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89 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the INVISIBLES!
Alan Moore's *Watchmen* dropped into the mid-80's Zeitgeist like a nail-bomb, embedding white-hot shrapnel into fertile young minds, shredding long-held preconceptions about the genre, and, all in all, signifying a new level of maturity to the medium of the 'illustrated lit.' - or comic books, if you prefer - with its adult themes and meta-narrative complexity...
Published on February 22, 2005 by Ian Vance

versus
24 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of reality-warping hallucinogenic tea.
Long ago, a friend who raved about "The Invisibles" loaned me this first book. I don't have very clear memories of it, but I remembered it as being very hard to read, and I remember not getting very far in it before I lost interest.

Recently, due specifically to the influence of Warren Ellis's awesome series "Planetary", I've gotten interested in comics again,...
Published on June 9, 2006 by R. Hunter Gough


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89 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the INVISIBLES!, February 22, 2005
By 
Ian Vance (pagosa springs CO.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
Alan Moore's *Watchmen* dropped into the mid-80's Zeitgeist like a nail-bomb, embedding white-hot shrapnel into fertile young minds, shredding long-held preconceptions about the genre, and, all in all, signifying a new level of maturity to the medium of the 'illustrated lit.' - or comic books, if you prefer - with its adult themes and meta-narrative complexity. *Watchmen* tore through the boundaries, building upon the template of the "graphic novel" as pioneered in the early 80's, and therein expanding the potentiality of it ten-fold...it threw down the gauntlet, cocked the hammer of the duel-pistol; it challenged artisans to ~step up their game~, evolve beyond superhero tights and Golden Age clichés; it left a huge vacuum in its wake - and, as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum.

Thus we come to DC's Vertigo imprint, a label intended for mature stories, and more specifically to Grant Morrison and his *Invisibles*, the self-appointed (and occasionally self-conscious) heir to the post-modern *Watchman* wake. Begun in 1996, during a widespread industry slump due in large part to greed and mismanagement, and concluded at the end of 1999, on the eve of the new millennium, *The Invisibles* sought to achieve the depth, breadth and influence of Moore's juggernaught, to give a greater perspective to the fringe-elements of contemporary society, to reveal/ridicule/rise above the morass of ~popular paranoia~ as embodied by the X-files, Fortean Times, David Icke and other exploiters of conspiracy theory... "This is the comic I've wanted to write all my life," Morrison stated at the end of issue 1, "a comic about everything: action, philosophy, paranoia, sex, magic, biography, travel, drugs, religion, UFO's..." In no uncertain terms Morrison envisioned the be-all end-all illustrated compendium of out-there speculation, a kitchen-sink omnibus entailing all theories and systems, a 'hypersigil' that would influence/embody the outward reality it modeled itself on - and, hopefully, make our world a better, more entertaining place in which to dwell. For only with an open mind can we really reap the benefit of life's ongoing pageant, boogie down to syncopated pulse of the information era.

Morrison lacked neither ambition nor energy in his resultant craft, *The Invisibles*, a seven-volume conspiracy-epic that begins here, with 'Say You Want a Revolution.' Does it succeed even moderately to its stated intention? Well, yes - albeit somewhat fitfully. For this volume, besides being the opening gambit of the whole affair, nicely encapsulates the heady potential of Morrison's material, the verve and style, as well as the excess and superficial assimilation that occasionally brings the whole thing into the perilous straights of pretentiousness, of under-compensated imagination-overload. It is fantastic, frustratingly vague, epic and tangent-flabby, a borderline-smirk to all its influences and to those influenced. It's like nothing else on the market - and that alone assures its position on the top-shelf graphic novel 'classics' space.

