Or – “That Other Thing That Kirkman Does…”
With all the attention focused on The Walking Dead, it’s sometimes difficult to recall that Bob Kirkman’s zombie opus isn’t his original Image book. Initially launched as part of a line of teen-themed books, Invincible is now the last man standing, and its erratic publishing schedule has caused me to forget about it more than once. Now, the I-Team is back with another issue, and that cover promises that things aren’t going to be dull. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Kirkman is up to his old tricks…
Feels very familiar.
Kirkman is up to his old tricks…
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Skybound/Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Invincible: After a devastating battle with Dinosaurus, Mark Grayson’s world is a very different place. Millions died, and Invincible himself was reported killed in the conflict. Thanks to protagonist magic, Mark is alive and well, and back in his yellow-and-blue suit as an agent of Cecil Steadman, and his involvement in Dinosaurus’ rampage swept under the carpet. He has returned to his normal life, only to find his lady-friend Atom Eve is pregnant with their child!
MASTER OF THE COLD OPEN.
Kirkman is one of those writers who can brilliantly assimilate his influences (with Invincible, it’s the Marvel Comics of the Bronze Age, where everything overlaps, with beginnings and endings swirling in every issues), and this book starts strong, as we see a mysterious man returning from his morning jog to discover shocking news: INVINCIBLE IS ALIVE! That’d normally be good news, but when that man is Angstrom Levy, it bodes ill for the Vince-meister. We get quick vignettes from around the cast, with Robot and Monster Girl discussing Invincible’s responsibility for the recent disasters, while Atom Eve and Mark himself get some very important (and frightening news): Use of her powers while pregnant will harm their baby! Visually, the issue is pretty stunning, with Eve’s tearful realization that she might have hurt the child particularly vivid, and the sight of Nolan wearing the robes of Viltrumite Emperor is not only cool-looking, it’s ominous as hell. Unfortunately, when the meat of this issue’s story kicks in, we run into problems.
“EXCUSE ME? NORMAL?”
Eve visits Mark’s long-MIA friend William, now living with his boyfriend Rick Sheridan, commiserating with them over how awful it is to be normal, to have to DRIVE places and wait in line rather than having to fly. It’s a theme that Invincible has touched on before, and it makes Eve seem kind of shallow, something that feels disingenuous after her long-ago trip to Africa to find herself. When, inevitably, Angstrom arrives to capture and threaten her, we get the eye-rolling return of the “girlfriend in peril” subplot that has driven at least two different storylines in the past hundred issues, and Mark’s headstrong and thoughtless actions end up with him easily disposed of by the villain. As a reader, it’s frustrating when I remember more about the world Invincible lives in that he does, and as the issue ends, we once again find Mark stranded on in a dystopian alternate future world, with a little twist that reminds me too much of his other franchise. Certainly it’s hard to keep a book going for over a decade without returning to repeating themes, but it’s rare for Kirkman to have so much deja vu in a single issue, and after the relatively disappointing resolution to all the build-up in issue #100, I’m less-then-thrilled with the current state of Invincible.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A BIT TOO FAMILIAR FOR MY TASTES.
Even when it’s bad, Invincible is a strong title, and Kirkman still has enough credit earned that I’m continuing with the title, but I’m not really feeling this one. I like the reveal of William and Rick’s seemingly-impending nuptuals, and Angstrom Levy is one of the more visually distinct characters in this world, but I’m not looking forward to Eve’s near future. (She’s on a slippery slope of crying ineffectually or using her powers and injuring her child, neither of which is a plot that I particularly want to read about, especially since she’s been a pretty badass superhero character in her own right. Invincible #103 is one of the periodic “catch-up-on-all-the-plot-points” breather issues, and it does it’s job well, but it sets up for stories that I don’t really want to read, and features some spectacularly dumb moves from our hero, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall. Part of the problem, of course, is that when this book is good, it’s VERY good, so a merely mediocre issue can feel more disappointing than it would in a lesser book…