Friday, 22 June 2012

The Invisibles volume 2 issues 1 to 4

-- These issues are:

The Invisibles volume 2...

The arc-title is BLACK SCIENCE and the issue-titles are: Bangin' (#1), Kickin' (#2), Sorted (#3), Safe (#4).

-- Collected edition:

These four issues are all of the issues of the fourth collected edition "Bloody Hell in America" - pictured.

(Bolland's cover for volume 2 issue 1 of The Invisibles is re-used for this collected edition. The title of the collected edition isn't an issue-title or arc-tiltle re-used unlike the previous two books.)


-- Quote of the month:

"Elephant head. Elephant head. I WORSHIP A GOD WITH AN ELEPHANT HEAD!"

King Mob (volume 2, issue #2, page 2 and 3).

-- Panels of the month:

Volume 2, issue #1, page 6 – "What it's mean?" "Nothing really. I don't know. It just sounds good".

-- Roots:

Grant Morrison's life and the writing of his saga The Invisibles had begun to merge (or so he believed).

During the penning of the storyline in which King Mob is weakened by the "other side" then cured by  (which the last third of volume 1), Morrison became himself ill and had to be hospitalised becaue of the infection (see previous month).

After his recovery he wrote the issues of volume 2.

The timeline that can be discerned by interviews wit Grant Morrison is vague, though it seems Morrison was behind on deadlines - for both The Invisibles and JLA - because of his illness.

To catch-up with the planned schedule he was writing almost constantly, half-asleep sometimes, on painkillers sometimes, but the writing flowed through almost automatically. He regards the "channelling" of volume 2 as contributing to how it's more cohesive than the previous volume.

There had always been a plan for three volumes says Morrison, a British volume then an American volume then the last volume. (Morrison had seen a lot of America in recent years.)

Influences from other media: Tarantino movies, the X-Files (which also are inlfluenced by the exisitng UFO mythos).

Influences from modern-day mythology - a inspired merging of two New Mexico mythos of the 1940s - the UFO mythos including Roswell incidient of 1947 and the Atomic test mythos of 1945 including Oppenheimer's famous phrase.

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

Animal Man - the mesa ritual, in which the main character learns more the nature of the universe.

Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1 - the colour-coding of the five elements.

Doom Patrol - the Pentagon as symbol of a hidden conspiracy.

Zenith -  the gathering Lovecraftian menace which may yet triumph.

-- Thoughts:

The artist for these four issues Phil Jimenez has a similar style to cover artist Bolland, but with a different kind of realism more suited to expressing the sticky and grimy textures of this arc.

What is this blog? (As this is a new volume starting this month I thought I'd re-ask and re-answer that question.)

I'm reading Grant Morrison's The Invisibles over 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 The Invisibles. (These first six months have actually been a re-read, though as of next month it will be a read.)

I'm also reading other stuff each month. I began reading each relevant chapter of Anarchy for the Masses (see month one's "Further Reading") but stopped at Chapter 16 (up to issue 16 of volume 1) as it seemed to jump ahead to much later issues when discussing the early issues. (The long Morrison interview at the end of the book I've read though.)

The Barbelith dot com and Lunabase annotations (as month one's "Further Reading") I'm continuing with each month. (The "Annotations" sections on this blog are intended to try and add to the sum of these existing annotations.)

As we begin a new volume, a recap of what the plot of this epic is (such as it is and such that can be discerned).

Dane McGowan, a Liverpool youth, has been inducted into a mysterious organisation known as "The Invisibles", a shadowy organisation that has been at war seemingly for centuries with "the other side". This opposing group's objective seem to be to bring about the subjugation of the humanity, under the heel of their otherdimensional masters "the Archons". The Invisibles, in contrast, stand for freedom and liberty and resistance. There is a coming Apocalypse of some form due December 2012, and The Invisibles seem to be preparing for this moment so the outcome is one more attuned to their philosophy (vague), rather than "the other side" seizing the moment. Dane is part of a 5-person "cell", a small group of The Invisibles led by King Mob.

It's useful to contemplate that paragraph-description of the story-so-far as we consider what King Mob is actually doing this arc (as the roles of the cell change and Ragged Robin becomes the leader of the group). The vagueness of their ultimate mission (how are they exactly preparing for the Apocalypse again? ARCADIA almost explained) means that a discrete one-off mission - to recover the vaccine - allows a plot for this arc.

Bubbling and swirling around this action-adventure plot are various ongoing themes. There's another creation myth in the fourth issue (though is it any more "correct" than the other ones we've read?) and the theme of language is given prominence by first page ("It's the end of the word as we know it") and the language mind-games of the White Flame Meditation.

