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The Invisibles, Book 6: Kissing Mister Quimper
on April 29, 2005
"Kissing Mister Quimper" is my favorite book in the Invisibles series, and in many ways I'd say it's the perfect introduction to creator/writer Grant Morrison's vision: it's chock-full of mysticism, fringe science, bizarre events, and Grade-A ultraviolence. Unfortunately, since it collects the final issues of Volume 2, most of it would be nonsensical to someone who hasn't read the preceding five trade paperback collections. So for that reason alone I can't recommend this book as a great starting place for those interested in jumping on the Invisibles train.
Events pick up directly after those in Book 5: our favorite Invisibles cell, having "rescued" Boy from the deprogramming methods of another Invisibles cell, is currently regrouping in New Orleans. While Lord Fanny, Jack, and Boy dance at a club and hook up with strangers and one another, King Mob and Ragged Robin head to Philadelphia. There King Mob wants to finally figure out what happened to John A'Dreams, a former member of the cell who disappeared in 1992. Mob last saw John in a Philadelphia church, where Archons had seemingly activated the Hand of Glory and corrupted the local timestream. Now King Mob is convinced John "went over" to the other side; soon after entering the dank bowels of the church, he's also convinced John is coming after them. What starts off as a horror/action scenario quickly takes a more paranoiac bent, as we learn that King Mob and Robin are really at the mercy of a "virtual assassin," an enemy device that preys on its target's nervous system.
"Black Science II" is the second arc, and it's one of my favorites. A sequel to Volume 2's opening storyline (collected in Book 4: "Bloody Hell in America"), it features King Mob's cell reunited with fan-favorites Jolly Roger and Jim Crow, as they once again take on the US Army. The first "Black Science" arc was a big-budget action film with an NC-17 rating; all technicolor blood, guts, and mayhem. The sequel starts off similarly, but veers into metaphysics; not only paralleling Morrison's storytelling in Volume 1, but also foreshadowing that of Volume 3. This arc also throws a huge spanner in the works: we've long known Ragged Robin's from the future, but here we also learn she's also apparently writing the story the Invisibles find themselves in. This metatextual conceit, though initially befuddling, is something Morrison plays out in Volume 3. But "Black Science II" isn't all metaphysics, as it features a healthy dose of action, violence, and reversals (i.e. Lord Fanny's surprise entrance in the military base).
The book concludes with two stories that wrap up Volume 2, leading the way into the more surreal Volume 3. The first story, "All Tomorrow's Parties," is one of the best in the series. A time-fractured tale in which Ragged Robin returns to the future, it's similar in many ways to Volume 1's incredible "Best Man Fall" (which is collected in Book 2: "Apocalipstick"). "All Tomorrow's Parties" takes the series into areas it's never gone before, as even King Mob begins to wonder how much of what he's experienced is reality, and how much is the product of Robin's imagination. The story ends with a haunting scene right out of "2001: A Space Odyssey." The final issue, "The Tower," concludes with the present-day Invisibles regrouping after losing two members: Robin's returned to 2012, and Boy decides to retire from the fray.
Previously I stated that Phil Jimenez was the closest this series ever got to a permanent artist, but Chris Weston could just as easily make that claim. He provides all the art for this book, and also penciled several fill-in issues in earlier books. Weston's art is similar to Jimenez's (or vice versa), only Weston's is a bit more skewed, a bit more surreal. This nicely complements Morrison's writing; whereas part of Jimenez's appeal was that he so realistically depicted Morrison's outrageous events, Weston gives us realism mixed with a dash of the bizarre. His artwork here is superb, especially in the "Black Science II" arc; it's no wonder Morrison later tapped him to provide artwork for his "The Filth" maxi-series.
Volume 2 of the series was (and still is) hotly debated by fans; some thought it was genius, others complained it was "watered down." I've always felt it was the best of the Invisibles. Not only did it have the most consistent artwork, but it was also the most thematically pleasing (one example: Volume 2 opens and ends with King Mob standing in millionaire Invisible Mason Lang's lawn, holding a gun). Ironically, Volume 3 is just as debated, though for different reasons - you won't find many people who claim Volume 3 was "watered down!" However, I heartily encourage anyone who has made it this far into Morrison's twisted vision to pick up Book 7: "The Invisible Kingdom," and hang onto this wild ride until the very end.