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

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Looking again at The Last Temptation of Jack – issue 23

Mark said “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.

As well as the story threads and unified art, there is also the tryptich of covers which could be laid side by side to make a kind of renaissance ‘frieze’ with Saint Jack in the centre.

Putting these three issues together makes a lot of sense the more I think about it. Just as the three issues before this were focused on King Mob and the three before that were focused on Lord Fanny, these three issues focus on Jack, despite the coming together of the main cast. For one thing Jack is at the centre of that tableau of covers. I’m struck now and again looking at Grant’s 90s work how it was created for a monthly periodical market. Although I’m sure they had it in mind as a continual seller in TPB form, it wasn’t collected for quite a while. Now with the collections, who is going to cut out the covers for issues 22,23 and 24 and place them side by side?

These three issues, which at first seemed like a rather scattershot coda to the very focused Fanny and King Mob trilogies, hang together better the more you think about them. The key to them is in that rather throwaway reference I made to the Madness song – House of Fun.

It is essentially a comedy song about a young man’s trip to the chemists to get his first box of condoms, and the chemist refuses to take the youth seriously, recommending him to try the joke shop down the road.

“I'm sorry son But we don't stock
Party gimmicks In this shop
Try the House of Fun It's quicker if you run
This is a chemist's Not a joke shop!”


The chorus goes

Welcome to the House of Fun
Now I've come of age
Welcome to the House of Fun
Welcome to the lion's den
Temptation's on his way
Welcome to the House of (Fun)


Here is a link to the complete lyrics

It is a song about coming of age and Dane’s rite of passage is the central spine of these three stories.

We get him leaving his mother’s home after realising that the time has come for him to move on. Although she seems quite morally grounded, he realises that his journey has already taken him beyond her stage of personal evolution. That's why his leavetaking of his mum happens in these three issues rather than the previous issue, which would have been more logical. It fits here thematically, but it does lead to the jarring jump between Liverpool and London that I commented on earlier.

Then we get his entrance into the ‘mythical cave’ of the ‘House of Fun’...

Welcome to the House of Fun
Now I've come of age
Welcome to the House of Fun
Welcome to the lion's den
Temptation's on his way

And Jack is indeed tempted. Just as he should be at this stage of his hero’s journey, Jack finds that he is starting to go beyond even his teachers and to rise above his enemies, as he surprises everyone by his powers and insight, and surprises the reader with his magnanimous restoration of Sir Miles' aura.

I’ve just read The Gnostic Gospels, by Elaine Pagels, a study of how the early Christian church was divided between the orthodox institutional church and the Gnostic individualistic thinkers. Dane’s inner journey and trials here and in the previous few issues conform very much to Gnostic beliefs: Salvation is to be found within. The world and the body are only distractions. The Kingdom of God is all around us if we could only see.

The more I read, the more I see Morrison is hugely influenced by Gnostic thinking. The early Gnostics used the metaphor of sleeping and unconsciousness to warn people that they were blind to the true reality of things. The text of the Invisibles is littered with calls to ‘WAKE UP!’

However, 21st century boy Morrison also has the imagery of video games, virtual reality and escapist comicbooks and fantasies to frame the same arguments. All of these spin worlds which we believe are real (at least while we are immersed in them), but just as we have to lift our heads out of them to experience reality, Morrison is arguing that there is the possibility that our ‘reality’ in turn is just a beguiling fantasy that we are on some level deliberately staying immersed in.
Motifs of sleep and awakening do appear in some ancient gnostic materials that I'm familiar with, but they have to do with the divinely-originating soul's awakening to knowledge of its nature and origins, not a Matrix-style concept of piercing the veil of illusion to see things as they really are. I think that's a modern projection onto the gnostics.
Thanks for the input Luke. As I only googled Gnosticism exactly one month ago today (see my 6 Oct post), I can’t declare myself an expert or anything. Also I have to oversimplify what little I do understand just so that these posts don't go on for pages, going into the often contradictory strands of Gnostic thought. To paraphrase Monty Python, 'They were all individuals...'

