Friday, June 12, 2020

The Invisibles #4

Is this how idiotic social beliefs are purged from assholes?

I don't understand the people who want less politics in comic books. We need more politics in comic books! Except what I don't really understand is using the word "politics" when they're actually angry about discussing social ills. Except I really do understand what they mean when they refer to social issues as politics. Certain people refer to being compassionate and kind and inclusive as "political correctness" because they can't imagine being compassionate or kind or inclusive until the cost of not being those things adversely affects them. So they think people only believe in being that way if it confers some kind of selfish advantage, usually in the political arena. And thus actually being a compassionate human being becomes political to them.

Also, can we just stop arguing about how comic books used to be when they've always been about making the world a better place and there have always been comic book fans who found that political because they were terrible people? A terrible person reading a comic book where Batman stops some bank robbers can feel good about the story because they know they'll never rob a bank. But when Batman deals with some social ill, the terrible reader might see themselves reflected back at them in the villain of the story. Suddenly, to them, the story has become political. How dare the comic book company choose the other side which is just a political difference and not a basic human decency issue! And they never think, "Maybe, like Batman, I should also try to do better?" No, instead they send a letter to the publisher demanding that the publisher change the stories they tell so that they don't have to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Ideas are political. If you think a story about Batman breaking the bones of The Joker's henchmen because The Joker is robbing banks isn't political, you're kidding yourself. You're just not looking deeply enough into the story and the systemic problems in Gotham that creates a demand for henchmen that are desperate enough to work for a maniac who could murder them at any moment while also having to worry about a man in a bat suit nearly killing them for working for the maniac. How is a billionaire going out at night dressed as a flying rodent to beat up poor and mentally ill people not political? How is any Superman story not political when it's about an immigrant to America embracing his new country and trying to make it a better place for everybody? If you actually think you want comic books to not be political, you're telling on yourself. You're just saying that you're the type of person who doesn't want to read criticism's about our world that might make you feel guilty about your selfish attitude.

The Invisibles is an old comic book which came out 26 years ago and it couldn't be more political. But then it's dealing with magic and the irreality of reality, so if you're dumb enough, you can probably pretend it's not political at all.

This issue begins with a Books of Magic trading card.

At the end of the last issue, Tom told Dane they were going to climb to the top of the skyscraper with the magic pyramid on top and leap off. It was going to teach Dane about the finality of life and not really kill him. But when this issue begins, they seem to have put that off for the moment. Instead, they've stolen a sports car, driven it out to some sleepy little UK pasture, and begun a game of catch with a Frisbee. Tom starts rambling on about how his time is up and he's going to die because he's a warrior sorcerer and his time is up and he can see the shape of his life and it's super small and everything sucks but it also doesn't, you know? Dane barely listens to him because he's now full of life again and he just wants to do the things people who feel alive do. I don't know what those things are because I just sit in barely lit rooms reading terrible books from my youth and finding reasons not to begin writing my second module for my role playing game, Places & Predators.

I should take a break and call my mother!

I'm back! I also ate and watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and an episode of Community and lay on the couch with Gravy.

Gravy's head is behind mine and not inside mine because we don't own a teleportation device and, if we did, we wouldn't be so careless with it.

The next day, Tom and Dane head off to jump off of a skyscraper. Tom will presumably be doing it for real because he's tired and he's done his part and he thinks Dylan Thomas is a fucking asshole who can't just let a person die in peace when they're ready to go. I mean, lay off me, Dylan! I'm fucking dying here! This isn't about you and your fear of death (which, ironically, is probably why you drink so much and why you'll be dead at 39). Dane smokes some blue mold which will probably allow him to fly or bounce or something.

Sometimes I think about the angst of youth and then I think about how optimistic and embracing Quiet Riot was of the youth and youth culture and it just makes me fucking smile, man. That wasn't supposed to be a non sequitur. That was just a reaction I had to Tom telling some bystanders witnessing Dane's drug induced realizations, "It's drugs. Dope. They're all on it nowadays. With their computer games and violent videos and swear words. We had The Bible and a nice apple when I was his age." Tom is being smarmy and telling the adults what they want to hear. And, especially with reference to their video games, it made me think of Quiet Riot who didn't care what adults wanted to hear. They knew what the kids needed to hear. And it wasn't just "Being a teenager sucks and we get it and the world is garbage!" Their message was often "We see how things are different for you and how you cope differently than we did and we fucking get it man and we approve and you're going to be all right. Your doing good, kids." Most of you probably only know "Metal Health" and "Cum on Feel the Noize" so you're thinking, "What the fuck are you talking about?" But some of you also know "Winners Take All" and "The Wild and the Young" so you fucking know what I'm talking about.

