Invincible Volume 2: Eight Is Enough. Containing Invincible #5-8
Written by Robert Kirkman. Art by Cory Walker (Chapter 1 and 2), Terry Stevens, Matt Roberts, Mark Englert, Dave Johnson, Cliff Rathburn. (Chapter 3), Ryan Ottley (Chapter 4). Colour by Bill Crabtree.
Welcome back folks, to the next chapter in our COMICS RETROSPECTIVE revisiting the increasingly darker world of Robert Kirkman's Invincible. Last week our journey began as we met young Mark Greyson, and took his first stumbling steps down the path to becoming the superhero known as Invincible! Steps that involved his classmates being turned into bombs, super-villains trying to steal game consoles, and a trip to the tailors. A pretty action-packed week, all told.
This time around, things won't be quite so rosy, though...
Chapter 1 begins with a simple task. Mark's father, Omni-man, is busy saving the world from an unknown evil, so Invincible has to give his homework a rest for a bit, so that he can deal with a nefarious alien, and his oddly-scheduled attacks on Earth.
And this is how we meet one of the most popular recurring characters in the series: Allen the Alien! He may look like a swole Earthworm Jim, but trust me, there's a reason he's so popular!
Mark's first run-in with him isn't great, though. You see, Allen is actually pretty badass, and smacks Invincible around pretty easily. Thankfully, while he may lack compared to his father in many ways, Invincible is far better at communicating. And his ability to talk to his foes yields surprising results...
Misunderstanding resolved, Allen goes about his business and Invincible is free to return to Earth, where he must defeat the most powerful villain he's ever faced:
Chapter Two is slightly more earth-bound, and find Mark and his best friend William (who should not be called Will, and NEVER Billy) as they go on their greatest adventure yet: College!
A fun time is had by all. They explore the dorms, meet some new people, get attacked by zombie robots, and William rants about the injustices faced by those with long names, who dislike being called by shorter versions of their names. Fun times.
Oh, the Zombie robots thing, yeah...
See, it's not just the nice recurring characters we meet, in this book. We also meet one of the more frequently seen villains as well. The robo-zombie monstrosities known as "The Reanimen". Terrible name.
When one breaks loose and starts causing havoc amongst the student bodies, Mark quickly dons his hero outfit to thrash the monster soundly.
Only one problem... Turns out William is a little sharper than most comedy sidekicks.
This is going to cause a problem. Maybe. Maybe not, William seems pretty cool. I guess we'll have to wait and see, won't we?
So, students saved, secret revealed, and college choice locked in, Mark returns home...
Where his parents have spent the entire day having round after round of superpower sex. Because, I mean, wouldn't you, if you had the chance?
Yup. All is good with the world.
Or is it?
Because while all this light fluffiness has been occurring, bad things are happening.
The hero known as Black Sampson has lost his powers. Despondent, he's reached out to Art, to make him a supersuit that will allow him to rejoin the fight. But when the suit is stolen, things start to look grim for all involved.
In the meantime, the Guardians are one member down, and our good friend Robot has been asked to join. While this is a huge plus for him, it does mean that if he gets in, he'll be shutting down the Teen Team.
Maybe the world isn't THAT great?
Chapter Three begins with Mark sleeping deeply, recovering from the hard few days he's had. So, how about we stop in with some of the other heroic types, that fill out this world?
Chapter 3 introduces us to the fabled Guardians of the Globes. We've heard about them a lot, now it's finally time to MEET them!
Firstly, we're introduced to Darkwing. Who lives in Midnight City, where it's always night, and fights crime using his array of gadgets and his peak physical conditioning. We first meet him as he's arresting some ne'er-do-wells who are doing some crime, before he's called away and leaves on his WingJet.
Next up, is Red Rush. A Russian man who's always rushin'. He has a bright red suit and is capable of moving and incredibly speeds. He also makes a lot of jokes, and has a wife named Iris. Presumably...
The next Guardian we meet is War Woman. A godlike lady with superhuman strength, speed, durability, and exceptional combat skills. Do you see where I'm going with this?
We take a dip to Atlantis next, to meet Aquarus. He's a fish, and seems bored a lot.
From the depths of the ocean, to the wilds of space, next up is Martian Man. Martian Man is a shapeshifter, due to his Martian heritage. He also has a really cool cape. When we meet him, he's battling a robot worm thingy in space, alongside newest Guardians recruit:
Green Ghost. Who has the power to control green light, and can control his density, due to being made from the same green glow. This guy actually seems much cooler than the hero he's based on. Which is nice.
