Or – “Teenage Angst, Part Two.”

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One of the most wonderful things about Bob Kirkman’s work on Invincible are the supporting characters, each of whom has depth and a life of their own, and most of whom have amazing named.  Dupli-Kate.  Shrinking Ray.  Atom Eve.  And the absolute, bull moose gonzo whopper most amazing name of all time: REX.  SPLODE!  When I get old, I want to roll around in a motorized wheelchaire and just yell “REX SPLODE!” at all the young whippersnappers with their baggy pants and their tiny little i-Pods and their whatever it is they do when I’m old…

Invincible Presents: Atom Eve and Rex Splode #1

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Written by BENITO CERENO
Art by NATE BELLEGARDE & BILL CRABTREE

Previously, on Invincible Presents Atom Eve and Rex Splode:  Mark Grayson, the son of Omni-Man, inherited his father’s superhuman Viltrumite powers, allowing him to fly, bust through walls, run faster than a locomotive, etcetera, etcetera.  But not all his pals in the Teen Team got their powers in such a prosaic manner…  In the case of Atom Eve, her genesis was part of a covert government black op to create an ultimate soldier, but she was switched at birth and sent to live in the suburbs.  Her powers made her a science prodigy, and eventually allowed her to transform matter at an atomic level, and become a teenage superhero.  She joined the Teen Team where she met Rex Splode, who quickly became her first love.  Eventually, though, Rex betrayed her trust by sleeping with one of their fellows, Dupli-Kate, and Atom Eve turned to her dear friend Invincible.  Eventually, they became a couple, stuff happened, she was dead and then she wasn’t anymore.  That last part was kind of a big swerve, and has left some people very angry.  During the same giant crossover fight blah de blah where Eve was sorta kinda blowed up, Rex was completly blowed up, giving his life to save innocents.  This is HIS story…

We open on the streets of an unnamed city, as a young Rex Splode steals food and races off into traffic.  Before he can pull of a getaway, though, he is taken down by a strange weapon thrown by a mysterious man in a trenchcoat.  The man talks to him briefly about how stealin is immoral, only to have Rex snarl that his parents SENT him to get food.  Soon after, the man (who identifies himself as Radcliffe, from the government) arrives at their home with a proposition: a briefcase full of cash for a little something Mr. and Mrs. Splode aren’t using.  “Hah,” cries Rex’s father.  “The boy?  Is that all?”  a quick handshake later, Rex is a ward of the government, living and training in a hidden mansion base.  Rex is given special serums, multiple surgeries, and slowly but surely transformed into a walking weapon of mass destruction.  Before too long, he’s blowing things up for the government as a secret agent, but Rex has his doubts about the whole affair.  Radcliffe quickly puts his fears to rest.  “Remember the first time that we met…  how you said your stealing was outweighed by your family’s hunger?  The WORLD is STARVING, Rexy boy…  And these people are just cup noodles.” 

Rex soon graduates to assassinations, while Radcliffe becomes his new father figure.  When Radcliffe gifts him with a scooter, Rex marvels that his dad never even remembered his birthday, and Radcliffe reminds him that his dad sold his own son for a steak dinner.  Rex continue working for Radcliffe, even going overseas and blowing people up on an global scale.  But when Radcliffe comes up with a new wrinkle, Rex again has to question him, verifying that they really want him to blow up the PENTAGON?  Radcliffe assures him that the Global Defense Agency is filled with rogue agents and that the director (Invincible’s own Cecil Stedman, in case you weren’t aware) has gone completely “over the bend.”  (There’s evidence to prove that he’s right, for those who read the home title.)  The night before the big bang, Rex goes out for a ride on his scooter, and encounters a bank robbery.  Before his eyes, a villain called Th Cannon is blasted out of the front of the bank, bouncing a few feet before falling.  Then, Rex’s world changes forever as a beautiful redhead in a pink mindress floats into view.  “You’re going to hit me with a rock?” asks Atom Eve, “That’s no way to treat a lady…  Especially one this cute.”  We pause for a moment as Rex tries to pick up his jaw…

This book picks up right where the Invincible Presents Atom Eve series ended a couple of years ago, and features exactly the same creative team.  I really enjoyed the story of how Samantha become Atom Eve, and this first chapter of Rex’s story is equally entertaining.  The only real problems that I have with the story are problems that I occasionally have with Kirkman’s work, that being the general expectation that most people (specifically Rex’s father) are bastards at heart.  Radcliffe’s parental concern and pride in Rex is well-handled, and there’s a couple of moments of real emotion, such as Rex’s first surgery to gain his explosive implants.  Nate Bellegarde has an unusual art style, somewhat akin to Ryan Ottley’s, and is very attractive, save for an occasional problem with scale (such as in the first panel with Rex, and again in the last page introduction of Eve.  A majority of this story is told in montage, which works both for and against it, but the overall effect is to answer the question of how Rex Splode came to be in a satisfactory fashion.  Invincible Presents Atom Eve and Rex Splode #1 is a real mouthful, earning a well-rounded 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It’s a nice addition to Kirkman’s superhero universe, worthy of the excellence of the main title…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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