I do take your point about the precise meaning of the awakening imagery, but to my mind it is a very fine distinction. Surely if the soul awakens ‘to knowledge of its nature and origins’, then, for that person their whole understanding of the universe and our place in it is also transformed? From there, if we can invoke Bishop Berkeley and the idea of the universe being what and how we perceive it, then you can argue that the enlightened one sees beyond what we call ‘reality’ and sees how things truly are. They perceive a different universe.

Entertainments like The Matrix present only metaphors for this awakening to enlightenment. Everyone sleeping and living ain a dreamworld is one metaphor. They are taken literally by some, but are open to different interpretations.

I hope you can add some more to the discussion as we continue.

The Invisibles Issue 24

Bye Bye Baby Rabbits.


I couldn’t find anything on google as to what the title of this final issue of this arc might refer to. At first glance though it does make us think of a farewell to childhood, tying into the overall theme of the arc – of Dane moving on from his childhood. In this issue we start to see how far he’s come. I think I will have to start using 'Jack Frost', his name of power, from now on.

Note that in contrast to Jack's coming into his powers, the threat from the transformed Dwyer is neutralised by reverting her mentally back to her childhood. Maturity is strength. Maturity is a highly regarded attribute amongst the Gnostics according to whom only some dedicated adepts become truly mature.

Mister Six has been lauded before this point as the most powerful of the current Invisibles, and in this issue we get to see why. He seems to be maturity personified, being a teacher and having evolved beyond the violent confrontational mode that King Mob and some of the others are currently in. He doesn’t attack anyone during his appearance and spends this issue trying to heal the abscess in reality that is about to destroy the universe. He only defends everyone and sacrifices himself, in a manner of speaking. He is also there as a support to young Dane in his trial.

We see more of Jim Crow in this issue. He really is just the personification of Sex and Death combined. He says that he turns erotic thoughts into ammunition via his Zozo Pointing Bone Gun. The bone element of the gun is a bit of a double-entendre and the death’s head skull on his costume is right over his groin.

“Hollywood style! Ke ke ke ke!”, Crow, the only gun-toting Invisible from the US in the first 25 issue ‘volume’, remarks at one point. When you think about Hollywood action movies, sex and death are similarly presented in close conjunction with one another. There’s usually a romance (often consummated) in the middle of all the death-dealing mayhem. The first Terminator film is the most obvious example that springs to mind. Sarah Conners even conceives during the course of the movie.

Again we have the reference to ‘The game is in progress’. This time coming from Barbelith, the entity that Dane has set up to guide him. It is a wonderfully comforting creation. That it is always there, looking out for its charge and waiting to be recognised. The departure of the Archon King-of-All-Tears is framed in the language of a chess match. He is the King, and Dwyer is his ‘Nun’, which sounds vaguely like an alternate chess piece.

Dane has power over the Archon because he knows his true name. I’ve been thinking about this. Obviously names have power in these kinds of stories. Magic and SPELLING are often intertwined. However, there may be a further clue in Gnostic thinking. Some Gnostics believed that one of the indications in the Old Testament that things weren’t quite as God laid down was that it was Adam who was able to name each of the animals as they were brought to him. He knew what God didn’t, having the divine spark within him. Naming the animals was part of what gave him power over them. Similarly, if Dane is able to name the Archon, he will have power over it.

I see the Archons and the gods we have met thus far in the series as some kind of perverted externalisation of mankind’s true potential. They are always very limited and restricted. So long as humanity is blind to this potential, we are hostage to our own projections and fears, personified externally as these horrific creatures.

Part of the wrap-up of this issue is an intriguing line in the narration: "Which leaves only one question.... who is telling this, and to whom?"

Something to ponder as we move on from this arc.
You've brought up a lot in your last few posts, Figs. A few observations:

- I've heard of The Professionals, but never seen it (don't think it's been broadcast in the States). The likenesses seem pretty clear, though, just from the opening credits alone. The 70s cop show time frame is obvious from the setting, anyway. I still find the time frame of that issue contradictory. It seems to be in the present and the past simultaneously.