*The Invisibles vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution* compiles the first two story-arcs of the series: firstly, the initiation of Dane McGowan into the mysteries of the Invisible order, and secondly, the Arcadia time-warp continuation. The first story is arguably the better and more effective of the two, being a variation on the classic hero/fool's journey from wild agitator to learned acolyte. The art reflects the influence of the 60's that infuses Morrison's storytelling: the draftsmanship, inking, coloring and framing is highly reminiscent of the Ditko/Kerby et al. styling of the Aquarius-Era renaissance in comic books. The second story, Arcadia, veers between two dovetailing plotlines: the Invisibles journey back to the French Revolution to secure the 'psychic projection' of the Marquis DeSade, and find themselves trapped in the libertine's most infamous work, while the Romantic poets Shelly and Byron pontificate about literary influence ("a cannon fires only once, but words detonate across centuries") and cope with personal tragedies. This second story-arc gets a bit messy (literally), but also contains superior writing and art, and builds into an effective climax that, in the end, had me scrambling to collect the rest of the series. Morrison's hypersigil had me.

A literati l'enfant terrible, the author packs his narrative with a mind-boggling assortment of allusions, occult references and outright assimilation. A short list (deep breath): Egyptian symbolism, Situationist propaganda, Rock n' Roll quotation, Irish mythology, psychological probes and split-personalities, Mind Control, Satanic sacrifice, Freemasons, Templar Holy Grail metaphors (including the head of John the Baptist!), the Tarot, UFO's, Alien paradigm-shift assistance, syntax-manipulation, Gnosticism, Aztec demonology, multiple dimensions, etc. etc. Literary references include Shakespeare (King Lear), Carlos Castaneda, Browning, Shelly and Byron, and most explicitly, DeSade's *120 days of Sodom.* Some of these influences are made obvious, some are revealed only via visual interpretation, and some reach the threshold of gratuitous - not all works as well as it could (envisioning DeSade as a contemporary anti-hero is a bit of stretch) - but, overall, the confidence Morrison displays, and the generally successful accruement of his various sources, lends *The Invisibles* the impressive resonance of the meta-narrative, the glamour-sheen of a work in tune to the reverberation of the Zeitgeist, more than ready to challenge its current state, insert the past into the present and therein shape the future mass-consciousness. Morrison claimed that *The Invisibles* would have the same sort of repercussions as the Sex Pistols, hence my review-title; I'm doubtful of this claim, given that *The Invisibles* still remains relegated to underground highbrows, but it ~did~ influence those who made *The Matrix* (striking parallels can be found in the hero's journey segment of this book) - and that cinematic epic, for better and for worse, has forcibly inserted hyper-referential meta-narratives into the cultural identity.

It's easy to criticize ambition. Certainly this book is messy, occasionally pretentious, overly stylistic and a bit smarmy in tone - but throughout, Morrison's intent remains pure:

"And in my mind, I see the sun rise on a new and better world."

Highly Recommended
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Invisibles, Book 1: Say You Want a Revolution, March 15, 2005
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
The Invisibles is the only comic I've ever collected from first issue to last. When it started in 1994 I was a sophomore in college, and when it ended a few months into 2000 I was holed up in a soul-sapping corporate job. Regardless, during those 6 years I was able to get my hands on each issue, despite the fact that I'd "quit" reading comics in high school. But there was something special about the Invisibles, and it kept me coming back for more; I even set up a service with the local comic store so they'd hold each month's issue for me, and I'd come in every few weeks, grab them, and high-tail it out of there.

The Invisibles, as a whole, is as important to the `90s as "Naked Lunch" was to the `50s, as "Illuminatus!" was to the `70s. I suspected this when reading the comic monthly, but now, years later, I know it for a fact. Unfortunately, it's doubtful more people will come to this realization, as the Invisibles is simply too big to fit into one handy volume, a la those aforementioned subversive classics. To digest the entire story, you need to track down seven trade paperbacks. No doubt this will stunt the virus-like growth the Invisibles would otherwise engender on the innocent minds of those who read it. This series can change lives; this has been proven and accounted for.

