Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Invisibles volume 1 issues 21 to 25

-- These issues are:

The Invisibles volume 1...

Liverpool (#21), House of Fun, The Last Temptation of Jack, Goodbye Baby Rabbits, (the three-issue arc without an overall title: #22, #23, #24), And a Half Dozen of the Other (#25).

-- Collected edition:

These issues are the last five (of the nine) of the third collected edition "Entropy in the U.K." -  pictured.


-- Quote of the month:

George Harper: "Who are the bloody 'INVISIBLES' anyway?"

Jack Flint: "A secret occult conspiracy, dedicated to destroying the world by opening the gates onto... I don't now... Armageddon, the return of the Great Old Ones, the Hopi Fifth World, Ragnarok, you name it."

Mr Six: "No one knows who they are. Perhaps you're one of them George. Perhaps we all are."

(Issue #25, page 15.)

-- Panel of the month:

Issue #25, page 1 - a creation myth (Zoroastrian).

-- Roots:

These five issues are more about wrapping together various existent story-strands (Dane's BARBELiTH experience, Jim Crow's Voodoo, King Mob's capture) than introducing new story-strands (and so the Roots of much in these pages have already been discussed by previous months of the blog), but there are notable new elements to mention (and discuss the Roots of) from these five issues.

Dane's new "facing the jaws of the dragon" (remember Edith's phrase?) in the three-issue arc centred on The Last Temptation of Jack is modelled on the stories of how a Buddha achieved Enlightenment: the temptations of Siddhartha Gautama.

Also the title of the centre issue (The Last Temptation of Jack) alludes to the story of Jesus (specially the telling by Nikos Kazantzakis and Scorsese.)

This blending of stories is in keeping with the general theme of these issues.  

Mr Malcolm is drawn to resemble the actor Jason Wyngarde and the character's new (old) role of Mr Six is based on...

Jason King (played by Jason Wyngarde) of the 1970s television programmes "Department S" and the spin-off "Jason King".

 The other two of the three-man Division X are modelled on the young and old geezer pairing of...

George Carter played by John Thaw, and Jack Regan played by Dennis Waterman - of the 1970s television programme "The Sweeney".

Also this paranormal division is very "The X-Files".

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

Doom Patrol - nanomachines transforming the environment.

The Filth - the character's other identity (old / new) as a policeman (of sorts).

Flex Mentallo - the saviour(s) from the other side of the Moon.

Zenith -  the extra-dimensional entity manifesting itself on our heroes' plane of existence.

-- Thoughts:

So - with month number 5 of this year-long read - 25 issues of The Invisibles have concluded, and with them Volume 1 of the series have concluded.

The Invisibles so far is many things: a tale of a battle between super-heroes and super-villains (for example King Mob and Sir Miles) overlaid with the imagery of British television shows like The Avengers and The Prisoner and The Sweeney; the foreshadowing of an apocalypse of December 2012; the ongoing mystery of BARBELiTH; the story of Dane achieving Enlightenment like a Liverpudlian Buddha.

Though of course all these story-strands are woven together. Also, it's notable that any actual legible plot of each strand is still - after 25 issues - rather opaque. (Not a criticism.)

The two "sides" of the "war" - what are each actually trying to achieve? The last issue of ARCADIA, in which King Mob says to Sade gives some sort of reason for that particular mission (of bring Sade to the 20th Century) is one vague objective.

The rest of the time King Mob's group are either inducting Dane into The Invisibles or trying to get him back - or escaping from Sir Miles and the "other side".

(The collected editions, which have to blurb what the heck is going on in these pages for any potential readers, decide to call Sir Miles's side "The Conspiracy" but I'm really not sure if these 25 issues ever really give a title to them, other than saying "the other side" or "the enemy" to contrast them against The Invisibles.)

Sir Miles's side seem to be aware of this coming 2012 apocalypse too, and wish for a "coronation" of the Moon beast seen in issues #11 and #25 - and are keen to capture The Invisibles.