- I hadn't even noticed the cover trilogy you pointed out. It's the kind of thing that would be obvious if you had the original issues in hand. I decline to cut up my trade to lay them side by side, though! Might be something I'd buy back issues for, if they were cheap enough.

- I read the Pagels book, but it was years ago, when it first came out in paperback. I don't remember it in detail, but I think Morrison is freely mixing paranormal concepts here, anyway. Like the Castaneda reference I made earlier: I don't think he was trying to accurately represent any one school of metaphysical thought.

- Wondered about the "Good-Bye Baby Rabbits" title myself, but I haven't come up with anything, either.

I plan to read the fourth TPB on Friday, so I'll have more conversation starters then.
I'm off on a beachfront camping trip for a long weekend tomorrow and I will bring the next book with me there. I was awaiting it on inter-library loan, but I caved in today at the comicshop and bought it.

It looks mint!

I'm about to have another look at that weird Mister Six issue tonight and I'll try to post on it before I go, as I only skimmed it last time. Princess Di and that thing though.... Whaoh!

I read the Pagels book, but it was years ago, when it first came out in paperback. I don't remember it in detail, but I think Morrison is freely mixing paranormal concepts here, anyway. Like the Castaneda reference I made earlier: I don't think he was trying to accurately represent any one school of metaphysical thought.

A very worthwhile point. I don't want to just map everything onto this one school of metaphysical thought, as you say. Still, it does often seem to give meaning to some stuff that otherwise would apparently have none. And further he directly mentions various key words and concepts that show he's often in a gnostic frame of mind. The Archons and Blake's Urizen in the Thames to name only two. I'd go so far as to say Gnosticism is one of the very many things The Invisibles is 'about'.

But Grant is very much mixing and matching here. And a lot of it maps onto a Campbell-esque 'hero's journey' too.

And having droned on at length about the connections to this heretical religion that was stamped out all of 1600 years ago, I have to admire how he hangs all the metaphysics on a cracking tightly plotted action/thriller story. The pace hasn't let up since Dane left that Windmill and we've had so much character development too! Cracking stuff!
And having droned on at length about the connections to this heretical religion that was stamped out all of 1600 years ago, I have to admire how he hangs all the metaphysics on a cracking tightly plotted action/thriller story. The pace hasn't let up since Dane left that Windmill and we've had so much character development too! Cracking stuff!

Yes, indeed. When I read the series the first time I didn't dwell on the metaphysics any more than necessary, and I still thought it worked very well as action/thriller, as you say. Although it should be obvious to even the most casual reader that Morrison has put in a lot more than that, if you care to think about it.
The Invisibles Book 4: Bloody Hell in America collects Vol. 2 (the 2nd Series), #1-4. The ace art team of Phil Jimenez and John Stokes returns for this entire "Black Science" arc. I confess that writing up detailed issue summaries drives me crazy. So I'm going to crib the Barbelith.com summaries (in italics), followed by my commentary.

"Black Science, Part One: Bangin'"
The Invisibles have been recuperating in America at the home of Mason Lang. King Mob and Ragged Robin are now going out with one another. Jolly Roger turns up, she has lost most of her cell getting into a military installation where they have an HIV antiviral agent. She wants to go back in with King Mob's cell to retrieve it. However, the Invisibles don't know that she is under the control of Quimper and that the whole thing is a trap....

It's a year after the end of Volume 1. This issue is almost domestic, showing the entire Invisibles cell in R & R mode, after the violent action of Jolly Roger's team in New Mexico which opens the issue. Quimper is seen there: he seems to be in charge of the whole facility, which is a more important role than his previous appearance indicated. He looked like an insignificant bit player in the previous issue.

