Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham w/ Nathan Fairbairn
Release Date: 4th February, 2015
ZIROM TRIAM IPAM IPAMIS
So opens Grant Morrison’s long awaited new series, ‘Nameless’, and immediately what might be familiar territory is shown to be obtuse, occluded and occulted – hidden. The words are Enochian, an ‘angelic language’ revealed to John Dee, occult philosopher and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. We’re in the modern world here though, and these words accompany brutal acts committed by astrologers on their families. It’s impossible to translate properly, the word ‘triam’ seemingly a brand new word, but it vaguely means “isn’t, never was”, some inversion of “as it was in the beginning, is now and forever shall be” perhaps… And it seem the Deep Ones are approaching.
Morrison describes this latest phase of his work, including Annihilator, as part of the New Bleak, presumably with his tongue somewhat in his cheek. Yet Nameless continues with Annihilator’s sense of foreboding and oppression. Set at the start in Glasgow, the world is going to shit and it may or may not be to do with the descent of the Old Ones of Lovecraft’s fictions into our reality from the anti-universe.
Our unreliable narrator, the ‘Nameless’ of the title, might be dreaming all of this, is definitely dreaming some of it, and finds himself trying to outrun the clutches of the Veiled Lady, from whom he stole a dream key to the anti-universe, and basically most authorities on the planet. He’s picked up by a private scientific team funded by a billionaire, who task him with going to the moon to prevent the arrival of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld in the form of an asteroid on course for impact with Earth, bringing an extinction level event with it.
So its Lovecraft-in-Space meets Armageddon via The Right Stuff, and if you don’t like Morrison at his most accessible, then you’ll probably hate this. If like me, however, you think that Morrison is at his very best when he’s doing weirdo creator-owned stuff, this is a dream come true – he’s tackling themes we haven’t seen presented so openly since maybe The Invisibles, and even on this introductory issue, we can be sure this won’t be any straight retreat of Lovecraft’s stories. Expect misery, loathing, paranoia, all the stuff of the reverse tree of life – it’ll be interesting to see how both of his New Bleak books end.
Chris Burnham’s art is fantastic here, raw and scratchy, but full of detail, and he packs a punch when it counts, as in the sequence that was previewed a few months ago, panels in perspective forming architectural constructs that house the story, showing us that we’re moving in a quite different dimension than we’re used to. Nathan Fairbairn’s colouring works really well with Burnham’s linework – it’s realistic, murky and grimy, but adds some visually arresting ‘pop’ moments when the story demands it.
As with much of Morrison’s work, the full impact of the book won’t be felt until we’re at least a couple of issues in, but all in all, this feels like the opening salvo of a short, small creator-owned project that could be massive, and will likely be with us long after its issue count is done.