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

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I can see that the Ragged Robin subplot is going to add some fresh ingredients to the saga. My only question at this point is why her mother lined her up for a picture and then took a picture of a cloud formation? Perhaps Robin is covering herself up with her thumb on p17 or maybe her mother is a useless photographer, or there’s some kind of Back to the Future thing going on and Robin has faded out of the picture?

and
Although she doesn’t seem comfortable with guns, this is the first time we see that Robin might actually be very powerful. She floors Quimper quite easily. Perhaps she is empowered by the leadership role that she was assigned by the lots?

Somewhere (probably on the Barbelith site) the point was made that this whole arc centers on Robin, and I think you can make a case for that. I wondered about that photo as well, but I don't think there are any clues given as to which explanation is the right one. I hope we find out later, but I don't remember! That is a cool scene where she takes over control from Quimper. I had no idea she could do that.
We interrupt this Invisibles discussion to mention that I've added a post to the Final Crisis thread over here.

Helpful explication (not by me!) awaits.
The Invisibles Book 5: Counting to None

"Time Machine Go"

The team are at the San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Mason receives information that his time machine has achieved a break-through. They send the HIV anti-viral agent off to their chemists and decide to go to meet the time-travel scientists in San Francisco. Fanny and Jack are sent to retrieve the Hand of Glory from the Harlequinade while they are in the city, while King Mob checks in with an ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile Robin and Mason go to meet Takashi - but in the middle of their discussions Shizuka and Yoshio arrive. They shoot Robin and it glances off her head exposing some metal but leaving her unconscious. They set a bomb and begin to leave. Boy attempts to stop them but fails, and when King Mob arrives Sjikuza and Yoshio are threatening the room with guns. Boy tells him about Robin and he goes up the lift to find her. King Mob and Robin link telepathically, but when Boy arrives at the floor they were on all she sees is an explosion...

More from the great Jimenez/Stokes art team through most of this whole trade. Tremendous amount of action in this issue, as shown by the long summary. But the story inter-cuts between different times and sub-teams so smoothly you hardly notice. Robin is about to explain things to King Mob, but then the action overtakes them. Nice panel showing KM apparently reading an Invisibles comic, commenting "Christ! He's making this bit too far-fetched..."

"The Girl Most Likely To"

King Mob and Robin have escaped the explosion into the Invisible College, which exists on the borders of the healthy metaverse. Robin is healed by antibodies, and reveals that she has been sent back from 2012 by the Invisibles. In a flashback she relives being sent into her past just as the Archons attack the rest of her future team.

The trip to the Invisible College recalls Jack Frost's trip there back in Volume 1; KM explains that Tom O'Bedlam taught him how to get there, and probably showed Jack as well. We finally get Robin's whole story, with the 2012 part shown in contrasting style by Michael Lark and Marc Hempel. She wasn't just sent back from 2012, she was sent by The Invisibles! I wasn't expecting that. We get an explanation for the photo only showing the cloud formation: it was a photo of a different cloud formation given to her by Takashi to demonstrate his theory of time travel. Near the end of the issue there's an especially cool page with visuals that bend space to show the true nature of reality, as KM explains it to Robin.

"The Sound Of The Atom Splitting"

Takashi and Mason are being interrogated by Yoshio and Shizuka about the Time Travel theory when King Mob bursts in guns blazing. Robin stands back as he kills Shizuka and wounds Yoshio, who refuses to talk. Robin reads his mind - the two men wanted the time machine to find out how the Harumagedon was to come about. Meanwhile, Fanny and Jack meet the Harlequinade. They dance for the Harlequin, and when they have left they find that they have been given the Hand of Glory.

Nothing much to add to this. Nice bit at the end: King Mob is advised to meditate more so he won't be so violent...his final response it to shoot off the head of a Buddha statue, saying "Oi, Buddha! Meditate on that."
Just when I think I've read all the words on Final Crisis that could ever fascinate me, I'm introduced to something that adds a whole new layer. Thanks, Mark!
JeffCarter said:
Just when I think I've read all the words on Final Crisis that could ever fascinate me, I'm introduced to something that adds a whole new layer. Thanks, Mark!