"Black Science, Part Two: Kickin'"
Roger and Boy practice martial arts, while Mason, King Mob, Austin, Jack and Emilio trip on a mesa. Robin watches herself as a young girl get out of a car. They prepare for their attack. That evening, Roger, Robin, King Mob and Boy break into a small house, locate the door behind the clock and enter the underground complex. King Mob sees something extraordinary in a cage. Meanwhile Fanny, Austin, Emilio, Jack and Mason are attacked by spirits. Back in the complex Roger suddenly aims her gun at King Mob - she is being controlled by Quimper. Troops appear all around them....

The scene where Robin watches herself as a girl is quiet, but resonates with significance. We see that she really is a time traveler, a fact that was only briefly alluded to earlier. Things look bad for the team, but so far there hasn't been any extra-dimensional weirdness.

"Black Science, Part Three: Sorted"
Austin smokes out the spirits with sage, while Lord Fanny drops into a trance - King Mob, Boy and Robin need help. In the installation underground they are surrounded by the enemy, and Jolly Roger is being controlled by Quimper. Robin uses her abilities to enter the head of one of the people controlled by Quimper, who then goes rogue - shooting his own people. Quimper reels from the shock. The rest of the cell respond to this distraction to fight their way out. Colonel Friday activates his armour and drags Quimper into the Outer Church to be 'repaired'. Meanwhile Fanny and Jack are starting a spell by pouring corn around the installation and making a pentagram out of postcards. Roger is freed from Quimper's control. They grab the anti-viral agent and attempt to escape. King Mob carries up the rear to give the others time to get out. He and Jolly Roger are then left alone, they suit up and travel on the porcelain train into a massive underground city....

One of the soldiers killed by King Mob sees his life flash before his eyes, a single splash panel recapitulation of the earlier "Best Man Fall" issue. Colonel Friday reveals himself as the true man in charge, and the scene of him taking Quimper into the Outer Church is a full return to visual dimensional craziness. The closing full page splash of the underground city is yet another visual treat from Jimenez and Stokes.

"Black Science, Part Four: Safe"
Outside the installation Austin, Emilio, Lord Fanny and Jack Frost are continuing to call up a storm while inside Robin and Boy are trying to extricate the antiviral agent. King Mob and Roger are powering through the underground city in the train - it emerges and troops come on board. King Mob and Roger dispose of them all, before proceeding to Level 6 - the Nightmare Hall. The horrors inside are so grotesque that Roger shoots them all. King Mob notices through a grill that there is a strange amorphous mirror substance being transported. Roger on the other hand bumps into Quimper. She shoots him, but he doesn't die. While she contemplates how to kill him, Colonel Friday appears - he claims that he has won, and it looks like he has until the plastic explosive attached to the Porcelain Train goes off. In the ensuing chaos the team escapes - except there might be a bit of Quimper in Ragged Robin.

So, the Invisibles had it all planned out from the start? Robin says so, but it still looks pretty improvised to me. Very impressive massive explosions make a nice climax, anyway. The team basks in the glow of their victory, but the Archons seem unimpressed. They've got some controls in place that are worthy of the most paranoid conspiracy theorist, and apparently they may have a foothold in Ragged Robin as well.

The plot summary at the beginning of this trade is amazing: it makes the story so far seem much clearer than it deserves to be. One definite advantage over reading the individual issues. But we miss the letter columns (they still had them back then). Barbelith helpfully reproduces the one from Issue 2, which gives a health update from Morrison and lots of commentary on where the series has been, as well as where it's going. The "On The Ledge" column for that month (cover date March, 1997) also had a Morrison piece promoting the series. I remember Vertigo promoting Volume Two as a jumping-on point for new readers, but can't find any February 1997 issues in my collection that contained the column!
Still catching up…

The Invisibles Issue 25

*Mark said 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).

The title is a reference to the saying “Six of one, and a half dozen of the other”. It usually refers to an argument or set of possible alternatives where both sides have pretty much the same value or usefulness. We’ve already seen a few cases where the Invisibles and their enemies seem to collapse into one another. King Mob facing Bobby as if in a mirror is one example. Jeremy the Invisible butler, feeding victims to the Shoggoth from the mirror is another. (I've just realised that mirrors are very important throughout The Invisibles!)

