Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

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Jabroniville
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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Jabroniville » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:47 am

ANGSTROM LEVY finally reappears, threatening to doom Mark & Eve all over again, suggesting that Eve is usually the thing that sends Mark over the edge and turns him evil in most realities. However, Eve simply talks him down, pointing out the reality of the accident that turned Levy evil, and points out how stupid and wasteful it is to spend your whole life searching for revenge- even commenting on what if he'd spent all that time doing what he PLANNED on doing when he was starting his mission? This actually WORKS, and Levy does the old "Immediate Turn", but he's dragged into a portal by the sole surviving "Evil Invincible" from "The Invincible War", and he never matters to the series again.

Mark obsesses over Angstrom a bit, disbelieving the idea that he's reformed, and finally gets Robot to lead him to the Evil Invincible's parallel Earth, where he rules the Viltrumite Empire on Earth. Horrified by the power Mark exhibits there, Robot enacts something he'd been thinking about- saying that they COULD have been allies, but not after seeing how dominant Mark could be. He murders the Evil Invincible, executes the comatose body of Levy, then traps Mark on that world- believing he doesn't deserve murder, but that he can't stay in the way of Robot's plans. Mark's only response at the end is the first and only time you'll see it in the book: "Holy FUCK."

A curious thing: Mark seems REALLY hostile to Eve's demands that he drop the whole "Hunting Levy" thing, fearing his disappearance once more. She argues with him, and he goes all "Are you HORMONAL or something?", derides her position, and gets super-crabby until an equally-angry Eve just slaps him and storms off. Given that she's RIGHT, and he DOES get trapped in this world, he comes off like a real ass here.

Mark shows a curious amount of planning and capability in this parallel Earth, quickly getting the Viltrumites there to believe he's the Evil Mark, finds Robot to build him a new portal, AND manages to come up with the plan that gets Robot to go along with things- getting a Mauler Twin to create a cloned body of Mark for Robot to inhabit. Mark returns six months after he left, Eve immediately dumps him for abandoning her last time, and then he's immediately hauled down, beaten up and RAPED by Anissa, who desires to breed with a stronger breed of Earth man, which is a huge leap towards shock & awe in the series, and absolutely not my fetish. And then of course he has to deal with friggin' Robot's revolution.

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Woodclaw
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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Woodclaw » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:34 pm

Looking at the entire Invincible run at once I'm not sure really where things went south, but I believe that it was because the series had outlived his creator's desires. The initial run was very much a superhero teen comedy, but it turned very dark very soon. If I have to guess I think that Kirkman was trying to do write a F.U. letter to superhero comics in general outlining some of the perceived flaws in the genre.
My personal opinion is that Kirkman either tried too hard or wrote himself into a corner with some characters, Eve above all. The general mortality rate of the Invicible universe didn't help, since you could scarcely grown attached to anyone but Mark, Eve and a few others before they were horribly murdered. As I said above I'm not sure if this was done to highlight a flaw of the apparent unkillability of so many superheroes, but it was just as annoying after a while.

It might be a thing of mine, but death is a powerful narrative tool that should be used in a very attentive manner. This doesn't mean that every death should be an epic moment, like the last stand of the Executioner (still my all time reference on how to write the greatest death in the history of comics), but it must be meaningful to the setting. When Alan Grant offed the original Judge Giant in the aftermath of the Blockmania storyline he had good reasons: showing that eve the judges of Mega-City 1 weren't invicible and that many of them were likely to bite the dust. Even if the execution wasn't good, I can't argue with that logic.

Back to Invicible, the problem was that after the first few deaths the cicle became horribly repetitive and dull. Characters just died by the scores and none the wiser. The fact that so many among the protagonists had to carry the idiot ball (or the villain ball) at various points -- with Eve being especially egregious over time -- didn't help.
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Jabroniville
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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Jabroniville » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:21 am

Kirkman has stated that his mission statement for Invincible was to take everything he loved about the genre of suerheroes, but not be constrained by the Big Two- so no status quo, no repetition, etc. I believe he's a fan, but dislikes some genre conventions. Though it's funny that despite repeated mentions of "punching can't change the world", all of Mark's threats are solved with violence.

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by FuzzyBoots » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:16 am

Courtesy of Schlock Mercenary's 70 Maxims of a Maximally Efficient Mercenary:
Maxim 6: If violence wasn't your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Jabroniville » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:10 am

Robot starts off by slaughtering Cecil (who never really had a chance to get into the old routine with Mark anyways), pointing out coldly that he REGRETS this, and that he'd considered Cecil a friend. He just wouldn't have understood, however. Then Eve gets her goddamn LEG torn off (a new status quo for her), and Robot starts attacking the Guardians of the Globe, slaughtering former important characters Black Samson, Shapesmith, Kid Thor & Knockout! Even THE ELEPHANT gets it! It's very bizarre to read about, as many of these guys were once given major focus, or at least significant chunks of the story- Black Samson was all over the early parts of the book, and Shapesmith was featured in an arc of his own. Sure, both guys felt more like "A major character in a book other than this one", but it's weird to see them wiped out with barely a word. Kid Thor & Knockout only had characterization in the GTG books, but seeing their whole story end that quickly is crazy.

