Invincible is the kind of comic that makes you want to go out and create comics. Its effortless awesomeness, great characters, and ideally engrossing stories are what comics are all about. No publisher-spanning story arcs that interfere with character development, no sudden change of artist or author to confuse the book’s aesthetic—just pure art. In short, it’s the best superhero comic out there right now.
I’ve been in love with Invincible since the very first issue. It all begins with the familiar premise of a teenager discovering his superpowers, and it expands into an entirely realistic, well-paced biography of a great hero. By book 14, the pervasive threat of the imperialistic Viltrumite race has finally hit Invincible and his allies full-force, and the book reaches its first “entire universe is in peril” moment in 10 years. It’s not a book that has ever relied upon hyperbole to be effective, but when author Robert Kirkman uses it, he’ll tear out a little part of your heart. Even without it, Invincible would never go stale.
Here’s the short story: The population of Invincible’s superpowered race is dwindling, and in order to repopulate, they need Earth people. They also really, really want to kill Invincible and his dad for getting in their way on previous invasion attempts. Instead of waiting for the Viltrumites to attack Earth, Invincible and an excellent cast of supporting characters proactively attack the Viltrumites, igniting the titular war—which lasts for about a year, all within the pages of this volume.
Invincible, though, has transformed from its early, lighthearted days, and at this point in the story, things have become incomparably bloody. This is just what happens as your powers develop and intensify as you grow older and fight increasingly powerful bad guys. Sometimes, one of the bad guys puts his fist right through you and literally rips out your guts as you choke him to death. Arms get ripped off, blood drips from everything, and the peril of the universe never seemed more engrossing. So, yes—it’s become a very, very violent book. One might call it gratuitous without realizing the slow, methodical amplification of Invincible’s circumstances, but if you’ve invested yourself in this slow build toward the Viltrumite invasion, it really makes sense. You can’t have a worldwide invasion without a lot of blood and guts—and it also pushes out any profanity or sex that might cause a problem.
It’s not impossible to start reading Invincible from this point, but it’s much more engrossing when you read it from the beginning. The art is absolutely stunning throughout, alternately beautiful and terrifying, and always graphically heroic and inspiring. This has been my series of the year for the past nine years, and volume 14 is no different.
Reviewed by Collin David on May 10, 2011
Invincible, Vol. 14: The Viltrumite War