It’s hard to say on which side Division X is in the conflict. They are a secret division of law-enforcement officers, but so far, policemen and the army all seem to do the Archons bidding. Lines are blurred further when we learn that even within the hierarchy of the state, those with power and privilege, whom the Invisibles would seem to oppose, are objecting to the chaos and disorder which the machinations of Sir Miles and the Archons’ agents are causing.

Quimper says at the end “It doesn’t matter whether the battle is black against white, good against evil or is against isn’t. What matters is that we are winning the great war.”

The creation myth he tells through the casino hostess at the beginning similarly bends right and wrong and blurs the boundaries between the sides. Ahriman is a god of death and destruction who is opposed to all life, but he is trapped within our universe so that he can be fought and beaten. Quimper states that the Invisibles are on Ahriman’s side, fighting to be free, and we’ve seen that they sometimes do love destruction for its own sake.

Morrison seems to be pounding us with many and conflicting creation myths. It seems to be part of his gameplan – to continually disorientate us. I could imagine that this might have been a tactic of old sages and teachers when they were trying to break their students out of rigid modes of accepted thinking and make them think for themselves.

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!

It takes quite close reading, but it would seem that this story does follow on chronologically from the issue before it. The event that caused 3 psychics to break down when they entered the ‘House of Fun’ would have to be the entry of the Archon into our world in the arc just finished. Further, the intriguing line I referred to in a post above reads in full –

“Which leaves, apart from who he is going to be, now that Brian Malcolm’s dead, only one question. Who is telling this, and to whom?”

So we find out straight away who Brian Malcolm is going to be next – Mister Six, the flamboyant Division X agent. Mister Six is about as far from the grey-suited History teacher as you can get.

Mister Six is very much ‘hiding in plain sight’, which the Invisibles do a lot. He practically tells Division X that an Invisible is sitting in front of them ‘drinking a ludicrous cocktail’. The other Division X members may be his former colleagues, but as they are law enforcement officers, they would tend to be on the Archons’ side, and Mister Six hasn’t let them into his secret affiliations.

Then the details of the story set it very much in the mid-nineties. Father Ted, who we see in the TV at the start and who is mentioned later was a mid-nineties media phenomenon in the UK. Princess Diana had been a royal since the early 80s but the nineties was when her victim status kicked in.

One of the team says to Mister Six that the Seventies are long gone, or won’t be back again for 75 years ie – the time from 1995 to 2070.

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.

Notice also that he is at an army airforce base at the end of the story, no doubt heading to the US and his encounters with the Invisibles in the next arc.

There are some misleading cues.

We see stacks of newspapers lying around the office that seem to date to the 1970s. ‘The Filth and the Fury’ is a famous headline which this interview with the Sex Pistols provoked. It is a classic encounter between rebellious youth and established values.

Of course the newspapers are still there from when Division X was shut down around the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977. The implication is that they got too close to some other Royal scandal back then. Royalty. hierarchies and powerful groups are all suspect and corrupt in the Invisibles’ world.

We’ve seen in the teasers for Division X that their office had been abandoned and covered in dust for years, and then the phone rings. This rips off a Carlsberg ad from the 90s, (or the Carlsberg ad ripped off the Invisibles?)

The behaviour and fashion sense of the Division members haven’t moved on from their 70s heyday. It’s the same comic device as was used in the Brady Bunch movies of the nineties. It’s a post-modern thing to remove an element of a work of art/entertainment and place it in a completely different context.

A lot of The Invisibles is very 90s. Obviously it taps into the same premillenial paranoia as the X-Files, but here Morrison is directly referencing that show. Much of the comedy comes from the rough-around-the-edges 70s UK cops covering the same ground as the more reserved and middle-class Mulder and Scully would.

Another very 90s trait is the post-modern mixing of high-culture and pop-culture references.

“Goodnight ladies, goodnight sweet ladies, goodnight, goodnight.” George says as he leaves the séance. This is a line from TS Eliot’s The Wasteland, which the Baron kicked off his poetry corner with on this very board.

