Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Invisibles, Volume 6: Kissing Mister Quimper Review (Grant Morrison, Chris Weston)


I read this book just yesterday but held off from writing a review immediately to see if I could recall enough of it today to see what had stuck. Can you guess how much I retained? I promise I was paying attention the whole time, like I do with every book I read, but, wow, is The Invisibles just a load of nonsense! 

In this book, The Invisibles fight the evil psychic dwarf Quimper, while Mason, the guy who’s been bankrolling them since the start, turns out to be evil or something. In between that, there’s precious little else! 

I’ve been reading The Invisibles steadily now since the start of the year and I’m completely unsure of what the point of the series is. I know broadly it’s the fight between the Invisibles, who’re some kind of hippy terrorist cell, and the evil secret government of the world or something, but in terms of basic things like plot and motivation, I’m completely lost as to who wants what or how they’re going to achieve it. 

Quimper’s evil because - I’m not sure why. He’s a dwarf? He wears a noh mask? He has a cane? Mason’s evil because - I don’t know. He’s rich? He’s bored and likes to mess with people? What are their goals as villains - destroy the Invisibles (I think)? Why? What’s the relevance of the time machine or the Hand of Glory which were so important in the last book? What is all of this building up to and what does any of it mean? 

I’m not even sure who the main character is! From the first book you’d think it was Jack but he’s been a background character since then and Morrison’s scattershot approach has focused on various characters in the group. Either way, I don’t care about any of them succeeding in whatever the hell they’re doing - saving the world? Let’s just go with that. 

Most of this book focuses on The Invisibles in New Orleans having sex and doing acid. There’s some stuff about Jack and Boy hooking up, and a bunch of forgettable tripe that just happens: they attack a train, there’s a psychic battle with Quimper, King Mob fires his gun a lot, explosions, the end. 

I understand some of the sex/acid stuff in New Orleans is to prepare for their attack on Quimper but why is he going after them in the first place? Are they that much of a threat? They did successfully attack a military base in Area 51 in Volume 4 - a scene I’m beginning to think more and more was a hallucination, because the Invisibles are complete idiots! King Mob (a name I’m thinking is stupider the more I read it) and Robin spend about half the book running around the sewers literally jumping at shadows - these clowns are a threat to the secret world government?! 

Amidst the bizarreness are some typically Morrison-esque ideas about the book that jump out at the reader randomly, like The Invisibles is actually a book written by a woman who looks a lot like Robin and the whole thing lives in her mind as incredibly vivid fiction, or that the entire book is a hallucination that either King Mob or Robin are having and they’re still in the New Orleans hotel room in the first chapter. Maybe the entire series is a symptom of Robin’s mental illness? Yeah, I guess that’s interesting… kinda… but it doesn’t make up for the whole book being so damn boring! 

Because that’s the side effect of being so deliberately vague and pretentious - so little work is done on things most readers look for like interesting and convincing characters and an engaging plot. I appreciate Morrison has a wide range of interests and he explores a lot of them in his work (albeit very briefly), but I’m totally disinterested in reading his semi-focused ramblings on reality and magic. Fourth dimension, creatures from beyond, true freedom, conspiracies, yadda yadda yadda, I get it - you’ve been saying these things for six volumes now, when the hell is any of this going to pay off?! It’s not nearly as interesting or eye-opening as you think it is, seriously, and it’s become a bore to read over and over. 

Chris Weston’s art is fantastic - beautifully detailed panels, startling imagery, imaginatively constructed scenes, eye-catching figures, subtle but clear facial expressions; it’s really masterful illustration especially in the face of Morrison’s challenging script for portraying the extraordinary. 

Normally by the penultimate book in a series, you’re anticipating a finale where various plot threads meet and characters’ arcs complete. Think Y: The Last Man when the group discover whether men will ever exist on Earth again, or Transmetropolitan when we see whether Spider lives or dies; with The Invisibles I have no idea what’s going on and have zero expectations for the last book. 

Actually I do know one thing I’m looking forward to - the series will be over with and I won’t have to read any more of these books again! I love Morrison, I do, but The Invisibles has been a very unrewarding reading experience.

The Invisibles Volume 6: Kissing Mister Quimper

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