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

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As for Robin writing it in 2005, if you step back from it it can be quite logical. She writes herself into her favourite book in 2005. Thinks she's affecting what went on in 1998 - interestingly, she isn't physically there in the scenes we see in Dulce. She takes too many drugs and withdraws from reality, Mason meets her in the asylum, and in 2012 sends her back in time. (Admittedly we are now in Terminator/Planet of the Apes territory where going back in time is the 'cause' of the future situation happening in the first place. Yes...headaches. Unlike those two great movie cycles, The Invisibles tries to explain - at least metaphysically - why/how this might happen.)

But then how could Robin speak the dialog of the family she's watching, if she hadn't been there originally? That was certainly what we had been led to believe up until this point in the story. And it made sense narratively, as you pointed out. Unless you want to posit that she can speak that dialog because she wrote it herself...man, I feel a headache coming on...
Mark Sullivan said:
But you're right, the theme has been used before. The Gideon Stargrave issues way back are the first instance I can recall.

Hmmm. Howso? Do you mean his writing or his time-travelling?

I was thinking of the fact that King Mob is Gideon Stargrave, the writer. And the stories depicting Gideon Stargrave the character may be stories written by Gideon Stargrave the writer...and may be describing things that happened in reality (or not). At least, that's how I'm remembering them. I should probably go back and look at them again.

I'd forgotten that. Gideon/King Mob seems to illustrate that the writing has a bearing on how your future turns out, but its not going to be exactly the same. King Mob's adventures are more prosaic than Gideon's. In the same way that Morrison's adventures 1995-2000 were more prosaic than King Mob's. (Those boxes again...) The Universe does its own thing with what you write, it seems.

(To be pedantic, King Mob's real name seems to have been Gideon Starorzewski, who wrote the adventures of Gideon Stargrave. King Mob's older friends, such as Fanny, call him Gideon.)

But then how could Robin speak the dialog of the family she's watching, if she hadn't been there originally? That was certainly what we had been led to believe up until this point in the story. And it made sense narratively, as you pointed out. Unless you want to posit that she can speak that dialog because she wrote it herself...man, I feel a headache coming on...

Similarly, there seems to be some disconnect between what actually happens in 1998 and how Robin wants to write it - with jolly Roger being shot. Perhaps she wrote in general terms about going back in time to join the Invisibles and then 7 years later got to do exactly that, but maybe not down to the fine details? So she does see her real childhood self and her parents on that car-trip.

But thinking about it now, there is ambiguity in her quoting the dialogue. Is she remembering it or writing it?

Gaaah!
And I meant to mention earlier, the scene with the pigeons is also reminiscent of the famous scene in The Sandman issue "The Sound Of Her Wings," which introduced the character Death. It wouldn't surprise me if that was deliberate.

Good observation. I suppose Times Square is to New York what Trafalgar Square, where Gaiman set his scene, is to London. It has surprised me during my “Morrithon” so far, how Morrison seems to be in a dialogue with Gaiman here and there, whereas I had thought they were on completely parallel tracks. I'd be interested if it was a two-way conversation.

I found out a bit more about that Weston/Spaceman interlude in Jimenez’ Sensitive Criminals run. It seems that whereas Jimenez loved Grant’s scripts and loved doing this comic, the scripts would always arrive very late and not give him enough time to do them justice, he felt, so he first of all was assisted by Weston for an issue and then quit the book. It’s reported thus on Barbelith, but it has the ring of truth.

It’s a pity as he was an excellent match for this book. In particular he was a great match for Lord Fanny. Perhaps it’s because he happens to be a gay man as well as a great artist, that he was able to draw Fanny as so glamourous but still recognisably a man. I think the other artists all struggled getting the balance right. Weston in this latest arc draws him as a hook-nosed witch. Sean Phillips produced one cover image of Fanny where you can see his long blonde hair growing out of his scalp. That’s some wig! Bolland is a God amongst artists, but I think he took the short cut of just drawing Fanny as a gorgeous woman, as he’s spent his whole career doing such ‘good girl art’.

I’ve just been googling Jill Thompson to see if she does look like Ragged Robin. Judge for yourself. I found that she has appeared in quite a few comics in various guises. This website gives some examples. Also I just found out that she got married to Brian Azzerello one Halloween!

The Invisibles Vol II issue 21

I don’t have too much to say about this comic, except that its excellent. A lot of it is stuff we’ve seen before, this time joined up by Robin experiencing the scenes in a non-linear fashion as she travels through time.

The final days and parting of King Mob and Robin is emotionally very powerful. Once again, Morrison’s non-linear storytelling method presents a series of hard-hitting scenes that hit us repeatedly like the bass-line of a good dance track and build to a powerful pay-off. Robin’s time-travel and her sorrow at parting with King Mob both climax with the vision of Barbelith, “the Buddha of compassion”. There is a good single-frame reference to 2001, with Robin hurtling through the cosmos on p180.

