I’ve been working on cataloging my comic book collection for years now. It is a long, time consuming, but extremely enjoyable process. As I go through my boxes, bagging, boarding, and entering comics into my database, I sometimes wonder, “Why did I buy this comic?”. Tonight I came across just such a book when I was going through a box of mid nineties DC books, mostly from the Vertigo line: The Invisibles #1.
Generally speaking I think of Vertigo books as being “high brow” comics meant for people who like sequential art but want something more than funny animals, superhero beat ‘em ups, or giant robots. My problem is that there are very few Vertigo series that I have bought and read and been happy about it when I was finished. Warren Ellis’s “Transmetropolitan” was something my brother turned me on to and I really enjoyed. I ended up reading the entire series. More often than not though I find Vertigo to be a pretty boring line of comics. That is not to say I think they are bad comics, after all some of the most talented creators have worked on Vertigo lines, Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”, Garth Ennis’s “Preacher”, and Grant Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” are some of the most well regarded comics ever published.
While I think The Invisibles is not quite in the same company as Sandman and 100 Bullets, it definitely has its fans. Personally I’m not one of them and that is why I wonder why I bought this in the first place. I suppose it could have been that I knew that Grant Morrison was, and is, one of the top writers in the business. It could have been that I liked Transmet’ so much that I thought I should try other Vertigo titles. It even could have been that my brother said it was going to be good and I acted on his recommendation, something that if you were to ask him now, I have never actually done. Heck, anything is possible I suppose, but for the life of me now I cannot remember what the impetus was that made me buy this comic.
Writer – Grant Morrison
Artist – Steve Yedwell
I own the first five issues of The Invisibles. I remember reading them and not understanding a blessed thing. I re-read the first issue before writing this and I still don’t understand what the deal is. I can understand the angst of one of the main characters, Dane McGowan, and that he is being recruited but that’s about it. I don’t understand why there is a grenade on the cover, why a young John Lennon and Paul McCartney show up, or who and what the heck King Mob is. The art is good and not nearly abstract as the cover might indicate and if I didn’t find the story so boring or confusing I might have given it more of a chance than I did. As it is I only bought five issues and after looking at them now I still don’t care enough to give the series another chance and really go down that rabbit hole.
I’ve read enough about The Invisibles now that I know many people consider it some of Morrison’s finest work, that it is challenging, that you just have to “go with it” to appreciate and enjoy it. The three volumes of the series have been collected several times including a massive 1500 page omnibus so it can easily be enjoyed by new fans. I respect Morrison’s ability to get his story published, for the most part how he wanted to. If you’re reading this and you were a fan of The Invisibles let me know, I’d love to know what you liked about the series and why. For me these are just five comics in my collection that I cannot recall why I bought way back when.