The poem itself mixes high culture and snatches of French and German literature with popular music-hall songs and vulgar pub conversations that Eliot had overheard.

Similarly post-modern is how Morrison treats the metaphysics of Gnosticism and other ancient religions, which people lived and died for, with the same importance as the purely fictional entertainments of HP Lovecraft. John Lennon is just as powerful a deity as Shiva. This equality of importance seems to be a particularly 90s fashion in entertainment.

The Wasteland was originally going to be called He do the Police in Different Voices, which, funnily enough, is exactly what Morrison is doing in this issue.

It is also what Flann O’Brien was doing in The Third Policeman, which Jack recommends as “one of the greatest books in the English language.” O’Brien is a fantastic writer and well worth the time of anyone with an interest in the area where comedy, surreal fantasy and literature meet. O’Brien’s works and Father Ted do indeed have a lot in common, as George points out. O’Brien is obviously a big influence on Morrison. They both worked recent scientific thinking into their books for one thing.

I'd bet money that O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds is definitely the template for the resolution of Morrison’s Animal Man storyline. As Morrison probably would not be happy to admit the similarities, it’s nice to see this nod towards the great Irish writer at least.
Mark said I confess that writing up detailed issue summaries drives me crazy. So I'm going to crib the Barbelith.com summaries (in italics), followed by my commentary.

I can see the sense in that.

Quimper is seen there: he seems to be in charge of the whole facility, which is a more important role than his previous appearance indicated. He looked like an insignificant bit player in the previous issue.

I thought he was a very striking looking fella to be just a bit character. He wears the type of shoes that people with one leg shorter than the other wear, but for him both legs seem to be shorter than the other! What a guy.

The plot summary at the beginning of this trade is amazing: it makes the story so far seem much clearer than it deserves to be. One definite advantage over reading the individual issues.

I noticed at the beginning of the 2nd book that the summary seems to give away more than the actual comics had. Its fun to ponder how they came to be. Did Morrison have a hand in them at all? On the one hand, as an artist he'd want only what's in his comic to be what the story was 'about', on the other he's not averse to simplifying and explaining things where it will help DC flog more product. I can see that the introductions make the series seemingly much more accessible. Bored housewives and begrudging factory workers that are Invisible soldiers without even knowing it... hmmmm!

If Morrison didn't have a hand in them, we'd have to question how 'canonical' they are. They seem to take some liberties with the text!

But we miss the letter columns (they still had them back then). Barbelith helpfully reproduces the one from Issue 2, which gives a health update from Morrison and lots of commentary on where the series has been, as well as where it's going.

That Barbelith site promises at the start to reprint all the letters pages, but we only get a few. A real pity as they were quite lively and I'm sure shed a lot of light on what was going on, and background sources etc.

Thanks for notifying me to this exception. I'll have to look it up.

I do remember reading that very letter column about Morrison's brush with death back then though. Talk about dying for your art.

I'd guess that if they are ever going to bring out an Invisibles Omnibus or three, 2012 will be the date they'll pick for the big push. Maybe we'll get to read the letters then.

I didn't get to read a single page of anything on my camping holiday. Something to do with the 9 month old baby tagging along perhaps. So I only read the first 2 issues of this book last night when I got back.

The art is fantastic, but it does seem a lot more linear this time around.
It takes quite close reading, but it would seem that this story does follow on chronologically from the issue before it. The event that caused 3 psychics to break down when they entered the ‘House of Fun’ would have to be the entry of the Archon into our world in the arc just finished. Further, the intriguing line I referred to in a post above reads in full –

“Which leaves, apart from who he is going to be, now that Brian Malcolm’s dead, only one question. Who is telling this, and to whom?”

So we find out straight away who Brian Malcolm is going to be next – Mister Six, the flamboyant Division X agent. Mister Six is about as far from the grey-suited History teacher as you can get.


I see that. My confusion comes from the fact that Division X is being reactivated. That tells me that the Mister Six persona was in public use previously; at least, I didn't pick up on any clues to the contrary.

