The Complete “Invincible” Review: Part 2

Posted: October 17, 2012 by Curtis Hines in Comicology - Comic Books, Image Comics
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Cover to “Invincible” #14. Art by Frank Cho.

In honor of the upcoming 100th issue of Invincible, the critically acclaimed superhero series by Robert Kirkman, I’m going to read it all for the first time. All of it. My journey will take me through hardcover collections, trade paperbacks, single issues, and more. My goal: to read and review the entire series before issue 100 drops in January. To see Part 1 of the Complete Invincible Review, look here.  Each Wednesday I’ll be posting the newest installment in the series, so stay tuned.

Today’s post will cover Invincible issues 14-24. I don’t own all the single issues (that would be my preferred way to read the series) so instead I’m starting with the Invincible: Ultimate Collection hardcover series. Not bad as far as hardcover collections go. Some nice extras, like original artwork and scripts.

The emotional wreckage of issues 12 and 13 leave a lot of cleaning up to do over the course of these 11 issues. Up until this point, Invincible’s world seemed to be one heck of a good time. He gets superpowers, fights bad-guys with his dad, dates an attractive girl, all that good stuff. Now, for the first time, we see Mark and his family in pain, and the hardship that comes from having such extraordinary powers. Alcoholism is addressed here, as Mark’s mother turns to the bottle to cope with loss of her husband. Mark himself also takes on a lot more adult responsibility. Now he’s working for the government, frequently being called away from school or dates to deal in super-human matters. The darker tone is not resolved by Invincible #24, but it does make the series feel more like a mainstream super-hero comic. There are pro’s and con’s to that, but I’m hoping the book continues to have a unique and special voice.

Robert Kirkman has created a stellar ensemble of characters for this story, and in these issues we get to see some new individuals sharing the spotlight. Cecil is Mark’s government contact who calls him out on jobs. He’s witty, tough, and hints at an incredible back-story waiting to be told. Amber, Mark’s girlfriend, who probably only had one line before issue 13, blossoms into a real and enjoyable love interest. My favorite though has to be Allen the Alien, a lovable character who brought some humor when he was first introduced. He even gets a story dedicated to him; Invincible #23 is a comic all about Allen, showing us his history and giving a peek at the happenings beyond our globe. It was throughly enjoyable. There are so many other great characters here, like Monster Girl, Angstrom, Titan, that I can’t cover here but speak to the incredible creative powers of Kirkman.

The art here continues to be splendid, with pencils by Ryan Ottley in a simplified, slimmed down style that really works for this series. It should also be mentioned that the colors by Bill Crabtree help this comic stand out from all it’s competition: they’re bright, engaging, and not what you’d expect from a super-hero book. I love them.

Somehow in this series, knock-down, bloodbath, world ending death matches fit in right alongside humorous running gags, inside jokes, and one liners. “Epic” and “hilarious” might be the two words that best sum up the average Invincible story so far. And Mark is maybe the most relatable hero I’ve seen in quite a long time. These are few reasons I think I’ll have to keep on reading.

If you’d like to do what I’m doing, then do it! Take your library card, head on down to the good old local library, and ask them if they’ve got any collected editions. If don’t, they know other libraries who do, and for no cost to you at all they’ll ship them over for you. Reading comics should be cheep!

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