Injection 11

Alternating Currents: Injection 11, Ryan D. and Drew

Today, Ryan D. and Drew are discussing Injection 11, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan D: Returning after the Viv-centric Van Der Zee mystery arc, the inciting incident in Injection 11 — the discovery of a ring of stones in Cornwall featuring a flensed corpse at the center — is one of the seven unusual world events which Viv learned of at the end of issue ten, all of which sport the Injection’s dirty, complicated fingerprints. The last arc culminated with a large, almost full-cast denouement, and writer Warren Ellis focuses the start of this tale with the spotlight on the Irish lass and tech genius Brigid Roth. While I miss the rest of the team already — we’ve only seen Maria Kilbride via video chat and heard passing reference to Cunning Man/Breaker of Britain, Robert Morel — I think that the isolation of this chapter might play as a valuable counterpoint to the last’s ensemble sleuthiness.

The isolation begins with the audience seeing Brigid alone in her tech-laden house in Lugg, Ireland, lazily heaped on the floor until the call to action from Maria stirs her. For the first few pages of Brigid’s screen time, we barely see her with both of her eyes open. While the pacing and slow-burn story-telling in this issue may strike some as a tad dolorous, I can appreciate the insistence Ellis places in characterization. After all, the more we know the characters, particularly this zany band responsible for the inception and release of the Injection into the world, the more we can understand the threat which the Injection plays in this world, as it is the sum of all parts of the respective geniuses. Perhaps the greatest bit of patience comes when Brigid packs her bags for the gig:

The first panel shows us what we might expect a high-level of a clandestine government program to pack for an operation, with the assortment of black and grey clothes, on top of which rests a serious combat knife, next to which are two carefully sealed joints. Everyone has their own way to relax. The next two panels demonstrate the practical necessities of being an operative who also happens to be a woman as the tampons join the fray and Brigid forces herself to put on a bra after what we can assume was weeks of glorious freedom from oppressive underwire.

In a very particular panel after, Brigid spikes the “camera” directly with her eyes — the only time this happens in the issue except for when the camera stands in for a character’s perspective. Since seeing the main character of this issue’s eyes straight-on happens only once, the effect it has is more powerful. A shift has occurred in this woman, and she is ready to enter her professional mode. But not before we see Brigid, a genius-level builder who constructed her own teleportation device, fighting tooth and claw with the coffee machine. By the time that Brigid gets to the scene of the incident, I know exactly who she is, which I am sure will prove handy during the next issues, which advertise something ominously named “The Cold House”, which sounds like a great thing in which one could be trapped.

The tone of this arc strays far from the most recent story Ellis, Shalvey, and Bellaire told; we’ve seemed to hop from a plot which could work as an episode of Sherlock into the start of a horror film. Ellis is no stranger to writing horror elements in his titles, and it’s been interesting seeing more of his trademarks as a writer crop up in this series. I’ve read three Ellis titles over the past two years which feature stone circles, cairns, or monoliths as major plot points (Trees and Shipwrecked being the other two) and it’s clear that his curiosity with them has informed his direction. (I’m not complaining; I’ve learned so much about the Orkney Keys and the geological history of Britain from this man!) But issue eleven has me thinking about this writer’s broader brush strokes because not a huge amount “happens” in this issue, so the options are to focus on larger themes or pick apart tiny details.

Drew! Do you think there was enough detail packed into issue eleven to make it a worthwhile, nurturing read? What did you think about Brigid’s in-field set-up, which included Sheela-na-gig, and what it intimates about Roth as a character? And are you as sad as I am that we saw nary a single sandwich this go-round?

Drew: I know you meant the sandwich thing as a joke, but I actually wonder if the lack of food in this issue is meaningful. I’ll have to go back and double-check this, but while we’ve seen Maria and Viv fixate on sandwiches, I’m not sure we’ve ever seen Brigid or Robin eat anything (though we’ve definitely seen them both drink). I hesitate to draw conclusions from that hypothesis, as it might just not be supported by the text, but I’m curious if the expertise of those two characters has allowed them to somehow begin to transcend the corporeal plane — perhaps not literally, but Ellis’ choice to obscure their meals certainly would lend an otherworldly air to their existence.

And holy cow, is Brigid’s existence otherworldly. I definitely want to get into Sheela-na-gig in a moment, but I can’t leave her teleportation unmentioned.

Brigid

This device (apparently designed by Robin, though he, Viv, and Sim don’t know Brigid has it) instantaneously transports Brigid from Lugg to Cornwall, is the stuff of sci-fi dreams. Indeed, it seems to follow some basic Star Trek beaming rules: the device only needs to exist on one end of the journey, though the accuracy is not particularly precise — Brigid asks that the garage she’s aiming for be emptied, perhaps for fear of phasing into the middle of an engine block or something. At any rate, it allows Brigid to literally transcend the corporeal plane, allowing her to move great distances without traveling the distance in between.

In short, technology makes Brigid more than human. Sure, she still has to deal with the maintenance of having physical female body — periods and pokey underwire and all — but she’s also integrated the concerns of being a digital woman into her life, such that she has a running tally of the dick picks, death threats, rape threats, and “general” threats she receives in her heads up display.