The massive onslaught of Robot's takeover gets very strange, very quickly, as the tension is deflated like a balloon almost as soon as it starts- the remaining heroes are largely captured by Robot once ZandaleInvincible turns them all in. The Viltrumites could attack... but Robot merely convinces them to fall back into the old "we'd both lose too much" detente that they were in with Allen! Mark, despite his girlfriend having her goddamn LEG RIPPED OFF by a Robot Drone, basically has to capitulate to all of this, and just leaves Earth. Watching him sit down and have conversations with the guy who maimed Eve (while saying "Shut up" no less) is extremely bizarre, as is Robot's odd switch between "cruelly taunting his former friends" and "mournfully suggesting everyone calm down". He comes off as very bipolar, though at least characters SAY he's gone nuts.

Robot ends up fixing the world, however- crime appears down, people are safer, college is mysteriously free for everyone, and health care is universal. The Immortal of all people is a voice of reason (his point is basically that society itself is disorderly and chaotic, and needs to stay that way; one leader's control will always break eventually), but Mark is unwilling to risk everyone. There's some interesting stuff where Immortal springs the other heroes, along with D.A. SINCLAIR seeing the light and helping out, but many of the Guardians ultimately realize that Robot has created a more ideal world. Brit, Pegasus, Kaboomerang and Yeti stand with Robot, leaving their former teammates (who are allowed to go free by Robot) disgusted.

Another bizarre bit: Eve dumps Mark, gets maimed, has her & Mark's baby... then they're pretty much back together as a couple without a word. Like, Kirkman just skipped EVERYTHING about that, as if he didn't feel like dealing with it.

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Arkrite » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:58 pm

Yeah, to me it just seems like he came up with some ideas, got distracted by something else, came back only half remembering what he was doing, came up with something else that amused himself, got distracted by something else, came back and repeated the procedure.

I think there's a really good story that could be told in this series, but there was a lack of planning or real story boarding for where it's supposed to go.

In the end I think that the Walking Dead just ate up most of his time and honestly why wouldn't it? It'd be pretty hard to ignore your big success to chase after the lesser known of your works.
But it kind of shows that this wasn't the primary focus.
And after a while it really feels like it's just going through the motions.
Jabroniville wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:10 am
Kid Thor & Knockout!
*facepalm* Oh god dammit.
Yup. Lets get rid of the interesting cast so we can go back to Mark's largely boring family.

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Jabroniville » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:32 pm

Yeah, it's funny because I'm not a horror fan so I've never read The Walking Dead, therefore I was unaware of the effect it would have on Invincible, though people bring up simultaneous storylines going on in the two properties in the letters columns. I also realize looking at it here how LONG Invincible was around for- ten-ish years. Which seems long, but then I remember that there were multiple trades out when I was living with my old roommate, and that's more than six years ago now. Maybe it feels like less time because it was FREQUENTLY delayed.

PS I actually had to start posting these more quickly, because (and I know this will shock everyone) I started writing too much and the descriptions of events got away from me- I didn't want to get behind before I had to start posting builds :).

Another funny thing... as soon as Mark goes into space, you can TELL Kirkman is putting less focus on the book, because (while I still find some stuff interesting), they hammer out the plot at lightning speed, and there's way less focus on dialogue and interpersonal stuff. I used to be able to only read 3-4 issues per day, but I just BLASTED through the "Cory Walker arc" and much of The End of All Things. Partly because that's very recent and I actually remembered some of it, but still... the word balloons are now so small, and the plot moving so quickly, that I legitimately read 8-9 issues in a single day like it was nothing.

Holy crap my memory is bad, though... primarily because I initially wrote "William comes out, and then never shows up again" and then he pops up like 4-5 more times (granted, he never DOES anything, but still), and I very recently went "Holy Hell- the MAULER TWINS are still alive!" at a recent issue, only to re-read and find that they'd shown up something like five times after Oliver killed the two :).

