Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: The Invisibles, Vol. 6: Kissing Mister Quimper

The Invisibles, Vol. 6: Kissing Mister Quimper The Invisibles, Vol. 6: Kissing Mister Quimper by Grant Morrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m reviewing all six of the first Invisibles collections here; the seventh seems to me a different animal, though, and I’m still working my way through it.

The premise of The Invisibles is spectacularly adolescent. Somewhere in another dimension there is a race of aliens intent on controlling all human minds. They want us to conform to some easily governed social norm, and they’ve taken over most of our human institutions.

Against that assault stands a coterie of charismatic rebels, The Invisibles, who think for themselves and risk everything to keep a spark of individualism alive. It’s sci-fi/philosophy with a shot of libertarian fantasy.

The story starts when the group recruits a young man to be their potential savior, or maybe Buddha, and then it gets really weird. There’s time travel, psychic warfare, mutant dwarves, unwitting stooges, tentacle-faced creatures, and kinky sex. There are ultimately so many simultaneous narratives going on that it’s often overwhelming. I read this episode by episode as I was getting ready for bed, and I could rarely be sure what I’d just read or what I was about to read next.

Many of the stories are simply too bizarre to follow. I’m still not sure exactly how the Hand of Glory is supposed to enable our heroes to bend time, nor am I clear on who’s been stealing it or why.

As the team coalesces, though, there’s something really compelling. There’s our new recruit, Dane/Jack Frost, who rapidly grows out of his naïve phase into a sometimes more interesting voice of the working class. There’s Boy, an African-American police officer who’s caught up in a history of loss. There’s Fanny, a transvestite beauty who’s also a South American shaman. There’s Ragged Robin, an agent who’s come back from the future to help lead the team but who should otherwise be only eight years old. And there’s King Mob, the bad-ass balding head of the group who always has an answer, even when he has to wrestle with his own growing love of violence.

The art is a little uneven because Morrison employs a handful of different artists, but by the sixth volume, this is really clicking. The stories retain their crazy, you-readers-can’t-keep-up frenzy, but they’re framed by a clearer conflict than earlier. Ragged Robin’s ultimate mission becomes all the more central, and that gravitational heart makes the crazy tangents more connected. In the end, there’s something at stake, and something resolved.

I had brief hopes that this might live up to the highest standards of Warren Ellis’s Transmetropiltan. It’s not that good, but it’s satisfying in a lot of ways and occasionally flat-out brilliant.

View all my reviews

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