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Nameless (Hardcover)

    Ian Jane

  • Nameless (Hardcover)

    Nameless (Hardcover)
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: March 16th, 2016.
    Written by: Grant Morrison
    Illustrated by: Chris Burnham
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    The first issue of this series from Image Comics deals in some dark subject matter right from there very first page where we learn of a man who killed his family and then put the pictures up on Facebook. As the cops pull him out of the house he yells out “ZIROM TRIAN IPAM IPAMIS,” those words also scrawled in blood on the walls near some arcane symbols.

    From here we see a man approach the ruins of an old temple where he grabs a key and is then chased out by a woman dressed in a veil. He runs through the nearby jungle marsh and is then shocked to see a group of warrior fishmen emerge from the bog. Is it a dream? He wakes up and finds himself surrounded by those same fishmen who are brandishing guns and referring to him as 'the prick with no name.' They put 'nameless' in a shopping cart and take him to what's left of a botanical garden. Here he learns that the 'veiled lady' wishes to speak with him about things to come.

    She accuses him of trying to steal the 'dream key of Nan Samwohl' which she tells him is a key to an empty box. We learn how he gave up his name so no one would have power over him and how the entire universe is 'in this room.' Things are getting trippy and weird already, and he proves through actions and words alike that he's more powerful than she realized. He takes the key and fights his way out into the streets and, still clad in his underwear, he hops a bus, pulling a coin out of his own ear to pay the fare. There's fishmen here too.

    In the 'real world' he's bound and tossed by the fishmen from their boat into a lake. Before he can drown he's rescued by a woman named Sofia and two men. When he wakes up he draws the key before it leaves his memory so that they can make a copy with a 3-D printer. These people then introduce him to a billionaire named Paul Darius who explains to him that the symbol we saw scrawled in blood at the beginning of the story is the door to the 'anti-universe' or as he calls it, The Gate Of Az. This symbol also appears on the side of a huge asteroid currently hurtling towards Earth… Darius wants nameless' help. His expertise in the occult could prove invaluable and refusal is not an option.

    From there? We land on the moon, more specifically the Serenity Base. Our nameless hero is still working on trying to decipher a signal that he and the rest of the crew figure is coming from an asteroid. They land their ship and head into the base and there find a drone through which the mysterious Mr. Darius communicates with them.

    As they make their way further inside it soon becomes clear why they want nameless' help - there's been a murder on the moon, inside the base actually, and at the crime scene are the words ZIROM TRIAM IPAM IPAMIS written on the wall in the blood of the victim. They've got a woman quarantined in another room where she continues to write cryptic messages in blood. Something is very wrong here. Very gory, and very wrong. It turns out this woman is Andrea Blackstone, the former host of a TV series called Kaos And Kosmos. The crew breaks to get cleaned up after their journey, after which nameless tells them that Blackstone is either having a psychotic break or is possessed. From here, Darius via drone, tells them about the asteroid, Xibalba, and how it ties into their true mission, which is not only diverting it so that it doesn't collide with the Earth but also to examine its surface which shows signs of extraterrestrial life. Nameless tells the crew that the signals coming from that asteroid are in the same language that Blackstone is writing in, and that it is Enochian, the language of angels. He also says that the message roughly translates to a warning about the destruction of all creation. Darius then reveals to nameless that he possesses a stone made from a splinter of a lost planet called Marduk which was destroyed when there was a war in Heaven.

    He then proceeds to have various religious symbols painted onto the crew members' space suits and they all get to work, somehow forgetting about the mad woman still onboard the space station…

    At one point in this issue a character describes things as 'the Goddamn Exorcist meets Apollo 13' and that sums things up fairly accurately. This series remains cryptic, confusing at times even, but we should have enough faith in Grant Morrison's storytelling abilities at this point in the man's career to have some faith. This is going in some very interesting, dark and twisted directions but again, like the first issue, there's still a definite sense of humor here that keeps the characters interesting and their dialogue fun to read. There's obviously quite a bit more to unfold here before the truth about the mission is made completely clear but enough happens in this second issue to keep us wanting more. Morrison's story is a strange one, but it's also pretty damn compelling.

