Invincible Compendium One

September 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

invincible1Invincible Compendium One by Robert Kirkman, et al.

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So, I had no idea that Robert Kirkman wrote anything other than The Walking Dead, so I was surprised when I read that this series would be coming to an end. As much as I like The Walking Dead, I wanted to check out Invincible, too, and I figured why not go whole hog into it? So I splurged for the first compendium so I could get “introduced” to the character.

To say that a lot happens here is no surprise; this collection is 1,092 pages long. We learn Invincible’s secret identity, origin, trials, successes, failures, glory, and see his entire life turn upside down at least twice. We also see a lot of things happen that don’t usually happen in superhero comics. One hero quits all together to devote her life to helping people in ways other than just catching the bad guys. The stories aren’t quite a deconstruction of the genre, like you’d find from Alan Moore, but there’s enough self-awareness there for some fun inside jokes. (Look for Charlie Brown in the first dozen or so pages.)

This compendium collects the first 47 issues (and then some), so there are about six different story arcs happening here. It was interesting to read them back-to-back like this, since I could see how Kirkman set up the recurring characters, themes, and storylines. It was fun to see how something minor that happened in the first issue (Mark throwing a bag of trash into a dumpster, only to huck it into high altitude) showed back up in the sixth issue or so (the same bag of trash landing in a heap somewhere in England several weeks later). This is just one example, too; there were a handful of seemingly random events that took on more of a level of importance later in the series.

Kirkman applies this same principle to the characters, too. The anti-superhero themes we see here serve more of a purpose than just to be different; they’re central to the characters of the story. That one hero quits to do a different kind of good speaks more to her own character than anything else, and when we revisit that character later in the story, we learn more of why she made that decision. Other heroes die; their deaths aren’t just to increase sales; they’re meant to give more depth and meaning to the characters, and most of them stay dead. Those who don’t stay dead don’t come back through some meaningless trope; their resurrection makes sense, and serve their own growth as well as the development of the story. Even the one death that seemed to serve the purpose just to motivate another character was turned around to be something different.

The title is clever, and surprising, and well-told. For the most part, I’ve given up on superhero comics because so many of them are carbon copies of each other, but Invincible is something else entirely. Anyone else who finds themselves thinking the same thing about the genre would do well to give this title a try.

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