For months now, Robert Kirkman had been warning fans that issue #111 of his long-running creator owned title Invincible would usher in a new, darker direction for the book. He has said that Mark Grayson was going to be put through Hell and come out on the other side a different kind of person and hero. It’s a bold statement, but one readers took to heart once they considered what Kirkman has done to Rick Grimes, the main protagonist of his other Image title The Walking Dead over the course of that series.
Honestly, I didn’t think it could get much worse after the events of issue #110, where Mark was attacked and raped by the Viltrumite Anissa right after being dumped by Atom Eve. What else could Kirkman do to Invincible that could possibly be worse?
Turns out a whole lot.
I’m going to avoid spoilers in this review, so all I will say is that Robot, a mainstay of the book almost since issue #1, starts to makes good on his plan that he laid out in Invincible #108. By the time you get to the last page, there is a lot of blood, the death of another member of Invincible’s supporting cast, and the new tone Kirkman talked about is firmly established.
Now, I will admit that I was half afraid that Invincible was going to become “The Walking Dead with superpowers,” which is something I have no interest in reading. That kind of storytelling works incredibly well in a book like The Walking Dead, but I don’t want it in my superhero comics. Invincible is still a comic about superheroes, but what Kirkman has done (and quite masterfully I have to say) is to make the story much more personal and raise the stakes to another level. Instead of fighting aliens or supervillains, this time Mark is going to be fighting a friend with the fate of not only the world in the balance, but the lives of his family. The result is a book that has gone from great to out-freaking-standing.
Invincible also marks Ryan Ottley’s one-hundredth as the penciler of the title, and I really hope he is around for another one hundred at the least. As the story unfolds, we watch as Mark’s world is being turned upside down and throughout he has a look of disbelief on his face that says “I can’t believe all this is happening”. Somehow Ottley manages to do this with a character whose eyes are covered by a mask. It’s impressive work by any measure and only enhanced by the inks of Cliff Rathburn and the colors of John Rauch.
I will readily admit I was late to the party when it came to Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. It was only after getting fed up with the recycled stories and plots of both Marvel and DC that I finally turned to Image and found a superhero comic that was really worth my time and money. Much like Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, Invincible is a perfect example of what makes creator-owned titles so different from their corporate owned counterparts; writers can take chances, make real changes and take the readers along for one hell of a ride.
Invincible #111 is a game-changing issue. Don’t miss it.