Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Invincible Moment of Clarity

Invincible, if you don't know, is a superhero comic published by Image and written by Robert Kirkman. Invincible is Mark Grayson, the son of the world's greatest superhero, who inherits his dad's powers and sets out to fight crime. I've been reading the entire run and now, at 110 issues in, I'm seriously considering whether I want to keep reading.

When Mark first put on the tights the tone of the book was optimistic, practically Silver Age. Over time, bad things happened to people, and people did bad things, but the book did maintain a sense of humor and a joy in superheroics that made it fun to read. But then things just kept getting darker and darker, and the fun moments grew further and further apart.

Issue 110 is pretty devastating for the main character on multiple levels, which I'm not going to discuss because A. SPOILERS and B. the details aren't important to my point. Suffice to say it crosses a pretty big line the series hasn't crossed before, which is saying something in a book where this happened:

Our hero headbutts a man to death.

Which did not give me a lot of pause, strangely enough. But I finished reading 110 this evening, and when I put it down I thought to myself: "Do I really want to keep reading this series?"

Technically there's nothing wrong with the writing, let me make that clear right now. Kirkman's treating superheroes honestly and the dialogue is always spot on. Kudos to the man.

What bothers me is twofold: one, the book has gotten so dark that I have trouble enjoying maybe half the issues I read, and two, the central conflict of the series has gotten so muddied that I can't see an end in sight. Mark's spent most of the series preparing the fight the alien Viltrumite Empire, and


at this point he's basically won. The Viltrumites are vanquished and under new management, Earth is as safe as it ever gets and who cares if everything goes to shit in a thousand years? The only central conflict left seems to be whether Mark himself will go bad, and well FACEPLANT! I don't mind dark moments if they're escalating towards a resolution, but a bloody slog to nowhere in particular is not something I enjoy.

I should note that Kirkman is also the author of The Walking Dead, which has been running for about as long as Invincible and catches similar accusations of getting unreadably bleak. But The Walking Dead is a damn zombie series, it's supposed to go that way. I jumped onto Invincible and read it this long because it showed the happy fun side of being a superhero. Now it leans more towards the Happy Fun Ball side of being a superhero.

I'll probably read at least the next issue, because - like I said! - Kirkman's got me wanting to know what happens next. But I can't help wondering why.

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