You're welcome!
Invisibles Vol II #5-7

Ah, this is much more like it! I think we are back to Grant telling the story he wants to tell with this arc. The HIV and Polio vaccinations and top secret government bases we have just come through were all very X-files. It felt more like some kind of Invisibles for Dummies primer than The Invisibles proper.

Once again we are back in a 3 issue arc concentrating on a single member of the team. As has been the case sometimes before we are not told overtly that it is such an arc. The focus on Robin, the cuts to Takeshi’s grandfather at Hiroshima and the scary Aum gangsters all provide unity. It is only with this read-through that I am getting how there is a deeper structure to The Invisibles than would have been apparent to casual readers back when.

We get yet another creation myth. This time positing that our universe is formed where ‘hyper-universes’ are overlapping: one sick and one healthy. Unlike the other tales we’ve been told so far there is evidence within the story for this one, as we are told that the Invisible College is on the edge where our universe touches the healthy hyper-verse and the Outer Church is where our universe touches the ‘sick’ one.

I was wondering what the giant red sun/sphere meant when we saw it before. Here we get the explanation. Red is stop and green is go – duh! It seems that the Invisible College has to allow you to enter before you can visit it. Stop, Wait and Go seem very like the hard and defined rules of the Archons than the free-wheeling Invisibles though!

We do find out the deal with the photographs. According to Robin they attest that ‘the entire Universe was a lot simpler than we thought’. Wow, we’ve come through all this complexity so far – and plenty to come no doubt – to learn that everything is actually quite simple! Hmmm!

Everything is very fixed in this time-travel story. The whole sequence of Robin leaving 2012 to come back to 1995 argues that everything is predestined. Takeshi has an eye missing even though we don’t see him lose it til later on. Robin is the one that has to go back because she’s the one that they know went back.

The Archon King-of-all-Tears picked this moment as the weak point to attack when he left Jack in the House of Fun. (The plotting here is very elaborate across the different arcs as well as within them.) The Archon attack is a great ‘cliff-hanger’ that we will probably have to wait til the end to see how it goes, if we ever find out.

We also find out a little more about the disappearance of John-a-Dreams. It was in Philedelphia he disappeared, no doubt in that cathedral with King Mob. King Mob was scared and he wasn’t. He just wanted to see what lay beyond...

Jack and Fanny’s dance-off looks to me like an attempt to translate the experience of a night out on E into the language of a sci-fi adventure comic. Just as it feels in real life, their dancing is very consequential and important and almost ‘sacremental’ in the way it is offered up as a gift and a celebration.

King Mob’s meeting with his old-flame is another example of the comic presenting real life on its own fictional terms. The relationship depicted seems very real and KM’s regret and sorrow at the end of it has pathos. Although I’m guessing that unlike King Mob, Grant Morrison doesn’t have an ex-girlfriend who left him because he went from being a writer to a multiple killer.

Another possibility is that Jacqui is the fantasy girlfriend that Morrison had (or didn’t have, rather) as a teenager stuck in his bedroom listening to Morrisey records. King Mob seems to be not so much a self-portrait as a depiction of Grant’s teenage fantasy persona now grown up.

We’ve already seen that by entering his mind to defeat him, Robin has let a little bit of Quimper into her soul. This theme is elaborated on by Jacqui who quotes Phillip K Dick to the effect that those who fight empires are doomed to become them. Like Quimper in the previous arc, Robin is carried outside our universe to a hospital to be fixed up.

King Mob’s arc in Vol II seems to be a slow turning away from ultra-violence. His killing of the charming Harumageddon boys makes him physically sick. Again we get a reference to Hollywood in the context of a mega-violent shoot-out. Maybe Robin is referring to the last minute rescue as the ‘Hollywood Finish’, but look around the apartment at this point.

The final scene with King Mob shooting the Buddha is a nice cap on the arc. As you say, Mark, there is an element of laughing off the idea of being less violent. It is also a comicbook illustration of the eastern saying that if you meet the Buddha on the way, kill the Buddha. This saying has already been referenced earlier in the series. The killing in the saying is of the philosophical kind. We shouldn’t bow to accepted ideas of what is sacred. We each have to create our own philosophies.