"Say You Want a Revolution" is the first book of the Invisibles, and this early out, things are presented in more of a black and white/us versus them scenario; it is only in later volumes that writer/creator Grant Morrison begins to subvert and reveal the "larger picture." Here we are taken by the hand and led into the underground and bizarre world of the Invisibles by tagging along with Dane McGowan, an unruly, teenaged Liverpudlian street punk who just might be humanity's last hope in the battle against the Archons, demonic enforcers of Order. The opening half of this book details Dane's initiation, and here we meet the cast of characters who will carry the series till the end.

First and foremost, there's King Mob, a multi-pierced assassin excelling in physical and psychic combat. Next there's Ragged Robin, a sometimes-crazy redhead with psychic powers who claims to be from the future. There's Boy, the ironically-named black woman who's an ex-cop with all sorts of skeletons in her closet, and a black belt in every form of martial art to boot. And finally there's Lord Fanny, transvestite shaman supreme. Dane himself is a ragamuffin of a lead character; you'll probably dislike him for the first few issues, until the human is revealed beneath all of the cursing.

"Say You Want a Revolution" begins with a quick pace, Dane being locked up in a sinister boarding school by agents of the Archons, and King Mob coming to his rescue with guns blazing. After that things slow down for a while, as Dane is tutored by the magically-powered Tom O'Bedlam. This section is good reading, as gradually Dane becomes a more likeable character, but the rest of the Invisibles disappear for a while, and some of the dialog (particularly from Tom) comes off as Morrison pontificating to his audience. It gets to be a bit too much after awhile.

At any rate, Dane is soon initiated (which entails a jumping-from-a-skyscraper test that was completely stolen by the producers of the Matrix), and his adventures with the Invisibles proper begin. However, those expecting the slam-bang escapades hinted at in the early issues will have to wait; instead of more fireworks, the team (or "cell" as they call themselves) mentally project themselves into the past, to bring one of their own back to the 1990s. This Invisible of the past is none other than the Marquis De Sade, and this section of the book, complete with sideline discussions between Elizabethan poets Byron and Shelley, is undoubtedly the most "literary" comic ever written. Unfortunately, this story arc was also nearly the death bell for the series, so early into its run: sales dropped to negligible levels.

The Marquis De Sade storyline is wrapped up in time for the volume's end, however we're left with one heck of a cliffhanger. And that's pretty much it. If my review sounds a bit negative, don't be fooled. It's just that these opening stories seem very static when compared to what comes later. I realize this was not only intentional but necessary; had the series began with the whirlwind events presented in later volumes, a lot of people would have jumped ship in confusion, and the series might never have been completed.

Morrison's writing is his trademark bevy of ideas, one-liners, and profundities. Some of it can come off as a bit too self-serving (King Mob's conversation with Boy in the club, for example), but not so much as to annoy. The Invisibles in a way works as Morrison's autobiography; no doubt it will be what he is remembered for, in decades to come.

The art, however, is where the trouble comes in. The Invisibles was plagued with a procession of artists throughout its run, some talented, some workmanlike. The closest the series ever got to a "regular artist" was Phil Jimenez, and he only lasted for about fourteen issues. Here the art chores are split between Steve Yeowell and Jill Cramer. Yeowell's art is a bit too scratchy and ragged for my tastes, but it gets the job done. Cramer's is a bit more "artsy" and elegiac. Both artists are fine, but future volumes boast great material by Chris Weston, Phil Jimenez, and the unrivaled Frank Quitely.

