Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Retro Review #6 : Invincible Trade Vol. 4

Here's a quick Retro Review that I had forgotten to publish to hold you over until I get back on track :-)
Invincible Volume 4 : Head of the Class (2004)

Story by Robert Kirkman
Art by Ryan Ottley

For the longest time now, people have been telling me that I have to read this book. “You’ll love it”, they would say “It’s about a teenager who gets superpowers and has to deal with being a hero and having a normal life.” Riiiight, because I’ve never read such a story before.

So my neighbor lent me his hardcover collection of the first 13 issues (thanks Archie!) so I could see what all the fuss was about. I read through the entire 13 issues in a single evening because I could not bring myself to put this book down. I had been missing out.

If you have never read this title, stop reading this and go out and get it now…go ahead, I’ll wait for you to get back.

The story starts in familiar territory: a superhero named Omni-Man has a child who develops superpowers in his teen years and the kid decides to become a superhero named Invincible. What makes Invincible so different is that the books are bright and fun. Robert Kirkman does a wonderful job of rewarding longtime readers with surprises and hidden treasures. For example : In the first few issues, Mark the main character, realizes his powers have kicked in when he is taking out a bag of garbage at Burger Mart. As he throws the bag up into the dumpster, he inadvertently launches the bag into the stratosphere with his new super-strength. Much later in the collection (about 6-8 issues I think) a man is walking his dog in England when, out of nowhere, something falls out of the sky and lands next to him. He looks down to see a garbage bag with containers from Burger Mart.

Volume 4, which contains issues 13-19 plus a Free Comic Book Day short story, picks up after the devastating events that ended Volume 3. Our young hero has to deal with the repercussions of those events, along with graduating high school, dealing with a girlfriend who is suspicious of where he keeps running off to, and being a part-time member of a teen superhero group. Once again, we get setup for a future joke, at graduation when everyone tosses their caps in the air, Mark’s does not return to the ground.

The art by Ryan Ottley is very well done and refreshing, helping to keep the positive tone of the books. Kirkman excels at overlaying multiple plots and storylines without it feeling too overcrowded. You will definitely find yourself laughing out loud in between the decent drama and intense action sequences.

While most of the bigger companies are publishing dark and gloomy comics, Invincible is a pleasant distraction. By the way, the introduction to Volume 4 by Mark Waid is hilarious.

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