I loved the “HH …..HHH … HH … HH … H … H” of her nervous breathing within the cramped confines of the timesuit, and the first-person views from it.

This is just an excellently put together thrill ride of an issue. It’s an unusual issue of The Invisibles in that even though its completely non-linear, there isn’t a lot to puzzle out as we are largely taken through events we are already familiar with, even if it is from another perspective. This means that we can really immerse ourselves in Robin’s incredible journey.

Having read the next few issues after this one, it’s still unclear exactly what was said after Jack ends the issue by saying to King Mob – “Sit down. We gotta talk.” What did they talk about? Perhaps it was revelations vouched to Jack in ‘Hell’ but why can’t we be told?

Gaaah again!

Issue 22 – Final issue of Vol II.

Mason calls what he drank in his vision “The Holy Grail….The Ultramenstruum.” And then wonders where he got the name: “Ultramenstruum, where the hell did that one come from?”

Grant used the term later for The Bleed, which is the liquid hyperuniverse in which all other universes in the DCU float. Considering that Warren Ellis had only introduced The Bleed in May 1998, a few months before this Invisibles comic, and the Wildstorm universe of which it was a part had nothing to do with DC back then, its tempting to imagine that the term came from the future! 2008 to be exact, when Grant was writing Final Crisis, and working to integrate the Wildstorm concepts into the DCU for the first time. The term turned out to be very appropriate for what he did in that serial, but it flies out of nowhere here.

King Mob’s first lesson for Mason is typical of Invisibles testing and intiation. El Fayed puts Jack through a very similar trial in the plane in 'Satanstorm'. Like a lot of the lessons in The Invisibles, it has to be experienced, not explained, and the experience only leaves a mark if it is traumatic. It’s hard to see what King Mob is trying to get across with his apparent threat to kill Mason. That concepts like ‘Freedom’ are only words until you actually experience them? That the ways we express ourselves have nothing to do with how it is to be alive in the moment? Food for thought here.

There is another way of looking at it. Although his gun just went ‘klik’ when he had it pointed at Mason, King Mob is able to shoot the croquet ball directly after the incident. Did King Mob actually pull the trigger to test if the future was so set in stone? Did the gun jam ‘by accident’ so that Mason would be around in 2008 to meet Robin and keep the cycle complete? An extreme test, if so, and an indication that King Mob may be suffering a kind of breakdown here.

And what’s the deal with “ …. You are Batman”?

KM is referring to Mason’s coolness under pressure, but what’s the point of Morrison putting someone in his fiction that sorta is Bruce Wayne, but at the same time isn’t at all? No shortage of puzzles in this series. No wonder Morrison is spending so much time in the Batverse these days if he is so obsessed with the character.

The Blind Chessman passes on the message from Quimper: “Tell them my name is John”, to which the Chessman had replied “John, John, hiding in plain sight. That’s not playing the game.”

So much of this series is about hiding in plain sight. Was Quimper somehow John A’Dreams, fallen back into ‘the game’ in another form? If so, who was Mason talking to on his cellphone back in issue 16? I suppose the world is full of Johns. (Just ask Fanny!)

“And now it’s a rescue mission” is another phrase from Jack’s recollection of his trip into ‘the UFO’. Did we hear that before? It’s not a war, it’s a rescue mission?

Anyway, just a comment that this is a charmingly British approach to genre fiction. I’m reminded that the creator of the Thunderbirds, didn’t want to have his heroes fighting it out with others week in and week out, and that’s why he came up with the ‘International Rescue’ concept. Similarly, The Doctor strives every week to ensure ‘nobody dies’. He too would much rather rescue his enemies than fight them.

In similar fashion to his first lesson, King Mob’s second lesson for Mason shifts gears from the philosophical to the concrete PDQ. So much for Wayne Manor!

Thus ends Volume II. I’m a little embarrassed to tell the truth, that I was so dismissive of the first book – Bloody Hell in America, and of much of Kissing Mister Quimper. Taken as a whole, things that seem slight or pointless in these books gained more significance when balanced against other elements within Volume II. I was too hasty in judgement.

It's the closing of this chapter. Could have been the end of the series, without any changes at all.

A lot is tied up, in terms of Fanny and Quimper, King Mob and Robin, even Jack and Boy. There is still the whole ‘end of time’ thing when Jack is supposed to save us all and issue 21, above, did show Robin arriving back in 2012 to be welcomed by the King of All Tears. Mummmeeee!