This first book of the Invisibles is your introduction to one of the greatest works of the 20th Century (and I truly mean that). Once you read it, you're either in or you're out. To quote the phrase that adorns each of these collections: "Which side are you on?"
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Half: 5 stars; Second Half: 3 stars., April 8, 2002
By 
miles@riverside (Indio, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
I have to agree with one of the earlier reviewers that this would have been a better book if it had stopped halfway through. In the first half, we are introduced to the eerie world of the Invisibles from the perspective of the young Jack Frost protagonist, with whom we can relate (obnoxious as he might be).
But the second half of the book suffers from jarring time travel sequences, high gross-out content, arcane conversations, and a lack of sympathetic characters. The Marquis de Sade is, I think, *intended* to be such a viewpoint character, but I found him too strange and off-putting to have much sympathy for him. And the Invisibles themselves already seem to know everything.
That said, I have to conclude that it's a very ambitious and engrossing book nonetheless. The high point for me was Jack Frost's initiation to the Barbelo and whatnot, at the end of the 4th chapter. That had me really hooked, despite the fact that things got less interesting as the story went on.
I can definitely recommend this book to people who liked THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY and some of the more paranoid Philip K. Dick novels; that sort of thing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Just Happened?, May 15, 2011
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This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
I just finished reading the entire 7 volume series and I'm not entirely sure if I like it or not. The Invisibles raises many fascinating issues and makes us question our beliefs and perceptions of reality. I like that part. I've spent a lifetime studying topics such as religion, mythology, and mysticism; everything from new age to gnosticism to kabbalah to buddhism to conspiracy theories, et al. This series definitely addresses my interests.

My only reservation is that the series got a little hard to follow towards the end. So many little subplots going on in the past, present, and future, in hyperdimensions, in alternate realities/universes, in dreams, in hallucinations; characters changing allegiances or turning out to be other than what they appeared to be; hidden agendas.

Yikes, I got confused and more unsettled than a boy scout lost on Brokeback Mountain. I didn't know what was real and what wasn't, anymore. And I suppose that was Morrison's intent all along. The bastard! If Grant Morrsion is as twisted as his story lines, he can swallow a nail and poop out a cork screw.

Like Neil Gaiman, his work demands several rereadings with new insights emerging each time. I'm probably going to buy that 364 page commentary by Patrick Meaney before the next time I wade thru this material. But wade I must, because I sense there's a lot of "meaningful stuff" that slipped by me the first time.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passing strange, indeed...., July 2, 2002
By 
OAKSHAMAN "oakshaman" (Algoma, WI United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
It surprised me that I was drawn to this series. I should have hated it, since I'm middle-aged, middle-class, and from the middle-west. Yet, I read them all, or at least the six that I am aware of. Strange. Perhaps it is because I saw myself in "Tom-o-Bedlam" in this first volume. Perhaps it was the world-behind-the-world underpinnings, ala Phillip K. Dick (if you like the Invisibles, try the Valis trilogy.) Or maybe it was because there were so many synchronistic "hits" with my own life in issue after issue that I briefly wondered if I was slipping into schizophennia....

In any case this series was a delight. It was written with intelligence and erudition. There is just so much concentrated input on every page, both verbally and visually. As for the politics- this is also strange, for I have come to very simular conclusions. Perhaps that is adding paranoia to the schizophrenia....

There is an excellent bit of dialog when King Mob tells of how one of the other major characters read a story called "The Invisibles" and wrote herself a part in it. Yes, that is how magic happens....
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Which Side Are You On?, February 22, 2001
By 
Richard De Angelis (College Park, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
This seditious series is definitely comics' most bizarre example of anarchy from the U.K. A decidedly different sort of superhero group, as part of a millennia old secret freedom fighting cult, the Invisibles hide their very existence from the public; their only identifying mark, occasionally worn by some members, is the "blank badge" (a plain, round, white button-the slogan-bearing kind, not the shirt-closing kind). "The only rule of the organization," as explained in one issue, "is disobedience."

The series follows a particular Invisibles activist cell made up of: King Mob, a bald, tattooed and multiply body-pierced tantric magician and master assassin; Jack Frost, a teenaged, foul-mouthed, psychokinetic alien abductee; Boy, an African-American former policewoman and deadly martial artist; Ragged Robin, a mime-faced, time-displaced, clairvoyant witch; and Lord Fanny, a glamorous drag queen and Aztec shaman.