The words that Oppenheimer spoke are from the Bhagavad Gita - a story of prince Arjuna wavering in his role but given guidance by Krishna. King Mob seems to waver (or rather he mocks the idea of him wavering from his role, a soldier in this war). The audience can question too though, and the echos of last volume's #12 (which humanises the opposing soldiers) shows this is more complex than an action movie.

-- Annotations:

Issue #1, page 1 – "It's the end of the word as we know it." The theme of language on page 1 of volume 2. (Who is narrating?) Dynamic splash page of Jolly Roger.

Issue #1, page 1's narrative box (the same page, zoomed in.)

Issue #2, page 13 – Ragged Robin's picture of a cloud again.

Issue #2, page 21 then issue #3, page 14 –  'The aliens in "Independence Day" represent the negative side of the human psyche' - Mason Lang again theorising about movies in issue #2. The page of issue #3 (and the next) is an example of what Mason Lang was talking about by particular things representing "the negative side of the human psyche".

Issue #3, page 13 – The White Flame Meditation.

Issue #4, page 16 –  "It's alive. It's living information. Pure information from another universe".

Issue #4, page 21 – Another creation myth.

Issue #4, page 23 – Humor / humour.

BLACK SCIENCE is issues #1, #2, #3, #4.

Bangin' is issue #1.

v2#1 page 1 – one of the Panels of the Month. "It's the end of the word as we know it." The theme of language on page 1 of volume 2. (Who is narrating?) Dynamic splash page of Jolly Roger.

v2#1 page 4 – another dynamic splash page this time of King Mob (though to compare the two as if they were Tarot Cards this page is "inverted"). Che Guevara T-shirt.

v2#1 page 6 – more of the Panels of the Month. "What it's mean?" "Nothing really. I don't know. It just sounds good", could be read as a commentary on the series The Invisibles itself.

v2#1 page 8 – racy stuff but it is Vertigo.

v2#1 page 11 – Mason has joined the side of The Invisibles, and it seems all that have done so each have their own version of the BARBELiTH encounter. The "Holy Grail" with its red liquid from above looks like a red circle (BARBELiTH).

v2#1 page 13 – "New Mexico? Why New Mexico?" "Little fluffy clouds" - the photograph Ragged Robin was looking at during the last three-issue arc of volume 1.

v2#1 page 16 – Some "say the Ultras are experimenting on people to create some sort of hybrid drone species". That idea along with the Roswell angle of the fourth issue of this volume is very X-Files. This issue has a February 1997 cover-date. The similar X-Files plotline about hybrid species was progressing onscreen during 1996 so possibly it's parallel invention or possibly drawing from the same existing UFO mythos.

v2#1 page 17 – 'Mektoub -- "It is written" ' - an Arabic word that King Mob translates.

v2#1 page 18 – Mr Quimper from the end of the last volume.

v2#1 page 19 – 'Just look at the number of times you see the number "23". It's in scene after scene. That's not a coincidence' - again this could be a commentary on the series The Invisibles rather than Mason talking about the film Speed. (There's an irony in this Keanu Reeves film being discussed in the comic as The Matrix seems to have been influenced by The Invisibles.)

v2#1 page 20 – "the subway train at the end" (also a description of this four-parter). The Pulp Fiction theory is a popular theory though the Speed theory seems to have been crafted by Morrison as it has elements that chime with The Invisibles.

Tarantino-esque diner scene. "I'd call that a triumph for post-modernism any day of the week".

v2#1 page 22 – "this is a different kind of movie" - there's an American movie tone being created for this volume.

Kickin' is issue #2.

v2#2 page 1 – Another cloud of many in this four-parter.

v2#2 page 2 – ' "I am become death." "The shatterer of worlds" ' - there seems to be some debate over whether Oppenheimer said "destroyer" or "shatterer", though shatterer will make more sense in the context of The Invisibles as issue #4 explains.

v2#2 page 3 – the Quote of the Month. The god with the elephant head is Ganesh, meaning that King Mob is peforming the second ritual to this god we've seen, both times at the start of volumes of Invisibles (see #1 of the previous volume). These rituals when journeys (volumes) are begun.

v2#2 page 6 – if Mason Lang is The Invisible's Bruce Wayne (an American with a mansion and various companies and vast wealth) then it seems appropriate he should be praising the bat.

v2#2 page 7 – "That's called BARBELiTH, that is. Don't you remember?" - Dane doesn't get many lines of dialogue in this four-parter but this emphasises that he is still "enlightened" if foul-mouthed for the rest of these issues.

v2#2 page 8 – "I just saw this... porcelain train" - time is all over the place during this mesa sequence and King Mob gets a premonition of the later issues.

v2#2 page 10 – "Invisibles cells tend to model their structure around elemental symbolism" - "we like to change it around". The role of Earth is defined on this page, (thinking of "mundane stuff" like finaces and equipment) with Air being "leader" on a later page. The other roles remain unelaborated upon, although we know "Spirit" is meant to shake things up, from the SHE-MAN arc of the last volume.

v2#2 page 12 – the band mention is Kula Shaker. A contemporary band this issue would have been published before their swastika interview was published. (Link.)

v2#2 page 13 – one of the Panels of the Month. Ragged Robin's picture of a cloud again.

v2#2 page 15 – we can deduce, given that "Fire" is likely to be the colour red...

