Lindsay's Reviews > The Invisibles, Vol. 1: Say you want a revolution

The Invisibles, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison
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Aug 16, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novels, superheroes, 90s, read-for-fun, read-postcollege, time-travel-and-alternate-dimension, science-fiction, esoterica
Read from August 04 to 05, 2011

I've only read this first volume so far, but for now The Invisibles is rivaling Alan Moore's Promethea as the weirdest comic-book series I've ever read.

The two series have more than weirdness in common: the protagonists of both are young people who quickly learn there's a lot more to the world than meets the eye when they are attacked by mysterious, shadowy creatures that are clearly not of this world. There's magic in both series, particularly astral projection: going to other planes of being in your mind while your body is sleeping or meditating. And both series see a relationship between sexuality --- especially male sexuality --- and creativity: in Promethea, there's the whole wand/chalice rigmarole, while here, the mysterious extraterrestrial Enemy, whom our protagonist, Dane, first encounters in a bleak, Orwellian reform school and whose goal is to enslave all of humankind, mutilates those people who join them by removing their genitals. "We will make you smooth between the legs and between the ears," they say.

Other than that, The Invisibles is a very different kind of story, set in an entirely different moral universe. The main protagonist of this first volume is a teenage boy named Dane, whom we first meet as he's throwing a Molotov cocktail into a library. That ought to tell you right now that this book's central conflict isn't really about Good and Evil, it's about Freedom and Slavery. As Dane's (and another character's, the actual, honest-to-goodnessevilness Marquis de Sade) inclusion on the side of the freedom fighters implies, the freedom being defended includes the freedom to do evil.

It's a compelling story, but told in kind of a confusing way. I suspect some of these mysteries will clear up as I get further in the series, but there are a lot of jarring transitions, especially at the beginning. (Examples: we see John Lennon on the streets of Liverpool where Dane is also hanging around. What does one make of this? Is Lennon really there? Is he a spirit? A little later the Invisibles' leader, King Mob, mentions having evoked Lennon magically, calling on him for guidance; this also probably explains a bizarre interlude of panels showing Lennon's silhouette amid psychedelic patterns and word salad; there's also a long interval where Dane wanders through London with a mysterious beggar calling himself Tom o'Bedlam, who teaches Dane about magic and gives him a hallucinogenic "blue mold" to eat. It is unclear how much of this stuff has really happened).

Anyway, the Invisibles rescue Dane from the sinister boarding school, and after his stint of on-the-job training with Tom, Dane joins them. Their adventures include being menaced by various other agents of the enemy, and going back in time to commune with past Invisibles and gather information about who the bad guys are and what they're trying to do. This is clearly the start of a long, very strange trip, and it looks like one I'd like to go on.
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