I think it is a central idea of the whole Invisibles series. As I say, the various creation myths and philosophies which the series presents seem to be deliberately inconsistent with one another. In the end we are thrown back on our own judgement. What do we believe in?
We get yet another creation myth. This time positing that our universe is formed where ‘hyper-universes’ are overlapping: one sick and one healthy. Unlike the other tales we’ve been told so far there is evidence within the story for this one, as we are told that the Invisible College is on the edge where our universe touches the healthy hyper-verse and the Outer Church is where our universe touches the ‘sick’ one.

I agree, this one seems most relevant to the story so far. I'm adopting it as my working model for the time being. At least until it's shown to be inconsistent in some way!

The final scene with King Mob shooting the Buddha is a nice cap on the arc. As you say, Mark, there is an element of laughing off the idea of being less violent. It is also a comicbook illustration of the eastern saying that if you meet the Buddha on the way, kill the Buddha. This saying has already been referenced earlier in the series. The killing in the saying is of the philosophical kind. We shouldn’t bow to accepted ideas of what is sacred. We each have to create our own philosophies.

I think it is a central idea of the whole Invisibles series. As I say, the various creation myths and philosophies which the series presents seem to be deliberately inconsistent with one another. In the end we are thrown back on our own judgement. What do we believe in?


I agree, and I'd forgotten about that injunction to kill the Buddha. I'd say the scene is meant to be taken both ways.
"Sensitive Criminals Part One: Poor Little Rich Girl"
Lady Edith Manning is meeting a man called Papa Skat in a club in 1924. She wants to get the Hand of Glory from him. When they leave the club she pulls a gun on him. 'Meanwhile' in 1997, Ragged Robin begins to draw Quimper patterns on her face. King Mob talks to Edith as she is in 1997 - he tells her he is going back in time to find out how The Hand of Glory works. When they come to show it to Takashi they find that Boy has stolen it and has disappeared. King Mob has already gone into a trance, propelling himself back through time. Back in 1924, Papa Skat has got the gun from Lady Manning. The shadow of a scorpion rises up behind her and King Mob appears to save her.

Finally, the first meeting between Edith and King Mob.

"Sensitive Criminals Part Two: Mad Dogs and Englishmen"
King Mob is in a deep trance and travelling into the past, while the rest of the Invisibles are deciding what to do about Boy. In New York in the past, King Mob is in a gun-point standoff with Papa Skat while Edith stands by. Papa Skat reveals that he is an Invisible too, and they proceed to the car, where Freddie has been incapacitated. Releasing him from his memories they proceed to the Harlequinade to get the Hand of Glory. However the Cyphermen are also in 1924 - and King Mob is forced to use his spirit gun to defend them. While the fight goes on in the background, the Harlequin shows a few things to Edith before releasing her with the Hand. Later, traveling across the Atlantic towards England, Edith experiences Barbelith. When they arrive in London, King Mob is introduced to Queen Mab, the first King Mob and Billy Chang. Later that evening they trigger the first operation of the hand - and start to make contact....

More Voodoo, which we last saw practiced in the modern day by Jim Crow. The series is nothing if not eclectic.

"Sensitive Criminals Part Three: Parisian Pierrot"
The Invisible cell in 1924 has performed the ritual, and the Hand of Glory is active. Time and space go insane. Edith finds herself looking at herself as an old woman, the first King Mob moves through peoples' lives and watches Edith cry as she looks at Picasso's Guernica. The following day, they go to St. Dunstan's In The East church. Edith and Freddie (Tom O'Bedlam) enter to meet the Harlequin. The two King Mobs wait outside when time collapses around them. Edith meets the Harlequin and he tells her how to operate the Hand. She takes the young King Mob to bed to anoint the Hand. They take a photograph of the whole group, and as the young King Mob fades, something grows from one of the meta-universes. He wakes with a shock into 1997. Finding out about Boy's disappearance, Robin declared a full Invisibles alert - the word is out....

There's more than one time traveling Invisible in this issue: we see Dane and Tom sitting on a swing in the church courtyard in 1924.
One other comment about the "Sensitive Criminals" arc. The time travel element is somewhat reminiscent of the French Revolution arc back in Volume One. But this time it's only King Mob doing the traveling, and the plot elements are more firmly tied to the ongoing story: we've already met Edith, and Tom O'Bedlam (although it's not obvious at first that he's the same Tom). Plus it's become easier to accept the idea of astral time travel, given all the strange stuff we've seen by now.
Figserello said:
JeffCarter said:
Just when I think I've read all the words on Final Crisis that could ever fascinate me, I'm introduced to something that adds a whole new layer. Thanks, Mark!

