Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Invisibles volume 1 issues 1 to 4

-- These issues are:

The Invisibles volume 1...

Dead Beatles (#1, Dane meets King Mob with Lennon in the background) and the three-parter DOWN AND OUT IN HEAVEN AND HELL (#2, #3, #4 Dane is prepared by Tom O'Bedlam to join The Invisibles with a magickal mystery tour of London).

Welcome to "Counting to 2012"! There will be 12 blogposts across 2012, each published on the 22nd of each month. Each blogpost will cover 4 or 5 or 6 issues of the 59 issues of the 3 volumes of Grant Morrison's meisterwerk The Invisibles.

Originally published from 1994 to 2000, this "comic about everything" is being re-read in 2012: because that year is part of the fabric of the story; because 2012 is turning out to be a year of revolutions (also part of the fabric of the story); because it seems a fascinating exercise to re-read now that many of the ideas of The Invisibles are mainstream in 2012. I should say this will be for me a re-read for the first 30 issues, and I'll be reading the second half of the 59 for the first time.

These 12 blogposts with their 12 sections should be self explanatory - if you fancy reading along then note the sidebar which explains which collected editions will be read and talked about when.

-- Collected edition:


These four issues are the first half of the first collected edition "Say You Want a Revolution" - pictured.


-- Quote of the month:

King Mob - "You joined a long time ago. But if you don't want to come with us now, if you don't want to find out more about what this is all about, you're free to go your own way."

-- Panels of the month:

One of the two pages of the Lennon godhead (art by Steve Yeowell) of issue #1.

-- Roots:

King Mob mentions "living in a '60s spy series" and that's perhaps the basic template over which things are overlaid.

For #1 (Dead Beatles) - A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (Dane's sentencing). Pop. Chaos Magick.

For the Lennon elements of Dead Beatles and for the London of the three-parter DOWN AND OUT IN HEAVEN AND HELL - From Hell by Alan Moore, his imagining of the story of Jack the Ripper and perhaps Moore's meisterwerk seems to be a major influence. Chapter 2 of it features the idea that Ganesh is to be consulted before embarking on a journey, and the Lennon godhead sequence is Morrison's version of this - "his number 9 the number of ganesh the god who breaks down obstacles scent of jasmine number of lennon number 9 more popular than Jesus". (The ideas of Ganesh and Jasmine corresponding to the number 9 are from Crowley's Liber 777, and Lennon wrote Revolution 9.)

"From Hell, Chapter 4: What Doth the Lord Require of Thee" - originally published in 1991 in Taboo #5  (so well before 1994's #1 of The Invisibles) this has the city as a morass of symbols to be decoded - Tom mentioning a sigil (on page 16 of #3) formed by joining up the McDonald's of London is surely a nod to Moore's similar idea with the churches of London.

-- "I think that everything I do now is The Invisibles":

Zenith - Peter St John communing with the Beatles in Phase II. (While all are very much alive. Art again by Steve Yeowell.)

Batman: Arkham Asylum - there's two adjacent pages of #1 which have an interesting resonance with this, that of the "YES/NO" cards and the Tarot cards on the next page. In this graphic novel Two-Face tries to expand beyond the duality of a coin-flip with the Tarot.

-- Thoughts:

The oversize first issue has so much in it, and re-reads (after reading later issues) really mean the meaning of it all is less opaque. The communion with the godhead of Lennon is spectacular though on any reading, and Dane's similar "meeting", with Lennon the man, is eerie and another highlight. A rollicking start to the series.

The three-parter for all its weirdness is actually the age-old story of a mentor welcoming an initiate into a new way of being (think Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, or Ducard and Bruce Wayne).

-- Annotations:

These Annotations are not going to be exhaustive for these four issues (as much of the meaning of these starting issues only really unfolds with later issues, and I won't be mentioning anything about future issues when I annotate) and I'll point to two online existing annotations and one book's Grant Morrison interview, (see Further Reading) a sum of knowledge which I will try to add to this month and future months.

Dead Beatles, issue #1:

Page 1 of #1 - "Kephra, the sacred beetle, goes down into darkness and rises again" - the dead scarab beetle that King Mob is given is one meaning of the issue's title.

Page 18 and 19 of #1 are the Lennon godhead sequence (see Roots and Panels of the month sections).

Page 22 of #1 - very A Clockwork Orange (see Roots).

Page 25 and 26 of #1 have the YES/NO cards and the Tarot (see "I think that everything I do now is The Invisibles" section).

Page 27 of #1 - King Mob's mention of  "living in a '60s spy series" (see Roots).

The DOWN AND OUT IN HEAVEN AND HELL issues, #2, #3, #4:

The story of Dane's encounter with the red circle will be told again in later issues, and annotated then...


-- Blank badge:

-- Song of the month:

The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows (quoted by the Lennon magick sequence).

Spookily appropriate themes in this cartoon version.

-- Synchronicity - the UK January 2012:

Paul McCartney's new album: 'I wanted to do this with the Beatles' (

-- Further reading:

barbelith dot com annotations.

lunabase dot org annotations.

Anarchy for the Masses: The Disinformation Guide to the Invisibles by Neighly and Cowe-Spigai. (The long Grant Morrison interview.)

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