Monday, 10 October 2016


Peter Milligan & Duncan Fegredo Enigma (1993)
I bought this at the time but missed a few crucial issues, which rendered the whole enterprise more or less incomprehensible, although I was nevertheless left with the vague impression of a quality piece of work; and so here I am again with the collected version, complete with an introduction in which Grant Morrissey bangs on about his famous friend Peter Milligan proving that there's still plenty to be done with the superhero genre if you have a bit of imagination, contrary to the claims of certain people who think they're really ace but they aren't, not mentioning no names or nuffink...

Digested in just a couple of sittings, it becomes quickly obvious why I recall Enigma as incomprehensible, namely that it really does work more like a novel than a comic book in the traditional sense - a graphic novel, if you will. The information is too gradual to build and too reliant on a cumulative understanding to be be split into eight monthly helpings punctuated by real life. Digested in this form, the build up is magnificent - a truly peculiar story of seemingly imaginary characters from a slightly odd comic book breaking out into the real world whilst potentially serving as metaphors for repressed sexuality and all the guilt which comes with it. It's weird yet feels rooted in our reality - probably for the sake of contrast - and Duncan Fegredo's artwork is gorgeous, possibly the best thing he's ever drawn.

Then Milligan sort of blows it in the last chapter - or issue eight of the original series if you prefer - with a conclusion equivalent to revealing that all this strange stuff happened when Morgan the Mystic messed up some spells and let Quargon the Incorrigible loose in our universe, thus reducing all which has gone before to David Blaine drawing an eye on the palm of his hand and silently showing it to Eamonn Holmes whilst pulling an enigmatic expression in answer to some question or other. Of course, this may well be the very thing which caused Grant Morrissey to fulminate about the daringly audacious bolditude of his famous friend Peter Milligan, but to me it reads like Peter just couldn't even be arsed to say it was all a dream or whatever. In other words, he spends eight issues establishing that this place is the real world whilst pulling the same mysterious faces as David Blaine, and the punchline is that it isn't.

'Wouldn't you say that's pretty weird?' he croons to his readers with a flashlight held beneath his chin so as to create a spooky effect, one eyebrow raised in homage to all the usual suspects.


'Spose so.

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