I was an avid fan of ‘Invincible’ for quite a while, devouring the trades as quickly as I could lay my hands on them, but right around the start of the “Viltrumite War” storyline, for one reason or another, I drifted away from the book. So I had to play catch-up a bit with this issue. Teenage hero Mark Grayson, code-named Invincible, is in a coma, suffering from a disease intended to kill Viltrumites, the mustachioed, super powered extraterrestrials which number among them, Mark’s father, the hero-turned-villain-turned-hero-again Omni-Man. A group of Viltrumite scientists step in to care for him, although Mark’s boss Cecil Steadman and his allies the Guardians of the Globe are wary. Meanwhile, Allen the Alien collects mad scientist Dinosaurus and brings him to the team’s moon base to assist as well. (The trip doesn’t go smoothly, as Allen makes some mistaken assumptions.) Mark’s girlfriend Atom Eve is distraught, but her teammate Bulletproof comforts her. The head of the Viltrumites, Grand Regent Thragg makes a discovery about Mark’s physiology and covers it up. Later, when Eve gets a call for Invincible’s services, she is forced to send Bulletproof in his place, with the hero donning Mark’s costume, which he has coveted all along, anyway.
And there we have it; the “bold new direction” promised on the cover. Robert Kirkman is an amazing writer and it constantly astounds me how he can so ably crank out the adventures of a struggling teen super hero like Invincible and then turn around and so powerfully craft the world of ‘The Walking Dead,’ but he’s a pro! I was hooked by ‘Invincible’ from the first issue I read. Unfortunately, if this were the first issue I’d picked up, I’d be lost! The bulk of the characters aren’t ever referred to by name, including major figures like Cecil Steadman and Allen the Alien. There’s not even a recap page at the beginning to catch up new readers! If this was intended as a jumping on point, they really botched it.
With Mark in a coma, it looks like Bulletproof will be filling in for him. (In more ways than one, I suspect, as he seems quite affectionate with Eve!) But very little is done to flesh him out and establish him as the new lead. There just seems to be too much going on in this issue, with practically no effort to set things up clearly. It’s more like just another issue in a series of issues, not a fresh start.
The art, by the always reliable Ryan Ottley looks great! He has a clean, crisp style with a unique flair. And the colors by John Rauch is always vibrant and sharp! This is a book that embraces the larger than life aspect of super heroics and I appreciate that!
I will probably pick up the next issue and see if things become clearer, but I honestly can’t recommend this issue to anyone who hasn’t already been reading ‘Invincible.’
Written by Robert Kirkman
Pencilled by Ryan Ottley
Cover by Ottley and Kelsey Shannon