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Graphic Novel Friday: The Invisibles by Grant Morrison

There has to be a bit of irony in compiling every issue of a comic called The Invisibles, because at over 1,500 pages the omnibus is anything but difficult to see. Originally published by Vertigo Comics in single issues and then later collected in trade paperbacks, The Invisibles is probably best first ingested in segments, as its subject matter is dense, heady, and disturbing. Taken in one giant-sized horse tranquilizer of an omnibus, it’s nearly incapacitating.

The Invisibles is a very Vertigo, very prototypical Grant Morrison comic. Rampant paranoia oozes from the page; the superhero team is subverted, anti-heroes abound; and the plots and visuals coalesce into hallucinatory spiderwebs, eventually snaring the reader. The central narrative follows Dane, a young man from Liverpool who is recruited by the Invisibles team to help battle alien gods. Known as the Archons of Outer Church, the series’ villains secretly control mankind and only Dane and the Invisibles are aware of their grand plot. That, however, is but the thinnest initial layer of Morrison’s own master plan. Music, magic, urban myths, and the collective social consciousness underline and drive the storytelling, sometimes sprawling into incoherency but always viral. Ever the master of suggestion, Morrison lures readers into his own personal narcotic narrative.

Then there are the visuals. Over 30 artists are listed in the collection’s credits, including Phil Jiminez, Jill Thompson, Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart, Dick Giordano, Duncan Fedrego, Sean Phillips, and many more. Experiencing them all at once is a jarring trip, furthering the schizophrenic nature of The Invisibles—the beauty and the underbelly in one fell swoop of a hardcover. This is not a book for everyone. It’s a frightening flip-through and a disturbing absorption, promising a greater high with every turn of the page but delivering a bitter itch when it’s put down.

The omnibus features a new introduction by My Chemical Romance frontman and Umbrealla Academy scribe Gerard Way, over 50 pages of additional materials: designs by cover artist Brian Bolland, a series proposal and essays by Morrison, and plenty more for anyone brave enough to make it through to the end. Hold tight because, according to Grant Morrison, this is how the world ends—with a conspiracy both whispered and screamed—and a smile.

--Alex

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