The coda issue #25 doesn't exactly make things any clearer with the (after a few cameos) proper introduction of "Division X", one of the trio being The Invisible Mr Six, and yet the story continues stylishly and grippingly.

Mark Buckingham and Paul Johnson provide the pencil art either side of Steve Yeowell's three issues. It's fascinating to see veteran inker Dick Giordano ink over Yeowell's art. There's a definite difference as the three issues go on, with the hatching of #22 gradually becoming more like the blocks of black of Yeowell's own inking.

One last thing to say about this three-issue arc is how these issues (when read with the rest of the volume) make it seem that Grant Morrison is keen to give a certain significance to the numbers 22 and 23 and 24.

"22" is the day of December on which the apocalype of this series is supposed to happen, as well as the number of Major Arcan Tarot cards (cards that feature in the series The Invisibles). Volume 2 will end with issue "22".

"23" is a number that appears in Robert Anton Wilson's The Illuminatus! Trilogy (as well as on page 23 on issue #25 and as part of the title to issue #9), the trilogy being an influence on Morrison's series.

"24" is the issue volume 1 really ends on (#25 being a coda of sorts that doesn't include any of the main five characters), as well as being the number of pages of an issue of The Invisibles. (So there's 24 pages in an issue, 24 issues in this volume without the coda. "As above, so below".)

-- Annotations:

Issue #21, page 7 - "The magic mountain, the virtual college, the school of shadows".

Issue #21, page 16 - "RVM cultural gloss: imprinted Christian / Roman Catholic symbol structure".

Issue #21, page 23 - "You made me. You left me here, alone and transmitting, waiting for you. The reverse of the Moon. The string in the labyrinth. The way out. It's only a game."

Issue #22, page 14 - "Is everybody in on this?", "Just about yeah".

Issue #23, page 1 - panels 1 and 2 and 3 - Liverpool: December 22nd, 2012  8 am.

Issue #23, page 1 - panels 4 - storytelling.

Issue #23, page 15 - "It saved me like it's gonna save us all. We made it to save us".

Issue #23, page 22 - "Dane McGowan was one of the things we made".

Issue #23, page 23 - "It was flat at first, then it was solid and then it was more than solid and then more than more than solid"

Issue #24, page 5 - "Dane. You must return".

Issue #24, page 8 - "I am the hidden stone and break all hearts".

Issue #24, page 15 - How the King-of-All-Tears extra-dimensionally observes the universe.

Issue #24 page 24 - "nobody knows what I am".

Issue #25, page 22 - the continuation of the creation myth.

Liverpool is issue #21.

#21 page 1 – the first page of Liverpool and Dane has the Tesco bag (Tesco being a chain of British supermarkets, American readers) that he retrieved at the end of London (issue #16), having gone from London to Liverpool.

#21 page 3 – Dane has been away for about a year: after two years of published comics at least year has passed in the story (the events of issue #1 seem to have been about when the first issue was published, e.g. 1994). For a story that's progressing towards 2012 and the publishing of it progressing towards the pre-millennial tension of 2000 it seems like the story chronology is important. Perhaps with the next volume being set in America the publishing-dates and story-dates will sync up?

#21 page 4 – it's now clearer what the jump of issue #4 was all about, Jack and Tom are somehow jumping to another world (to BARBELiTH).

#21 page 5 - Dane is called "Lost One" by BARBELiTH which seems noteworthy as Sir Miles says that The Invisibles call the King-of-All-Tears and his sort as the "Lost Ones". (See page 9 of next issue.)

#21 page 6 - Root Doctoz and Niggaz on da Triggaz are the two Hip Hop groups from issues #10 (Jim Crow's group) and #20 (Boy's brother's group).

#21 page 7 - one of the Panels of the Month. "The magic mountain, the virtual college, the school of shadows" - the circle of BARBELiTH has turned green (for "Go", like traffic lights), and Dane is (or rather as this is a flashback, was) let in to what BARBELiTH is seemingly the gateway to.

