Ten volumes (and 63 monthly issues) into its run, Invincible remains my favorite superhero comic currently being published. It’s not perfect, and it still has a way to go to match the heights of the greats in the field, but against the often bleak, disconnected and thoroughly joyless fare of much of today’s superhero fare, Invincible is a fun-filled standout.
Perhaps it’s because Invincible is not bogged down in decades of continuity or cross-company promotions and major “event” tie-ins. Writer Robert Kirkman is able to exercise free reign over his creation (there is, I should mention, a crossover with several of the other superheroes in Image’s line within the opening pages of WHO’S THE BOSS?, but it doesn’t feel forced or out of line --- it just functions as a way of anchoring Invincible within the constructs of this particular universe).
WHO’S THE BOSS? finds Invincible yet again questioning the foundations on which he’s built not only his superhero identity but his very life. The young man, now in college, is the product of a Superman-like alien and a human mother. Past volumes told of how Mark Grayson discovered not only that his father, the superhero Omniman, turned out in truth to be the herald of an evil, destructive alien race bent on destroying Earth. Mark donned the guise of Invincible and fought against his more powerful father --- and nearly died in the process.
With his father half a universe away, Mark went to work for Cecil Stedman, head of an ultra-secret government agency charged with protecting Earth from any threat. So far, Mark has done his job well, even while balancing the hormonal and emotional angst of any typical teenager.
Those days are over, it seems. When Invincible discovers what Cecil has really been up to, everything changes, forming the basis of the plotline of WHO’S THE BOSS? (clever supporting plots carry out the theme, including Invincible’s new romantic relationship with molecular-altering Atom Eve; the training of Invincible’s powerful half-brother; and even the prospect of the hero’s moving back in with his mother…who is dating).
Ably brought to life by artist Ryan Ottley, Invincible is the kind of escapist variety that used to make superhero books so much fun. That Kirkman still hasn’t lost that, after almost seven years, is a testament to his carefully thought out envisioning of the character and the series. As it continues on, he finds new ways to keep the series exciting, and still a sheer joy to read.
As always with Invincible collections, the back material is a nice bonus. This time, it includes alternate cover and interior art and a very interesting discussion on whether or not the violence in Invincible --- admittedly very bloody and graphic --- would fly at another major comic publisher.
Reviewed by John Hogan on May 20, 2009
Invincible, Volume 10: Who's the Boss?