Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Issue Seventeen: Entropy in the U.K. Part One: Dandy

The Invisibles
Volume 1
Issue 17

"Entropy in the U.K.: Dandy"


Sir Miles begins his psychic interrogation of King Mob. However, instead of actual information, he can only find bizarre science-fiction stories about a dandyish super-assassin named Gideon Stargrave. King Mob claims that he is a writer (Kirk Morrison, whose books have been seen before in the series) and that these are ideas for a book he's writing. Miles eventually manages to push deeper, and discovers King Mob's younger self, a violent rebel not unlike Dane McGowan, and learns that his last name is Starorzewski. He prepares to physically torture KM to extract more information.

Sir Miles also reports to his superior, Miss Dwyer (previously seen bringing Dane McGowan to Harmony House in the first issue). However, he is horrified to learn that an archon of the Outer Church, The-King-of-all-Tears, is about to manifest himself on the earthly plane.

In flashbacks, King Mob has a conversation with his friend and mentor Elfayed, in which Elfayed tells KM his theory that humanity is consuming its environment at an advanced pace because it is preparing to metamorphose into something new.

Ragged Robin and Boy, worried over KM and Fanny's disappearance, split up - Boy to check out King Mob's apartment, Robin to "go see a rock band."

A police officer named Harper is in an armed showdown with a criminal. Harper's phone rings, distracting the criminal, and Harper kills him. He answers the call, which is from his old friend Jack Flint (seen in a strip club in a previous issue) and is told that Division X is being reactivated.

Wizard prang, old bean!
Have we ever talked about the fact that King Mob is Grant Morrison? Not in a subtle, a few details pulled from his life, sort of way. His fantasies in this issue are from wish-fulfillment comics Morrison wrote when he was younger, he's an author (who publishes under the last name Morrison, no less). As much as the Invisibles is about the transformation of its characters, it's also trying to transform us, to act like a how-to guide for enlightenment. And Morrison is leading the charge, here, with a character who is essentially himself but idealized, Invisible.

And in this issue, he lets that mask slip. One of the things I've always loved about this one is the complete, un-self-conscious way Fanny and KM slip into their cover stories - every reaction they give lines up completely with the events of the shooting, and with how a normal person would react to them. And I think, at least partially, this is coming from a real place. KM is in as bad a situation as he's ever been in, and he's tapping into real, legitimate fears to make "Kirk Morrison (also KM, of course) seem scared shitless by what's happening to him.

A bit of the old ultra-violence
And meanwhile, his mind cycles through adolescent fantasies (steeped in violent rebellion, crazy sci-fi elements, big explosions, the Gideon Stargrave bits are like a timeline of the development of the ideas that eventually matured into The Invisibles) that get closer and closer to the ways Morrison thinks today, as Sir Miles smashes against his psychic resistance. There's even a gorgeous shout-out to The Prisoner, with King Mob and Sir Miles saying some of the show's opening dialogue, along with a shot of Mob, dressed as The Prisoner, is pursued by the ominous Rover (who looks uncannily like the Invisible blank badge).

And why not? This is King Mob's origin story, but it's also the origin of this whole book. The Prisoner, with its surreality, its strange sci-fi plots, and especially its focus on self-determination and individual freedom, is as much a parent to this book as Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius stories, which serve as the template for all the Gideon Stargrave stuff. There's even a shout-out to Orwell, with Sir Miles referencing Room 101 from 1984 - the worst room in the world.

And at the end, Sir Miles does break through - at least a little. He finds that young man, Polish, bushy head of hair, last name Starorzewski... But when he finds him, he's got a solid colored circle at his back, and he's holding a gun that kill ideas. Sir Miles may think he's broken KM, but he's got a lot to learn.

Casper the benign tumor
We also get another conversation with Elfayed, and once again he's talking about mummies. Last time this came up, I associated mummies with preservation, stagnation, but maybe I was wrong. He's much more inclined to think of them as prototype cocoons, as more symbols of transformation and change. (King Mob, awesomely, says the mummy reminds him of the Invisible man - he's right, in multiple senses of the word)

It's another reminder of the principle he lays down earlier, "As above, so below," (shades of the way Fanny's near-death experiences reflect her "higher" descent into the underworld, as well as Ragged Robin talking this issue about making friends with your cancer cells). The human body consumes itself as it dies as part of a transformation into something new, just as humanity is consuming the world for the same reason. Fanny manages to get a laugh out of one guard, and it's an entrance point into bringing down the whole base. Small changes reflect bigger ones.

As above, so below.

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