#21 page 16 - another one of the Panels of the Month. "RVM cultural gloss: imprinted Christian / Roman Catholic symbol structure" - although the language is opaque this is one of the clearest expressions yet of the nature of BARBELiTH. What this means is: BARBELiTH appearing to the brought-up-as-a-Catholic Dane as Jesus, but isn't actually Jesus. Jesus is a symbol that Dane would comprehend though. (It's like BARBELiTH appearing to Hilde in the form of South American culture.)

#21 page 21 - "I just made up a magic word, like Tom said" - a demonstration on the comics page of a Chaos Magick sigil that Grant Morrison is going on about in the letters pages (in this instance the sigil takes the form of a word made of letters of the alphabet).

#21 page 23 - one of the Panels of the Month, BARBELiTH again "You made me. You left me here, alone and transmitting, waiting for you. The reverse of the Moon. The string in the labyrinth. The way out. It's only a game." (The text continues with three words that are repeated across the issues, but were prominent in issue #12, the story of one of the footsoldiers of the "other side": "Try to remember".)

This version of BARBELiTH is reminiscent of VALIS. (The book by PKD.)

#21 page 24 - Dane pinning on the blank badge and accepting that he's an Invisible now.

House of Fun, The Last Temptation of Jack, Goodbye Baby Rabbits are issues #22, #23, #24.

House of Fun (Quite a straightforward action issue so less annotations in comparison to other issues.)

#22 page 9 – Sir Miles says "I believe you people call them the 'Lost Ones' ". (See page 4 of previous issue.)

#22 page 14 – one of the Panels of the Month - - "Is everybody in on this?", "Just about yeah". The running theme of everyone being on one of the "sides" even if they don't know it, obliquely expressed.

#22 page 23 – "the end of the universe, in miniature" - a smaller version of the apocalypse? More of "as above, so below", the fractal repeating at different scales.

The Last Temptation of Jack

#23 page 1 – panels 1 and 2 and 3 (Panels of the Month), the actual apocalypse of December 2012 from Jack's perspective.

"It'll be different for everybody". An echo of the idea described by King Mob that each person will have their own personal experience. (Annotations for issue #8).

#23 page 1 – panel 4 (Panels of the Month), across these last five issues of the Volume there's the idea of this comicbook series of "The Invisibles" being a story told by a narrator, and in this instance Jack is telling the story of what happened.

#23 page 4 - "Remember. Try to remember. Remember what you are" - Mr Six is guiding Dane through this issue, he seems to have the same knowledge that BARBELiTH has (or at least is saying the same thing, "Try to remember"). Does Mr Six know things the rest of the Invisibles don't?

#23 page 13 - "He's 23, Dane" - the number 23 occurs across the series and this instance happens in issue #23.

#23 page 14 - "That thing that's on the dark side of the Moon? 'BARBELiTH'? It's a sort of satellite, yeah?", "I'll tell you what it REALLY is a bit later, right?" - Dane is speaking to his companion in 2012, but also Grant Morrison is speaking to the audience.

#21 page 16 - shades of the aged Dave in 2001: a Space Oddysey. (Which is another story of something transmitting from the Moon.)

#23 page 15 - one of the Panels of the Month. "It saved me like it's gonna save us all. We made it to save us", so what is BARBELiTH and save from what?

#23 page 21 - Ragged Robin being born in 1988 doesn't make sense, as yet.

#23, page 22 - another one of the Panels of the Month. "Dane McGowan was one of the things we made", so the "we" are, what?

#23, page 23 - another of the Panels of the Month. "It was flat at first, then it was solid and then it was more than solid and then more than more than solid" - the classic Grant Morrison thing of talking about things in five dimensions. ("More than more than" solid, "solid" being 3 dimensions.)

Goodbye Baby Rabbits

#24, page 5 - "Dane. You must return" - one of the Panels of the Month. Dane has reached Nirvana, or heaven, but it's too soon and the one distraction ("booting him up") that succeeded of the King-of-All-Tears's ploys.