I just can’t say how much of all that will be tied up. We’ll soon find out.
Book 7: The Invisible Kingdom

Vol. 3 #12 "Satanstorm One: common people"

Division X are spending their time on the surveillance of Sir Miles Delacourt. While they are trailing him they notice the Moonchild being moved - they drive to intercept and get a couple of henchmen, but the Moonchild is driven away in a van. Jack is being trained in North Africa at the Academy. Jolly Roger is training him in Martial Arts while Mr Six and ElFayed instruct them. In India two Invisible members discuss the appropriation of a Sky television satellite. Mr Six liaises with George Harper in London where they watch videos which reveal some more of the conspiracy. They also reveal the Sir Miles was experimentally injected with huge doses of LSD in the '60s. Jack Flint is drugged and taken away by the conspiracy. Sir Miles is asked in a dream to prepare the crown and the throne behind the moon.

Interesting that there is no "Story So Far" summary at the beginning of this volume, just a list of characters. Some new, some we haven't seen in some time, and no Boy. She really did leave, apparently. I guess by now no one thought this collection could be a jumping-on point. John-A-Dreams is listed with The Outer Church, but identified as "A once and future Invisible." The art team of Philip Bond & Warren Pleece is new to the regular series (but Bond had done the short "And We're All Police Men"). Division X and Sir Miles are back.

Vol. 3 #11 "Satanstorm Two: cold brittania"

Mister Six and George Harper are investigating sightings of the Moonchild, and realise that Jack Flint has been kidnapped. Following psychometric traces from one of his buttons they find a scarecrow on a hilltop wearing the jacket. King Mob leaves Shanjeet in India to meet up with Mister Six in Glastonbury. Jack and Elfayed go underground where Jack is shown a jet fighter. He falls unconscious and when he awakes he finds himself flying the plane without a pilot. NASA has spotted Barbelith behind the moon and is planning to recover it, much to Sir Miles' alarm. When Jack Flint awakens he finds himself inside a burning Wicker Man.

Vol. 3 #10 "Satanstorm Three: the "it" girls"

Jack Flint's situation is revealed to be a hallucination triggered by Key 23 use. He is being deprogrammed by Mr Six's cell. Jack Frost is also experiencing some form of initiation as he is forced to decide either to learn how to land a plane or to crash it and to become the Messiah. He lands the plane. George Harper stumbles upon Jack Flint's deprogramming and since he has not been deprogrammed yet he shoots Mr Six. Sir Miles seems to have figured out what is going on and, with a shadow unit standing by, he approaches Mr Six's windmill base.

Key 23 returns, and another rough Invisibles deprogramming. Windmill as base: hadn't expected to see that one again.

Vol. 3 #9 "Satanstorm Four: digging up Beryl"

George Harper turns out not to need deprogramming. Sir Miles bursts into the windmill with a gun. Meanwhile Lord Fanny and King Mob dispose of the troops surrounding them. Sir Miles reveals that he owes a favour to the Invisibles and is here to save them in return. The cell in turn reveals that they have used telepathy to force him to come to them. They psychically force him to re-experience his past and his interaction with Queen Mab and the Invisibles in the 60s before taking him hostage. Later with a grin on their faces, the Invisibles start to dig up Queen Mab.

King Mob is still efficiently violent, but this time there's no gun play, and no one dies. The plot to have the Moonchild crowned as King is foiled, and Sir Miles's "friends in high places have enemies in high places." Beryl Wyndham's murder is avenged; Sir Miles is completely undone.
Vol. 3 #12 "Satanstorm One: common people"

The framing sequence, of Sir Miles’ visit to Beryl/Queen Mab’s grave is a good shock on which to start the final volume. What’s the connection between these two?

The structuring of the arc means we find out not only the connection, but also the grizzly origins of the ‘Hand of Glory’. That was a real literal loose end for me. I wonder will the remaining arcs divulge any more info on it?

The splash page cuts to Princess Diana’s fatal car crash. Bond makes good use of photo references. We learn later from one of Sir Mile’s captive women on video that he’d had Diana killed as a sacrifice of the ‘Virgin Huntress’ as a lead-in to the satanic ‘crowning’ on August 11th 1998. Diana had died on 31 August 1997.

Miles’ book purchases, The Psedonomicon and The R’lyeh Text, are real books, which explore the use of the Cthulu Myths in magickal practices. Amongst other things The Invisibles is a guide to esoteric thought and a sort of manual of magickal explorations, which is why blatent plugs like this pepper the text. These two books seem really hardcore in terms of what they discuss. Just like Mr Six later in this issue, Morrison is judging his students ready to move up to the next level.

With the scenes of Jack training in North Africa, we get perhaps the final statement of what I’ve referred to as ‘creation myths’. Mr Six teaches:

“In preliminary training, you may have been told a number of ...contradictory stories about the nature and origin of our universe and about the reasons why the Invisible order has come into being.

“We lied.

“We are not at war.

“There is no enemy.

“This is a rescue operation”

As if to illustrate his point regarding their relationship to their ‘enemies’, his speech is intercut with scenes of Jack and Roger fighting. Of course they are only practicing and training, honing their skills by pretending to be enemies.

The next jump is to India. Morrison is really striving to tell a global story here, where all of humanity is represented.