The series ran from 1994 to 2000, totaling 59 issues divided into three volumes. Fortunately, the entire series has been collected in the form of seven easily accessible trade paperbacks. Say You Want a Revolution, collects the first eight issues of volume one, which focus around the recruitment of Dane "Jack Frost" McGowan: the story begins in a reformatory where juvenile delinquents are indoctrinated into a life of mediocrity by extradimensional beings hoping to harvest their souls, and ends in revolutionary France where the team recruits the Marquis de Sade. Apocalipstick (issues 9-16 of volume one) is about Jack Frost's attempt to flee from his role as an Invisible and how Lord Fanny was indoctrinated as a shaman when still a young child. Entropy in the UK (volume 1, issues 17-25) tells the story of how Lord Fanny and King Mob escape imprisonment and torture by the agents of total Control. The next three books collect the entirety of volume two. Bloody Hell in America (issues 1-4) follows the groups invasion of a top-secret military installation in the New Mexican desert to rescue the AIDS vaccine being kept there. Counting to None (issues 5-13) deals with bad karma, time travel, and brainwashing, and Kissing Mister Quimper (issues 14-22) covers a return to New Mexico, making amends with the past, and setting the stage for the final conflict between the forces of control and freedom, which takes place in The Invisible Kingdom (this collects the entire third voulme, which ran backwards, from issue 12 to issue 1, counting down to the new millennium).

Although presented as a mind altering, spy thriller, roller coaster ride of conspiracy theories, metaphysics, (often extremely) graphic violence and slightly less graphic sex, the thin veneer of allegory barely conceals the more commonplace tragedies beneath the surface that occur in the real world every day. The surreal scenery is simply a backdrop for the true goal of the Invisibles (both the characters and the comic book): to purge the dominant paradigm and awaken people to their own human potential (Grant Morrison actually envisioned the series as a magic spell of liberation). Having just reread the entire series from beginning to end, I am struck by the intricacy of the plot, and the way that events in the first volume of stories foreshadow and continually intertwine with later events. For the diehard fan, or the confused reader, you can gain further insights into this series by checking out Anarchy for the Masses: The Disinformation Guide to the Invisibles by Patrick Neighly and Kereth Cowe-Spigai.

Like the protagonist of Alan Moore's graphic literary masterpiece V for Vendetta, the Invisibles are true to their roles as 21st century Robin Hoods, redistributing the only wealth of importance in the Information Age: Knowledge is not only power, it is freedom. As people become self-aware, they become self-reliant, and soon they become unwilling to prostrate themselves before the trappings of authority. Grant Morrison is only trying to make Visible the unseen strings that subtly manipulate us all.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could very possibly change your perception of reality., July 15, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
This book is a MUST read for anyone with Deconstructionist or Discordian views. It is a comic book, but don't let others opinions of comics and their content sway you. This is no juvenile super-hero in tights smash-em-up for 23 pages. The Invisibles is about subversion of the status quo, deconstruction of patterned and controlled thought and trying to make sure everyone benefits from the end of the world. This book could hold some very real changes of perception for you. As the young Dane McGowan/Jack Frost is initiated into the Invisibles, so are you, given small tidbits that the reality we're all being held to is only that way because it benefits others for you to see reality in this light. You create your reality, this book can and will show you that. There are large and sinister forces behind a lot of very shady dealings in government, business, entertainment, etc., not just in the U.S., but in the world. Don't take my word for it, start looking around, question aut! ! hority and what you see on TV, you might start to see what I mean. Grant Morrison has an eye that sees past all of this. If you really get into the Invisibles, it will seem like you're being let in on a very big secret. Admittedly, it can be a very cryptic and challenging read at times, but if you're willing to put in some effort, and research this work outside of this collection or the monthly issues, you may just start to find and see "the big secret" I've described. This book could change your life, and may start us all on the road to true physical and spiritual freedom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-defining graphic novel, November 2, 2009
By 
J. Burgos "I <3 Books & Comics" (West Hollywood, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
Once in a while you pick up and read a graphic novel series that absolutely changes your life. This is one of them. Along with other graphic novels like Watchmen, Sandman and V for Vendetta, this series of 7 graphic novels chronicles the adventures of a group (or cabal) of mystick modern-day sorcerers. It is a journey into modern-day occult practices, anarchy, time-travel, sado-masochism, deviant sexuality, transgenderism, anti-capitalism, anti-monotheism, ancient religions, alien abductions, magical-hermetic praxis, LSD and protoplasmic-alien horrors from the beyond. I promise you its unlike anything you've ever read before. I wont belabor this review other than pick it up at your local comic book shop and if you like it, invest in buying all the collected graphic novels. Word of warning: this is not for juveniles or children. This is very much an adult comic book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grant Morrison's opus begins HERE!, September 23, 2008
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
The Invisibles.... my personal favorite series and one of the most revolutionary comics in recent history. It's fun, it's smart, it's challenging, it's got some great art and even better ideas.... and it all begins here! Meet Jack Frost, a rebellious, disaffected teenager from Liverpool, angry at life, hurting secretly on the inside ever since his father left him as a child. Jack, destined to be the next messiah, is recruited by the Invisibles, an underground band of rebels and terrorists dedicated to the ideal of freedom. The Invisibles force Jack to crack open the shell of hate and apathy he has built around his heart and let the world in a little. In the Invisibles' company, Jack is abducted by aliens, travels back in time, and is brutalized by one of their enemies, a demonic agent of the evil, extra-dimensional Outer Church.

