REVIEW: Invincible Universe #1

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Cecil Steadman was always a busy guy. His typical day in the office involved teleporting all over the place and coordinating superhuman responses to super villain crises. The came Mark Grayson and his misguided, immature utilitarian ethics. And a dinosaur.

Invincible Universe 1 CoverINVINCIBLE UNIVERSE #1
WRITER
: PHIL HESTER
ART: TODD NAUCK
LETTERS: RUS WOOTEN
COLORS: GABE ELTAEB
EDITOR: SEAN MACKIEWICZ
PUBLISHER: IMAGE/SKYBOUND
COVER PRICE: $2.99

Previously in (the) Invincible Universe: Mark Grayson, in a feat of heroic ineptitude, not only failed to prevent Dinosaurus from killing untold thousands but he actually helps facilitate the act! Now he feels really crummy about the whole thing and Cecil Steadman, the Global Defense Agency and the Guardians of the Globe Invincible Universe are left to pick up the pieces.

ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT GUARDIANS

As I understand it, this title is the successor to “Guarding the Globe,” because, according to Phil Hester, no one was happy with the compromise-candidate nature of that title and “Invincible Universe” is a better description of the book’s contents and scope. Distinction without a difference? Perhaps.

There’s a lot going on in this issue, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. The inaugural issue of “Invincible Universe” reads like a day in the life of Cecil Steadman, if his average day involved Mark Grayson and Dinosaurus going Old Testament on everyone and killing nearly one million people. Cecil offers Mark their old deal in lieu of locking him up but Mark, understandably conflicted, flies off in a huff and we’re left with Cecil going about the business of coordinating most of the superpowers on Earth. Within the first few pages I had high hopes that we would see some more character development, they were scuttled when it became clear this issue is more of an overview of aftermath as Cecil strides through his headquarters deploying teams and managing resources. There’s a fun bit with Kid Thor that goes on for a few panels too long, but it’s my favorite part of the book; it gets dropped rather abruptly, though, but I feel like it’s going to become one of those excellent C-plots you look forward to in every issue. I would also complain that Cecil’s dry wit seems uncharacteristically absent, but that likely has something to do with the Biblical Flood that just occurred.

Though there was little in the way of action, I suspect the next issue will make up for the deficiency. Cecil’s old nemesis, whose body acts as a prison for a deadly Chinese dragon, is dying and the beast inside him could destroy the world if it gets out. Cecil agrees to help but on the last panel it’s clear things have gone wrong and exploded into something like the opening sequence to Gosei Sentai Dairanger. Issue No. 2 should prove exciting.

CONSISTENT PRESENTATION

The art is unremarkable, but let me clarify that a bit. It’s quality craftsmanship, but it looks like the last dozen or so issues of “Invincible” that have passed through my hands; when a kid is making A’s on every report card you eventually stop marveling at their academic prowess and just start accepting it as a baseline. If the overall “Invincible universe,” “Invincible Universe” included, continues to be drawn at this level I will be pleased. If it improves I will be ecstatic.

Despite this faint praise there were a couple of sequences that warrant a mention, such as Cecil’s trip to the chemical bath with its purple hue. The color drove home the alienness of both his malady and the corrective procedure. It’s easy to forget the kind of super-scientific bizarrosphere these characters inhabit.

BOTTOM LINE: I WAS VINCIBLE TO ITS CHARMS

This is a first issue, but it doesn’t read like one considering its path to publication and the storyline from which it launches. Rather than having its own, independent existence it felt like the second part of one of those CSI crossover episodes where the first half of the story takes place in Las Vegas and then, bizarrely, they have to go all the way to New York to get to the bottom of things. Maybe not exactly like that, but you know what I mean. I want to keep reading this title, but I’m an honest person, so I’ll tell you right now I probably won’t—more likely I’ll wait for the trade. I’ve got “Invincible” fatigue and this book is its latest casualty. But maybe I just have to wait for a Best Tiger arc. If you cannot get enough of this universe then buy as many copies of this as necessary to keep one in every room of your house—it’s quite good; it’s just that Mark Grayson and I are on a break. 3.5 stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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