Published on June 10th, 2015 | by Noel Thorne0
Nameless #4 Review
The “malevolent” asteroid Xibalba remains on a crash course to Earth and our planet’s saviours have FAILED to stop the threat! Nameless and the rest of his crew are being picked off by unseen Lovecraftian creatures in the asteroid’s shadows. What is happening – are we really doomed? What is human?
Nameless #4 shows our heroes on their knees before the alien presence. The sigils Nameless put on the astronaut crew have not kept them safe and for the entire issue he and the survivors are reacting to the horrors around them. It does beg the question: what was the plan exactly?
Nearly every scene shows a character in a vulnerable position: a patient to a creepy psychiatrist, subservient to a domineering father, at the mercy of cruel aliens torturing humans; there’s imagery of mice in a cage being experimented on and warped tarot cards showing clear master and slave relationships.
As if to underline the subtext, there is a purple bubble chasing Nameless like Rover in The Prisoner chased Patrick McGoohan! Nameless and the crew are prisoners aboard Xibalba – but why, what does the asteroid want?
It looks like Xibalba is trying to understand humanity – it literally asks “What Is Human?” at one point and could well be the authority figure in each of the scenes, there to puzzle out humanity’s physical and psychological mysteries.
Again though: to what end? We don’t know yet – or do we? Does Nameless have a bigger role to play in this than simply be Number Six to Xibalba’s Number One? Perhaps Xibalba has chosen Nameless as representative of his species. There’s a scene where Nameless expounds on his belief that the world is overpopulated – is that final scene in the issue a reaction to that belief, a sort of wish fulfilment?
As ever with Grant Morrison’s work, the story is never fully understood first, second, or even third times around, and he challenges the reader to come up with their own interpretations with very little help. Scenes appear out of order with no hint of chronology – are they the past, the future? Are they imagined and not real at all? Is Nameless on Xibalba or in his mind? Is Xibalba representative of change or is it actual danger? If so, I wonder if Morrison is planning to bring about the apocalypse – actually crash the asteroid into Earth and end the series on a nihilistic note? It’d be unexpected and memorable! Given Morrison’s dark humour in this issue, I wouldn’t put anything past him.
Chris Burnham’s art is as lovely as ever – if depicting gory terror could be described as “lovely”! I’m really digging the sigil-shaped panels and love the backgrounds to the pages too. The torture scenes are very visceral so be warned, there is a lot of graphic violence in this comic. Nathan Fairbairn’s colours are also very vivid, the colours peeking through the blackness of the asteroid in sharp contrast to the full colour of the everyday and then segueing into mono-colour nightmares in the torture scenes.
Nameless #4 isn’t an easy read and, even though it comes off as another piece in the larger puzzle, I expect it’ll still be as difficult to understand once read as a whole. It’s disorienting and unpleasant but curious and different. I said of the first issue that this was Armageddon with magic but Nameless is shaping up to be quite a different type of beast – more like 2001. Will Nameless defeat Xibalba? He has one advantage – he knows its name but it doesn’t know his. But with chaos erupting on Earth, will there be a world to save in the end?
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Colourist: Nathan Fairbairn