[on Quimper] I thought he was a very striking looking fella to be just a bit character. He wears the type of shoes that people with one leg shorter than the other wear, but for him both legs seem to be shorter than the other! What a guy.

He is striking, but seemed to be played for laughs. Then again, that whole issue has a parody tone. Plus I wasn't prepared for the series to have a single antagonist like this. Previously Sir Miles played that role, but it was much subtler. By comparison Quimper looks like a supervillian. May be part of Morrison attempting to make the series a bit more accessible.

I didn't get to read a single page of anything on my camping holiday. Something to do with the 9 month old baby tagging along perhaps. So I only read the first 2 issues of this book last night when I got back.

The art is fantastic, but it does seem a lot more linear this time around.


I'm amazed you find much time at all with a baby in the house! I think the "more linear" look is intentional, going along with the action-oriented writing. But after the first two issues in the arc, things take a pretty hard turn to the bizarre again.
Mister Six is definitely an old persona being reactivated. I do feel that Division X is ambigouosly placed in this war between the Invisibles and 'The Conspiracy' (As the TPB 'what has gone before' writer calls Sir Miles' side.)

With their reactivation, perhaps Six needed to be with them again and report back on things from their perspective. He is very much a spy/imposter in their ranks even if he is friendly and warm towards his old comrades. It's the recurring device of the lines blurring between the two sides.

This issue's main point in the scheme of things, apart from being some light relief, is to show us what the Invisibles look like to the other side (or neutral parties, if you consider Division X as such). All the snitches and informants they speak to are more on the 'baddies' side, and all have good reason to fear what the Invisibles might be planning. They know, as we do, that the Invisibles are planning the end of everything. Perhaps our heroes are unknowingly working for Ahriman the destroyer, as far as the low level snouts we meet here are concerned. As the 'other side' know so much about what the Invisibles are up to, it is further evidence that the Invisibles are riven with spies and that the two groups have a lot of 'crossover' in membership. Perhaps so much as to render the idea of there being two groups at all as meaningless.

I've had to be much more disciplined with my time since the baba came along. I generally read my Morrison on the bus and write some of my posts in my lunchbreak or for a bit before leaving work. Before she arrived my favourite form of escapism was the few scoops and a lot of nonsense-talk with a buddy or two at the weekends, but now, my main retreat is in Morrison's weird and wonderful imaginative world. I guess I've thrown myself into it over the last few months!
Some thoughts on Black Science

I wonder why they didn't call the whole collection this. Cool name.

Bloody Hell in America makes me think of the kind of exclamations they made in Carry On films, or Steptoe and Son, which are iconically British and thus deflects away from the US focus again. Perhaps this is intentional.

The Invisibles Vol 2 Issue 1
Bangin’


Mason is often taken to be a version of Bruce Wayne, and the first scene in the dining room is very reminiscent of the dinner with Vicky Vale in the 1989 Batman movie, except with a better punchline.

‘Emotional aggregates’ is a concept Grant has mentioned before, and used to great storytelling effect in the Dorothy Spinner done-in-one in the first Doom Patrol collection.

I’d also point out that comics themselves use a secret language of ‘emotional aggregates’. Scott McCloud went into this in Understanding Comics and actually demonstrated it in Creating Comics, where he kept using little symbols which built up more and more meanings as he used them. In comics, a frame of Captain America walking through Harlem or 5th Avenue with the Falcon by his side is just filled with all kinds of different meanings. Similarly, the reader brings a huge amount of meanings to a frame of Superman and Batman shaking hands. Way more than is on the page. This kind of piling on of meanings onto simple pictures is a kind of ‘emotional aggregation’.

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?

There does seem to be more distance in Morrison’s approach to his subject as this volume starts. As you mentioned, Quimper is like a parody of a Bond villain, the Poison Pussies are more like something out of Gideon Stargrave’s warped adventures than the tale proper. It just seems that Grant isn’t taking his imaginative world seriously at this point. Perhaps it is because he has had to slow things down and try to write at the pace of his prospective new readers. The other thing about this 4-part story is that the whole HIV thing and the idea of tagging us with our polio vaccinations just seem very obvious after the extermely far out stuff of the first 25 issues. Perhaps they have become hackneyed ideas to us in the post X-files world.

