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posted April 18, 2005
Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Bill Crabtree, Rus Wooten
Image Comics, 28 pages, $2.95, April 2005
is a serialized superhero comic book about a young person with standard Superman-like superpowers inherited from his father. That his father is a shitheel rather than a noble good guy is the big twist of the comic's early run, and reportedly will make the bulk of the plot for the upcoming movie script treatment of the series. Invincible is also one of the Image titles through which twenty-something Robert Kirkman has been establishing his creator credentials as a quirky writer working in pretty standard genres.
In issue #22, various plot points advance in the general soap opera nature of the title. The primary plot line is the hero's girlfriend figuring out and then having confirmed what her boyfriend is doing with all of his rushed off to alone-time. The most interesting thing about the issue is how much dialogue is crammed into it; Kirkman and Ottley make consistent use of a five-panel tier that Kirkman stuff with chat. It's not exactly narratively dense as much as it's executed with an old-school 1970s Marvel Comics pacing. I would imagine if you were buying a lot of superhero comics, this factor would all but leap out at you.
One of the reasons the creators can uses such a storytelling device is that the art, and really the story, is stripped of detail, and not in that cool Alex Toth way, either. A lot of the visual language employed here depends on idealized stereotypes played against a backdrop of single-colors or unimaginative, nearly empty sets. If the comic, which hits all the buttons of a decency fantasy by making its hero a good kid and giving him attractive friends worthy of wish fulfillment, seems to come across to a reader as a slghtly better than average sitcom, I would think that very apt. The world feels like a series of sets, a broadcast with a low design budget. Invincible seems to have a lot of low-watt charm to it, but the lack of grit or surprising flourishes also means it counts on a shared language of genre expectation to supply meaning. It has the same appeal as any comics you read when you were a kid, when revisiting older materials can still feel brand-new.