Monday, March 01, 2004

Vintage: Invisibles Reactions

This was posted on Barbelith a couple of days after I finished reading The Invisibles. My opinions have changed since then, but it's now available for you to read, enjoy.

Yes I know there's a bunch of threads on volume three already, but most of them were devoted to whether the trade was out, or there's the fiction suit one, which I've read and cleared up some things, but I still have questions that aren't related to that topic.

Anyway, I just finished rereading Volumes 1 and 2, and read Volume 3 for the first time. The first two volumes are indisputably brilliant, and are even better on the reread. I saw nearly everything come together, and it was nearly flawless.

Volume III felt a lot more disjointed. Particularly in the first eight issues, it felt very removed from the rest of the series. While I enjoy Mister Six and Sir Miles, I wasn't as interested in those characters as I was in what happened to our main five, and the near absence of them in the beginning was rather annoying. Still, the stories weren't bad, as both Satanstorm and Karmageddon had moments of great merit. The opening pages of the volume as Flint and Harper go after the Shoggoth were great, with the brillaint quote, "Division X! Get the Fucker in the back!" That bit made me long for a Division X ongoing.

The apperance of Mason in Karmageddon was nice, and Edith's procession to death was striking. Still, the Marquis de Sade story felt superfluous.

The worst decision of Volume III was to introduce Helga and have so much of the story go through a character who we didn't know at all. She had no real set apperance, seemingly changing from artist to artist, and had no real set character. It would have been nice to have an additional issue that gave her backstory, like each of the team got back in Volume I.

The Invisible Kingdom was crippled by the art. Earlier, I found the weak art annoying, especially when compared to the brilliant work of Jiminez and Weston in Volume II; here it often obscured the storytelling. IMO, it would have been better to have Yeowell, Thompson and Weston each do one issue of the storyline, instead of the schizophrenic switching. In the moment that should have been the climax of the series, I missed that Jack had ingested the archons, and only got that when they talked about it after the fact. It was a good idea in theory, but didn't really work.

However, the writing in that last storyline was excellent. King Mob's phone booth discussion with Jacqui was great, and the gathering of everyone together at the end worked. Also, Audrey Murray saving Mob was a brilliant touch. And, the final page (which incidentally featured better art than nearly all this storyline), was great. My only real complaint about this arc was that it may have got too out there, at the expense of the narrative, and there should have been at least one more page with John a Dreams, even if he doesn't give an explanation of what happened to him, to have him speak with King Mob would have been great.

Finally, Glitterdammerung had me rather confused, but I loved it. Even though I didn't get the specifics, I got the emotional significance. Mob's reunion with Robin was a great moment, and the final page was excellent. And the art was finally great.

Overall, I think it'll probably work better as a reread when I'm not looking forward to finding out what happens at the end, and can better appreciate the journey it takes to get there. I'd have loved to see more of our core team, and Mason, but I guess that wasn't to be. The counting down mechanism does accentuate some of the flaws, since as each issue passed it made me think more that we're getting so close to the end of the series, and we still haven't heard much from the main characters. Still, that's focusing on the negative. There were a lot of brilliant ideas in the book, and, like the rest of the series, will probably improve on the reread. And, I think that more than the other volumes, this really makes you think in different ways, and abandon all preconceptions of the universe in order to understand it, which is ultimately what Grant probably wanted to happen.

That said, I'm unclear on some things, and would appreciate it if someone could give me their opinion or the general thinking on the answers.

1. So, John a Dreams found a new kind of time machine that allowed you to completely leave the 3D and 4D planes and experience a new level of existence, in which you can inhabit multiple conciousnesses in multiple forms throughout different times? And through this, he became the gray spirit and was corrupted into Quimper, the Gnostic Satan, and Jack Flint?

2. It's probably impossible to answer this question, but what was "real" in the series? Was it all part of Robin's novel, or was it some massive multi-player game that people can tap into and experience certain characters, through a fiction suit? Or was Robin writing the novel some sort of view of the future, in that she somehow saw what would happen to her? And is "The Invisibles" mentioned in 2.20 the book written by Sir Miles? And if the story isn't a game, Mob just created a game based on his experience, and Jack plays some of it in the last issue?

3. How was Robin Edith? Were they both a manifestation of Barbelith, in that they are both essential parts of moving the race toward its higher evolution, and bringing about the new age of a sentient universe? I'm thinking that Edith's miscarriage could tie into the idea that Quimper is a representative of an abortion that Grant's girlfriend had. And one more thing, if Quimper is the baby that King Mob and Robin have, did they have him in his evil form, or was he born good, a manifestation of John a Dreams, and then corrupted into evil, or was he born evil? Or was Robin being pregnant, a comment on the birth of the universe?

4. On the last page of the series, is Jack returning to Barbelith, and returning home? Is that why he's the only person left in the white void? And on the last page of the previous issue, what point is being made concerning reality? I got the idea that Jack is saying that because we've read the book, it's as real as if it actually happened, and he's essentially recruiting someone who read the book to help him out, and she ultimately becomes Reynard of the last issue?

5. I know Morrison is outdated two-sided thinking is, and we have to expand, but what exactly is he advocating through the series, because both the Invisibles and the Archons are apparently fighting in vain, for nothing in particular.

6. If it's a rescue mission, who are they rescuing? And what's the deal with "Edith says to call on Buddha," in relative times, when is it first said, where is it distorted to, and when is it heard?

7. What has happened to Robin when she returns to the future. I take it that she understands the structure of time, that it all exists at once, and we are basically all in a time machine journeying slowly to the future, but what is meant by the comment about love she says to King Mob? I get the idea that love is supposed to be all that matters, but is there anything more specific? And, when they send her in the time machine, they send her to the end of the world, because she seems to have lost the machine? Or did she go to Barbelith, become enlightened and then come back for Mob?

8. And, what did Morrison think of the art in the Invisible Kingdom, obviously if he wanted the Ashley Wood pages redrawn, he knew there was a problem, but did he ever comment on the rest? Also, has Morrison ever commented on why the major characters of the series pretty much disappear in this volume? I've heard he said that he got lost in Volume II and this was going back to the original plans, but was there every anything more than that?

I know there's probably very few concrete answers for these, but any thoughts would be great, or if somebody could point me to interviews where Morrison talks about Volume III, that'd be awesome also. I've only seen interviews from pretty much before the series ended.

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