We find out later that the bearded guy is King Mob, who has been working on transforming himself into an ‘Ontological terrorist’ as he vowed to be in the last book of the previous volume. He discusses hijacking the workings of communications satellites. They plan to spread Invisibles ‘disinformation’ to counteract a corporate and government virtual hegemony on information.

‘Ontology’ is the philosophical “study of of the nature of being, existence or reality in general, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations”, according to wiki, so King Mob’s soul-searching in Times Square has led him to act on a belief that reality is essentially a product of the messages that are extant in society. Change the message, change the reality, is his thinking. His present life in a remote corner of India is one of isolation from the blizzard of such messages typified by the Times Square setting where we first learned he was re-thinking his life. So it looks like the answer to the question “What’s the most dangerous weapon in the world?” was fiction, after all, or rather, information, which seems to amount to the same thing as fiction in King Mop’s present worldview. There’s no truth, only ‘consensus reality’.

King Mob seems to be an object lesson in the power to fundamentally change your entire life. He blew up Mason's house at the same time as he himself walked away from his whole identity. He wasn't just talking the talk, but he also walked the walk.

This series really was written with multiple rereadings in mind. On p26 of the TPB George gets a vision of the Wickermen while he is sitting in Mr Six’s flat drinking from a tumbler of whiskey. He drops the glass and babbles somewhat while telling them that ‘The Guv’nor’s in trouble’. It was only on rereading this issue that I realised that his primary psychic ability is to sense events in the lives of the owners of the things he touches. This is the moment he realises Mr Six’s double game and Six’s role in kidnapping Jack Flint. He learns it all from touching the glass Mr Six has just given him. I’ll have to check if the readers were supposed to have known that George could do this. Even if he did show this ability, it was over two years since the regular readers had seen any of Division X.

By now it is becoming clear that events in this comic are very much in real time. Not only do we get regular dates which are synchronous with the publishing schedule, but current events and news stories such as Diana’s death are worked into the fabric of the story. This is a world away from most superhero stories which are written with a view to the trade paperback coming out a year later and with about 6 months of story time passing by every 5 or ten years. It’s hard to put current events into a superhero story when in 5 years time you have to pretend that the 2010 world cup happened ‘about a year ago’, to take one example.

Everyone grows and changes in The Invisibles. That’s the whole point of the series after all. Yucky caterpillars into beautiful butterflies and all that...

That’s another reason that Boy moves on, to make room for new members. The Invisibles are always changing and evolving. Nothing stands still.
Vol. 3 #11 "Satanstorm Two: cold brittania"

I forgot to mention that I am finding the new art team a real treat. This is a very high level of comics cartooning. The thick outlines and simple shapes and colours that Bond uses make everything seem to come alive on the page. This is a very different approach to Weston or Jimenez’ ultra-detailed illustrative styles, but just as good, maybe better. Overall I can’t understand why I have read complaints over the years that The Invisibles was let down by the art. People are stupid, I guess!

The focus on Division X after they have been out of the book for 2 years makes for a clean start to Vol III. Maybe I am fond of a lot of the regular cast, but their stories would seem to be very much told. For pushing the plot forward now, Morrison doesn’t want to spend time developing personalities and personal arcs. Instead he uses these ‘off the peg’ English pop culture stereotypes to dig up the information he wants conveyed to the reader. The members of Division X admit as much later when they say that they chose their personae off popular TV shows of the 70’s.

Grant is mining a very British vein of comedy with the hard men of Division X. They have their own cockney baggage, just as American gangsters have all that Italian stereotyping. There is a comic in Britain called Viz which has been publishing very grown-up satire in the format of popular children’s comics. They introduced a character long before The Invisibles came out called ‘Big Vern’, who was an ordinary citizen who lived under the delusion that he was a UK-style underworld criminal. I was able to dig up some of the finished strips that were put on the internet for sale and they're worth a look to see how deeply ingrained this kind of stereotyped urban hard-man is in the British psyche.

The tough-guy antics of Division X draws on the same type of humour. I think the US was only introduced to these kinds of criminal-underworld spoofs in the movies Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.

The scene where Mr Six walks into the pub and says “Any of you queers see what happened to Jack Flint last night?” is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. The guy rushing him with a broken bottle shouting “Faaaaark!” is just the icing on the cake.

Division X are funny, and belong to a particular sub-class of peculiarly British comedy/drama. It’s often played straight, such as the excellent Michael Caine movie Get Carter, but even in examples like this, the men are so hard that it borders on comedy anyway.

There are many instances of ‘hiding in plain sight’ throughout The Invisibles. Shanjeet says ‘Nice ass!’ as the so-far unidentified King Mob washes his hair. If you look closely you can see his scorpion tattoo over the top of his jeans in that picture.