Whoops! I guess I meant, "Thanks, Figs!" [sheepish grin smiley]

You're welcome!
The Invisibles Vol II #8-10

The Hand of Glory.

Another intricate, well-focused 3-parter. The twenties setting at the very beginning differentiates it nicely from the previous arc.

What are we to make of the quotation marks around Robin and KM’s post- (and possibly pre-)coital conversation on p5? We’ve seen this before, when Quimper put words in Jolly Roger’s mouth by remote control. He might have access to Robin now – Beryl confirms this during the séance with the Hand of Glory later – but surely he's not controling King Mob as well, as there are quotes around his half of the conversation too? That would make him too powerful, and he was pretty helpless after his last encounter with Robin.

Perhaps it is some kind of distancing effect. Morrison is concentrating on the Moderns in this arc after all. It draws attention to the artificiality/artifice of what we are reading instead of letting us think it is ‘really’ happening.

As the quotation marks make us think the lines of conversation are being repeated, perhaps later, we have to ask once again – who is telling this, and to whom?

And then there is Robin’s request ‘Can we try something...?’

We don’t find out what it is. Perhaps it is some sexual act beyond the pale even for Vertigo’s permissive ethos? In any case King Mob, who's been around the block a few times himself, comments on its unusualness the next day. Perhaps it has something to do with Quimper’s control of Robin? In effect KM is making love to the little guy without knowing it!!

The difference between Freddie in 1924 and Old Tom in 1995 is remarkable. His journey must be a long hard one between the two points. This arc is full of little glimpses of fully thought out stories for most of the 1924 characters. We only see fragments of their arcs, but any one of them would make for compelling stories.

Nice touch that Jack’s declaration of ‘fancy’ for Boy happens just before she seemingly betrays the team. Back when Jack was in hiding in ‘London’ we saw a little fantasy scene of Jack in 'getting physical' with Boy. Only now do we get that it was a fantasy scene and not a memory of an encounter between them that we hadn’t been shown. In any case, Morrison doesn’t make things easy for the readership, especially not those reading it as an ordinary monthly comic.

The Irish tough guy in the bowler hat is excellently dialogued. I’d put him around the midlands somewhere. If he came from further south of the country he’d have more lilting speech patterns, and if he came from further north, it’d be a harder-sounding dialect. He’s very well realised for someone who speaks only a half-dozen sentences. That the story is set just a year after the Irish Civil War ended makes me think he might have learned his gunplay in that conflict, or the so-called Irish War of Independence that preceded it. Perhaps Morrison is showing off again and Bowler Hat is a parody of an Ennis character?

Mark said The time travel element is somewhat reminiscent of the French Revolution arc back in Volume One. But this time it's only King Mob doing the traveling, and the plot elements are more firmly tied to the ongoing story: we've already met Edith, and Tom O'Bedlam (although it's not obvious at first that he's the same Tom). Plus it's become easier to accept the idea of astral time travel, given all the strange stuff we've seen by now.

I agree. That we’ve met some of the characters already makes it feel more like KM is really back in time. The French Revolution journey didn’t feel much more real than the ‘completely fictional’ Castle Silling side trip that the gang made on the way back from it.

Unlike other time-travel stories everything in this one seems to be ‘locked in’, with the possible exception of whatever Fanny changed at the end of the She-man arc. Like most time-travel scenarios, KM is careful not to tell anyone much about the future. He does divulge that much of their present shapes the future he has come from.

“James Joyce, TS Eliot, Picasso, black music, drugs and dancing”

Of the three Modernists, only Joyce hasn’t been “quoted” in The Invisibles up to the end of this book – unless I missed it.

King Mob may be overstating the case for the twenties, as “black music, drugs and dancing” have obviously been around since the very beginnings of humanity in Africa, and could all be argued to be crucial indicators of our earliest diverging from the ‘lower’ animals.

Edith’s encounter with Harlequin and his servants seems to echo Jack and Fanny’s encounter. Both involve a test or offering and we actually see the blobs of Magic Mirror that appear to Edith, whereas we only got a dim memory of them from Jack earlier.

