Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Invincible: Vol. 1, a Review

I'd never heard of Invincible until my friend Alex introduced the comic to me. An Image imprint, and written by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, I was interested. Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 collects issues #1-#13 of the series, spanning over 400 pages in a beautifully illustrated hardcover edition.

Mark Grayson is a seemingly normal American teenager. He goes to high school, where his biggest concerns are girls and class. He works a part-time job at a local fast-food joint to make extra cash. His family's an average middle class family, where his mom's a homemaker and his dad's a successful novelist. From all appearances, the Grayson family is completely normal. Of course, as you've no doubt inferred, they're not. Mark's father is secretly Omni-Man, the world's most powerful superhero. His abilities are seemingly endless, and Invincible: Volume 1 begins with Mark starting to develop some of his father's powers.

The story of Invincible is a classic coming-of-age tale. Mark struggles to master his new abilities and still maintain his normal teenage life. He begins taking down baddies, even going so far to help his father a time or two. He meets with his dad's tailor who creates him a superhero outfit, and soon he's christened himself Invincible. Adorned and ready, the budding superhero sets out to follow in his father's footsteps.

The plot throughout these thirteen issues is largely devoted to setting the stage. We're introduced to many of the world's heroes and a few villains. We get to see some of Invincible's powers, as well as Omni-Man's. The dynamic between father-and-son superheroes is an absolute joy to read, and I was turning pages quickly to see what would happen next. And wow. When you think you know what's going on, Kirkman throws a curve ball.

To help propel the story we have some fantastic artwork. The illustrators, Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, coupled with the fresh and sharp colors each page offers, make for an excellent feast for the eyes. And, unlike many other superhero comics, Invincible is not afraid to show blood and guts. This striking difference may not be noticed by the casual reader, but as someone that's read a lot of comic books, this was an unexpected delight. The contrast of gore on the immaculately clean panels is, strangely, appealing.

Another thing that I really enjoyed with this collection was how much fun it was. Kirkman weaves some rather witty and fun lines throughout his yarn, and I cracked up more than once. Plus, Kirkman pays tribute to many familiar heroes (Batman, Green Lantern, and many others), and it's obvious how much the man likes the genre. In fact, the whole overall feel and progression of the plot is so fun to read that this volume is over long before you know it.

There's not really anything I disliked about this read. It had everything I was looking for in a comic book and then some. If you're looking for a fresh new superhero comic that's different than your standards, I strongly recommend trying Robert Kirkman's Invincible. My public library has the first five Ultimate Collections, which spans the first 59 issues, and I'm definitely going to be checking these out as time permits.

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