    Nameless and the rest of the crew are onboard their spaceship and heading towards the asteroid. As they get closer they notice that the structures on the surface almost look like bunkers. As they get closer, and lose radio contact with mission control, Nameless re-touches everyone's protection - arcane religious symbols scrawled onto their helmets. Better safe than sorry, right? The crew bickers. Some see this mission as nothing more than getting the asteroid out of Earth's path, others as a chance to view the treasures of an ancient and long lost civilization.

    Nameless utters some sinister sounding incantation and, as he expected, the 'gates' of the compound open. The drones go in first, followed by the ship, and everyone on board is amazed by the scale of the structure: it's huge. As they head inside they notice that there are what appear to be huge stairs that lead down and Nameless figures he knows what this place is: a massive jail built by an alien race to house monsters. That sounds nuts, but in the context of this story, it makes sense. The drones stop responding and we cut back to mission control and learn what's really happening there. It's not good. Not good at all. The crew on the ship realizes they're on their own at this point but the chemical cocktail pumped into the suits does its job by keeping everyone calm.

    And then they get a surprise visit from the man in charge, Paul Darius. He tells Eva he loves her as a father would love his daughter and then tells them they need to retrieve the drone that kicked out. Merritt insists he be the one to leave the ship to do this and of course just as he leaves to do that, the drones start transmitting again, one of them from the bottom of those stairs. Hallucination then collides with what we assume is reality. Or does it?

    Grant Morrison's writing in this issue hits new heights of insanity. The characters are developed enough at this point in the series that they're starting to have their own personalities, a good thing indeed as in the first two issues it was a little tough to tell some of them apart, and those personalities are starting to come into conflict with one another in interesting ways. What really keeps you reading here, however, is the same thing that keeps the characters in the book doing what they do - a thirst for knowledge! We WANT to know what's at the bottom of those stairs and what's really going on with Darius' mission in the first place. We have to assume he knows more than anyone else involved, but Nameless is no fool and his knowledge of the occult and of potential alien worlds might just give him the edge. At some point, these two are going to have to reconcile, or so it would seem, but for now… there's an incredibly fucked up cliffhanger of an ending to keep us on the edge of our seats until the next issue.

    As to Chris Burnham's artwork, he's outdone himself with this issue. The first two issues looked great, this third one looks even better. Nathan Fairbairn's colors compliment the illustrations perfectly but man oh man, some of the panel layouts here are breathtaking. They really do a great job of showing the massive scope of the compound that our explorers wind up flying into and once it all hits the fan and whatever sickness it is that's going on here starts to make its presence known, the man lets his imagination fly in incredibly disturbing ways. That last page is the stuff that nightmares are made of. And the series just goes from there, a completely off the rails story of metaphysical proportions with all of the death, murder, gore, mayhem, monsters and theological expositions you could possibly hope for. The last few issues of Morrison's story here really kick the already intense first half of the story into high gear. Tarot cards, experiments gone horribly wrong, those who would dare to ponder the meaning of what it is to be human, horrifying dreams of falling and the end of the world and one particularly bloody hammer - it all ties together. Things are confusing at first but stick with this one, it will reward those willing to put the amount of attention into this that it really requires. Morrison isn't playing safe here, he's using the comics medium to really fuck with the collective head of his readership, but he does it right. As the threads all tie together, tension mounts and everything you thought you had figured out comes into question.

    As to the artwork, courtesy of Chris Burnham, it's fantastic. This man has a real knack for illustrating both the horribly grotesque and bizarrely beautiful, sometimes all on the same page or even in the same panel. There's an insane amount of detail here, the layouts are amazing, and it's really difficult to imagine anyone else doing a better job than Burnham does here. When Morrison takes things into incredibly strange, surrealist territory Burnham's art is with him every step of the way, these guys really seem to have been in perfect synch on this collaboration. Nathan Fairbairn's coloring job is also impressive, lots of bright, bold hues are used to make Burnham's artwork really pop, and letterer Simon Bowland also does an impressive job of delivering the dialogue and narration in ways that are visually quite interesting.

    In addition to reprinting this six issues that make up this storyline, this hardcover edition also includes a cover gallery (compiling all of the regular covers as well as the different variants that were offered), a few pages of notes on the series from Morrison, some pages showing how the cover process works, some information on the logo, some great 'raw scans' of Burnham's pencils before they were colored and brief bios for all of the talent involved in this project.

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