The first arc of the volume is almost entirely devoted to Jack's development as a character. Although still angry and self-centered, the seeds of self-realization and true compassion have been planted within him. In the second arc, Morrison plays around with the rest of the cast--the ultra-cool assassin King Mob; the psychic witch Ragged Robin; the ex-cop (and female) Boy; and the Brazilian transvestite shaman Lord Fanny. Using time travel, the Invisibles are transported to the French Revolution, which Morrison subtly uses to show the dark side of rebellion.

The Invisibles is certainly Morrison's best work yet and this volume has all the reasons why: strong characterization, insane ideas, irresistible dialogue, and refreshing originality. Morrison takes his cues from no one--he leads the way.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the other reviews are leaving out is, March 31, 2006
By 
John Heard (in an airless chamber somewhere) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) (Paperback)
What makes the invisibles such a powerful story are the characters and how they relate to each other. When the character relationships aren't in flux, attention wanders. I think that the series improves when King Mob throws his guns away and things get extra whacky. Many other reviewers have accurately reported how uneven this first collection is because of the departure taken in the time travel arc. The story shifts its focus onto characters who are not so easy to relate to.

When the Invisibles is really firing on all cylinders, the situations the characters face are instantly familiar, but the reactions and commentary are fresh and inspiring. Check out the middle of the comic's run. That's five trade paperbacks. I know, it's a lot but it goes fast.

Some outstanding aspects of the book that many others have mentioned are its some-of-everthing inclusion of popular cultural references, storytelling tone, varying art quality, and its use of popular conspiracy theory. Morrison manages to find a place for the fantastic in a realistic world. Or maybe he's just good at writing realistic conversations in bizarre situations. A few, but not all of my favorite moments in the entire series-
-Why's King Mob so violent?
-Silver age invisibles. A little comic geek fun
-King Mob uses acid to timetravel, disable enemy soldiers, and see the future
-KM visits his ex-girlfriend
-Jack doing mysterious stuff while on the lamb from the rest of the team
-amazing tangent stories. eg the life of a conspiracy stormtrooper, a terrifying choice for a deep cover invisible working as a royal butler.
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Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo)
Invisibles, The: Revolution VOL 01 (Vertigo) by Grant Morrison (Paperback - June 1, 1996)
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