The Invisibles Vol 2 Issue 2
Kickin’


The LSD sequence on the mesa is just a retread of the similar Animal Man sequence, down to the Native American companion. It doesn’t add anything to what that sequence acheived, or do much to advance the story or the ideas.

The notion of selecting the roles of the group by drawing lots was a Gnostic practice, according to the Engels book. They were totally against hierarchies and power-structures, so this was a way to ensure that no one person or people dominated the group. It’s good seeing the Invisibles practicing what they preach, as it seemed like the dominant Alpha male King Mob was the leader of the group and enjoyed certain privilages due to that, reflecting what went on in the hierarchies that they were opposed to.

Jiminez does a great job on the art here, but I especially liked the sequence you noticed with Robin looking down at her younger self. I just looked up Jiminez on wiki and he’s an interesting guy. I had him down as Perez Junior, but there’s more to him than that. There is a short article on him from Planet Out.com. Its best reached by looking at reference 2 at the bottom of his wiki entry.


The Invisibles Vol 2 Issue 3
Sorted


We see in Lt Lincoln the downside of having your people trained to slavishly obey all orders. He also gets a ‘Best Man Fall’ sequence in a few panels as he dies, also with one of King Mobs Arnie-isms ringing in his ears.

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?

When the General takes Quimper off to be fixed we get our first real look at the ‘Outer Church’. I’m still not sure yet what this represents. Why is it in black and white? Literally a monotonous world?

‘We buy and sell everybody" says the General and it is the first clear line that the Baddies in this story have somehow invested in the processes of production and consumption and the commodification of people as their route to power. Or the baddies are these processes…

Now and again amidst all the cod-philosophising and the smokescreen of cleverness, Morrison throws in a line or two that ring with clarity. King Mob says one such line on page 71:

“They can cover the world with cameras, but they can’t stop the guys in the monitor rooms from jerking off or playing the fifteenth sequel to ‘Doom’ for the hundredth time.”

Sad news for the dictators and despots of the world.

Still, the General’s rant on p98 does seem to paint a picture of the world that we are all happily sleepwalking into, whether its engineered by otherworldly Archons or not.

“Your children will be born in chains, live only to serve and die in anguish.” Chilling stuff.

And now we are in...

The Invisibles Vol 2 Issue 4
Safe


We get yet another creation myth, this time a twentieth century one, with Oppenheimer’s bomb-tests and the creator falling into its creation to be experimented on. This type of scenario recurrs again and again in Morrison's work. The hard bit to digest about this one is that it seems to affect the history before it as well as the history after it, so it is like a ripple effect.

“This secret lies behind the holocausts, the assassinations, the slavery, the power of governers and governments over people.”

This seems to be describing more than just the second half of the Twentieth Century. But then the whole cosmology that The Invisibles seems to be built on is one where ‘all time is now’. King Mob senses on some level that the contemporary experimentation on the creator-divinity is also the crucifixion of Christ.

It’s more than a cosmology or a cod-religion though, as it does somehow mean that NOW is the most important moment ever. Its not a bad way to look at your life. Armageddon is immanent, but as King Mob says immediately after we see the form it might take:

“Not today, you bastards! Not today.”

I did wonder here too ‘who is telling this, and to whom’, but we then see that it is being narrated by Lord Fanny in Portuguese while in a trance-like shamanistic state.

All in all a slickly-produced restart to the series. Bolland is probably the best cover artist ever, and he is on top form here. Jiminez’ art delivers beautifully. I wouldn’t be surprised if the package drew in a lot of new readers. I would really love to see sales figures for the whole run of Invisibles.

Morrison does seem to be a little disengaged from things though. The Robin time-travel elements are the most intriguing new bits that this story introduces, but most of the story points are just a little hackneyed for him.

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