Another instance is that George and Mr Six get as far as the scarecrow in their search for Jack Flint but don’t investigate the Windmill in the background, which readers had last seen at the beginning of the second volume.

Test Card F is another real book that Morrison plugs. A long opening section is available to view on googlebooks.

It’s not esoteric or anything, but looks like a worthwhile excoriation of the pitiful service TV and journalism provide us. Again, more pointers that King Mob has decided that reaching the minds of the masses will do more good for the cause than killing endless dopey mercenaries.

We get just a glimpse of the Invisibles of the 60’s and Sir Mile’s backstory. Colin Wilson’s The Outsider looks like another good book too! It’s significant that it is the type of book someone searching for their place in the world would read. Sir Miles gets led down a blind alley and thinks that what he finds there - evil Gods who will turn the earth into an atrocity camp - is all that there is to know. Like poor Bobby Murray, the security guard, he could have been a proper Invisible in slightly different circumstances.

The Wickerman at the end is of course a nod to the great Edward Woodward film. Among other things, it was about the very Invisibles theme of someone having his whole value system and identity attacked and broken down.

Vol. 3 #10 "Satanstorm Three: the "it" girls"

We don’t see the poster that Division X have recovered from the gate of Buckingham Palace until the end of the arc, but it is a spoof of these posters. The Ministry of Sound became famous for hosting massive ‘rave’ music parties. The whole ‘rave’ scene looked like a huge threat to normal society at one point in the 90’s but The Ministry of Sound itself is just another brand-name now.

I’ve mentioned before that this comic series speaks to me on a very personal level. It’s littered with references to The Smiths’ music, and I was a huge fan as a teenager. The Undertones are also mentioned a bit, and I was born in the same city as them, and share my name with the lead singer. More to the point, the August 11th date with destiny that the first 3 arcs of this final volume work towards happens to be .... my birthday!

I even remember quite vividly what I was doing that particular day in 1999, as I remember the eclipse well.

As you can see from the path of the eclipse on 11th August 1999, Ireland didn’t experience a total eclipse, and anyway, it was very cloudy over that entire part of Europe that day. Still, we did take a break from work to go outside and take in the partial eclipse. Even on a cloudy day, it was an unusual event. It became quite dark, as if it was suddenly evening, and noticeably colder. We take the suns warming rays for granted. The eclipse was actually quite spooky and felt like an ill-omened event, rather than something marvellous. Which is why Morrioson schedules the crowning of the royal Thing during it.

The eclipse only lasted a couple of minutes, but it's rare that a date specified in a comic should have such particular memories associated with it, and because of the nature of the event, I'm not the only one that remembers that day. Morrison has thought through this mass-sigil thing.

El Fayed’s testing of Jack in the Jet continues. As part of it he asks him if the beetle on the floor is a monster rolling dung around or a god rolling the sun across the arch of day. (This ties back to the very first page of the whole series) He goes on to give Jack a number of other dualities, “Messiah, or ignorant frightened child? Good or evil? Dead or alive?”

Jack recalls El Fayed’s original offer at the start of this initiation to either teach him how to attain enlightenment, or how to fly a jet plane, because Jack says “Right now I want to be a pilot!” (except with more use of his customary F-word)

I’ve been wondering what this lesson might mean. The dualities are meaningless in this particular context. What Jack needs right at this moment is the particular skills that will help him right now. Perhaps there is a time and a place for blissful enlightenment, but sometimes you have to act in the real world, even if it is illusionary. (How did El Fayed get the plane into the temple, or Jack into the air, on the plane?) Especially if the illusion might kill you. This is similar to Jack’s ‘temptation’ by the Archon in the House of Fun. He could have had blissful enlightenment there, but opted instead to stay in the real world and fight for his friends.

The Invisibles continually makes the argument that the world we live in is an illusion of one kind or another, but at the same time, episodes like this seem to illustrate that sometimes you have to act as if the illusion is real in order to affect the world, and fight for what you believe in.
I forgot to mention that I am finding the new art team a real treat. This is a very high level of comics cartooning. The thick outlines and simple shapes and colours that Bond uses make everything seem to come alive on the page. This is a very different approach to Weston or Jimenez’ ultra-detailed illustrative styles, but just as good, maybe better. Overall I can’t understand why I have read complaints over the years that The Invisibles was let down by the art. People are stupid, I guess!

I agree, but it's still a bit jarring, and I suppose it's the gear shift between different art teams that bothers some people. A lot of folks have trouble with at least some parts of The Sandman for the same reason. Wikipedia says that Vol. 3 begins a year after Vol. 2 (the same jump taken between Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). I can't find any in-story evidence to confirm that: the time travel sequence that ended Vol. 2 was dated July 1998; the first date given here is January 28, 1999. There's clearly been a break in the action, anyway, and the team is dispersed.

