The enigmatic approach left behind, issue two begins with Nameless and his escorts as they arrive at Paul Darious’s Billionauts base on the dark side of the moon. Once situated we quickly get A LOT more of the Enochian language message we are introduced to in issue #1. We meet Dr. Croft, the base’s former expert on occult matters and see that something has either possessed her or sent her over the edge of sanity. The others on the base have quarantined Dr. Croft and when Burnham flashes to her we see that written on the walls of her cell in what is probably *gag* either shite or blood or a happy mixture of both, what appears to be a continuation of that Enochian message:
…Faorgt childao Ialprg ge panpir Roxtan ohio drixtelo…” is what the words appear to be when transposed from the backward, behind-the-glass view we see them from. We see even more of this a few panels later as we flash back to Dr. Croft while Nameless himself translates the entire message for us. From this new vantage point we see what appears to be (with some creative extrapolation as part of the words are cut off by the panel border: “RLQNDR AG OVOARS AG PARNOR”.
Before continuing I have to note that the Enochian translator I used to translate issue #1’s script doesn’t jive with these new words. Two theories on why: 1) because we’re dealing with a fictional scenario incorporating non-fictional (although arguably just as made up depending on what side of the ‘Charlatan Interpretation’ your intuitions about the validity of John Dee and Edward Kelley’s work put you on) and as such Grant merely uses the the fairly general-when-translated actual Enochian script Zirom Triam Ipam Ipamis to set the stage and then invents words to convey the rest of the warning from space, the book’s primary plot device thus far. This or possibility number 2) Mr. Morrison believes – to some degree – that playing around with Enochian Magick is unstable at best and potentially dangerous at worst and therefore chose to circumnavigate initiating the masses on a potentially psychoactive language that could have powerfully dire consequences. Keep in mind, Morrison’s readership is infinitely larger now that he’s become a kind of “Rock God” of comics writing, so that while he may have been a skosh more cavalier about infusing actual hardwired Magick into previous titles like The Invisibles, at this point in his career he is aware that Nameless has the potential to reach a hell of a lot more people, many of them comic fans and not occult-sensitive enthusiasts. Not to mention the even wider audience that Nameless might find if the property was picked up and turned into a mainstream Sci Fi motion picture a la Prometheus or one of Mark Millar’s box office toppers.
Alright, all that aside, here’s what we get from Nameless in the way of a translation:
“Man– every one of you– prepare for wrath. One thousand thousand strong thunders. Torment from the mighty seat in the flaming firmament. Dwelling place of dragons, cast down from the poison stars. From Wormwood palace, in the kingdom of fury and wonders. Enthroned in the dark heavens, dwelling in diamond flame. Pour down the wind of woe. Bring down death! Bring down lamentation! Bring down terror and wisdom. Destroy creation.“
Okay, so if Grant is going to do all the translating for me, what the hell am I going to write about in this damn column? Well, first and foremost this is obviously no longer going to be a weekly column, which is fine, because initially it was to be a one time thing. However, the sheer amount of decipherable material in that first issue turned it into a four part, once a week deal. Now that we’re caught up there really are only a few items left to talk about. So this will most likely be the only entry in Beneath the Panels for Nameless #2. And to start I’d like to address the elephant in the room – or perhaps meteor in the sky – Iaxaxaar, “Opener of the way”.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I felt as though Morrison wasn’t talking directly to me in the panel above with the “You can look it up.” However, that interpretation makes me feel as though I’m suffering from a particularly ridiculous delusion of grandeur, so let’s just toss that back out, even though it absolutely had to be mentioned.
So, Iaxaxaar – Opener of the way. To quote the text exactly, “A fragment of the broken world. Like Xibalba itself, a splinter of Marduk, our solar system’s lost 5th planet.” I’d never heard of Marduk before, unless we’re counting that black metal elf guy from Norway, which is this is clearly not. Consulting The Watkins Dictionary of Magic yet again I found this entry for Marduk:
“Originally a deity of fertility and agriculture, Marduk became the Babylonian high god after defeating Tiamat. Marduk was a solar deity and maintained the forces of order in the universe. He was popular in Assyria between the fourteenth and seventh centuries BCE, but was subsequently displaced by the tribal war god, Assur.”
Now, taking to the internet we get some interesting juxtapositions when researching Marduk. First, the “lost 5th planet” goes back to a theory by Russian author Zecharia Sitchin, and it’s a bit of a mess. There’s not a lot of solid information online that I could find, so I’ll try to simply distill the admittedly subpar wikipedia entry down to brass tacks.
In his 1976 book The 12th Planet, Sitchin proposed the existence of a planet beyond Neptune. Sitchin refers to this planet as Nibiru, although apparently in ancient Babylon it was recognized and called Marduk, after the aforementioned Babylonian god of the same name. According to Sitchin Nibiru, or I guess Marduk for our purposes, collided with another former planet – that planet’s name?
Babylonian lore not withstanding, the resulting astronomical catastrophe rendered planetary bodies were an asteroid belt and what sprouted life and is now called Earth. The theory goes on to claim that a race of highly sophisticated extraterrestrial beings named Anunnaki – deities known to ancient Mesopotamian cultures – hailed from Marduk and settled here on Earth where they created humanity. I won’t go into the entire thing here, however the more I looked at the admittedly dodgy information online the more I couldn’t help but draw a comparison between Annunaki and the Enochian Watchers. Both fit in as the race of more advanced beings – whether they’re referred to as aliens or angels depends on the cultural lens you receive your information through – that according to various myth cycles created or elevated humanity with knowledge of technologies that originate, insofar as we know, with them and their home world. In Enochian lore The Watchers were angels that came to Earth and took human women as wives, had children with them and taught them textiles, agriculture, etc.
