Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artists: Ryan Ottley (p,i), Bill Crabtree (colors)
Publisher: Image Comics
With this issue, Robert Kirkman brings a number of his ongoing plots to a resolution, as Earth's heroes battle the Martian mind-controllers, the heroes left behind deal with some reptilian terrorists, and Invincible's girlfriend faces her own, more mundane, woes. There's a lot going on in each and every issue of this comic, which makes the issues difficult to review as self-contained chunks, but all the ongoing plots are a nice reminder of the days when superhero comics weren't chopped up into often aloof and disconnected storylines. Real life, after all, isn't divided into trade paperbacks.
That said, the plotting is secondary in this title, as Kirkman's strength continues to be his strong grasp of characterisation, and his storylines serve mainly to drive forward changes and developments in his cast's personalities. The titular protagonist is the best example; every time Invincible goes off on a mission, we see a new side of him developed and new growth in his superheroic persona. There really is a feel that Invincible is going to be a major, Superman-like, hero one day, and what we're seeing in this comic is everything that leads up to that. Sort of like an Image version of Smallville, only without the bad acting and coffee-shop soundtrack. The supporting cast also benefit, as Kirkman makes them seem more than just set-dressing; their individual problems, needs and desires seem just as real and important as Invincible's.
Ryan Ottley's clean-line linework and dynamic storytelling, combined with Bill Crabtree's vivid colours, result in a bright and confident looking comic that somehow still manages to convey darker drama, such as Rex's apocalyptic battle with the Lizard League, as well as it does the uplifting superhero and mundane soap opera bits. For all that it might look, to the casual viewer, like Saturday morning cartoon stuff, Ottley and Crabtree's style is incredibly versatile, and each month this art team produces one of the best-looking superhero comics on the stands.
I don't know friendly Invincible is to new readers, as that sense of a real, complex world that I enjoy so much might be impenetrable for the neophyte. That aside, this is a good strong superhero comic, and that's all that really counts as far as that score on the top of the page goes.
(Still, if you're on the fence, give issue #42 a go. It will be cheaper than a normal issue, and will provide a recap of the series so far.)
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