The Invisibles by Zach King, who blogs about movies as The Cinema King]
For me, the jury is still out on Kissing Mister Quimper -- such that I wasn't sure exactly where to begin a review on the sixth and penultimate volume of Grant Morrison's mega-epic The Invisibles. On the one hand, the series is winding down in brilliant action film format, with explosions and plotlines resonating off the page. On the other hand, though, the series is increasingly showing signs of prioritizing mythological components without giving its readers enough to make sense of what is going on a lot of the time.
"And so we return and begin again." Kissing Mister Quimper begins with our heroes taking another vacation (a sign, perhaps, of the stress Morrison notoriously suffered during the writing of the series), this time in New Orleans. But the downtime doesn't last long -- King Mob becomes obsessed with learning what's become of John-A-Dreams since his disappearance in 1992, and the "sliver" of Quimper residing in Ragged Robin leads the team to confront the demonic dwarf once and for all. But theses missions change the team in profound and irrevocable ways, leading them to mistrust each other to the point where several Invisibles will not be back for the seventh volume. And finally, welcome back to Sir Miles Delacourt, whose reintroduction here after a protracted absence is a welcome breath as the series cues itself for the final issues, in which the seeds of doubt sown throughout Sir Miles's arc will come to deadly fruition.
Chris Weston (and a guest appearance by Ivan Reis) replaces Phil Jimenez as the regular artist, but surprisingly it's not a hit that damages the series too much. Weston does a good job imitating enough of Jimenez's style without fully sublimating his own unique lines. The results are a little heavy on the inks but a fresh new way to look at the characters as they go through their last major metamorphosis before the series concludes, although his King Mob tends to wear Angelina Jolie's lips more often than is comfortable. His Lord Fanny, though, perfectly captures the character's transvestism, and the body language imbued upon Ragged Robin nicely encapsulates all the tensions raging within the future psychic's mind.
In a sense, "Black Science 2" (a sequel to the "Black Science" arc from Bloody Hell in America) is the storyline to which the series has been building since introducing Quimper, and fortunately Morrison doesn't let up as far as the heart of the narrative is concerned. The assault on Quimper's citadel is gleefully entertaining, including a voodoo hostage crisis when Jim Crow (channeling Oppenheimer) rejoins the team. And the confrontation itself hinges on an eleventh-hour plot twist which must have made monthly readers deliriously giddy and which presages Morrison's famous claim in Batman RIP that Batman "thinks of everything." It's also nice to see Morrison tie up a few loose ends, ends which some readers may have forgotten entirely. And it's a delight to see another face-off with Quimper; his narrative arc's conclusion is extremely non-traditional, but it feels right, and it's weird enough that Morrison devotees won't feel cheated.
Unfortunately, volume six gets bogged down here and there in some heavy philosophical content which still isn't entirely clear to me on my latest read-through of the series. Elements like the blind chessman and the magic mirror make more sense each time I read the series, but I still don't know quite what to make of Ragged Robin's somewhat abrupt exit from the storyline, in which it's implied that she wrote the whole story as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy; aside from the time-travel hijinks, which are decipherable enough, Morrison teases us with hints that The Invisibles has all been a story whose author enters the events (sorry, but I just noticed the resonance with the Morrison/Mob connection) without fully exploring the ramifications of that fact. And this isn't the only example of Morrison's ideas running loose -- fictionsuits and timesuits and an ultimately empty red herring surrounding billionaire Mason Lang leave the periphery of Kissing Mister Quimper moderately vapid.
When it's good, it's good, but Kissing Mister Quimper isn't perfect. In fact, one of the largest flaws the work carries is the self-knowledge that the series is coming to an end -- only twelve more issues to go after volume six concludes. As such, some of the character conclusions seem artificial -- Boy's departure especially never really feels right, and the loss of Ragged Robin is a major hit for the series, which somehow never really feels as fun again without someone so free to shrug off her own insanity with a quipped, "I'm nuts."
Kissing Mister Quimper closes out the second third of The Invisibles (recall that the series was originally published in three "volumes" of single issues, of which Quimper concludes the second "volume") with an actual bang -- the destruction of Mason Lang's manor -- but never fully takes the triumphant steps toward a fantastic finish, whimpering (or Quimpering) several times throughout.
[Contains full covers and recap & character pages. Printed on non-glossy paper.]
That brings us to the last leg of the tour, loyal readers -- up next is the seventh and final volume, The Invisible Kingdom, in which it all comes to an end and yet begins again.
Read Zach's full Invisibles review series. New reviews coming soon!