Invisibles Book 3: Entropy in the UK

Entropy in the UKOrder this bookStory: Sir Miles’ forces have captured King Mob and Lord Fanny, and Dane MacGowan is hitchhiking his way to Liverpool. Ragged Robin and Boy enlist the aid of Jack Crow and the Invisible agent known as Mister Six in an effort to find and rescue all three. Separate story threads gradually converge for one climactic fight to save the universe.

Review: The book’s opening arc, also entitled Entropy in the UK, is probably my favorite. King Mob is dying from a gunshot wound, and Sir Miles intends to take advantage of the opportunity. Miles doesn’t want to torture information out of King Mob – he wants to break Mob’s will, get him to “voluntarily” give up information about the Invisibles. In a war of ideology, that’s really the only victory worth winning. The battle of wills showcases comics’ unique potential as a medium; Phil Jimenez’s beautiful pencils display the dazzling, chaotic landscape of King Mob’s mind and thoughts, while the narration and script lay out the dizzying ideas and mantras of the two combatants. Text and pictures convey the information better than either could alone. We jump from the interrogation room, to flashbacks of King Mob’s training, to passages from novels that Mob uses as psychic defenses, to Miles’ exploration of Mob’s thought structures. It’s gorgeous, gorgeous stuff, full of adrenaline and enthusiasm.

One of the recurring themes of The Invisibles is exploring the limits of human beings’ ability to perceive their surroundings – limitations imposed on them from the outside, and the limitations they place upon themselves. The interrogation sequence is one of the finest explorations of this issue, especially in its discussion of the role of language. One of the drugs that Miles and his men pump into King Mob causes him to be unable to distinguish between a word and the concept that the word describes; as Miles uses it to warp Mob’s perceptions, he talks about the limits of the English language and alphabet.

Morrison also explores the nature of creativity and fictional realms with this first story. King Mob, as it turns out, is also a writer who publishes apocalyptic espionage stories; the protagonist of these stories, Gideon Stargrave, serves as a fictional alter-ego for Mob; in Entropy In The UK, he thinks of himself as Stargrave (which, as it turns out, is a modification of Mob’s real name) to repel Miles’ attacks. The pseudonym under which Gideon/Mob publishes these stories, by the way? Kirk Morrison. Anyone think Mob’s resemblance to his creator is a coincidence? Didn’t think so.

The rest of the book is well done, but not quite as enjoyable as the opening arc, at least in part because none of the artists have the same detailed style as Jimenez. The subsequent arcs have a much more drab feeling, which doesn’t seem to work as well with a story like this. (Since Daniel Vozzo handles the coloring for each issue within this book, I have to ascribe the difference to the pencil and ink artists.) The pace of ideas also slows down just a tad while the physical action ramps up, which is no knock against the book, since one of The Invisibles’ strengths is its balance of madcap ideas with a strong narrative progression. Morrison also takes the time to explore Boy’s background as a black cop in America’s inner cities and Dane’s gradual acceptance and understanding of his power with some nice character work. And along the way, Morrison raises new questions as fast as he answers old ones, and then throws some of those answers into doubt for good measure. It’s a thought-provoking read, and a satisfying conclusion to The Invisibles, Volume I.

Year: 2001
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencillers: Phil Jimenez, Tommy Lee Edwards, Paul Johnson, Steve Yeowell, Mark Buckingham
Inkers: John Stokes, Edwards, Johnson, Dick Giordano, Mark Pennington
Colorist: Daniel Vozzo
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Pages: 232