Without a doubt one of the best “indie” superhero comics of all time, Invincible is the story of a young man learning to deal with incredible powers and a troubled legacy. When Hannah at my LCS first convinced me to buy this book, she did so by saying that it was like if Peter Parker’s dad was Superman. And that is EXACTLY what it is like. Except that it isn’t. It doesn’t feel derivative at all because the characters seem so honest.
In issue #60, the “Invici-verse” suffered a major shake-up in teh form of a single issue “cross-over event” called “Invincible War”. It featured major destruction and now we are dealing with (as the cover boldly proclaims) the aftermath.
Invincible is a great character. He is good person in situations. The result is morally ambiguous dialogue cut through by decisive action. When talking about it, the characters all express fairly valid world views, but then it is time to act and Invincible does what he knows to be right. It works because he is essentially a kid, so he is being pulled in all different directions, but he is decent and moral so he eventually does the right thing.
That, more than the beautiful artwork or fun action, has held this book afloat for more than 60 issues. Seeing Invincible struggle to make sense of his world, and then act on his newly formed convictions is a thrilling thing to see.
What did not work:
In the previous issue, evil versions of Invincible wrecked major world cities and killed millions of people. Easily the worst day in the history of the planet. And already, in the 5th panel of the aftermath issue, famous heroes are stepping up to Invincible’s defense. This is exactly the kind fo tragedy that can shake loyalties and make people say and do irrational things. This is what I am getting at. think back to 9-11. I bet you, like most Americans, felt, thought, and possibly even said some things which you would now consider to be racist. You were hurt, and frightened, and you just went with your gut. I am not saying that you acted in a racist way, but your reactions were not based one you LIFETIME of experience, but rather just the powerful impact of that one morning.
With a little bit of distance you can re-calibrate and get some perspective on something like this. It just rings a bit false, and a bit too easy, to have everyone already rallying by Invincible’s side. Everyone has accepted the fact that his father flipped from hero to villain…..sometimes you just don’t know someone as well as you think you do…..but even in the face of this global mega-disaster their knee jerk response if one of friendship and loyalty?
I don’t mean this as nit-pick of fictional character’s behaviors. Maybe that IS the way that Savage Dragon woudl respond. I mean this as disappointment over a lost dramatic opportunity. Kirkman takes the bold step of essentially wiping out all of his past continuity. None of those little human problems matter anymore. But, he seems to be already re-establishing the status quo. Everything Invincible knows is gone or shaken up, but he is already getting confirmation that he is still loved and trusted. When mistrust and resentment would make SO much sense at this moment, why give that back to him. He is hating and doubting himself for what happened, so why not pile on?
When Brian Bendis recently pulled a very similar move with Spider Woman in Secret Invasion, it didn’t quite feel right. Somehow, the weight just wasn’t behind it But that weight is here. It woudl make perfect sense for even his family to turn against him. It was HIS FACE they saw grinning as his duplicates murdered nations. I can see not being able to look at the face without feeling deep revulsion and dread, regardless of what you knew of him before. In a situation like this, there IS no before.
Why make such a decisive and book-changing move if you are then going to immediately start cleaning the wound and softening the blow?