This reminds me of The Last Temptation of Christ.

The problem with books that revolve around Jesus is that I truly can't tell if they're making a statement about secular life or if they're truly reinforcing the opinion that Jesus was the son of God and the only truth you need to know about Jesus is that he was resurrected. Was Jesus preaching about being good on Earth because it was the salvation of your soul and your way into heaven? Or was Jesus literally trying to tell everybody to give unto Caesar what is Caesar's because this shit don't matter, bro. Fuck Earth and Earthly conceits. Should every action taken on Earth be concerned with your spiritual self and your relationship with God and getting into heaven? Because I'm tempted to see The Last Temptation of Christ as a parable for secular life. Are we all Christ in the desert being tempted by the devil away from our true calling? But if all the regular trappings of society are illusions and lures away from whatever it is we should do, what is there really? What would a person do if they didn't have a career? Or a spouse? Or a mortgage? Or a child? Not falling for those temptations isn't enough, right? So what's the next step? Sacrificing your own desires for the common good of the world? But what common good would that be if people aren't supposed to fall for any material temptations?! What are we striving for if we aren't striving for everybody to equally fall for the same societal illusions?! What is the magic asking of us?! To just burn it all down to prove that we weren't fooled by any of it?! How is waking up outside of The Matrix better than living within it?! Show me my fucking cards before you ask me to jump off the top of a skyscraper is what I'm saying!

You know what? I think that's what Jesus asked God the night of the Last Supper!

Jumping off of a skyscraper to get Dane to pierce the illusion of reality and see what lies beneath is way better than giving him a red or blue pill. The Matrix pussed out, even though it had this scene from The Invisibles as a perfect example of what it was doing.

Dane survives the leap and finds himself in a four color comic sci-fi pulp novel cover. The world has changed and he's not sure what to do. So he goes to the address of the Invisible College that Tom gave him. He's finally ready to report for duty.

Dane meets the other Invisibles: King Mob, Ragged Robin, Boy, and Lord Fanny (which would have gone right over my head in 1994 and possibly only made it into the comic book because the editors didn't know quite enough British slang). As far as drag names go, Lord Fanny is proper good.

Meanwhile, some shadowy guy answers a phone call from Orlando (probably exactly the Orlando you're thinking of because why not? He/she was good enough for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). They discuss raiding an Invisibles safe house they've discovered. But the non-Orlando guy on the phone can't direct it because he's got British politics to do.

Back in 1994, I also wouldn't have understood what this door with the 10 on it was telling me about the person on the phone.

Dane decides to stick with The Invisibles as Jack Frost and they make their getaway before Orlando and the Prime Minister's Myrmidons break into the safe house. All they find is a chalkboard that reads, "Big Brother is watching you. Learn to become invisible," and a pink grenade with the word "smile" printed on it in ransom letter letters. And that's the end of the first story arc.

The Invisibles #4 Rating: A. I'm seriously getting angry at my 23 year old self for not continuing to purchase this series. It's hard to remember exactly where I was at that time in my life that caused me to stop reading it. I'm sure I liked it. Maybe I just had trouble remembering it from month to month. Or maybe I just missed Issue #6 at the comic book store (I never had anything put on hold. I'd just show up on Wednesdays (unless it was Thursday back then? I can't even remember that!) and pick up my books (I didn't even ask the store to hold a copy of the Death of Superman for me. The clerk, Jeff, just happened to hold one for me anyway. He probably thought I was super cool or something)) and so just forgot about the series. Maybe I'll pick up the collected edition whenever my local comic book store reopens. Although if I show my face in there, they may try to get me to buy comics that were placed in my pull box after I cancelled my pull box. See, they weren't getting comics from Diamond for over a month and I just decided it was as good a time as any to stop buying new comics. So I cancelled my pull box. But what if, in their mind, I was still on the hook to buy all the comics for the weeks that Diamond didn't ship?! That would be fucked up and, knowing me, I'd instantly cave and say, "Oh yeah! Okay! Sorry! Sorry! I'll purchase all of this shit I don't want anymore just so we don't continue this awkward conversation!"

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