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Review: Invincible #103, Invincible Universe #3

Invincible #103

Invincible 103In the Invinciverse (I think I coined this word!), things are still a lot shaky after Mark freed Dinosaurus and inadvertently caused the deaths of thousands of people worldwide. But despite that guilt weighing on Mark and the other supers working for Cecil, a lot is afoot: Mark’s engaged, his fiancé is pregnant, his father is the head of the Viltrumite Empire, and, oh yeah, Angstrom Levy’s just returned to dish out a new can of whoop ass to Mark, who he’s shot into a less than savory situation.

Robert Kirkman delivers a great story, with this issue not so much focused on the superhero troubles as on domestic goings-on, a well-earned bit of downtime from the chaos of the last story arc that allows Kirkman to better develop Mark and Eve’s relationship, and showcase the trials Nolan is facing in his new role as Emperor.

I keep Invincible on my pull list because it offers balance: superheroes, domesticity, violence (and usually outrageously so! See issue #102), and humor. Plus, there’s just something to be said about the relief of a smaller publisher like Image carrying an outstanding and wholly likable superhero book. Kirkman’s writing isn’t anything to marvel at in this issue, but Invincible #103 ranges successfully across a lot of narrative space.

I do appreciate Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn’s art, since it’s got a semi-mainstream feel but is always exaggerative in mockery of exaggerated nature of superhero comics in general. Faces are either too round or too angular; muscles are as beefy as Hulk or scrawny as, well, me; and everything is mega THWOOM! and doom, even outside of battle. In short, the art is great fun, just as liberating as the humor and casually explosive violence! I also admit that I am particularly fond of the way Eve is drawn—she’s not a stick-figure, she has curves, but not in a porn-star sort of way…she’s just a real woman! And that’s something you just don’t see often in any comics drawn to mainstream style (something like Saga or Hellboy stands outside of this style, with the focus more on the narrative role of the art, rather than on the sexualized appearance of the characters).

I’m looking forward to seeing where Kirkman brings the return of Angstrom Levy, and to see Mark take on the next big challenge. And I hope Eve’s OK, too!

Story: Robert Kirkman  Art: Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn
Story: 7  Art: 7.5  Overall: 7.5  Recommendation: Read

Invincible Universe #3

invincible-universe-3Invincible Universe replaced Image’s previous title, Guarding the Globe, and sort of works like the old Marvel Spotlight books, with different characters being featured, though the first two issues were more of a team book. Invincible Universe #3 focuses entirely on El Chupacabra, a single-issue story tackling Francisco Vasquez’s drinking problem and his effort to apologize to those he’s hurt via good ole Alcoholics Anonymous methods.

Phil Hester brings us to Serbia, to the family farm of Cast Iron, El Chupacabra’s former super-partner who died because Francisco was too drunk to defend himself. Hester’s plot is full of the sort of stereotypes Americans and Western Europeans have of Eastern Europe and its inhabitants, as the Stojakovic family are a corrupt, power-hungry mafia bullying a whole rural region into submission via extortion and threat of pain. While Hester does lay some poignant historical easter eggs (e.g. to the communist dictator Tito), these aren’t enough to win my adoration of Invincible Universe #3. It’s solidly written, but I’m torn between what to dislike more: the bastardization of Serbia (yet another reason why people will think Eastern Europe is full of criminals) or the awkward situation created when Francisco doesn’t like how the criminal Stojakovics respond to his apology, so he beats ’em to a pulp and sends off to international jail (a feat somewhat justified, but perhaps not what an AA penitent should be doing).

But it’d be unfair to too harshly criticize a book because it takes advantage of media stereotypes, especially when warranted by the plot, and considering that most major books impinge on stereotypes once in a blue moon. On the brighter side, Todd Nauck provides art more detailed than what usually appears in Invinciverse issues, but which still captures the exaggerative nuances of the artistic style preferred for these sorts of books, and which on the whole looks rather great.

While I loved Invincible Universe #1 and #2, I can’t say I enjoyed this one greatly, aside from visually. My experience with Eastern Europe has tainted my view of the comic, but other, less politically-biased opinions can be found at Comic Book Roundup.com, which provides links to four other reviews. If you’re a fan of the Invinciverse, you’ll want to read this issue—the book will likely be around for a while (hopefully), and the stories are a great compliment to Invincible.

Story: Phil Hester  Art: Todd Nauck
Story: 6  Art: 8  Overall: 7  Recommendation: Read

Image provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review