an Irish surname. We know that Dane has a Catholic background from the imagery Barbelith uses. Liverpool is geographically very close to Ireland and a lot of econimic migrants have arrived there from Ireland over the centuries so it has a huge Irish Catholic derived population. I was there one St Patrick's weekend and everyone was wearing green and most of the people I talked to had Irish in their family tree. The one time the Beatles came to play a concert in Ireland, they brought their aunts so that they could visit their relatives there. (The Smiths and the Sex Pistols also have Irish roots, so the most influential UK bands of the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s are all as Irish as bedamned!)

All this doesn't have much to do with The Invisibles, but it does show that Morrison knows whereof he speaks when it comes to the Liverpool setting.

Dwyer is also an Irish name. I doubt it signifies much, but perhaps there is more 'old Green magic' in this series than whoever wrote that intro suspected!

A future version of himself warns him that it’s all a game, and he can’t trust anyone. Dane has an enlightenment experience, and realizes it’s all a cheap trick.

I laughed out loud at the famous last words of the Dane who died on a hospital bed. Of course the title and content of 'Last Temptation' is setting Dane up as a kind of 21st century Christ. The line “Nobody knows what I am.” sounds very like the New Testament Jesus at his most cryptic.

Six stops the reality abscess by sacrificing his identity as Brian Malcom to it.

There's food for thought here. What are we when all the bits and pieces that make up our identity are stripped away? Mister 6 mourns the 'death' of Malkie as if he was a real person.

KM and Fanny defeat Miss Dwyer by injecting her with Key 17, the drug which had been used on KM during the interrogation: it makes words appear to be the objects they describe.

There doesn't seem to be any research in real life that suggests such a concept might be possible. But if everything in the Invisibles world is 'fiction' then there is no difference between the words and the actual things there.

Dane forces the King to withdraw by telling him he knows his real name. Dane heals KM, using magic mirror. And he restores Sir Miles’s aura—which KM had torn away—saying “Nobody knows what I am.” King Mob announces that they’re headed to the United States.

All of this feels like the end of Vol. 1 of the story, but there’s one more issue. “And a Half Dozen of the Other” features Mister Six and the reactivated Division-X (penciled by Mark Buckingham, inked by Mark Pennington). They are an X-Files style police unit from the 1970s, called in to help the Paranormal Investigations Squad look into the events at the House of Fun. A lead takes them to a club in Soho run by a strange masked midget named Mr. Quimper. There’s more reality bending, and a video of what looks like an Archon…Quimper gives them Sir Miles’s name. I found this issue very disorienting. We just saw Mister Six at the House of Fun as one of the Invisibles, yet here he is in an anachronistic cop drama that looks like it took place earlier in time, and he acts as if he knows nothing of the events from the battle with the Archons. I take it that this was Mister Six’s pre-Invisibles identity, so this would be another “origin story,” except it’s set in the present! But we also meet Mr. Quimper, who shows up on the cover of a later collection, so he must be more significant than he appears


I was hoping to reread the last four issues again before posting here, but I haven't got the book here with me at the moment. Reading your summmary of the Division X story, I see I didn't really read it closely enough. You picked up a few more things than I did, and its probably a lot more important story-wise than it seemed to me at first.

What you said earlier about the Atlantic-wide cultiure gap that Morrison is working with here got me thinking. Perhaps it is deliberate.

I was also thinking about what Jeff said about JLA being Morrison-as-Broome, and Animal Man being Morrison-as-Fox. Doom Patrol matches Morrison-as-Arnold Drake although Morrison takes the weirdness waaaay out there even for a Drake homage .

It does make me wonder who is 'riding' him voudoun fashion while he writes The Invisibles. I think it's a combination of European 'Bandes Dessinees' comics with the non-superhero art-style , political engagement and adult-oriented content combined with the anti-authoritarian fast-paced future shock of UKs 2000AD comic. The inspiration isn't American at all really.

It's all very pointedly British/European. (Did you notice that King Mob in his early appearances very subtly has mascara in one eye like Alec out of Clockwork Orange ?)

If there is an American influence it is America through the lense of UK culture. The 2000AD ultra-violence can be traced back to American 18-rated ultra-violent movies of the 70s and things like Dirty Harry. With the tough UK agents who operate outside the law, Morrison is very directly referencing a hugely popular UK cop show called The Professionals. Bodie, who Fanny thought he'd picked up in Apocalipstick is a direct lift from the show. Bodie and Doyle were the two main characters. Bodie looked and dressed just as his namesake does in The Invisibles. His job is similar, working for a secretive wing of national security and his modus operandi, going beyond the law, is the same.