#24 page 6 – "leafing through him for a shape to dress in" - just as BARBELiTH chose a form (Jesus of Nazareth) that was a symbol Dane knew of, the "supermatter" from the "Kingdom of the Outside" is trying to manifest in the shape of something Mr Six knows of, a "drawing of the Devil" or "Cthulhu". So it's not literally the entities that Lovecraft describes in his books, it'd just take that form because Mr Six has read Lovecraft's books?

#24 page 8 – one of the Panels of the Month. BARBELiTH dressing in the shape of Jesus again.

The poetic phrase "I am the hidden stone and break all hearts" apparently appeared to Grant Morrison in a fever-dream.

#24 page 9 – "a little Christ to harrow hell" - a more modestly sized apocalypse requires a more modestly sized saviour then.

#24 page 14 - "OUR WURLD, ALL THAT UUUIII MADE" - blink and you'll miss it but this is the King-of-All-Tears saying that Dane (and his fellow humans?) made the world of the King-of-All-Tears. (Like they "made BARBELiTH"?) Plus "you" is spelt with "U" and "I". Ha!

#24 page 15 - another one of the Panels of the Month. The King-of-All-Tears extra-dimensionally observing the universe, as Dane effectively banishes him with a magic word (or the intent of one).

#24 page 16 - "Who is telling this, and to whom?" - a perplexing line as it seemed to be established that Dane was telling the larger story, but that was last issue, with narrative boxes that were what the Dane of 2012 was saying. These narrative boxes are the ones describing Mr Six's experience of the mini-apocalypse.

#24 page 21 - all three recognise what Dane is doing - "Is that what I think it is?" (Ragged Robin), "Fresh out of the well, le Mirror Fantastique" (Jim Crow), "It's Magic Mirror" (Lord Fanny).

 #24 page 24 - "nobody knows what I am" - so Dane has gone from pinning on the badge of the Invisibles on the page of last issue to rebelling (effectively) against the leader of his group of Invisibles by reversing what King Mob has done. Plus the line chimes with Dane being repeatedly told "Try to remember what you are". All very mysterious.

And a Half Dozen of the Other is issue #25.

#25 page 1 - Panels of the Month - note in this telling of the Zoroastrian creation myth, Ahriman is described as "the forces of evil", trapped.

#25 page 2 – The TV programme is “Father Ted” written by Graham Linehan & Arthur Mathews.“The Third Policeman” by Flann O'Brien – is also mentioned in the TV show “Lost”.

#25 page 3 – The newspaper on the wall is the Daily Mirror of December 2, 1976, we can conclude that this represents approximately the last time Division X was active - it's the news story of the Sex Pistols being interviewed Bill Grundy, with him asking them to “say something outrageous”, prompting them to use swear-words even more than they had already.

“Grundy in rock outrage”, “THE FILTH AND THE FURY!”

“Christ! It must be bad if they've had to recall the three of us: I mean, after what happened at the Queen's Jubilee...” - the Queen's Silver Jubilee was June 1977. (The Diamond Jubilee, June 2012.) The Sex Pistols released their single “God Save the Queen” in June 1977.

Note the Sex Pistols influence on "Kirk Morrison" on page 1 of issue #19, and that the arc of #17, #18, #19 ENTROPY IN THE U.K. is an adaptation of their song title "Anarchy in the U.K.".

#25 page 5 – The Elfayed & King Mob meeting – page 1 of the series The Invisibles – was 1994, just before King Mob meets Dane. (Issue #1 is September 1994 cover date.) Dane has been gone a year – so it's 1995. Which ties into the 2070s not being for 75 years. (This issue has a cover date of October 1996.) So it's approximately 20 years that Division X has been inactive.

#25 page 6 – George's “dartboard divination” is mentioned: it spelled out “CROWN IT” on the previous page.