Sheela

This shot is a key one in this issue, establishing the device of viewing the world through Brigid’s eyes (which are in turn viewing the world through Sheela’s augmented reality displays). For me, this is particularly notable because I’m increasingly convinced that we’re actually seeing the entire story through the “eyes” of the Injection. I know the “visual narrator” is a particular bugaboo of mine, but since we already understand the voiceover that has occasionally cropped up in this series is the Injection, it makes sense that its perspective might be the one we’re taking for this narrative.

Or, coming at it from a different direction: I’m worried that Brigid is so reliant on technology that could easily be corrupted by the Injection. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Brigid’s encrypting abilities — I’m sure they’re second-to-none — but anything she can do, it can do better. Which is to say: even if the Injection isn’t currently seeing what Brigid sees and potentially altering whatever information Sheela gives her, it could at any time, manipulating her in ways she may not even be aware of. It’s almost certain that the Injection left that body there in order to draw Brigid to the scene, which the Injection may have wanted specifically so she would order that the circle be dug out. Is she just playing into its hand?

I’ll have to leave the theories as to what the Injection might want with a cosmic particle detector to the comments, but the thought of it contacting alien life is disturbing. Do we think that might be what the Injection is up to? Other theories? It seems like the Injection’s plan might be many times bigger than any of the team are giving it credit for at the moment.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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3 comments on “Injection 11

  1. So, she actually is Doctor Who.

    And I’m pretty sure the TARDIS is the comparison here, not the Star Trek teleporters. For a couple of reasons. Firstly, this is a very British book, and therefore Doctor Who is the appropriate reference, especially as we already have had this compared to Doctor Who (and am therefore primed to think of Brigid with respect to TARDISes). Secondly, last arc suggested that this space is bigger on the inside (it is a truly massive house for the space, especially as there seemed to be plenty of space last arc for Simeon to live in without entering this space last arc). And most importantly, the teleportation happened as she was pulling the lever, not once she finished pulling it. Which suggests to me that the entire space is moving, not just Brigid.

    But whatever is up there, it is important, as Brigid truly is a transcendent figure. For the first two arcs, Maria and Vivek were traditional examples of their archetypes. Ellis put every effort into reconstructing these archetypes to create something new and fresh, giving these characters the modern update required to face both the Injection and the demands of our growing cultural dialogue. But Brigid has transcended her archetype.

    She looked like she was our hacker, our Oracle style character. A classic trope, and one built around standing in front of a computer typing code. In a book all about the threat of stagnancy, a book where the Injection is challenging our heroes with the idea that maybe all it is doing is revealing what our heroes didn’t know to look for, we have learned that Brigid is completely different to what we expect. She isn’t Oracle. She’s cyberpunk Doctor Who.

    There’s a lot of cool stuff here, as our understanding of Brigid completely and utterly changes. I really do love the effort Ellis puts into Brigid activating Sheela. The wide variety of components required to get it working. Even rings on her fingers, so that Sheela can track Brigid’s hands. Just as the tampons and the bra contrasts the amazing part of Brigid with the ordinary, the devices root the out of this world technology with the real world requirements of VR.

    But I also find it interesting that it is built around a predominantly Irish figure. Sheela na gig are found across Europe, but primarily found in Ireland. Wikipedia says there is some disagreement in what they represent, though the discussions of a pagan goddess/fertility figure is interesting. The fact that this figure is so feminine (its most notable trait is an exaggerated vulva) is obviously important in a series where the value of diversity of a key theme, and in as issue that focused so much of Brigid’s need for feminine necessities. But the goddess stuff is also meaningful for what it says about Brigid, a character who, as a described before, is a transcendent figure. Where Viv’s arc was all about rooting him in humanity, Brigid seems to be a figure, despite her seemingly human exterior (and she has always appeared to be the most human), is the most inhuman. The one closest to transcending her human roots. The one closest to being a goddess. Between that and the fact that sheela na gig are wards against evil? This creates some really interesting ideas around Brigid. In fact, I disagree with Drew. I don’t think Brigid’s tech has been hacked or corrupted.

    Instead, I think she may be uniquely positioned to fight the Injection. The Injection cannot be discussed without discussing its connection to the CCCU’s belief in stagnancy and the idea that there is nothing else left to know. The Injection specifically challenged Maria with the idea that maybe all it is doing is discovering the things that were already there. If we have completely misinterpreted Brigid’s archetype, if Brigid’s current existence is a living refutation of the CCCU’s initial findings, then maybe Brigid is perfectly placed to give the Injection its first real defeat?

    Game On.

    Also, the lack of sandwiches in this issue was distressing

  2. I have enjoyed every issue of this comic, but I either need to reread the entire series or accept my shallow reading and skim delicately along the surface of it, blissfully unaware of the depths. Like a lobotomized Jesus floating striding happily along the surface of the ocean, happily watching the waves and occasional dolphin.

    • Honestly, I’ve always found a strength of Ellis is that despite the fact that his work is so complicated and really requires effort to decode (it took me until issue 8, I think, to be able to confidently discuss the deeper levels), the shallow, surface level stuff is so unique, so engaging it doesn’t matter. Ellis, for all his depth, is one of the best surface level writers out there

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