Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Issue Four: Down and Out in Heaven and Hell Pt. 3
"Down and Out in Heaven and Hell Pt. 3"
Dane McGowan remains euphoric after his previous experiences, but Tom insists that he will soon be dying. He continually reminds Dane that death is nothing to fear, and that he will soon be joining the Invisibles under the code name "Jack Frost." Dane remains ambivalent. Later that evening, Dane ecstatically burns the stolen sports car they have been driving around in, and Tom tells him that tomorrow, they jump.
Tom gives Dane more of the blue mold to smoke, and then leads him to the tower (Dane hallucinates cash and blood flowing out of a sewer pipe, and babbles to the people around him that the city is built on a lake of "blood and sweat and shit."
At the tower, Dane hesitates, saying he does not want to learn magic. But Tom takes his hand, and asks him to trust him. Together, they jump.
Dane falls for a time, and then is suddenly transported to a strange, rural landscape. He immediately sees the solid-colored circle that he saw during his previous "UFO" experience, this time much larger and closer. He flees from it, grabbing a bike he finds and riding away. He eventually comes across a ringed planetoid floating in the sky, the sight of which brings him to tears.
We then see Dane going to an address Tom gave him before the jump, which is seen to be a school. King Mob's cell is there, and they introduce themselves. Ragged Robin is a young woman wearing clown make-up. Boy is a young, tough-looking woman. Lord Fanny is a glamorous transvestite. They are all people Dane has seen during his life on the streets, and he also recognizes them as the fake Hunt that menaced him earlier.
King Mob tells Dane that Tom is dead, and asks him if he wants to join the group, saying it his last chance. Robin senses that enemy agents are about to arrive, and the cell runs. Dane follows them.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking member of the British government contacts someone named Orlando, who appears to have a grudge against King Mob, telling him where to find him and his group. Tom is seen descending into the darkness below the city. As the soldiers of the Outer Church arrive at the school, they find it deserted, except for a pinless pink grenade with the word "Smile" written on it.
So, we're still in initiation mode here in Invisibles land - last issue, Dane McGowan cast away the person he was, but it's yet to be seen who he's going to choose to be. And it's still initiation for the readers, too. There are a lot of ideas being seeded here that are going to come up again and again in The Invisibles, so we'd better get used to them now.
Case in point: Tom, telling Dane that he can see the entire shape of his life. Not a single moment, or even a thread running through events, but a shape that comprises everything he ever did.
And that flows quickly into a discussion of the difference between "I've a sadness on me," and "I'm sad," the way that the shapes and structures of our language reinforce and dominate the ways we think.
And Dane is still afraid of death. He's still afraid of the fight, still afraid of choosing a side, because once you've chosen a side, it's possible that you chose wrong. He's still not ready.
Last time, he was trapped in Jack Frost. Today he's Dane McGowan (and that's fine, for a time). But soon, he's going to have to BE Jack Frost, the warrior/sorceror/protector. Not a thing he hides behind, but a thing he is.
Tomorrow we jump
Dane and Tom have been riding around in a beautiful little car. Where'd they get it? Where do you think? Dane's always known how to hijack the system, remember?
And then burn it to the ground. King Mob's barely in the issue, but this scene is as much about him as it is Dane. Explosions! Killing people! Brilliant! But Tom's tired. He's not sad to see one more explosion, but he's ready to go. For Dane (and Gideon) there's always another car, another explosion, another excitement. But Tom knows better. That stuff is fun, but it's not important.
A lake of blood and sweat and shit
I do not think of The Invisibles as a particularly funny series, but the quick jump between Dane saying he's all right, and him being utterly whacked out of his gourd on the blue moss and ugly truth, makes me laugh. As does Tom's line, "I'm his keeper. He wets himself."
And there's probably something to Tom telling Dane to be blue smoke, as they enter the tower. If there's no such thing as blue mold, then it's just Dane getting high on his own mind, isn't it? He's the blue smoke already. So why not embrace it?
The view of London from the top of the tower is like a postcard, Tom says. Something you'd give to the sick or the infirm to cheer them up. But Dane's neither of those things, and it's time to give up the comforts of the world. It's time to jump.
So what does it take to be Invisible? It's more than just letting go of yourself. It's more than just seeing the machinery below the world, and the truth about cities. It's looking at the world that you know could keep you fat and happy for the rest of your life, and believing your friend when he tells you there's something much, much more. All you have to do is reject the world... and jump.
And it's okay to be scared (it's okay to cry). The end of the world, even if it is just your own world ending in death, is scary, the first time you confront it. It's scary to be born, to cross from one threshold to the next. The unknown is scary, too, when you see it looming like a stop light right in front of you, two-dimensional and solid and strange.
It's okay to run for a bit, to ride your bike and just enjoy the sensation of rushing air, until you can alter your perspective and see that it's not a circle.. it's a sphere. A beautiful planetoid. And when you fall or jump, it's what's waiting to catch you, after you've woken up from the dream that is the world.
(Digression: Let's talk about the landscape where Dane finds himself after the jump. It's reminiscent of the park where he and Tom threw the Frisbee (a bright red, solid circle) at the start of the issue. And it has a scarecrow, looming in the foreground, and then being blown past. I THINK that might be a representation of the Outer Church and the archons... something designed to frighten and warn, but not truly dangerous. But I'm not sure.)
Learn to become Invisible
And once more we're back in school, and the big exciting spy plot that's been on hold while Jack Frost was being born kicks back into gear. Tom's dead, and we can miss him, but it's not sad. He's gone somewhere else, is all. Woken up. Been born.
And some of this has been a game, of course. Allies dressed as enemies, playing various parts and keeping an eye on our boy. But don't fool yourself: The Hunt is very real, and Orlando is coming. Just because death is no terrible thing doesn't mean the other side won't hurt you and hurt you and hurt you before it's over. And no acknowledgment of false dualities is going to stop Orlando when he's playing with you with his knife.
And Dane's still asking what's real, but I don't think he means it anymore. He already knew: there is no blue moss. There's just you, and the things you can see and do when you believe you can. And when you realize that, when you accept it, that's when you know the truth: you've always known the magic. You've always been Invisible.
And Tom O'Bedlam walks down into the tunnels to see the spires and meet the Harlequin again, and the myrmidons kick down the door of an empty school house, and it's time for another big, fun explosion.