Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artists: Ryan Ottley & Cory Walker
Colors: John Rausch & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics
Collecting issues 84-90 of the series, Kirkman & Co. yet again soar to new heights in “The Best Superhero Comic Book In The Universe!” (as their self-appointed tag-line states). There’s a reason why this book is still going as strongly as Kirkman’s other little zombie comic (that you might have heard of by now), and that reason is PURE JOYFUL STORYTELLING. For those unfamiliar with the Invincible universe, just imagine the greatest hodgepodge of all things superhero contained in a single place where the writer will create and kill characters without hesitation. If it makes for interesting storytelling, Kirkman will go there. Even the principle cast have been so brutally beaten at times that you truly wonder if their end is imminent.
The problem with most superhero comics these days is that “status quo” feeling you get after the latest crisis or event is all said and done with. The characters rarely evolve (much less their inhabited universes) and most changes or “bold new directions” are eventually done away with to appeal to their built-in fan-base. Amidst costume changes, deaths, and rebirths of their core name-brand characters, The Big Two offer very little in the way of true change in their comic book titles. Not so with Invincible (somewhat influenced by Erik Larsen’s ground-breaking Savage Dragon series, also from Image). The latest collected version of the series is no slouch either!
In this latest volume, Invincible continues his affiliation with the super-genius-turned-rampaging-dinosaur character appropriately named Dinosaurus. A lame character name perhaps, but Dinosaurus has prompted some truly innovative storytelling in these pages. Previously, Dinosaurus foretold that his “evil” actions must be carried out in order to save the planet. Despite Invincible’s efforts to stop him, Dinosaurus then NUKED LAS VEGAS. No, really—he OBLITERATED the ENTIRE CITY!!! What happened AFTER that was that a massive Solar Panel Array was built where the city used to be, soaking up the sun’s rays and responsibly dispersing this energy to truly “change the world” for good: A prophecy fulfilled. Invincible sees that Dinosaurus’ motives are pure but his methods are nothing short of devastating, so he takes it upon himself to corral the super-beast’s plans. Invincible takes flack from all his friends, family, and loved ones as he aides Dinosaurus because he has “become a believer” and sees the good in what he is doing.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Sounds exactly like the plight of the Christian in these modern times, as we are judged as ludicrous for our beliefs and (sometimes) our actions, as we follow a calling that others simply do not understand. Unfortunately, we get religious extremists that pollute the message of Christ by ranting and raving like lunatics despite their best of intentions, throwing their pearls to swine in the process. (Was anybody else at San Diego Comic Con this year? I rest my case.) Similar to Dinosaurus, The Lord worked in the Old Testament through righteous anger, obliterating the most sinful of human beings in order to teach us a proper way to live our lives. Despite the best intentions of even the most faithful, human-kind has always and will always FALL SHORT of God’s glory, which is why Christ came and took our sin upon Himself. Could it be that writer Robert Kirkman might be setting up Invincible as a Christ-like figure in the pages of his superhero epic?
As if that predicament didn’t provide us with enough dramatics, the majority of this volume actually focuses on the plight of Invincible’s father, Omni-Man, as he discovers that The Coalition of Planets have devised a way to finally rid the universe of The Viltrumites (the evil alien race bent on conquering all planets in the Coalition). But it comes with a steep price. Because the Viltrumite DNA is so closely related to human DNA this newly-developed “Scourge Virus” was designed to kill the VIltrumites… but possibly humans as well. Why is this a problem? Because the remaining members of the Viltrum Empire are now hiding out on Earth in an effort to breed and bolster their numbers so that they may once again enslave the universe! If it sounds complicated, that’s because it kind of is… but this series is totally worthy of a complete read-through (now made much easier with the Compendium volumes!). So now Omni-Man (a turn-coat Viltrumite) has to decide if he will fall in line with this plan, with the possibility that all of human-kind might be massacred in order to rid the universe of Viltrumites, or fight against it. Which choice seems the most likely for maximum dramatics?
Yet again Invincible provides a reading experience like none other, being equally entertaining and morally challenging. I’d be remiss not to mention that the action and violence continue to thrill, the characters continue to evolve and the stakes continue to grow higher and higher… The writing is always brilliant in the series, but any comic is only as great as its artists, and the pages of Invincible are filled with some of the best superhero art ever drawn by regular artist Ryan Ottley and beautifully colored by John Rausch. This volume sees the welcome return of original series artist Cory Walker for two issues, showcasing his gorgeously understated contour linework. As a comic book lover AND creator, this book is nothing short of pure joy for JLD. Invincible truly is the greatest superhero comic in the universe!