Spirit - colour White - Boy's role (is to shake things up).

Fire - colour Red - Lord Fanny's role (role not explained).

Air - colour Yellow - Ragged Robin's role (is leader).

Water - colour Blue - Jack Frost's role (role not explained).

Black - colour Black - King Mob's role (is mundane stuff).

v2#2 page 17 – 'This is amazing! It's like "Batman"!' - could be another commentary on the series The Invisibles, (and Grant Morrison has watched the same TV shows you have).

v2#2 page 21 – one of the Panels of the Month. 'The aliens in "Independence Day" represent the negative side of the human psyche' - Mason Lang again theorising about movies, though there would seem to be a parallel with the "ultraterrestrials" of The Invisibles representing the negative side of the human psyche', as v2#3 page 14.

v2#2 page 22 – more X-Files, again during 1996 there was a similar immunisation with sinister extra purpose plot-strand.

Sorted is issue #3.

v2#3 page 2 – sage is traditional.

v2#3 page 4 – issue's title "Sorted".

v2#3 page 9 – there is an echo of volume 1's #12 with the scenes from the trooper's life.

v2#3 page 11 – "they operate within a rigid hierarchy", the other side, while The Invisibles change their roles about.

v2#3 page 13 – one of the Panels of the Month. The White Flame Meditation. The theme of language.

v2#3 page 14 –  "the negative side of the human psyche"

v2#3 page 18 – the same sort of plane from ENTROPY IN THE U.K. that Gideon Stargrave is able to pilot, but not King Mob it seems.

v2#3 page 19 – "This is going to be a CLASSIC. This WILL be James Bond" - it quite James Bond.

v2#3 page 22 – Lord Fanny is using the same method for magick rituals extolled by Grant Morrison in the letter pages.

v2#3 page 25 – This issue has a page 25!

Safe is issue #4.

v2#4 page 1 – "Set the spell in motion with a ..." - as the letter pages.

v2#4 page 3 – "It's got nothing to do with luck. Everything's going exactly to plan" - Ragged Robin is saying this against a backdrop of clouds, reminding us of her cloud picture and the fact that she knows how this "present" (her past? the others' future?) plays out.

v2#4 page 4 – issue title "Safe". Some of the panels show events of past issues of The Invisibles (the jars of Dead Beatles, the Cyphermen of ARCADIA), some: the future?

v2#4 page 7 – King Mob is recounting what someone told him about UFOs. Remember the hitcher of The Invisibles volume 1's #14 page 11 – the mention of Roswell and UFOs?

v2#4 page 13 – "...'s you isn't it? In the junkyard. I was a kid. The Angel of Death?" The second echo of volume 1's #12.

v2#4 page 14 – "I was your imaginary playmate, your invisible friend. I was a little light. Do you understand what I am?" What's that all about?

v2#4 page 16 – one of the Panels of the Month. "It's alive. It's living information. Pure information from another universe". (Note that three "shamanic" characters, Ragged Robin, Jim Crow, Lord Fanny, as recognise the Magic Mirror on page 24 of #24 of volume 1. King Mob seems entranced by it but not familiar with it.)

v2#4 page 18 – the description of the world under their control is similar the Earth swamped by the Anti-Life equation shown by the pages of Final Crisis.

v2#4 page 21 – one of the Panels of the Month. Azathoth is from the Lovecraft mythos. Another creation myth described in the pages of The Invisibles, but is it any more "correct" than the others described (the South American culture myth, the Zoroastrian myth)?

v2#4 page 23 – one of the Panels of the Month. What seems like rude dialogue from Dane actually points up the fluidity of language (a running theme) and the duality of the starting two volumes of The Invisibles (the UK volume now the American volume).

UK English - Fanny means vagina.

American English - Fanny means buttocks.

"I think we have to talk about our future soon" - does she mean their future as a couple (her and King Mob, as her discussion with Boy) or the group's future?

v2#4 page 24 – this page isn't collected by the collected edition "Bloody Hell in America"! (It's a page which is a preview of the next arc so it does make sense for a book but not for completeness.)


-- Blank badge:

-- Song of the month:

The Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds

-- Synchronicity - the USA June 2012:

- (

-- Further reading:

The Bhagavad Gita.

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