Keely's Reviews > The Invisibles, Vol. 7: The Invisible Kingdom

The Invisibles, Vol. 7 by Grant Morrison
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Nov 29, 07

bookshelves: comics, fantasy, science-fiction, reviewed, contemporary-fantasy, urban-fantasy
Read in November, 2007

It's been a long journey. I wanted to finish, hoping Morrison would be able to pull it out in the end. After all, he's written some very good books, and it was in part because of them that I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The Invisibles almost turned me off of Morrison entirely when I first started them, and if not for his other books, I wouldn't have attempted it again. It wasn't that this series was insulting, its faults are the product of poor construction, which in turn was the result of Morrison's inability to edit himself.

It didn't help that the final series is numbered in reverse, causing me to read the last three comics as the first three. At first, I'd thought that Morrison's experimental plotting had reached some sort of frenzied climax, where empty symbols had completely taken over any sense of meaning. It was almost exciting.

My error was a bit confusing, but revealed part of why Morrison comes off so flat to me. Morrison's story works like a drug trip (indeed, he utilizes several real-life trips as direct inspiration for his comics), the semi-random firings of neurons brought on by sleep and (hallucinogenic) drugs creates an overlay of sensory and symbolic experience which we then try to comprehend.

Morrison produces a similar effect in this story, except he culls his symbols and sensory experiences not from the recognizable or the metaphorical, but from the theoretical, the metaphysical, even the paranoid. His reality has no focus, and exists in an interchangeable, dreamlike state; and like a dream, all that interconnects it is moment-to-moment continuation.

Yet he is not content for his narrative to take the scattered, multifaceted form of a dream, instead he tries to coalesce it into some holistic truth. But how can a holistic truth be built on an unrelated scree? Discordians adapt it into satire by accepting the absurdism of any notion of truth, but Morrison is too much the believer to take that route.

What sets Morrison apart from both Moore and Gaiman is that he's come to believe in his own bullshit. This story is too close to home for him, and beyond basing it on his own philosophies, he suggests that the whole work is a magic spell that is controlling his life. The end result being that Morrison stops working to make the thing coherent because he believes it will be, no matter what he does.

Unshakable belief in your own work is the death of imagination. Without a constant doubt as to the quality or coherence of the message, the inflow of unchecked ideas quickly fills the work to the brim, crowding out characters or plot.

Morrison wraps it all up with something that looks but does not feel like a climax. Though he sets up evil empires, double agents, monomythic battles against evil, magic items, and monsters galore, he spends his exposition trying to explain this or that 5th-dimensional crystal instead of writing the story.

That being said, it did inspire me to think more about physical exploration and catharsis. The art gets better as the series closes up, though the latter books are a bit annoying in that they switch abruptly from one artist to the next.

I finished the thing. It taught me a lot of things not to do as a writer and helped me to recognize why some of Morrison's stories work so very well and why others are so wacky and confused. I'll have to make sure that if I ever write my dream project--near and dear to my heart--that I have a very smart and very honest editor to stop me from buying my own line of bullshit and trying to sell it to my hapless fans, who would prefer I just wrote well instead of playing the magical messiah.

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