Saturday, July 14, 2012

Comic Review: Invincible

    Like a lot of readers, I’m guessing, I came to Robert Kirkman through The Walking Dead.  Somewhere around the release of the 4th or 5th trade paperback, I picked up volume 1 and began consuming it voraciously.  It’s a dark, brutal, sad, and relentless series, but well written.  Over the years, I saw a few other Kirkman titles, read a couple random bits, but still knew him mostly through his zombie epic.  And honestly, Invincible never captured my interest.  How many caped crusaders and spandex clad heroes do we need?  The character himself reminded me of Spider-Man, who has never been a personal favorite.  But I kept hearing good things.

    Glad I finally broke down and checked it out.  There is a certain Spider-Man vibe to it, with the young guy dealing with high school and college issues, while discovering his own skills and powers, and it comes out of that 60s ‘Silver Age’ mindset.  But it’s surprisingly well written, and well thought out.  The villains and other heroes are interesting, and they have lives.  The matter of fact way everyone lives in a world with superheroes is very charming.

    It is a bit odd that the comic feels fairly ‘all ages’ until it doesn’t.  As I was reading it, I was thinking how it would make a great introductory series for younger readers…then the brutal, bloody, graphic murder sequence happened, and I changed my mind.  Even with that, it’s not so extreme that young teens couldn’t handle it, and the series really is quite good.  There are plenty of interesting twists and turns and some surprise outcomes.

    The art is quite good if often simplistic, and the switch from the first artist to the second is seamless.  The coloring by Bill Crabtree gives it that vibrant 60s look, too.  The character design is great, with equal doses funny and cool.  And there are lots of nerd references.  Obvious ones, like the Guardians of the Globe being the Justice League, and those aliens from the beginning of issue 9 being the Star Trek: Next Gen crew.  But there are also subtler ones, like the Science Dog poster that looks like Tom Strong.  And then there are gags like the trash bag landing in London or the thing about re-using comic panels to save time.  Gold.

    While reading this, I feel like I’m enjoying some of the excitement and expectation that my older comic reading friends must have experienced in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s reading X-Men, Spider-Man, The Flash, or what have you.  I don’t have to be completely versed in decades of mythology to enjoy and understand it.  I’m seeing a new mythology built from the ground up, like those earlier readers.

Invincible: Ultimate Collection Volume 1
Author: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN: 978-1-58240-500-1


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