By Will Holden
Invincible is a universe of superheroes for the readers who grew up on a healthy diet of superhero comics as children but now are thinking, “I really love superheroes, but I wish they would punch holes through people more often”. If that sounds familiar, then this may well be the comic book for you.
We follow the exploits of Mark Grayson, AKA, Invincible who is the son of Nolan Grayson, AKA Omni-man. At the start of the story, Omni-man is Earths greatest hero. Think of a Superman analogue, even complete with a similar back story. Nolan is an alien called a Viltrumite from the planet Viltrum and thus has powers way beyond that of a normal person. With this in mind, Mark is in an unusual and underused situation for a teenaged and budding superhero – he knows he will get powers, it’s just a matter of time.
The story then goes on to depict the life of Mark and the people around him. Fairly unusually for a superhero comic, we get to see Mark grow through to adulthood and even have a family of his own. Generally, superheroes are icons and cannot really be altered beyond a certain point, they must live static lives so that you can still be sold an issue of Batman and not have to wonder why he hasn’t just killed the Joker by now. This is very much Invincible’ s strength, as where the majority of superhero fare provides the illusion of consequence, in reality these elements become meaningless within a year of publication. For Mark and his friends, family and the other superheroes however, the choices and consequences are real and the effects of these continue to trouble the characters throughout the run.
Now, I know I have billed this as a superhero universe and have then just gone on about the main character, but, there are many very cool superheroes in the cannon of Invincible. Some are familiar pastiches of famous heroes but every character has their own voice and motivations. Many of the heroes have some of the best names I have come across in comics, both cool and absurd, often daft but knowingly so. A few of my favourites are: Rex Splode, who can make things go boom, Multi Paul and Dupli Kate, twins with the power to split into several versions of themselves and Kaboomerang, who throws, you guessed it, exploding boomerangs. There is also a great character called Best Tiger, he is a Chinese gun slinger who can hit anything from almost anywhere. He wears a blindfold leading many of his team mates to believe him blind, much like Daredevil. In actual fact, Best Tiger wears it because superhero-ing would be too easy for him without it.
As I intimated to above, this is a comic for an adult audience, while never gaudy or exploitative, it is highly violent and does not shy away from showing intestines flying out of a gut or some brain dribbling down a smashed skull. The art style is quite cartoony, at least in comparison to other mature comics that tend to lean into realism, but this dissonance between the art style and the visceral actions on panel create a fantastic atmosphere. It never denies it is a superhero comic but takes the notion, what would happen when someone with the power of a tank punches a purse snatcher? And explores this to its natural conclusion. They explode in a shower of blood and organs, of course.
The Invincible comic line and its handful of spin-off books were created by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman and co-creator/ artist Cory Walker, however the majority of the art is done by the incredible Ryan Ottley (of recent Amazing Spider-Man fame).
With that sort of credential, you’d have thought that the Invincible Universe was already a big deal in the vast land of nerdom and in some ways it most definitely is, but for whatever reason it has not reached the heights of The Walking Dead in the collective consciousness.
This may all be about to change as the first trailers for the Invincible animated series, soon to be available via Amazon Prime, have started dropping. Perhaps this is the springboard on which Invincible becomes a household name. (Check out the trailer further down this page)
This whole comic run is also complete, so this is a story you will never have to worry about being cancelled, it’s also quite recent and has been released in many different formats making it easy to get your hands on. I would recommend you do so.
5 Kaboomerangs out of 5.