Review

Invincible, Volume 11: Happy Days

written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn

Invincible continues to be a bestselling feather in Image’s cap, a quite fun adventure/superhero series about a teen who discovers he’s half human/half alien and that his father, formerly the world’s greatest superhero, has turned evil. And so Mark Grayson assumes the mantle of Invincible and takes on the job of defending the planet from all kinds of evils.

Invincible is deceptively light at times. Author Robert Kirkman has always given the series an incredibly (even for comics) breakneck pace. The story opens with a vignette of Mark on a date with his new girlfriend, Eve (the superhero with the kind of catchy, kind of odd moniker Atom Eve). Eve, with her ability to transmute molecules into other substances, is probably one of the most powerful human beings on the planet, but she takes a backseat to Invincible (a shame, really, because she has potential to be a very fascinating character, but she is written a little dull so far). While on their date, Mark gets called away to the future to deal with a menace who has conquered the world. Their final battle? It takes only two pages. Whereas other series would probably turn such a storyline into a five-issue (or more) saga, Invincible dispenses with the action rapidly. It’s one of its charms. The series seems to be written for those in search of immediate gratification.

And it works. Plots don’t sit on the back burner for ages while the reader waits and waits for something to come to fruition. (Well, to be clear, I should say that there are a few storylines that are biding their time --- most notably the story of Mark’s runaway father, who was supposed to lead the Vitruvian race’s onslaught on earth and subject the humans to their rule. That story has been brewing for the series’ entire life, but it does keep moving forward, slowly but surely, and developments here in HAPPY DAYS show that the invasion may not be all we had once thought it would be.)

The real story, the heart of this book, is Mark’s dealing with his first love (now an ex, of course), who has been abused by her current boyfriend. How a teenager with the power to crumble mountains handles a violent boyfriend is what really makes this series work. The series is not just about cataclysmic battles with would-be world conquerors --- or at least, it’s not overly focused on those things. Those get deservedly short shrift while the book focuses on its real heart: what it means to be human, even if you’re a superpowered one.

Reviewed by John Hogan on August 24, 2009

Invincible, Volume 11: Happy Days
written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn

  • Publication Date: August 24, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • ISBN-10: 1607060620
  • ISBN-13: 9781607060628