“Not the bloody Royals again! Not after the last time.” (The 1977 Jubilee presumably.)

#25 page 8 – Is this glowing green jar the same sort of thing as the “soul jars” of issue #1? The “handler” Mr Crowley for Division X is based on another (similar) character from the Sweeney (read the Roots section for more) – Frank Haskins played by Garfield Morgan.

#25 page 10 – “Detective Inspector bloody buggering bastard to you, Benny!” - this is the tone and type of dialogue from “The Sweeney” replicated for “The Invisibles” in the Nineties, and which would be replicated for the television programme “Life on Mars” in the Noughties.

#25 page 11 – “It's a Shoggoth Mr Flint... like Lovecraft said... they've got a Shoggoth”

“Tekkeli-Li, you bastard, Tekkeli-Li!”

It's amusing as Benny's response in still in the style of “The Sweeney” while mixing in elements of Lovecraft (“Tekkeli-Li!” is the noise of the “Shoggoth” from At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft.)

#25 page 13 – “Hele, conceal and never reveal” - an oath of Freemasonry.

#25 page 15 – refer to the Quote of the Month section for this significant discussion between the three of Division X. Of course Mr Six IS an Invisible, and IS drinking a ludicrous cocktail.

Those end of days myths:

“Armageddon” - the final battle between good and evil from the New Testament, the word appears once, in Revelation 16:16.

“the return of the Great Old Ones” - Lovecraft, again.

“the Hopi Fifth World” – not to be confused with the Fives Suns of South American myth, this is the Hopi  Native North American myth.

“Ragnarok” – Norse myth.

#25 page 16 – “Quimper yes. Please excuse my mask”. Mr Quimper is introduced.

The pig mask hanging up is reminiscent of the masks worn by those that captured Hilde before he/she was an Invisible.

#25 page 20 – “Queen of Hearts” - Diana said of herself in a 1995 interview, “I'd like to be the queen of people's hearts”, and this three-word phrase became a tabloid slogan when writing about Diana.

#25 page 21 – “See the Five Suns in his mirror” - number 5 again though this also seems to reflect the Fifth Sun, the “Sun of Motion” of South American culture (refer to the Annotations the arc SHEMAN of third month of the blog, issues #13, #14, #15.)

#25 page 22 - Panels of the Month - read page 1, and note that while on this page it also says "the forces of evil", trapped, (as the retelling continues) "the forces of Ahriman struggle for liberation" (which reads as a "good"). So "which side being which" is blurred.

 “Where will you be standing on the day of coronation when the gates come crashing down?” So this is one the “enemy side” emphasising that the coronation of the Shoggoth is what they are hoping to achieve on the day of the apocalypse?

#25 page 23 – It doesn't matter to Mr Quimper what each “side” represents - “What matters is that WE are winning”.

The roulette ball coming to rest on Black 23: it's the number 23 again. And on page 23.

Mr Six is saying they are "back in the game" - he's talking about their mission, over the game of roulette and there's the running theme of BARBELiTH saying it's a "game".

"RAF Hullavington" – an actual RAF station of Wiltshire in the Nineties.

#25 page 24 – Sir Miles's involvement with the Shoggoth's mirror (revealed to Division X by Quimper, curiously) indicates this “conspiracy” goes “right to the top”.

“Then gentlemen, so must we”.

So volume one's coda ends as the previous issue (and main storyline) ends, the group (led by an Invisible) declaring their statement of intent for the next volume.


-- Blank badge:

-- Song of the month:

Madness - House of Fun

(As issue #22.)

-- Synchronicity - the UK May 2012:

'On Monday it was announced the protest track would be re-released by record label Universal.
"I would like to very strongly distance myself from the recent stories and campaign to push God Save The Queen for the number one spot," the singer said. "This campaign totally undermines what The Sex Pistols stood for," he added.' (bbc.co.uk)

That's an April news story about a June event so I'm saying that's good enough for "May 2012".

-- Further reading:

At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft
The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft

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