Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why I Won't Be Reading Invincible After The Big 100

This post contains some spoilers for the series Invincible. However, the stuff I'm spoiling happened a while ago, and not many people read this book.

Today's a big day for our buddy Robert Kirkman. Today, the 100th issue of Invincible comes out. For those of you who read only popular comic books, Invincible began, at least from my understanding, as a sort of parody book of other superhero comics. However, it quickly came into its own as a legitimate story. It revolves around Mark Grayson, a teenager whose dad is Omni-Man, the world's most famous imitation of Kal-El. In issue one, Mark's powers materialize, Children of the Atom style. From then on, he has big spandex to fill as he joins his father and a universe full of other heroes as he combats whatever happens that day.

Invincible holds a special place in my heart; it's the only comic (with a numbering of over 50) of which I've read every issue. So much has happened since the series began: Omni-Man's betrayal, the conflict with Angstrom Levy, the battle with Conquest, and the Viltrumite War stand out as key moments.

Also, this happens. Much more than you'd think.
 And today, it all comes to a head with the advertised "Death of Everyone" in the centennial issue. After today, however, I'm done with all of it.

"Why so much disdain? Didn't you see the orange dude punch a hole in that guy's head?" said the voice I made up to ask me hypothetical questions. It's not because of the art or the macabre beauty that I'm discontinuing my readership - it's our buddy Kirkman.

But...the skunk!
Robert Kirkman is a very talented man. His other books such as The Astounding Wolf-Man and Thief of Thieves are impressive, and he's made The Walking Dead into a juggernaut of a franchise. Invincible was a great book, too. Notice the "was."

Invincible just hasn't been the same since "The Viltrumite War" storyline. From its conception, Invincible's end-all, be-all was meant to be this war. Then, it came and went. It was awesome, but Kirkman knew he had to move on. And move on he did, to smaller and worse things, things that have induced in me sighs of frustration every time I had to throw three dollars down on another issue. I stopped getting excited about new installments in the way I do for series such as Hawkeye and Saga - just frustrated.

What happened with "The Best Superhero Comic in the Universe?" Kirkman began using the series as an outlet to explore ideas that felt incredibly out of place. The main one I'm thinking of is Atom Eve's abortion. Let's not get into politics here (but I'm totes not jazzed about abortion). Nevertheless, is this a topic that should be explored to push the medium? Possibly. Is it one to be explored in Invincible? Hell, no.

Another nail in the coffin has to be the direction the book has taken with its characters. Heroes we thought we knew in and out make choices and actions that come out of left field much more than they should. The amount of attention these characters receive should be noted as well, especially recently. A few months ago, Mark lost his powers to a small dosage of the Scourge Virus, and like that, the attention shifted to Bulletproof. Before this, Bulletproof was a character whose depth was limited to "that guy who wears the costume Invincible didn't want at the beginning of the series." Then poof, center stage. Not long after that, the attention shifted yet again to Robot and Monster Girl - both interesting characters, but not entirely deserving of an entire story arc. Once that ran its course, we shifted back to Bulletproof, and then almost immediately back to Mark. About that...

If you're new to comics and you're not really sure what differentiates a good book from a bad one, everything about issue 97 of Invincible serves as evidence for the latter. It opens on an argument between Bulletproof and his parents - as I said, right before this was the Robot/Monster Girl arc, so I wasn't entirely sure why they were arguing. There's yelling, an unimportant revelation is made, and Bulletproof and his girlfriend kill his parents. Then, they make it look like an accident, feel sad for a second, and the book completely leaves the subject. Afterwards, Kirkman breaks the fourth wall by way of a fictional comic writer telling Mark that with a creator-owned series (i.e., Invincible), the writer has the authority to do whatever the hell he wants, even though it doesn't always work out or make sense for the story. I know this is supposed to break the dark tone of the previous page, but this is just confusing. Was all that part of a meta-joke? Or is this your "I'm sorry" for taking Invincible in a direction no one wanted? Lastly, the issue closes with Mark regaining his powers through...less than "Teen" rated means.

It's sex. He gets his powers back through sex.
Before I go, I want you all to know that I used to love this series. It was fun, exciting, and had a style that separated itself from other superhero fare. But if I had to give one reason for why I won't be reading any longer, it would be this: "Invincible makes me uncomfortable." When you think about it, good art should push the envelope and make you feel uncomfortable. But it should do so in a way that allows you to think and evaluate your beliefs, such as in Zero Dark Thirty. It shouldn't make you feel uncomfortable like a guy who won't stop mentioning his blog that doesn't have a clear direction or fan base.

Until next time.

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