The Invisibles: Apocalipstick

June 1, 2008

Vertigo in the 1990s might be a hotbed for groundbreaking experimental writing in comics, but its readers were probably a pretty confused bunch. The Invisibles‘s King Mob looks exactly like Transmetropolitan’s Spider Jerusalem, but his helm with bug-eyed goggles and a dangly nasal component resembles Morpheus’s from The Sandman. Voodoo radical Jim Crow both looks and acts like Hellblazer‘s voodoo radical Papa Midnite while Ragged Robin behaves like Doom Patrol‘s Crazy Jane, the two looking like an older Delirium. It doesn’t help that Grant Morrison should also come out saying that Ragged Robin and Crazy Jane are indeed the same person in alternate universes…

So thank God — or Mictlantecuhtli in this case — for a character like Lord Fanny, who is, as his name suggests, a very comfortable transvestite. He is also an unimaginably powerful sorceror as the last in a millennia-old line of Mexican shamanesses, historical guardians of secret Aztec spiritualism. Lord Fanny is, however, very unlucky in love, a weakness the Invisibles’ enemies will exploit, and his reckless living will have serious repercussions on those close to him. Oh wait, now he sounds like John Constantine in drags.

Volume 2 is an excellent collection which, by itself, can prove why so many comic readers love Morrison. After closing the arc that involves Dane McGowan’s first and apparently last adventure, we are treated to 5 separate storylines. The first is a short tale introducing Papa Mi Jim Crow and his brand of magical warfare. The next 2 show the supposed ordinary lives of people maintaining the status quo, one being the butler of the aristocrat-villain Sir Miles and feeder of his Moonchild, an ancient monster being prepared to become King (of?).

The other is a simpler story of an establishment security guard, but it alone is worth half the price of this book — it’s that good. “Best Man Fall” illustrates the kind of top-notch narrative surprises Morrison can pull out by making less seems infinitely more. It does to The Invisibles what his “The Coyote Gospel” does to Animal Man: gives an epilogue to an earlier story, gives a prologue to significant later developments, tells an incidental parallel story, and tells a parable into which all the main themes can be subsumed.

As if these are not already enough to mesmerise you for hours, the volume ends with circumstances leading to Dane’s second baptism. But that is less thrilling and well-told than the enchantingly bizarre tale preceding it, one that concerns the past, present, and future of Lord Fanny. Lord Fanny quite literally becomes one of my favourite comic heroes after this gem, and you’ll know why once you read it, and read it again.

Gweek would be an utter philistine if he gave this volume anything less than a perfect 10.

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