The Invisibles vol.2

  There are some who revere Grant Morrison as a god, or at least so it seems. My opinion is a bit more reserved: I think he’s a very good but sometimes self-indulgent writer. The Invisibles is a prime example of this.

  The series is about the “invisible” struggle between the agents of total Control who run the world, and those rag tag, not-really-organised souls fighting to liberate humanity: our heroes. They include: King Mob, a shaved-headed multi-pierced natural-born leader; a black woman from Harlem ironically known as Boy; Lord Fanny, a Brazilian transvestite who’d put many female models to shame; Dane a young British punk purported to be the next Buddha (and whose recruitment into the Invisibles was the entry-point for the first volume of the story); and Ragged Robin, a woman in mime make-up with a mysterious past… in the future.

I picked up the original Invisibles series when it came out in 1994, and read the first two story arcs, “Down and Out in Heaven and Hell” and “Arcadia”. It was well done, but didn’t really capture my attention, so I stopped reading it and eventually sold the books to someone. Some time later, the series was cancelled, with a promise that it would be brought back… the clear implication being that they’d be “fixing” the things that had caused readers (such as I?) to drift away, and figured a relaunch of the series would help bring them back. In my case, it worked.

One change was to bring the team to America… make the setting a bit more familiar to the Yankee reading audience. Another was to focus more attention on the action and linear storytelling, to make it a bit easier for more prosaic minds (such as mine, I admit) to follow. Finally, they decided to go with a single ongoing artistic team, rather than the different-artist-for-each-story-arc approach of the first series.

 I was intrigued to hear that Phil Jimenez was going to be that regular artist. First, because I really like his work; but second, because he seemed an unlikely choice. His highly-realistic style seemed an odd match for the highly-surreal tendencies of Morrison, and I wondered how well a self-described “boring… complete and utter southern California boy… who leads a totally mundane life” would mesh with Morrison, the ultra-hip Scottish god of weirdness. The answer is “quite well”, actually. He handles Morrison’s occasional off-the-wall scenes effectively, and his style emphasises the reality in surreality; when he renders a glowing, disembodied hand in precise detail, it becomes a little easier to believe that such a thing exists. And when he draws a head exploding upon being shot point-blank by a high-powered rifle… well, you get the picture.

Yes, The Invisibles can get a bit gory at times. People don’t just got shot; they get shot apart. It fits that whole “action” focus, I guess. I could do without it, because at times it gets gratuitous. The same could be said of the sex, I suppose. The third scene in vol.2 #1 is a sex scene between two of the characters that would undoubtedly get an “R” rating if it were in a movie. But I guess you could say that I have a higher tolerance for pleasure-seeking than wanton destruction (i.e. I’m in favour of the former), so it doesn’t bother me. And frankly, Jimenez is one of the few artists working in comics who draws both sexy women and sexy men very well, making it easy to “put up with” even if you don’t care for it.

Credit should be given as well to inker John Stokes. He does an excellent job of embellishing Jimenez’ pencils (see the Tempest limited series they did together for another example), and I’d hope to see the two of them working together as often as possible.

 Despite all of the good things it has going for it, I ended up dropping The Invisibles vol.2 as well. But it lasted 10 issues instead of 8 this time. {smile} And it’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading it, but as a skeptic of conspiracy theories, magic, and mysticism - and a boring, not very cool mundane - I had a difficult time really getting into it. Morrison’s fascination with such things tends to permeate the series, and it requires too much suspension of a rather solid disbelief for me. (This is different from superhero suspension of disbelief, because that’s stuff I want to believe. This isn’t.)

And The Invisibles doesn’t seem to work well as a monthly for me. I got a lot more enjoyment out of reading the last few issues in one sitting for this review than I had been getting from reading the series 22 pages a month when it started. So I’ll keep my eyes open for future collections, as time and money permit. (The first four issues are being released in paperback as Invisibles: Bloody Hell in America.)

A minor factor in my decision was the departure of Jimenez as penciler. I’m sure Chris Weston (Time Breakers) will do a good job of filling his shoes, and has a very similar style, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, making me decide that this was the time for me to move on.

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