The Invisibles by Grant Morrision

Say-You-Want-a-Revolution - CopyLiterature is meant to allow you access to the life experience of others. That’s a big claim, but if the only think you can say about a book is that it was amusing, then it wasn’t really about anything, and you could have read a better book, which both amused and attempted something deeper. The Invisibles is one of those lovely occasions when graphic novels rise above soap opera, and makes a statement.

What that statement is won’t be obvious from the first reading. The text is layered, and the lives of the characters are recursive. For me, it helped going in that I was a bit familiar with Buddhist and Gnostic Christian thought, because I saw some of the analogies, but that means, I presume, there are others there that I did not understand, because I didn’t have the cultural capital to back my reading.

Many of the problems I had with the book, in the early sections, are addressed directly in the later ones. The author deconstructs the characters, while they watch, and then rebuilds them. It’s masterfully done, if you are willing to just let some issues ride until the later parts of the work. I’ve just worked through one thousand pages of Invisibles, and I’m interested enough in it to have a second look through, to see what connections I missed.

In terms of the plot: superficially, our world has been invaded by alien intelligences which have all but enslaved us, without most people noticing. Our chance for freedom lies in the hands of spiritual terrorists: the Invisibles. King Mob’s cell is short a member, so it inducts a new character, who acts as our eyes. I can’t unpack it more without spoilers, so I’ll leave it there. I’d just note that the character descriptions in the collected editions of the comic give spoilers, for reasons which aren’t clear.

The Invisibles is recommended for those interested in graphic novels as a format, urban fantasy enthusiasts, those who enjoy conspiracy theories or forteana. It requires patient and diligent reading. The Library has heaps of copies.