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Jabroniville » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:49 am

Ugh, I have to rev up the posting of these. Sorry for the word-dumps. I know it's very unusual to have to read giant paragraphs of stream-of-consciousness stuff from me :):

The new "Status Quo" for the series? Mark & Eve on Talescria, living in exile from Earth. We see Eve struggle with the insane alien world, Oliver and his new bug-wife (who is kind of bitchy, in a humorous bit), Mark confessing that Anissa raped him (he's guilt-ridden because he feels like he should have fought a little harder), and more... as Battle Beast finally dies after a multi-issue battle with Thragg, ruining Allen's plans. And then, when we're just getting settled into this new world... Mark gets thrown into the past for three issues, then returns with YEARS having passed! Yup- a TIME SKIP!!!

The three-issue Reboot is actually quite interesting, and a bit throwback to the way the comic used to be. Teen Mark uses his knowledge of the future to stop crimes BEFORE they happen, which gives us looks at the evil schoolteacher, the Mauler Twins, Titan, Doc Seismic and more. Mark confronts his father BEFORE he slaughters the Guardians of the Globe, then leads him into an ambush from them, and they actually take him out. Mark is righting wrongs, and even gets some conversation with Robot, who confesses that because he's so dissociated from humanity, he doesn't really RELATE to them, and is worried about what he might do in the future. It seems as if Mark can solve everything bad that's ever happened... and in fact, some Alien Light Creature wants him to do EXACTLY THAT.

However, Mark refuses because it would mean that his daughter Terra would never exist. The Alien is all super-pissy and says "You are a DISGRACE", pointing out that he's doomed the world (this never happens), and that he's sacrificed millions for one child. Hilariously, this bit about him saving the world never ends up mattering, as the biggest effect of the story is that he returns to his main timeline... MANY YEARS after he'd left, meaning that Terra is now a talking child, and that Thragg's Half-Viltrumite army has grown to fighting age.

And this leads to one of the weird things about the series- how it can be insanely half-assed and be willing to drop any manner of potentially interesting story arcs in seconds (and go through the laziness of a time-skip), yet do something completely unique to the medium, and thus still be INTERESTING even as it's annoying you with the "hey, remember when Eve dumped Mark?" stuff.

The art goes weird at points- when the good colorist leaves the book and is replaced with a new guy, I felt a sudden "hey, Ottley is getting worse now". The issue was, the old colorist had actually added such mass and weight to all of the characters that Ottley's art looked more flat without it. Like, as good as Ottley is, he really needs proper back-up to truly shine. Then he inks his own pencils for a couple of issues and it's a sketchy mess by comparison to when Cliff Rathburn is inking him- you never realize how important inking is until you see BAD inking.

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Jabroniville » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:14 am

Ultimately, we really get into the "Endgame" of the series, as Cory Walker takes over on art for six issues to give Ryan Ottley a break. In the huge time-jump: Eve dated and dumped the brother of Allen's bitchy girlfriend (they loved each other, apparently, but "our people have no patience for children", and he made Eve choose. When he lectures about this later, she slugs him. Allen failed to halt Thragg's expansion, and his Half-Viltrumites have been taking over former Viltrumite-controlled worlds. Allen is nearly killed by a suicide bomb set by a political rival who wanted a NON-weakling to take command of the Coalition. Oliver & Haluma the Lobster-Lady have had two tiny purple children, but he's now acting as a double-agent for Thragg, having "seen the light" (it turns out immediately that he's a mole sent by Allen). Robot has consolidated power over the Earth and made things great- he and Nolan are now good friends, and most of the heroes now see eye-to-eye with him, especially after the people Angstrom Levy worked for invade Earth, setting things back by years. And the Viltrumites are happy with their human others... and even ANISSA has found love. And a stepfather to her son... MARKY. Mark is basically forced to deal with all of this, and is particularly annoyed at Nolan & Robot's friendship (he doesn't know about Marky).

The prelude to "The End of All Things" sees Thragg send his two most elite agents, a pair of twins, against Mark & Eve. Oliver immediately betrays Thragg and attacks (failing the test of loyalty), and gets his innards punched out, dropping one of the bigger cast members that never really hit a full potential. Thragg slaughters both Mark and Eve, and is all "HAW HAW, I'LL LET THEM DIE SLOWLY", not realizing that Eve has a Last-Second Ass-Pull Power that instantly heals both her and Mark. Well, at least they used it again. In a hilariously-DBZ move, Mark was resurrected with MORE STRENGTH (and can somehow feel the difference just by flexing), thus making him more Thragg's equal (he was torn in half pretty easily).

