I have a feeling that Roberk Kirkman is known more for zombies than anything else. After all, he gave fans The Walking Dead and dead a lot for Marvel Comics’ plethora of undead and nutritionally challenged. But one of my personal favorites is his teen superhero, Invincible.
I was thrown off a little by the quirky nature of Mark Grayson being the son of the most powerful superhero on the planet. You’d kind of expect seriousness with something like that going on. Instead, Kirkman plays the whole affair off as a kind of normal thing. Mark even has a schleppy job: he hates flipping burgers.
You see, even though Mark’s dad is a superhero, Mark continues to have a fairly normal life. He dodges homework, doesn’t get the beautiful girls, and doesn’t ace tests. Two out of three remove him from the Peter Parker superhero range. Mark is well-adjusted, just a regular guy getting through life while his parents do their own thing. Even if one does involve going off to other worlds and other dimensions.
That’s one of the best things I love about Invincible. Kirkman and Mark work at keeping it all real. Even when Mark gets his superpowers and becomes Invincible, things really don’t change much. Except now he can fly, has super strength, and is pretty much invulnerable.
Cory Walker’s art is superb for the strip, giving it an older, more fun feel. Everything on the page pops. The colors are bright and fun, kind of like Green Lantern Hal Jordan back during the early years. Mark has to take his dad’s disappearances in stride and watch his mom hover around breakdowns, but if you think about it, that’s the lives of a lot of teens these days.
Of course, Kirkman has a lot of twists and turns up his sleeve that he reveals in the strip further down the line, but this is the place to start to get the story.
The dialogue is wonderful. Clipped and cut to the bone, only there if necessary to move the plot or show character. I like the relationship Mark has with his mother, how they both worry about his dad but they don’t really talk about it. And Mark’s relationship with his dad seems honest as well as competitive, which is something every teen-aged boy has with his father at some point. Dads are often quick to respond in kind.
These first four books are a set piece and leave the reader in a good place. The subject matter makes the graphic novel a perfect gift for a young reader just stepping into the world of superheroes. Mark doesn’t have all the hang-ups and history of Spider-Man or Batman, and is a lot of fun to read.