Sunday, January 30, 2011
Issue Fifteen: Apocalipstick
"She-man Part Three: Apocalipstick"
In Mictlan, Hilde watches her future life beside the death god Mictlantecuhtu. He tells her that she must turn away from the world and come into his kingdom forever. He shows her the star demons, who include Orlando in their ranks, and say they will consume the world in pain and suffering soon. Hilde protests that she is not dead yet, and offers him a joke in exchange for knowledge and safe passage from his kingdom. He accepts.
Her joke (What are pink, wrinkled and stiff and make women squeal? Cot death babies) makes the bone god laugh, and he allows her into his garden. There, she learns the secrets of magic, and is shown that the gods are just masks, behind which lies the strange red circle called Barbelith.
In Rio de Janeiro, an 18-year-old Hilde is working as a prostitute. She is taken to a party where men in animal masks brutally rape and beat her, then throw her from a moving car. She returns to her home and contemplates suicide, but resolves to stay alive. Moments later, John-a-Dreams comes to her door, and asks her if she has ever heard of The Invisibles.
In present day, Lewis Brodie reports to his superior, Sir Miles (who appears to have been wounded in an altercation earlier that day with the missing Jack Frost), that he has captured a member of the Invisibles.
Lord Fanny attacks Brodie, but is unable to match him physically. She is saved by King Mob, who arrives at the apartment and begins battling Brodie. However, Brodie manages to get to his gun and shoots KM through the stomach. He then fires his gun into Fanny's face, but (due to her magical manipulations) it misfires, and she slashes him through the crotch with a shard of broken mirror.
Brodie dies after seeing a strange vision of his childhood cat. Fanny passes out. And Sir Miles and his troops arrive at the apartment, realizing that they've managed to capture King Mob.
I'm already on my knees
So the question is: How do you become Invisible?
It's not just rebelling. It's not just learning to do magic. It's not martial arts training or knowing how to shoot dudes or any of that other action hero bullshit.
Being Invisible is stripping away the self, giving up who you were. Dane McGowan gets pissed when the cell members call him Jack Frost because he doesn't want to face a truth - Dane McGowan is gone, given up willingly when he jumped off the building at Canary Wharf.
For the girl named Hilde, it came on a night when she was working the streets of Rio, during Carnivale. A room full of faceless men in animal masks (and a strange light in the corner?), raping and beating her and then throwing her out of a moving car. It was kneeling on a bathroom floor, trying to get her hands to close around enough pills to end the pain. And realizing that this was as bad as it could get.
It would never get worse. COULD never get worse. And she had survived it. Could now draw strength from it. In that moment, Hilde was gone, and Lord Fanny was born.
Don't make me laugh! It hurts too much to...
Lewis Brodie dies in this issue, and I'm still not sure how I feel about the man. At his core he's a brute and a murderer, but the edges of his character have weird twists and turns. He recognized the mirror stuff, after all (although maybe we all would, when confronted with something like that). He has an almost hero-worship-like attitude to the mythical King Mob, as though KM is some sort of archetype or rock star he's been trying to live his life toward. And then there's the stuff with his cat.
Brodie mentions the cat in all three issues - first to Sir Miles, and then when he sees the magic mirror. And Hilde, when she drinks the tea during her initiation, sees a black cat among all the aliens and mantises and weirdness. I'm worried I'm missing a reference here, to some Aztec god that Brodie unknowingly worships with his love for his dead cat. Lewis asks "Who's that WITH you?" Death, presumably. Cats have traditionally been seen as psychopomps, those who lead the souls of the dying to the land of the dead.
Or maybe it's just that we all have gods, living in our heads. The things we love, and still think about. And in exchange for keeping those ideas alive, they can give us gifts. Like taking laughter into the face of death.
Cot death babies.
Which is how Hilde survives her meeting with the bone god, of course (for now, anyway). Her patron is the goddess of filth, and she tells a joke that merges sex intimately with death, and gets a chuckle out of old Mictlantecuhtu. In such a way, she is allowed to leave death... for a time.
And death is not so bad, when confronted by the alternative that Mictlantecuhtu lays out - unceasing torment by the creatures he calls the star demons. Among their number is our old friend Orlando, who still bears a grudge for things to come. Spirits of pain that threaten to overwhelm the world, death stands as a respite from their ministrations.
Mictlantecuhtu speaks of needing payment for his services in dismissing the demon (back in the windmill). Is the payment Hilde's joke? Or is it the entire situation with Brodie? Did Fanny throw herself into danger because being brought near to death again was the death god's payment for his help? The joke she told merged sex and death - and so did getting high and bringing Brodie home. Are they reflections of the same event?
We gods are only masks
In any case, she survives, and learns the ways of magic. "That language whose words do not describe things but ARE things." We'll be seeing that idea more and more, language as the bridge between our thoughts and reality (and the way the languages we are taught constrict the thoughts and realities we can operate in)
And then, one more monstrous god, skull-faced butterfly with wolf's paws... almost a composite of the various gods Hilde has dealt with... And that is pulled away to show what all the gods really are. The truth behind every myth of ascension and magic. The hidden circle.
And we learn one more thing. Magic mirror is a reflection of reality, yes. But it's also a liquid, pliable, constantly moving. And when you reach out, gently, and change it (so that a bullet, say, fails to fire)...
That's what we call magic.