So with the events in this second issue of Nameless it looks to me as though Morrison may be setting up a situation where these beings have once again begun to interact with humanity, only this time to destroy it. Shades of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus here as well, what with the creators coming back to destroy their botched creation. I know Morrison hasn’t exactly intimated our failure as a race as the reasoning behind this encroaching apocalypse in Nameless yet, however I’m inferring it based on that first explanatory quote he gave us in the lead-up to issue #1:
“In my superhero comics, I’ve tended to be a cheerleader for the human spirit, but Nameless gives me a rare opportunity to articulate a long-withheld sneering contempt for our miserable species, with its self-serving, sentimental, suicidal self-delusions and its greedy, willful ignorance.“
Okay, so Marduk aside, really there are two more things in this second issue that deserve decoding, one of which I am at a loss for. That would be Nameless’s pontification that, “5. Fuck-up number. 5 is 1 and 4 is a Door.” I’ve consulted several books on Gematria and Occult Number concordances. I’m not seeing anything that distills this down to the seemingly simplistic interpretation. However I’ve also been pressed for time and routinely distracted while finishing this post so if anyone out there can explain what is probably directly in front of my face, please enlighten me in the comments.
But I did say there were two things left and the second and final one for Nameless #2 is, of course, the symbols on their spacesuits.
So there is a whole hodgepodge of symbols Nameless has decked the crew of Billionauts’ moon base in. When challenged by one of the staff (They never really introduce us as Nameless says he forgets the names pretty much as soon as he hears them upon his own introduction, which I thought was a nice way character development – keep us in his mindset by not knowing the names of those he’s working with) Nameless says, “It’s protection. This shit might just give you a fighting chance against free-range thoughtforms.” Fair enough. I began looking for these symbols in several tomes I have, one the 1996 edition of Udo Becker’s The Element Encyclopedia of Symbols where I went page by page and found nothing. Next I turned to the more recent (2003) Signs, Symbols and Omens by Raymond Buckland. Again, nothing.
Okay, I own a lot of occult books but nothing else that is specific to symbols so off to Google. I had a pretty decent amount of trouble here too, as I found a lot of matches for a generic search on several permutation of the words “Magickal Protection Symbols”, even found two of the symbols, but the images always linked back to Pinterest pages, nothing that had any sort of definition or history. After a while though, I found some info on two of the main symbols:
The Sign of the Horns, which proves to be very difficult to google for origin because you tend to come back with a lot of literature about the three-up-two-down devil horns hand sign that was long ago co-opted by stoners and headbangers. What I did eventually find is this symbol apparently dates back to a name that in all my time studying the Occult – which admittedly has been on hold for about a decade so I might be mistaken here – I never encountered before, one Lee R. Gandee. Apparently Mr. Gandee’s 1971 book Strange Experience is the origin of this symbol, at least in modern writing. This lead me down a really strange rabbit hole that culminated in learning that Hexing became quite popular in Pennsylvania circa 1850 as a sort of combination folk art/folk magic based on the area’s Dutch roots. I’d always assumed the word Hex goes back a much longer way and a quick consult with the Watkin’s gives us a bit of a better sense of the timeline associated with the concept:
“Hex: In sorcery, a spell or curse infleicted upon a person or proerty. The term dervies from the German Hexe, “witch” and Hexer “sorceror, wizard”. The word is related to the English hag. In Pennsylvania, where the art of hexing became popular, there are still hexters who make amulets and talismans to ward off evil influences.“
All that aside, I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Gandee’s book fits in. There’s not a lot of info on Gandee on the web; the best I could find without spending an exorbitant amount of time on it was on a site called Unurthed. If you follow that link and read about the five Gandee hexes the author highlights there (the Sign of the Horns being one of them) you’ll see that hexing, as it’s defined under Gandee, is pretty much sigil magick. I’d be curious to know whether it was Morrison or Burnham who chose the designs for the spacesuits in Nameless and why this one in particular.
The Hamsa is derived from the arabic Khamsa which means – wait for it – five. It can be a reference to the five fingers of the hand. The Hamsa Hand symbol then is basically a western reiteration, Hamsa means hand so Hamsa hand defines itself with a built in translation. The symbol is a popular in the Middle East as a symbol for the hand of god and is meant to bring luck, protection, health and good fortune.
Now, as for the other symbols, there are too many of them for me to research them all at this time (although Damn! do I want to). The pattern set with these two are they are all symbols of protection culled from across belief system paradigms and used in the story as a contribution by Nameless – though one openly scoffed at by some of his peers – to help give them an edge over the unknown but obviously scary-as-all-hell force they believe to be bearing down on Earth. We’ve got about two weeks to go until we get issue #3 and I know I’m really keen on seeing where all this is heading and where Morrison extrapolates this heavily researched/encoded set-up to as far as plot. I’ll end now by reiterating that I don’t own or stake any claim on any of these images, especially the ones from the actual comic that I obtained online via various review sites and promotional material.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m more psyched than ever on seeing this one out to the end.
Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.