The show ran from 1977-81 and those two guys were the very model of masculine behaviour for a whole generation of kids. Given that they were immature, reckless, fast-driving, shot-first yobbos this is probably not a good thing. The opening credits give a good idea of the flavour of the show. They seemed to be always driving, running and shooting. You'll recognise Bodie straight away.

The Wire it wasn't but it wasn't a bad little show either, in a cartoonish kind of way, and was copied in playgrounds up and down the land.

Here are some more scenes highlighting the kind of tough-guy nonsense they got up to every week, which someone has set to a Duran Duran soundtrack.

Division X itself is also a take on The Professionals. Their tough boss is very similar to Colin Jackson's character in those credits.

There is a focus on this one particular iconic British cop show. Perhaps simply because it was so iconic (and great fun.) But according to wiki it was a British cop show very consciously modeled on American shows such as Starskey and Hutch. It was made by the same producer as the more sophisticated and 'artistic' The Avengers, but the ingredient brought in this time was the slick, attractive portrayal of violence as a selling point of the show. I don't think many British cop shows took this tack before The Profesionals.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that the major American influence on this series that we've seen so far has been a critique of the way violence is such a part of US pop-culture, and how it has spread all over the world. Having looked at all its influences, I'd have to say The Invisibles is like an American superhero comic, only insofar as its heroes dress up in strange outfits and solve the worlds problems by violence and beating people up!
Mark Sullivan said:
One more detail. The exact date in Dane's future is Dec. 22, 2012: one of the possible last dates on the Mayan calendar. This has been variously interpreted as either the end of time (Armageddon), or the dawning of a new age. As usual, actual experts think both interpretations are nonsense. But I'm sure that's where the date came from; it's not random.

This article, haltingly translated from Dutch* is the most up to date piece on the 2012 idea.

12 Dec 2012 is significant because the sun in the winter solstice will be at the centre of the Milky Way, and aligned with the 'equator' of our galaxy.

However, regarding the Mayan calender, they have done more research and it seems they had miscalculated when the Mayan calender started, so the final date won't be until around 22 Dec 2230.

*If the Baron puts it through his translation site, would it then become Double Dutch?
Just looking at House of Fun issue 22

The page layouts all have the frames open at the edge of the pages. Perhaps to give the feeling of the team being in a situation where they are not sure of the boundaries of things inside the rapidly changing ‘House of Fun’ once the Lost One starts to enter the world.

This means also that the frames bleed into the reader’s world. Our world starts where theirs ends in these last 3 issues of this arc.

The reason I noticed the frames running off the edge of the pages in these issues was because the one exception is very striking. It is during Dane’s farewell to his mother, and as he leaves her, her room is very confined within its frame and looking very isolated from the rest of the world (P145)

Dane’s Mum is like the people who eat the blue pill in The Matrix. They don’t want to know anything more about what is going on in the world. Ignorance is bliss. They like their world to be safe, with comforting boundaries. Morrison dramatises it well, and we see that both Dane and his mum, in their different ways, know that Dane has taken ‘One Step Beyond’, to name another Madness song!

The Invisibles is all about conspiracies. ‘The Conspiracy’ is how the intro describes the Invisibles’ enemies. But the thing about conspiracies is that you never know where the line between healthy suspicion and unwarranted paranoia lies. Morrison doesn’t make it any easier for us. Dane sees that his friend is getting money somewhere and suspects him of being an informant on him, and he thinks much the same things about his mum. He might be more justified in suspecting one more than the other, but as readers we don’t find out exactly how much he has to be paranoid about. Like those up to their eyeballs in a conspiracy, the ground is never sure under our feet.

Jim Crow/Papa Guedhe's comparison of the events to a ‘video game’ recalls Bobby the security guard’s last thought. ‘Keep telling yourself, it’s only a game.’ Crow goes on to say ‘Let’s proceed to the next level and find out…’ The sequence with him and Robin is like a video game. The ghastly environment is like one of the later levels of Doom, for instance. And suddenly the zombified guards start coming at them. Crow treats it all like a video game. He doesn’t seem worried that they might die – perhaps he just gets to play it again in that case? And like in a video game, he can use the ‘cheat codes’ if it gets too tough.

Morrison is a huge fan of video games, according to recent interviews with him.

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