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Comic Book / Enigma

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"It's like the Book of Revelations but funnier. It's like the last trumpet but hopelessly out of tune. It's like the perennial battle between Good and Evil, but no one can quite work out which is which anymore, and most people don't even know what perennial means."
Enigma Issue #3, Opening Lines

Enigma is a 1993 comic book by Peter Milligan about an astoundingly dull man named Michael Smith, whose life is turned upside down when he gets attacked by a huge-headed lizard monster that sucks peoples brains out through their noses, and is saved by his favorite childhood comic book superhero The Enigma, a masked man with god-like powers. The story primarily centers around him and the comic book's author Titus Bird trying to figure out exactly what the hell is going on.

Enigma is arguably the first comic from a mainstream publisher to feature a gay kiss, and is #15 on the Comics Alliance list of the 50 most important LGBT Comic Books and Characters of all time.


This Work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • And Then What?: In the in-universe comic, an unnamed millionaire tells The Enigma that he'll soon own all the real estate in an entire city. The Enigma keeps asking him "And then what?". After outlining a vague plan for his entire lifetime based entirely around material possessions, the man is at a loss for words. The Enigma says he's amazed the man doesn't want to kill himself. The Enigmatics, a cult based around said comic, interpret this to mean they should commit mass suicide.
    • Just to make sure we get the point, the issue is entitled And Then What?, and the title even appears on the issue's front cover.
  • Animal Motifs: Lizards are featured heavily throughout the story.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "And then what?"
  • Awful Truth: This is why The Truth is so terrible to behold.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Enigma plainly doesn't understand why certain things are arbitrarily "right" or "wrong".
  • Body Horror: The Head, and very much the Mother.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Sort of.
  • Bookends: "You could say it all started in Arizona. Twenty-five years ago. On a farm."
  • The Bore: The opening narration wastes no time in explaining that Michael is an incredibly dull and ordinary person when the story begins.
  • Brain Food: The first bad guy introduced is a lizard thing that sucks peoples brains out through a straw.
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  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Head, the Truth, Envelope Girl, and the Interior League were essentially brainwashed and transformed into their villainous roles so the Enigma would have villains to fight.
  • Cult: The Enigmatics are a bunch of young adults who are convinced that Titus is some kind of prophet.
  • Delayed Narrator Introduction: The identity of the narrator is not revealed until the final issue of the comic. You will not figure it out ahead of time.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Envelope Girl was originally mentioned in Milligan's Animal Man run.
  • The Everyman: Michael
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Played with "They probably don't get the irony of the Truth dying in a church. Come to think of it, I don't get the irony of the Truth dying in a church."
  • Freak Out: Most of the baddies have the ability to make their victims go stark raving mad.
  • Gaslighting: The Interior League break into houses at night and rearrange the furniture in a manner that will cause at least one member of the household to have a psychotic breakdown and kill everyone before committing suicide.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: The Enigma
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The Truth's power is to make people see everything in their lives with complete clarity and with all the comforting lies and self-delusion that they live with every day stripped away. Their minds don't usually survive this intact.
  • Mind Screw
  • The Omnipotent: It's not really clear what the nature and extent of The Enigma's powers are, but from what we see, he's effectively God. If God were a gay, morally ambiguous existentialist who ate lizards.
  • Parental Abandonment: Michael's mother left him on a street corner after his father died, while the Enigma's mom threw him down a well as a baby after he did something to his father's face.
  • Pater Familicide: Features a rare female example. Also, the Interior League causes people to do this by rearranging their furniture.
  • Reality Warper: The Enigma.
  • Schedule Fanatic: Michael is very specific about what happens on what day of the week in the first issue.
  • Superhero Paradox: Invoked. The Enigma, basing his life and identity on the comic book character, reasons that he needs villains to fight, and uses his powers to turn random people into those villains.
  • Teleport Cloak: In a rather unusual example, Envelope Girl's outfit isn't primarily used to transport her (though it is implied that it can). Rather, she goes up to random strangers, wraps them up in her clothing, and they are deposited in a cardboard box somewhere else at random.
  • Thrown Down a Well: The Enigma was thrown into a well as a baby and lived by eating lizards at the well's bottom for 26 years. His survival may seem preposterous at first, but this is explained by him basically being God.

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