Mark gets all aggressive with Allen for putting Oliver in that situation to begin with, which finally causes a HUGE freak-out from Eve, who basically goes into what me, as a reader, had been feeling for years- that Mark was reckless, stupid, and prone to just flying off and doing whatever he felt like on impulse, which caused all of the gaps where he was separated from Eve. Very cathartic to me. EVE later does more or less the same thing when Allen reveals more of the story (he'd essentially gotten Oliver involved just to make sure Mark joined the fight, which would lead the Viltrumites into it), but it's more understandable- Mark even confesses that Allen's selflessness in getting a friend killed is something a leader SHOULD do. Allen then reveals to his girlfriend the FULL story- he'd deliberately set up Oliver to be in harm's way, because he felt he HAD to get Mark's help. He didn't know Oliver would be killed, but he is still totally responsible.

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by MacynSnow » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:24 pm

The only good thing that came out of Ollies Awfully considered plan(hadn't he ever heard of getting a "second set of eyes" on it?) was both Eve's cathartic release(though that's like The Pot caling The Kettle Black in my oppinion....) and Ollie doing something that NO ONE ELSE seems to do in this series; take responsiblity and admitting that he screwed up.

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Re: Robert Kirkman's Invincible - Thoughts?

Post by Jabroniville » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:40 am

And with this last final bit, we're done:

And yes, as expected, Mark gets his father involved (they both know that Thragg is coming for them anyways), and there's an all-out assault. Ursaal, Thragg's most-elite fighter, realizes that Thragg is pretty rotten after he barely acknowledges the death of her brother, nor the losses of his other children in the fight. Mark & Nolan thus deliberately lead Thragg to Earth, where they know the other Viltrumites might help- it's an all-out assault, leading to... well, some rapid-fire deaths. As a fan later writes in, this rapidity actually diminishes the deaths as they happen, as you can barely FEEL any of them before the next one happens. Especially since the series is running down, and you know we'll not be seeing the long-term affects of these deaths. Never mind that they basically just gloss over Anissa raping Mark with "Hey, she's had Character Development that we never bothered to write, okay? Just let it go." In the end, Thragg throws out the Arbitrarily-Powererful Ragnars into the battle, which ends up killing both Anissa AND Omni-Man in succession. Omni-Man gets some pretty forgettable final words in the hospital, as Arbitary Viltrumite Durability fails him (even those his species frequently get spines ripped out), leaving Mark as the heir to the Viltrumite throne.

Mark engages in a final throw-down with Thragg over Earth's Sun, finally ripping his throat out and sending him into the star to burn. There's a nice bit as he's bought some time by a Robot Drone acting as armor, protecting him just a little bit, so that he can survive- Robot's either recalling their old friendship, or knows that Thragg is going to just massacre everyone.

Mark's first act? Fly down to Earth and fight Robot. And they gloss over the "punching Robot Drones causes Viltrumites pain" thing (Mark warns them, but they just start shellacking Drones anyways), Monster Girl points out the REAL Rex, and then Mark just punches his heart out. Hilariously, a letter column from early 2017 derides "Comics Conventions" by going all "In a REGULAR comic, Mark would go down and fight Robot and win. But NOT US- in Invincible, the bad guy won, and Mark flees Earth." Nice smug attitude there, ya doofuses. Never mind your all "Being a hero is bullshit" and "punching people doesn't help" when all Mark DOES is punch people to death to save the day.

Mark's final solution to everything is weird, even by his standards. He's decided (and remember, he's Emperor of the VILTRUMITES, not of Earth) that The Immortal is the best man to rule the world (!??!!?!?), but points out the logic of Robot's words- that he HAS turned the planet into a near-Utopia. So he leaves Robot's brain alive, and has him give Immortal advice. And Robot helpfully declares that "truth be told, it's BETTER this way" because now he can't actually act. And then Mark decides that he and his people must leave Earth forever, because the growing powers of the Viltrumite/Human offspring will destabilize the world. So... yay?

The final issue is a doozy- a huge double-issue, with Ottley on art for the first half (all charater dialogue) and Cory Walker returning for the second half with his big lumpy guys (and all the fights). We see what goes on in the future- Eve is as ageless as the Viltrumites, characters age and die off-screen (I guess it would've been too sad to see Debbie's funeral- her send-off is to get Marky his first costume), Allen and Mark are rivals, then allies once more, and Terra & Marky grow into their roles. Marky becomes a superhero, but resents his absentee father; while Terra goes her own way, acting as an agent of conservation and peace.

The letters provide some fun stuff. A few fans bitch about the speed with which things have wrapped up (a common trend in the series). More than one person brings up the "Immortal's in charge" thing and how it compares to issue #54, where Mark had to kill an insane Immortal. Countless characters don't have their histories explained, because it's not really that kind of book. But it's established that Mark turns the Viltrumites into agents of peace throughout the galaxy, and becomes the hero he was always meant to be. Very nice. All in all, I felt it to be an appropriate ending, with the usual things that annoy me about reading Invincible (it always feels like there's a whole universe out there we're just not seeing).

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