I’ve been wondering what this lesson might mean. The dualities are meaningless in this particular context. What Jack needs right at this moment is the particular skills that will help him right now. Perhaps there is a time and a place for blissful enlightenment, but sometimes you have to act in the real world, even if it is illusionary. (How did El Fayed get the plane into the temple, or Jack into the air, on the plane?) Especially if the illusion might kill you. This is similar to Jack’s ‘temptation’ by the Archon in the House of Fun. He could have had blissful enlightenment there, but opted instead to stay in the real world and fight for his friends.

Good point about the plane. By this point in the series, I barely gave any thought to how any of that could be accomplished! Sometimes seemingly impossible things are explained later, but you can't count on it.
Vol.3 #8 "Karmageddon Part One: tantrika"

Lady Edith Manning and King Mob are keeping in contact by e-mail as Edie visits DeSade's mansion. Meanwhile, Mr Six defects to the Yellow Mask.

Another new art team for this arc: Sean Phillips, penciller & Jay Stephens, inker. It's a good look for the series, tilting more towards the realistic end of the scale (as so much of the previous art has). I was remembering a wild profusion of artists in Vol. 3, but really that's only true of the title arc. Lots of Indian imagery in this issue, as befits the title. This whole arc has Edith at the center, and India is where she and King Mob first met...it's a closing of the circle of Edith's life.

Vol.3 #7 "Karmageddon Part Two: type Omega"

Mason and King Mob bump into one another in India and discuss the nature of abduction experiences. Meanwhile Sir Miles is being filmed and held for ranson by Helga and the rest of the team. Mr Six is being drawn into a new conspiracy by The Yellow Mask while Flint's deprogramming proceeds apace. Jolly Roger and Jack Frost are preparing themselves, only to find Helga taking photos of a toilet and calling it the Black Grail. In India, Mason and King Mob meet Edith, who describes the experience of utilising the Hand of Glory in the 20s and the terrible cost that it exacted on Freddie Harper Seaton. Edith then reveals that she plans to die, but seems to have a good reason...

Nice "Seventh Seal" imagery on the cover. As the Barbelith annotations point out, Edith may be beating Death at a game of Rock Paper Scissors.

Vol. 3 #6 "Karmageddon Part Three: six minus six"

Helga injects herself with Key 23 and exposes herself to the alphabet of the ubersprech. Experiencing suddenly "outside" she suddenly begins to understand. Mason leaves King Mob and Edith in India, where Edith has been planning to die. She and King Mob discuss the past and Billy Chang, and then go to Varanasi where she dies. He cremates her body. Meanwhile in London Orlando returns, on the trail of Sir Miles' kidnappers. Helga has been interrogating Sir Miles, summoning what appears to be the suit of an archon in order to scare him. He is not entirely convinced, believing it to be a Key 23 induced hallucination. Helga offers to cut a deal.

Vol. 3 #5 "Karmageddon Part Four: smile"

King Mob is meditating on Acid and the under the 'influence' of KALI the alien language generator, and considers his time with Edith and Robin, remembering that Robin was pregnant. Edith and Tom meet and discuss things in the past or the afterlife. Jack and Roger meanwhile break into the breeding vats of the Cyphermen, and sabotage them with some fragments of alien language. Mr Six is with the Man in the Yellow Mask down in an abandoned underground station. Yellow Mask reveals himself to be the Harlequinade, ready to initiate him into the 'oldest trick in the book'. Sir Miles meanwhile is still being interrogated by Helga, who having intimidated him releases him drugged and terrified back into the wild. As the sun sets over Varanesi many years ago, King Mob meets Edith for the first time...

When Mister Six enters the underground tunnel, he sees Tom O'Bedlam lying on the floor. A couple of pages later, Tom (who Edie addresses as Freddie) appears in Edie's room, noting that he had to "brutalize the laws of physics to be here."
Oops here's the end of my comments on Satanstorm, ...about 10 minutes too late!

Obviously El Fayed, despite his down-to-Earth engineer pretensions is one of the really powerful sorcerors in the Invisibles universe. Up there with Mad Tom.

The jumps as the series moves forward is because Morrison compresses so much action into only a week or two of events in each arc. So to keep the series 'in real time' we sometimes catch up with the characters when they are at the end of 6 months or more of R&R. They do a lot of R&R, the decadent buggers!

I find the real-time aspect quite exciting in this comic. It must have been fun reading this comic in June, and knowing that the upcoming eclipse on August 11th would happen both in real life and in the comic. This series did loads of stuff that no-one else even thinks of elsewhere.

Anyway, I've read almost all of Vol III, but I'm saving the last issue until I've nearly caught up with my commentary.

Vol. 3 #9 "Satanstorm Four: digging up Beryl"

First of all, what a great title for an issue. Poor Beryl. We’ll get back to her.

In some ways this series is a time capsule of the era it was produced in. We get a conversation about James Bond intervening in the then-current Serbian conflict. Grant uses that war elsewhere as the era’s great sacrifice, being carried out to help bring back the Great Old Ones.

