The Invisibles: Book 1 by Grant Morrison graphic novel review

Here’s the place to start with Grant Morrison’s modern classic The Invisibles

There are two kinds of Grant Morrison comics: the superhero epics of Batman, Superman and other caped crusaders, and the deceptively loose and surreal chaos magick-infused tomes.

This spiralling saga encompasses the adventures of just one cell of the Invisibles, an anarchic organisation fighting against the Archons of the Outer Church, alien forces from another dimension that have enslaved most of the world without us noticing or caring. The tools at their disposal include time travel, magic, sex and guns as they fight against the masters of order both physically and psychically.

It’s a thunderclap of positive rebellious energy first published in the run-up to the turn of the century, perfectly capturing a time at which the human spirit thought that finally, just around the corner, things were about to get better. Our promised Star Trek utopian future was nearly within our grasp, just one year before terrorism and the fear of the elite destroyed those dreams.

A lead character, King Mob, acted as a so-called ‘fiction suit’ for the writer, with Morrison claiming to feel the very real ill effects of what he put his avatar through, culminating in an emergency hospital stay. The writer claims this story was told to him by aliens from the fifth dimension during an abduction at Kathmandu.

A pantheon of artist gods have put their name to this work, from Frank Quitely to Steve Yeowell and Jill Thompson. The choppy quality of hopping from one artist to another fits well with the implausibly fractured nature of the narrative, with characters jumping through time and space.

What is The Invisibles about? It’s about everything, man. The Matrix lifted heavily from this series for many of its more inspired ideas, and initially poor sales as fans struggled to get to grips with the unexpected content led to a famous “wankathon” to increase comics sold. And it worked.

Dane McGowan is an angry teen from Liverpool, doomed to a fruitless and destructive path. Plucked from harm by the charismatic King Mob, Dane is thrown into life on the streets under the wing of a madman. As he begins to make sense of his strange new world, complete with alien experiences and dimensional shifts, the cell are back for a trip through time courtesy of astral projection.

Then things start to get strange. A modern classic for twisted brains.