That Edith is contacted by Barbelith makes me think that it was put there to guide them through to the end by the mass-mind of humanity. In terms of this story we all become one with the Godhead after the Eschaton/Armegeddon. We don’t know if it tells her that she put it there on the other side of the moon. Perhaps when it used ‘you’ while talking to Jack, it was using the plural form?

Jimenez pencils part 1 and 3. but only provides layouts for part two of ‘Hand of Glory’ and someone called Spaceboy does the pencils. (Perhaps the pseudonym is because it was pencilled by someone under contract to Marvel at the time? Its the only reason I can think of.) There isn’t any jarring change in styles, but the 1924 King Mob suddenly has a goatee when the séance is taken up again in the Jimenez-penciled part three rather than the dapper moustache he'd sported in part two. Stokes inked both, so he should have picked up on that.

Or perhaps the Hand of Glory altered King Mob’s facial furniture while warping the fabric of space and time?

Young Edith and Older Edith becoming aware of each other is quite powerful once you realise what is going on. King Mob sees Bobby as a one year old telling his mother that ‘Edith says to call him Boody’. We see Beryl/Queen Mab crying over Picasso’s Guernica in the early 60’s but it is only at the end of the story that we learn that her lover died there on his way to the Spanish Civil War. Once again Morrison draws a veil over the insights that occur when us mere mortals interact with higher powers. The gang themselves can’t remember what happened and next thing they are outside St Dunstan’s church the next day.

The church itself cycles through various phases in its history. It had fallen into disrepair before the 19th Century, and would be bombed during the Blitz, but would have been in good shape in 1924, according to wiki.

Every so often in Morrison’s work we get indications that everything is mapped out beforehand and we are just here to witness the outworking of it all. Old Tom and Jack/Dane being there at the end of Tom’s journey to witness Freddie’s life-changing entrance to the church is one such moment. It is the same scene as we saw in the very first collection. Old Tom is the only one of the four here who realises its significance.

Edith’s jumps through time include the 2012 apocyalypse where the ‘snow’ is falling. She later doubts that it was snow. That the ending involves a whiteness falling and blanking everything out looks forward to Final Crisis, which involves the infection of untidy story on the pristine white page of perfect nothing.

Billy Chang says that 5 is a powerful number of people, as it takes 5 minds to equate with one mind of the beings outside time and space. He counts off the 5 fingers on the Hand of Glory as Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Spirit, just as the cells of the Invisibles are divided up into 5 people representing each of these elements.

The hand is activated by the closing of circles in time. Tom seeing his younger self is one and King Mob making love to both the old and the young Edith is another. During their session they hear a voice explaining what is happening.

“The Hand is … a machine made of time. Its moving parts are the days of our lives…”

Again, who is telling this?

Something goes wrong when they do the final operation with the Hand and the Outer Church breaks through rather than whatever benevolent force they were expecting. The horror of it is suggested rather than shown overtly.

The final issue of this arc reveals that these events, and his cousin's harsh treatment of him, made Tom into “one of the greatest magicians in the history of his species.”

As with Fanny, his transformation is overtly compared with that of a butterfly - a recurring motif in The Invisibles. Ironically, for someone who affects such distance from what is going on around him, his trials largely turn on his deep love for his father and for Edith.

As some mysteries are cleared up, more appear. Edith reckons she knows who the Harlequinade are, but we don’t!

And then there is the note she receives through the letterbox: “EDIE, IT’S TIME”. (Only Tom/ Freddie called her Edie.)

“Isn’t it always, dear?” she muses.
I've just discovered that there are extracts from Anarchy for the Masses on Googlebooks, an issue-by-issue collection of commentary and snippets of interviews with the creators.

There are some awful gaffes by the commentators - They state that Robin never carries a gun and the comic begins in 1987, for starters.

However you do get plenty of good stuff from the horses mouth. Ragged Robin was based on Jill Thompson in her looks (as was Brunhilde in P Craig Russell's Ring Cycle comics, fact fans.) Thompson herself says the Rob Liefield sequence was the hardest thing she's ever drawn. She had to unlearn everything she knew about anatomy and intelligible comicbook art.

There's probably lots of useful annotations in the sidebars, but I wasn't up to reading them this time around.

I thought I'd mention it here as it covers various pages of the book but only up to the Hand of Glory arc, where we are now.

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