REVIEW: Invincible #79

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Or – “Meanwhile, Back On Earth…”

It’s been some time since Mark Grayson went into space to deal with the Viltrumite menace.  After nigh on a year in space, and half a dozen brushed with death, he’s returned home to find his girlfriend Atom Eve has been through a few changes as well…

INVINCIBLE #79
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Nikos Koutsis
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sina Grace
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Invincible: Mark Grayson’s dad, Nolan, was secretly Omni-Man, superhero of some note.  He was also a member of the murderous Viltrumite empire, sent to colonize and dominate Earth.  For a few years, he was successful, but eventually fled Earth after beating his son senseless.  Mark took over as the primary protector of the planet, met his half-alien (well, technically ALL alien) brother, and eventually fell into a pretty serious relationship with Atom Eve of the Teen Team.  Just when Mark set off into space to fight off more evil Viltrumites, Eve (fresh off a near-death experience) found out that she was pregnant with Mark’s child.

The Return Of The Fingerless Gloves…

One of my biggest complaints with last year’s revamp of the Invincible costume was that, while it returned to Mark’s old colors, it changed his distinct boots and gloves to something pretty generic.  Turns out I’m not the only one bothered by this, as the issue kicks off with Mark visiting the tailor who makes his costumes and requesting the return of both of those features to the uniform.  Weirdly enough, this feels like a pretty important development in Invincible’s life after the chaos of the Invincible War, bringing him back to his original look just in time to return to his old life.  A montage of “back in business” moments is a hoot, including the likes of Doc Seismic, The Elephant and the Russian villain with the electric powers getting thoroughly thrashed.  There’s even a one-page digression involving villain Dinosaurus that probably won’t pay off until next month, at least, reminding me of the old-school Marvel plotting.

Yes, He Was Abraham Lincoln.  That’s Not A Spoiler.

There are some problems with this issue, though, and like Invincible’s tonsorial alterations, they’re not exactly appropriate in the way they seem to affect our hero.  We find that mom Debbie and girlfriend Atom Eve have become pals during Mark’s absence, which upsets him (and makes him look like a real putz in his awkward reaction.)  Omni-Man’s return to Earth is played mostly for laughs, as everyone at the Pentagon reacts so awkwardly that he gets to make a joke about how his return is going to be problematic.  Given the extreme violence of his exit, I’m surprised that he doesn’t get how much of a problem this really is.  A dinner date with Mark and Eve at Dupli-Kate’s house is mostly awkward because Kate’s husband is clueless, but Eve suddenly breaks down while helping Kate bathe Kate’s babies.  The issue ends with Mark finding out about Eve’s pregnancy for the first time, as well as some nice character/relationship building stuff for the two heroes.

The Verdict: Oddly Puzzling.

For some reason, this issue feels off-balance to me.  Whether it’s because of the long build-up to the reveal at the end, or the quick return to mundane moments after the long months of outer-space battles and high adventure/drama or something in the narrative isn’t clear to me.  After three passes on this one, I still can’t quite pin it down.  The art is quite good throughout, the quiet moments should be a nice touch, and it’s good to see Dupli-Kate (one of the most awesome/awkward names in comics) again, but I suppose that I didn’t care for the seemingly trickery involved in HOW the reveal came around.  I do like the fact that Mark isn’t even bothered by Eve’s minor weight gain, something that could have turned into another “why is our hero acting like a jerk?” moment.  Invincible is a book in the classic style, with 70′s style plotting combined with 90′s style shock to create something that feels new and different, so I expect that I’ll get over my reserations quickly enough.  Invincible #79 touches on some difficult subjects, but doesn’t quite give the characters enough room to maneuver around, earning a strong 3 out of 5 years overall.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Can Omni-Man really be redeemed as a character at this point?