Rob's Reviews > The Invisibles, Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution

The Invisibles, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison
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Aug 06, 2010

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bookshelves: graphic-novels, read-in-2010
Read from August 15 to 16, 2010

"Pretentious" is the first word a budding literary critic learns, and one of the easiest to hurl: everything we don't understand, everything that tries to be something more than pure entertainment, can be dismissed with a scoff as "pretentious". It's really quite irritating once the novelty value wears off. Which is why it's with a groan I feel forced to say: putting Yeats and Shelley in your comic book to have philosophical conversations in a tangent almost wholly unrelated to the main plot is pretty freaking pretentious.

The Invisibles starts out as another saga of teenage rebellion. Like so much of comics' "British Invasion", it was influenced by the rise of Thatcherism and the vaguely anarchistic rage that rose to oppose it. (V for Vendetta is the obvious example.) The Invisibles are a society of outcasts, those that the new world order has no room for and pretends does not exist.

There's a lot of cool stuff in here, and it seems to be setting up for a larger conflict down the road, but in the first volume alone Morrison seems to still be in the shadow of his influences. A more vicious reviewer could say that the premise is just The Illuminatus Trilogy adapted for a different subculture, and the France storyline is just a subpar Sandman story extended to four times the length. That's not entirely fair -- influence isn't a bad thing -- but even someone as poorly versed as I am in 90s comics and outsider art feels that this is very familiar.

On the art side, both Steve Yeowell and Jill Thompson do a great job, and the transition between different artists is a lot less noticeable than one would expect. I also appreciated reading a thicker trade paperback than you see for most series.

All in all, not a terrible graphic novel, and I can imagine this being a very effective gateway drug into serious comics. But I can't shake the feeling of being a bit disappointed, given Morrison's reputation. I'll give him a couple volumes to find his footing, but I'm not sure I'll finish the whole Invisibles saga.
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