This comic has produced some very intense issues in the past, but this is one of the most intense so far. Angstrom Levy, a guy who has the ability to traverse different dimensions and force others to do the same, has decided to seek revenge on our hero Mark Grayson and his family. So Angstrom terrorizes Invincible, his mother and his adopted son, as Mark is forced to travel from dimension to dimension by the villain. This issue is the flip side of the story from Marvel Team-Up #14, from eight months ago, when Invincible teamed up with Spider-Man. But where that issue is kind of whimsical and silly, this issue is just the opposite.
For me, the most interesting moment happens on page two. Mark returns to his home from a vacation in Africa, only to find Angstrom holding his family hostage. I just love this dialogue:
Angstrom: When you saw me before — when you did this to me — I looked a tad more normal!!
Invincible: Oh, God — you’re that guy…
Angstrom: “That guy?!” That’s all you remember of me? I was that guy?!
It’s spooky because it really gets into the heart of what super-heroes do. Mark casually, without even thinking about it, sent Angstrom down a path in which he became a revenge-obsessed freak of nature, full of awesomely evil destructive passion, willing to do anything to get his vengeance. Super-heroes create little crises every day, with everything that they do, and here Mark is forced to deal with the ramifications of his thoughtless actions. This is compelling stuff, mining the same vein that makes Lex Luthor and Doctor Doom so memorable.
Too much of this intensity would be overwhelming. Thankfully, this comic is leavened by some humor as well. Mark’s trip to a dimension of intelligent talking dinosaurs is quite humorous, and scenes with Doctor Octopus, Batman and zombies are wonderful. This story needed those moments of peace, because the final three pages are intense in ways that are the hallmark of this comic. We’ve seen violence in this comic before, but the intensity of this scene is intense in a uniquely personal way.
Ryan Ottley continues to throw in those little touches that make his work on this series special. The looks on Mark’s face throughout the issue show the pain and struggle he’s feeling and do a good job of setting up the ending. Ottley also does a nice job with the action scenes earlier in the issue, especially the explosion of the walls of Mark’s house as the battle heats up. Ottley is such a good fit for this comic that sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of just expecting him to do quality work, but Ottley is a perfect fit for this series.
The most interesting thing about this comic for me as a long-time reader is how the series kind of reaches its peaks and valleys for action in unexpected ways. The pacing of this series is interesting. Intense violence always seems to be under the surface, about to burst out, but it’s well hidden. Still, even the quieter issues seem to have an undercurrent of violence to them, which sometimes, as in this issue, explodes on the page. Beneath its seemingly calm surface, Invincible is a strikingly interesting meditation on violence and superpowers. The plight of Angstrom Levy is a perfect example of that.