Invincible #18

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Ryan Ottley
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

It’s hard to believe that it was just two years ago that Invincible #1 first appeared on the market. Part of a group of books launched at the same time at Image, Invincible has not only stuck around, but managed to increase its sales over time in a marketplace where the reverse is what normally happens. Now that the book’s been established for a while, it’s time to ask the question: quality-wise, how’s it doing?

Mark’s life isn’t going too badly. As the superhero Invincible, he’s saving people on an almost-daily basis. He’s finally done with high school and going to college in just two weeks. His girlfriend still hasn’t figured out his secret, although she is starting to wonder what’s going on with him. Now he’s off on a secret mission to Mars to guard a group of astronauts… without the astronauts knowing about it.

One of the first things that struck me when I was done reading Invincible #18 was that for the most part, this was a story that had a beginning, middle, and end all in the same issue. That doesn’t sound like much, but with more and more comics (especially in the superhero genre) angling towards long, drawn-out multi-part stories, having a story in a single issue is refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some subplots from previous issues that make an appearance, and this issue has clearly set up a sequel down the line, but the story itself is pretty self-contained. Another big attraction towards Invincible is that Robert Kirkman has kept a good sense of fun running throughout the book. From Mark’s girlfriend’s theory on why Mark keeps vanishing, to his discovery with what the Martians plan to do with the astronauts, there’s a good attitude present here that recognizes that not all books should be dark or grim; bad things can happen in Invincible, but you always get a sense that the good guys will win in the end.

Artist Ryan Ottley took over drawing the book from original series artist Cory Walker about a dozen issues ago, and at this point Ottley’s clearly made the book his own. Like Walker, Ottley has a nice clean art style, one that draws the characters with a minimal number of lines that gives the characters an almost fresh look. There’s a lot to like about it, but it’s some of the smaller touches that really grabbed my attention, like the fact that characters have hair that has curls and tufts out of place, or the way that the clouds of smoke and steam curl about the launch site of a space ship taking off. Ottley just makes the characters and their surroundings look real while keeping his own art style intact. Add in a good sense of storytelling, with easy to follow panel progressions, and Ottley makes sure that Invincible looks as good as it reads.

Invincible isn’t as good as when it debuted: it’s better. I’ve been reading the series in collected form, but I had enough fun with dipping back into reading just a single issue that I may just shift back to experiencing it this way. Walker and Ottley make sure that each issue is a rewarding experience in its own right, and getting to read that on a regular basis sounds awfully good to me. If you haven’t read Invincible yet, don’t be afraid to try an issue; Kirkman and Ottley have made sure that it’s easily accessible to new readers. Better yet, once you’ve read it, the series is being continually collected so catching up should be a breeze. There’s a lot of fun just waiting for you.

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