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Invincible: A Hard Impression pt. 1

Posted On Sunday, January 29, 2017

Inarguably, the Death of Superman has been the greatest comic event to impact my life.  It brought me in, introduced me and made me fall in love with the form of comics.  And while that's a hallmark that may never be surmounted...that doesn't mean it hasn't been challenged.  Invincible (Skybound/Image Comics), the superhero drama series created by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker (later joined by Ryan Ottley who's penciled a VAST majority of the series), has earned a significant space in my heart and my bookshelves.  And with the imminent beginnings of its last story arc (Kirkman announced the series would be ending last summer) hitting comic shops this week, I wanted to take a nostalgic look back through the series, which has quietly (and at many times NOT SO quietly) mentored my comic book reading and writing.

Despite touting the slogan "The Best Superhero Comic in the Universe!", Invincible is the oft unsung big brother to Kirkman's commercially applauded, zombie franchise, The Walking Dead.  Premiering in 2003 (Invincible #1 hit stores in Jan., while TWD didn't launch until Oct.), I am sorru to say that I missed the train on both of these titles.  But while The Walking Dead, really wasn't my cup of tea at the time (hell...back then, I didn't even drink tea, let alone have a brand...), I AM still kicking myself for not snatching up that first print run of Invincible.

But to be fair, the cover WAS a little boring!  LOL.

In actuality, I was becoming a more discerning consumer of my comics, waiting for a bit more word-of-mouth vetting, before I plopped down my few extra dollars to add anything to my reading list.  And that glowing review came in the pages of Wizard Magazine!  In an article, placed right before the price guides, they blasted Invincible as a great series that we ALL were sleeping on, highlighting it's great art (at the hands of Walker) as well as the characters and story that Kirkman had tucked into every page.  It was all the push I needed and I with a deft purchase of issue #4 -- I was hooked.

One part parody, one part homage, all parts super -- Invincible was my beacon.  At a time when taking superheroes seriously meant high concept deconstructionist writings, with attitudinal renditions of iconic archetypes, Invincible was a hold out; acknowledging all of the Silver Age-y tropes worth teasing about, while simultaneously pushing things forward in a way that was accessible and most importantly -- FUN!  Filled with characters that were cooly unique, while obviously familiar, the series read like a quippy, modern take on classic collections.

Okay...I admit it.  By the introduction of the Guardians of the Globe (the Justice League hat-tip that premiered in issue #7), I thought the series was going to be JUST that -- a few alterations to fun ideas that's all.  And for a few months, I stopped reading.  (I know, I know...)

And then, IT happened...Invincible #12.

The spotlight was recast in a real, BIG way, when the series took a detour from it's safe haven path, revealing that series regular, Omni-Man (Superman archetype and the titular lead, Invincible's father), was SECRETLY an alien scout, intent to take over the Earth -- murdering his Guardians of the Globe teammates and BEATING his son to near death in an existential display of the frailty of human existence!!  (Oh...spoiler alert, btw)

The entire scope of where the series could go was turned on it's head -- a trait that Kirkman has since cultivated into his particular brand of storytelling.  And while in retrospect, I thought the series jumped the shark with that move (I'll get to that in the next piece), it brought me back to the fold, stalking release dates for the next installment.  This on-again-off-again style of our relationship would remain throughout the duration of the title, but I promise, it was never in malice.  Just as Invincible affected my tastes and attention as a reader, its impressions on me as a writer ran wide and deep.  But I'll save that story for next time, too!

Read: A Hard Impression Part 2

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