Friday, January 28, 2011

Issue Fourteen: She-man Part Two: Day of Nine Dogs

The Invisibles
Volume 1
Issue 14

"She-man Part Two: Day of Nine Dogs"

Hilde, the young Lord Fanny, continues her initiation on the steps of a pyramid in Mexico. She steps into the jungle and is confronted by the god Tezcatlipoca, who challenges her to pull his heart from the doors of his chest before they can close on her (with death as the price of failure) she does so, and forces him to show her the way to Mictlan, land of the dead, so that she can learn magic. She moves through higher dimensional space to get there before reaching the court of Mictlantecuhtu, lord of death, who welcomes her to his kingdom, telling her that she is dead.

Other flashbacks show Fanny as a transvestite prostitute, being degraded and eventually badly beaten by her clients.

Lord Fanny, in the bathroom of the club, quickly pulls the "magic mirror" back into her and, charmed by the Outer Church assassin Lewis Brodie, takes him home to her apartment. They fool around for a time before Brodie pulls a gun and demands she tell him everything she knows about King Mob.

King Mob asks Edith Manning to help him find Dane McGowan, and she eventually agrees. The ritual itself is not shown. On the way back to London, KM picks up a hitchhiker, who speaks at length about conspiracy theories that seem to complement the events of the book.

Taking a break from the search for Dane, Ragged Robin and Boy relax in a bar. Robin pulls a Tarot card to determine what will happen to them next. The card she pulls is Death.

Kirby, beaten in the previous issue by Brodie, is found by his friends. King Mob questions him, and, learning that Fanny is in danger, rushes out to rescue her.

In a strip club, a man named Jack Flint is told that Division X is being reopened, and that he has been reactivated.

I truly believed in Tezcatlipoca. I just didn't ever think he was real.
Speaking to the young Hilde on the steps of the pyramid, the butterfly spirit Tlazolteotl says a very curious thing.

"The mystery will open up to you and you must reach out of time, grasp its heart and make your bargain with it." And then Hilde proceeds to the trial of the god Tezcatlipoca, where she follows those instructions in typical myth fashion. There's a hint, there (one we've seen before in these pages) that much of the more mystical symbolism encountered in The Invisibles is acting as a metaphor for one, central process. Hilde views it as a test by the god of darkness before descending into the land of the dead. Jack Frost headed into the tunnels below London and smoked the blue moss, then jumped off a building and fell to somewhere... else. King Mob's hitchhiker talks about information crashing into ours from a higher reality. And even Lewis Brodie seems to recognize the magic mirror, the time stuff, from somewhere. There's something fundamental to humanity in these mysteries, and we've built framework after framework over the millenia to understand and tap into them.

For Lord Fanny, the framework comes from the patronage of Tlazolteotl, goddess of filth and lust. And so she wears her priestly uniform, subjects herself to pleasurable degradation, leaves clubs with dangerous men when she's too high to see the warning signs. (It is telling that her dangerous encounter with Tezcatlipoca, where she must bargain and risk with a god of darkness, is intercut with working as a prostitute - she has to be brought close to filth and death if she's going to learn.

It's the time stuff, isn't it?
And in exchange for all this, the butterfly whispers the secrets of the universe to her: that time is not a linear process, but a 4-dimensional construct, with all elements of itself accessible at once. That events cycle because they are all the same event, a reflection of a higher truth. Hilde is dying on pyramid steps as Fanny is horribly beaten while working as a prostitute as Lord Fanny is attacked by Brodie as Fanny is living her entire life, moving forward toward her inevitable, eventual death, and always, Hilde is descending into Mictlan, the land of the dead.

And to get there, she moves through "backstage," where people and buildings and the world are just 2D cutouts. We've been here before, when Jim Crow lifted a puddle and walked through, when Jack Frost rode his bike. Lies-to-children, mythic representations of a single true place. And just on the other side of it (through the magic mirror) is Death. Everybody gets there eventually. The trick, of course, is to get there - learn something - and then... make it back.

Speed. Madness. Flying saucers.
So that's Fanny's story this issue. Not much to say about Boy & Ragged Robin, although I find the presentation of their story in newspaper-esque strips delightful (and possibly a continuation of the Prince Valiant-esque panel detailing the history of the pyramid last issue? Looking through the third issue, I can't seem to find a parallel, so it's probably just a coincidence).

The page of King Mob and Edith, with her thoughts presented on the page from within her smoke, and none of their words in bubbles at all, makes me think of last issue, when Fanny was vomiting panels. High enough that her thoughts are merging with the comic's superstructure? Or just artistic license?

The hitchhiker KM picks up lays down some foreshadowing for the America-based Volume 2. (And I just noticed that, with King Mob's red glass sunglasses in this issue, he's essentially walking around with two Barbeliths on his face).There's nothing I can remember about the future of the series about him being anyone in the know, so it might just be an example of the collective-unconscious acting in Invisible-types (even if they aren't members of the group proper). And as King Mob points out, he really believes it. Whose to say his belief structure is any more or less accurate than Aztec gods, hm?

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