Last, but by no means least is The Immortal. His power is basically that he's a better version of Invincible. But also kind of a dick.
So there they are, folks. The Guardians of the Globe. Get to know them, get to love them. We're going to be seeing a lot of them, in the coming weeks.
Haha, just kidding, they're all dead.
Yup. Set 'em up, just to knock em down.
The Guardians of the Globe, the premier hero team in the world of Invincible just got utterly destroyed in a single page. Moments after being introduced.
So the question then becomes: Who did this?! Who has the power, the skill and the guts to take on the greatest heroes ever assembled, AND WIN?
Oh no... This is going to be an issue, isn't it?
Chapter Four is the aftermath, of the craziness that was Chapter Three.
Mark and Nolan attend the funeral of the Guardians, which is attended by the great and the good of the superhero community (look out for special guest; Savage Dragon!). Even a few villains turn up, to pay their respects. But, of course, when you have that many heroes gathered, someone HAS to show up and act the fool. Although, it's not quite the person you're expecting...
Yes, tragedy has beset all sides, in the world of Invincible. Kinda makes you miss the fluffiness of the earlier chapters, doesn't it?
And worst of all, worse even than the massacre of a whole team of superheroes at the hands of Mark's father.
Worse than the fact he seems to have gotten away with it scott free...
Eve caught Rex cheating on her!!!
Why this book is so good:
Oh boy, this is where things get rough.
Invincible, Vol 1 is a decent book. It's a strong intro for the character and has a few hints of darkness to it. but Vol 2 is where things really start to kick off.
The absolute gut punch of Omni-man's reveal, and the massacre of the Guardians of the Globe is SUCH an amazing twist, especially coming so early in the books.
My jaw hit the floor, after spending a whole issue introducing the Guardians, and having them mentioned so many times up until now, to just wipe them all out right away... That was the point that I knew Kirkman wasn't messing about. This wasn't just another capes and fists hero comic. He was going for something a bit different.
Kirkman's writing continues to toe the fine balance between sombre and superficial.
The idea of Omni-man, Defender of Democracy, calling home to ask his son for an assist makes total sense. He's got two jobs to do and even he's not good enough to be in two places at once. It's only natural to ask for help.
But then ending the conversation by asking Mark to relay to his mother than Nolan would like steak for dinner just cracks me up.
It's this balance of the superhuman and the mundane that makes Invincible such a treat to read.
There's enough spandex and visualised sound effects to remind you, constantly, that you're reading a superhero comic, but then there's these little slices of the domesticity dropped in, to remind you that this is still a family business.
It makes the characters all the more relatable for me. You don't just see Omni-man fighting the good fight, making sure that the world is safe. You also see him in bed at night with his wife. Planning on writing a new book, to ensure the have enough money to put their kid through college.
It makes you really feel for, and relate to these characters. Which makes it all the worse, a few pages later, when you see a blood drenched Omni-man standing over the corpses of a team of heroes he's just murdered.
I'm sure he had a good reason to do that, though. Right?
I guess we'll find out next week...
The art was up and down, this volume. Cory Walker's work continues to deeply satisfy, in the first two chapters. But when we hit Chapter 3, things get a little trickier. Guest artists are brought in, to ensure that each member of the Guardians of the Globe has a distinct feel to their introduction. To really make it feel like you're reading excerpts from their own 'standalone' comics.
In theory, this is an excellent idea, and it does sort of work. The problem is, I really didn't like some of the artists that were picked. The clash of styles, and crudity of some of the artwork felt jarring, especially when compared to the clean, simple linework of Walker that I so enjoy.
Sadly, due to some behind the scenes stuff, Cory Walker had to step back from the series. He returns on occasion, but the main body of the art from here on in will be handled by Ryan Ottley. Which I'm totally fine with, because Ottley's style is similar enough to Walker's that there's no real disconnect for the readers, it doesn't FEEL like a change in artist, which is good. Plus, Ottley is EXCELLENT at the kind of fast-paced, brutal action that will become Invincible's calling card, from here on out. So, while Walker will obviously be missed, he left the book in very capable hands.
Overall, Invincible Volume 2 is an excellent followup. While Volume 1 was focused on showing us the main characters, Volume 2 introduced us to the world we'll be living in, from now on, and showed us just how horrific it can be, on occasion.
And I hate to say it. but there's far worse to come.
So join me next week, for Invincible Volume 3: Perfect Strangers. When everything goes so, so wrong.
If you want to read along with me, you can find every issue of Kirkman's Invincible on Comixology, collected volumes on Amazon, or better yet, at your local comic store!