Fiction comes out stronger than ‘truth’ in this argument too. One of the the soldiers argues that "fictional characters are ‘the hardest bastards to kill, aren’t they?" In the same vein, Fanny’s semi-fictional little-girl-lost act is instrumental in neutralising the guards outside the Windmill.

Another very 90’s note is when the Division X agent formerly known as Eric Millet explains why he likes being George Harper:

“He likes having a laugh and cooking for nice birds.”

It became very fashionable in the 90’s for young men to get into cooking and entertaining. A real sea change from their father’s habits. All my friends got into it to some degree or other. (I specilaised in Mexican food myself…)

The meat in the enchilada of this issue is Sir Miles’ ordeal as he is put through a typical Invisibles ‘Initiation’. Just like Fanny and King Mob before him, he learns that ‘Initiation never ends’. At points during his ordeal he believes that it is years before and he is taking part in his original initiation into a masonic cult.

Beryl too is shown reliving the horror that she experienced in the twenties when the Hand of Glory showed her in the future looking at Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and weeping, because her lover died there on his way to fight Franco’s Fascists.

Morrison is able to make a little – in the way of words and pictures- do a lot of work. We can only guess the question Beryl asks the Ouija board that results in the answer ‘Yes’. From the complex, beautifully rendered, look of sadness, compassion and resignation that Miles remembers, it would seem that the question she asked about Miles was regarding his real intentions and her coming death. Somehow, she resigns herself to this fate, perhaps with more pity for Sir Miles than for herself.

That looks like a member of the royal family in the top left hand corner of p95, reassuring Miles that he is on the right path. The reason the UK has a Queen right now instead of a King is that there weren’t many male heirs to the throne around then, so who it might be in that picture is rather limited. It could be Prince Phillip, but he is rather too daft a lightweight to be overseeing Sir Miles’ progress in the Conspiracy. A much more likely candidate, who was a real player in his time (getting his nephew well-matched for one thing…) and the Imperial Viceroy of India, was Phillip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten.

He seemed to move in very similar circles to Sir Miles, and is even alleged to have been involved in a plot to overthrow a Labour government in the 70’s. His death too, could have been plotted by Jolly Roger, or King Mob at their most wreckless and ruthless.

Sir Miles’ test was to kill Beryl and bring back her severed hand. It was to show that he was “beyond compassion. Beyond humanity.”

That he is still wracked with guilt over his deed, bringing flowers to her grave every year, shows that he wasn’t beyond humanity after all. This issue, taken in conjunction with the series as a whole seems to argue that perhaps the only thing which makes us more than human is exactly that compassion. I’ve read almost to the end of the series now and Morrison has said that the most important person in the series was Audrey Murray who has an important role at the end. She acts out of compassion to save King Mob’s life.

Sir Miles tells this senior royal figure what his priorities are, for which he sacrificed this gentle woman that he’d formed a bond with:

“Knowledge is more important to me than anything else. I am on this Earth to learn how to master it.”

If only Sir Miles had listened in church to the words of St Paul:

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

Paul - 1 Cor 1-2

And so, Sir Miles is undone.

Once again, his life is spared. There are problems in my reading of the aftermath of this. Although the copy of the ‘Son’ is never published, Miles has been embarrassed by reports of his kidnap by extremists and Crowley tells him that he has fallen from the favour of those above him and that the Beast-thing will be put down. But Miles and the Beast is still there at the coronation in the next arc.

Is the Invisibles ‘trial’ of him just to mess with his head?

He says when he enters the Windmill, that he is there because he doesn’t like owing them a debt after they let him live and Jack restored his aura, but by the end of this arc his karma is completely out of kilter, as his enemies have spared him twice now…

BTW - Foxhunting has been banned in the UK since 2004. Another one in the eye for Sir Miles and his ilk!
Vol.3 #8 "Karmageddon Part One: tantrika"

There is a difference in the structuring between the 3-issue arcs and the 4-issue arcs. The 3-issue arcs tended to be a single movement dramatically and so tight as to be one ‘unit’, whereas the extra part in these 4-part arcs sometimes allows a single episode within that arc to be quite self-contained.

In this issue, Edith visits de Sade and discusses sexual repression and sexual freedom with him. It begins with her arrival and ends with her leaving his chateau. De Sade has theories about freeing people by making them confront their own perversions and what revolts them and bringing into the light of day what they would normally be ashamed of. It’s very complete.

De Sade’s theories of “Gold from shit: The Alchemist’s Nigredo” is another recurring theme of The Invisibles and Morrison’s whole body of work: Embrace the disease, identify with your enemy, growth through trauma. It is highlighted here by the experiments in the 'semi' with the negative ‘magic mirror' material. In England the semi-detached home was for years the archetypal home of the typical British middle-class family. There is a little irony in Morrison's use of a 'semi' as the labroratory of shame, abuse and despair in de Sade's estate.

