Invincible is an odd read for me. It’s in a universe that I really quite enjoy, and have been a fan of for 96+ issues, and there have been issues and moments that have been transcendent, writing that has been tight, and art that has been top drawer.
Invincible #96 is not it.
Don’t get me wrong, the art is still top drawer, Ryan Ottely continues to be one of the best superhero artists in the business bar none, with expressive heroes and AMAZING action. Not to mention Corey Walker continued his always welcome comeback to the Invincible universe, finishing the epic tale of Robot and Monster Girl on the Flaxan alien world and the truly Shakespearean tragedy that befell them there.
What seems more disconnected then usual (Invincible has a habit of having less of a middle and an end most issues and more a continuation in a storyline) is the pacing. Kirkman’s writing, though entertaining as always in its separate parts, doesn’t seem to connect from one scene to another. It’s an issue full of awkward transitions between drama and comedy. With brotherly love transitioning into bedroom comedy, and a left-field scene between Thragg and his trusted general transitioning back into the bedroom for a bit more awkward comedy. It doesn’t flow, to a jarring degree, and it leaves the series feeling surprisingly aimless… with a one-page scene between the new Invincible and his parents shoe-horned in to give him what looks like a character-centric issue in ninety-seven.
Remember to, OH YEAH, bring up Dinosaurus! Which doesn’t lend the gravitas or the momentum that the build to issue 100 feels like it should have.
Maybe Invincible needs to return fully to Ryan Ottely’s extremely capable hands as things transition back to a Viltrumite War-state of hyper-violence for the series. That was seemingly the last time the series had a strong direction, as that was the direction that Kirkman had seemingly built the series towards since day one.
It could just be that even with TWO Invincibles… this issue was barely about either of them and was more trying to juggle the narratives of a half dozen others. It’s a curse of creating a living breathing universe that’s contained within one (oh wait, with Guarding the Globe, it’s two) series. Still, it leaves us as the readers without a protagonist at best, or with Robot as our defacto protagonist of the arc with Mark Grayson and the new Invincible (former Bulletproof) being shoe-horned in with necessarily quick and unwritten one page story progression, and bedroom gags built around the need to bring up the big-bad.
So, possibly, 100 isn't what they’ll be building towards for something BIG… something to BLOW-OFF, but instead is where Kirkman and Ottely can finally begin to build towards something new again.
If not on a Viltrumite War scale, then at least on an Angstrom Levy scale.
And in case my Invincible fanboy speak is too thick for you let me put it a different way. Invincible has the potential for some amazing things, amazing things that it has been responsible for a number of times already… so maybe it has to grow older before it loosens up and starts having fun again.
Evidently, in issue #100 everyone dies… but if the pacing keeps at this rate, I won’t be given enough time to care about any of them.