What will inevitably be considered a masterwork ten years ahead of its time, Grant Morrison's INVISIBLES gets to a start with this book at equal times fascinating and frustrating. INVISIBLES is the story of Order and Chaos, split into two armies that have been fighting since the beginning of time for control of Everything, and the initiation of young Dane McGowan as the newest member of one Invisibles cell lead by the charismatic, atavistic King Mob. Dane may or may not be the new incarnation of the Buddah.
The first half of the book is the story of Dane's initiation into the strange shadow world that the Invisibles occupy, his indoctrination into the War For Everything brewing just below the surface of the world. From juvenile delinquent full of rage and pluck to wide-eyed neophyte, Dane and the reader are introduced hard and fast to Morrison's pre-millennial milieu. The second half, collecting the arc called Arcadia is a time-hopping and genre defying piece of historical weirdness as the Invisibles go back in time to swipe the Marquis de Sade and bring his particularly bent talents to bear in the modern era. A disjointed and dense story, Arcadia is a hard bit to get through when read side by side with the manic verve of the first part. Morrison himself admits that making Arcadia the second story was probably near-fatal for the book as a whole.
Inventive, ostentatious, complex and visionary, INVISIBLES is one of the most startlingly dense and rich works ever released by a major comics publisher. Unfairly maligned as impenetrable by readers too lazy to let the book teach them how to read it, INVISIBLES is Morrison's magnum opus and worth any head scratching it may provoke. Stick with it; believe it or not, it all makes a perfect, essential sense by the end.
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.