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Graphic Novel Review: Invincible: The Facts of Life by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, and Bill Crabtree

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Robert Kirkman kind of laterals in his fifth graphic novel starring Mark Grayson, the superhero otherwise known as Invincible. Kirkman pulls together the Angstrom Levy plotlines left dangling from the previous graphic novel, Head of the Class, and pushes forward with Mark’s romance, moving into PG-13 territory based on sexual situations instead of violence.

The Guardians of the Globe plotline continues to spin as well and I know that will continue to pay off as we keep reading. However, one of the biggest surprises is how the Atom Eve subplot is still hanging out there. I have the feeling that Kirkman may eventually bring those two together, but the situation will be incredibly stressed now that Amber knows his secret identity.

But I digress. The lovebirds don’t get together too easily in this graphic novel. In a way, Mark’s frequent departures from criminal activity has smacked really closely of early Superman comics, when Clark has to go hide from Lois so he can change into the supersuit. In the first bit of this graphic novel, Mark bails on Amber during a really sticky situation and has to save her as Invincible. Of course, Amber walks out on Mark.

She doesn’t give up on him, though, because she cares about him. Other writers could have made a whole angsty kind of thing about this, but Kirkman gives his readers soap opera with a nasty chuckle and a dash of current day teen mentality. Amber sets about organizing an intervention for Mark, thinking that maybe he’s on drugs or selling drugs. He does have a beeper (for the federal government, no less) but hasn’t explained why he carries it or why he disappears when it goes off.

I laughed out loud when I read the sequence. Only Kirkman and his skewed view of the world would have played that card. But it was a lot of fun. And when Mark “kind of” explains that he has superpowers, he has to leave and leap through a window to go save the world. Of course, that only leads to makeup romance that culminates in Mark’s first adult relationship.

The lateral transfer in the story comes during the arc featuring Allen the Alien. The story plays into the overall mythos of Invincible, but I just wasn’t really thrilled with it. I can’t say why, but it just took me out of the moment. Even the retro origin issue smacked in the middle of this graphic novel didn’t do that to me.

But the menace of Mark’s father’s side of the family threatening the Earth comes back to roost in this graphic novel, and the menace of Angstrom Levy gets dealt with.

There are also origin stories for several of the secondary characters in the comics. They’re interesting and feature some different artwork. This is a good collection, but I’m eager to see what happens next.

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