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30 November 2012

Into the Supercontext part 12: The Invisibles Vol. 1 No. 11

(Image stolen from ComicVine.)

The Invisibles Vol. 1 No. 11
"Royal Monsters"
Written by Grant Morrison.  Art by John Ridgway.  Colors by Daniel Vozzo.  Cover by Sean Phillips.
A Vertigo comic book published by DC Comics in 1995.  

Another of the one-shot stand alone run of stories.  This one focuses on the behind the scenes of the bad guys.  The Outer Church.  We get in deep with one of the series' primary baddies, Sir Miles and he is as despicable as they come.  This comic is a horror comic complete with a monster and haunted castle.

We start off in Glamis Castle.  "Ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years. Glamis is a living, breathing monument to Scottish hospitality; a place of enjoyment, reflection, laughter and wonder for all. The castle has witnessed more than 600 years of history and we take great delight in sharing the many stories, secrets and intriguing tales that surround it."  In 1995 I'm reading this comic and I don't have teh inronets so as far as I'm concerned Glamis Castle may as well be the castle in a Disney movie.  All the same to me.  But yeah, real place and probably important to people that care about that sort of thing.  But according to this comic book (and teh intronets), that place is bad biscuits.  And who am I to argue?  I'm just going to assume that this comic book about a place I'm probably never going to go to is 100% factual.

In the castle a butler rolls a cart of meat (human meat) into a room and places it in front of a giant mirror.  The butler does some secret hand gestures, the mirror does some crazy water ripple magic mirror stuff and out walks a cloaked monster.  The monster is part man, part Swamp Thing, part Ood from Doctor Who.  A super creepy mute thing that dissolves and consumes the huge carcass.
(Image stolen from Comic Vine.  Good resource that Comic Vine.)

The butler has been at this job for years.  He's one of the only people willing to feed this monster.  He's beginning to think the that the monster likes him.

Then we get some nice happy fox hunting with our pal Sir Miles Delacourt.  Only Miles is not our pal and the foxes are people.  Sir Miles will be a major player in The Invisibles as the series progresses but for now all that is important is that he's nobility, he's rich, he's white, he's Secret Intelligence Service, he's a Freemason, he was behind trying to recruit/enslave/use Dane/Jack Frost back in Harmony House in the first story arch and he wants nothing more in life (at this point in the story) than some alone time with King Mob and a blow torch.

So, in America.  Bored rich white dudes buy sports franchises and watch people from minorities and the lower classes beat the brains out of each other in huge venues the public paid for and broadcast it for the world to see.  In the UK, rich white dudes are more low key.  They dress up for a fox hunt, hop on some horses and go hunt and murder people.  Sir Miles sees this as doing his part to bring down the poverty rates.

Latter, Miles and some other rich dudes are hanging about he castle.  The talk about how disappointed the are in Diana, the Princess of Wales.  (Who was still alive  at the time but would be getting divorced from Charles about a year after this comic came out.)  They are angry that Di has failed to produce for them a "Moonchild".  Some sort of super being that was to take over the throne.  Oh, well.  You can't have it all.  But, the baddies still have a backup plan.  They have another Moonchild.  (Foreshadowing alert!)

Back to the butler, Jeremy, he's feeding the monster again and we learn that our man is a secret Invisible planted in the castle to kill the monster!  But he can't do it.  He has too much empathy for the monster.

In some basement area, another servant is reading a horror book by a "Kirk Morrison".  Our man Jeremy hears some yelling from the homeless people imprisoned there.  He sees a pink haired girl.  The same pink haired girl that was with Dane back in the first arc.  The girl is his daughter Kate!  Oh nooos!

At our next fox people hunt, Sir Miles has let the monster out to have some fun of its own.  It is revealed that the monster is the Moonchild.  The monster is royalty.  This monster will be king!  Well, dang, it was right there in the title all along wasn't it?

Jeremy's daughter Kate is on the run as part of the hunt.  Jeremy tries to save her and show her away to escape but the Moonchild is in the way.  He tries to explain that the Moonchild likes him and the are safe but too late.  Sir miles and the gang show up.  He knew Jeremy was an Invisible all along.  And even worse, Kate was in on it and set her dad up.  Screw you dad!  But, Miles has the girl killed anyway (thanks for you help kid) and Jeremy ends up on the dinner cart for the Moonchild. Served alive.  But Jeremy is not scared.  He still thinks the monster likes him.

And there ends a fantastic episode of the Twilight Zone where we learn that the British royals are breeding space monsters that live in mirrors.  Years later, Grant Morrison would be awarded the MBE.   And speaking of creepy Royal shenanigans, the Queen did have hidden family.

Annotations at The Bomb.

This issue's Invisible Ink column shows us a much more downbeat Morrison than normal.  Probably in part because of the death of a cat.  It happens.  Or maybe because at this point in the series and in the 90s in general, the letter writers have caught onto this idea that it's cool to write some bat shit crazy stuff and send it to a Vertigo comic.  In other words, it has totally gone off the rails.  There was literally a rivalry between the letter writers of Sandman, Preacher and The Invisibles to see who could be more bat shit crazy.  This is a pre-internet thing that happened. 

Many thanks to the stalwart John Ridgway for his fine, classical work on this, the very first issue of THE INVISIBLES without any swearing!
Me, I just got back from Australia, with the redred dust of the antipodean desert still clinging to my Caterpillars.  After a couple of weeks of beautiful sunsets, loveable lizards and the magnificent stars of the Southern Sky, I'm home to no money in the bank, the sad death of Princess - much-beloved cat - and no entirely convincing reason not to end it all with a stiff fistful of vitamins.
But then again... There's always the letters!

(The first letter is mostly praise.  The guy thinks the comic is fun!  Just like Superman and tells Morrison to "Stay outtasight!")

Cranky?  Me?  Nope.  I'm just too depressed to reply this month, John.

(The next letter stars off "Hello, fellow fuckers," and is all downhill from there.)

Just say No, readers.

(The next letter starts talking about the Cathars about half way through and that is the exact moment I stopped reading that letter.)

Who am I?  I'm the writer you created to produce a comic book so uncannily faithful to our own thoughts and experiences that it would serve as a zenlike trigger, bootstrapping you into an illuminated state where you suddenly became  even more aware of the overwhelming number of coincidences and synchronicities that hold the world together, this awareness leasing to a growing understanding that the Universe is nothing more than a construction, a simulation, a laboratory in which souls, for want of a better word, are tested, etc... etc...
And you're one of the readers I created for the same reason...

(Next, "The Consumer Queen" writes in to let the letter reading people of the 90s know that she is a "letter-column virgin" and is bored and wants people to writer her.  See, they used to totally put full street addresses in these letters columns back in the 90s.  I'm positive that this lady has since been murdered.)

Please write to Consumer Queen.

(Then we have a letter that is at least ten million words long.  This guy thinks he has it all figured out and explains it in detail.)

I don't think there's much I can add to that, Simon.  Um... Yes.  Yes!  Everything is connected on every scale, and there is no such thing as coincidence except for the Adrian Henri line which is, unless maybe I remember it from my Chelsea-booted Mersey days...
This is the best letters column in comics, really...

Next Issue:  In the vast and never-ending cosmic struggle of Good vs Evil what makes anyone want to be a bad guy?  And are bad guys born or made?  One man's life may hold the key in the last of our three one-off stories as Steve Parkhouse brings his artistic wizardry to "Best Man Fall" in a month's time.


Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
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