I’ve been reading Robert Kirman’s superhero series Invincible for a few years now, purchasing the trades online and at comic shops as they appear. The other day volume 16 arrived at comic shops and I picked it up. However, unlike The Walking Dead trades, which appear like clockwork every six months, the Invincible collections show up randomly. It’s for this reason I didn’t buy the issues, mostly because usually one or two of the issues following what appears in the trade were absent, leaving a gap in the story. I’d gripe for a moment, sigh, and return home with the latest Invincible installment, waiting another six to eight months for the next chapter. That all changed the other day when I actually found all the issues following volume 16, allowing me to finally start reading Invincible monthly (or as regularly as it appears).
If you’re not familiar with Invincible, it’s probably the best superhero books around. Naturally, that’s just my opinion but it takes the superhero plot everybody’s familiar with and changes it into a compelling fantasy for adults. Where the majority of Marvel and DC’s titles are geared towards children and young teens, Invincible is definitely not for adolescents. For one thing it’s violent…really violent. There isn’t any outright nudity but Kirkman doesn’t ignore sexuality, adding it into the book where necessary. Oh, and characters die on a regular basis, usually killed in a gruesome way.
Like I said before, Invincible is a superhero book that’s generally devoid of the juvenile trappings usually associated with the genre. Mark, the protagonist (also known as Invincible), is half human and half Viltrumite (a tyrannical, super strong species from across the universe). With his girlfriend Atom Eve and a long list of other characters, Mark battles everything from giant dinosaurs to cross-dimensional squids. What also makes Invincible so great is Kirkman’s unpredictability; you never know what’s going to happen from issue to issue. Beloved characters die or change allegiances often, always leaving the reader wondering what’ll happen next.
While I like Mark, Eve, and the other primary characters, many of Invincible’s secondary cast are what make this book special, adding depth to the title. This latest issue (#93), while featuring Invincible, is mostly about two of my favorite sidebar characters: Robot and Monster Girl. Many issues back these two were trapped in another dimension where time moves slowly. It turns out they were there for centuries, only aging a few years. Although the drama between these two characters regarding their centuries together has been hinted at in past issues the story is finally being told, taking up the majority of this installment. I’m glad.
As with The Walking Dead, Invincible requires the reader to know what happened beforehand, as the characters are highly involved by this point and the Invincible universe has become quite large. Picking the title up on a whim isn’t a good idea, as it’s like watching an episode of The Sopranos in the middle of the fourth season—you’ll probably have no idea what’s going on and not understand why these characters are important. However, if you’re looking for a new comic book series to obsess over I highly suggest Invincible—the reason I like superheroes again—but I warn you, it’ll take your money and your time.
This issue also features artwork by both of Invincible’s pencillers: Cory Walker (co-creator along with Kirkman) and Ryan Ottley, who began working on the series after the seventh issue. Personally, I think Ottley is the superior artist, adding more to Kirkman’s words than Walker ever did and even though Walker has been working on the series periodically for the last few years I really hope he doesn’t replace his successor. Walker contributes a few impressive two page spreads for this issue but his art doesn’t compare to Ottley’s, whose work is less rough around the edges. It’s almost like Ottley’s work is more thought out than Walker, who seems to attack the page instead of planning out his compositions. I know this is simple nerd griping, as I’d read the book if it was drawn by Rob Liefeld (ok, maybe not because Invincible would have 60 abs and Robot would have over a thousand metallic pouches. Also, nobody would have any feet.), but I really hope Ottley continues on with Invincible for a long time.