Edith’s final comment on his work harks back to Sir Miles’ story in the previous issue.

“…There is something missing from your equations and catalogues. Perhaps you still need some time to understand that before you unleash Desadeland on the Hoi-polloi.

…I also expect it will happen in the presence of my dear Thierro and your driver.”

Edith has been observing a growing love between these two and it is love which she is suggesting is missing from de Sade’s calculations. Reading the whole Karmageddon arc again the love between King Mob and Edith is a powerful component of it. Edith acknowledges in the end that she accomplished great things together with those she loved: Freddie and King Mob. King Mob’s love for her transcended the merely sexual, as he first met her (and ‘did the deed’ with her) when she was an old woman.

Another new art team for this arc: Sean Phillips, penciller & Jay Stephens, inker. It's a good look for the series, tilting more towards the realistic end of the scale (as so much of the previous art has).

The grittier, grubbier style suits the Indian setting of most of the arc too, whereas Bond’s cleaner style was a good match for Blair’s Britain. It looks like a completely different school of comic art, but on closer look shares a lot of similarities with Bond and Pleece’s work. The thick ‘stained-glass’ lines for one thing. Interesting.

I was remembering a wild profusion of artists in Vol. 3, but really that's only true of the title arc. Lots of Indian imagery in this issue, as befits the title. This whole arc has Edith at the center, and India is where she and King Mob first met...it's a closing of the circle of Edith's life.

And closing of circles in time is where strong magic occurs in The Invisibles.
Vol.3 #7 "Karmageddon Part Two: type Omega"

Nice "Seventh Seal" imagery on the cover. As the Barbelith annotations point out, Edith may be beating Death at a game of Rock Paper Scissors.

I didn't notice that at all. But that is what is going on there. In those wonderful surrealistic covers which are laid out on the cover of my TPB, the Edith character is losing as she is making the scissors sign to an actual rock.

What a strange way to write a comic. Full of puzzles and mysteries. Towards the end now, we keep hearing that reality is just a game, but this whole series is a kind of game between the creators and the readers. This cover not only depicts a 2 games, but in needing to be puzzled out like this, is a game!

The most note-worthy thing in this issue on a second reading is the events outside the window when King Mob and Mason Lang are speaking.

An impoverished man's underfed old horse collapses and dies, a typically 3rd world truck drives past with men pointing armelittes out the windows and with very surreal over-sized representations of a handgun and a syringe loaded onto the back of the truck. It's a completely surreal depiction of drugs, guns, poverty and corruption, but this is exactly what is 'going on in the background' when rich white intellectuals sit around in cafes discussing their personal philosophies. Its a kind of roundabout 'realism.'

This final volume has many references to 'suits' - regarding the personae we wear for a little while. Edith recalls being told that "conditions within time are ferocious; our suits begin to deteriorate after only 20 years" and she talks about soon discarding her suit.

We have heard King Mob refer to 'fiction suits' in the previous arc. It's strange how bits and pieces of Morrison's work, across different stages of his career, connect up. In Doom Patrol, Daddy Damn-All wore a suit of crosswords and "The Dry Bachelors" who were made up of old skin cells and discarded love letters - literally suits of fiction, when you think that the love declarations in those letters didn't stand the test of time. I'm sure there are other examples of 'fiction-suits' in his worl prior to his Invisibles work.

As ever Morrison is very subtle, but Mister Six in his cocky, iconoclastic way, and Edith in her determined and dignified way, may both be on parallel tracks to the same destiny. The only clue so far being that their unconnected journeys are on opposite sides of the same sheets of paper.
Vol.3 #8 "Karmageddon Part One: tantrika"

There is a difference in the structuring between the 3-issue arcs and the 4-issue arcs. The 3-issue arcs tended to be a single movement dramatically and so tight as to be one ‘unit’, whereas the extra part in these 4-part arcs sometimes allows a single episode within that arc to be quite self-contained.

In this issue, Edith visits de Sade and discusses sexual repression and sexual freedom with him. It begins with her arrival and ends with her leaving his chateau. De Sade has theories about freeing people by making them confront their own perversions and what revolts them and bringing into the light of day what they would normally be ashamed of. It’s very complete.

De Sade’s theories of “Gold from shit: The Alchemist’s Nigredo” is another recurring theme of The Invisibles and Morrison’s whole body of work: Embrace the disease, identify with your enemy, growth through trauma.


Good observation about the structure of this arc. The first part could be a standalone issue, other than it featuring Edith. Her visiting De Sade seems almost superfluous in some ways; as if it's partly an excuse to bring back a character from Vol. 1 and provide some closure. But I think you're right about the recurring theme that De Sade's theories represent, which explains this episode. I liked Edith's practical observations, questions, and rebuttals that pepper the issue very much. She's a sharp old bird, that's for sure.

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