US: Apr 2013
Even superheroes make mistakes. The difference is they make super ones. For a man called Invincible, Mark Grayson epitomizes vulnerability in Invincible #100. His actions cause the death of a million. Developed by Image Comics, Invincible is written by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker (The ongoing series is illustrated by Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, and John Rauch). It centers on Mark, son of Omni-Man, a Viltrumite superhero who protects earth. Mark inherited super strength, speed, and flight from his dad and thus decided to call himself Invincible.
The latest storyarc entitled, “The Death of Everyone”, focuses on the repercussions of Invincible’s misguided partnership with Dinosaurus, a red prehistoric humanoid with the body of a Tyrannosaurus rex and the mind of a mad genius (great use on Kirkman’s part of having a primordial lizard act as a scholar). Mark took it upon himself to free Dinosaurus from incarceration so they could collaborate on a way to achieve utopia. Dinosaurus decides to flood the Earth to reduce overpopulation. Clearly, he’s an advocate of utilitarianism, the ends justify the means. Invincible, on the other hand, has the best of intentions, but he’s incredibly naïve. Mentally, Mark considers himself a know-it-all; in reality, he’s young and inexperienced. This Achilles’ heel contributes heavily to the parallel Kirkman establishes between father and son. When Mark discovered that his father, Omni-Man, was sent to conquer Earth rather than defend it, the young hero grew to resent his dad; he vowed to be Earth’s champion.
Fate must work in cruel ways, or at the behest of Kirkman’s pen, because the sins of the father are repeated. Invincible sought to protect his homeworld, but instead doomed it by his narcissism. Mark may have lost his powers at the time Dinosaurus launched his drenched earth policy, but the consequences were propagated by the young hero’s hands. Meanwhile, Robot, system operator for the Guardians of the Globe, hastens to set everything right. In Invincible #100, it’s revealed that Robot invented an artificial moon to counter the flooding and restore sea levels to their appropriate depths. Accountability is paramount in this issue. The readers know Mark regrets his association with Dinosaurus and the devastation it’s wrought. Invincible stresses, “We were supposed to help people—not kill them.”
Others give him a reality check, too, including Cecil Stedman, leader of the Global Defense Agency. Stedman asks, “Still feel like a moral authority—that you know what’s right for the world?” Invincible owns up to his folly, even insisting to Cecil he should be imprisoned. In addition to Kirkman’s concepts of a hero’s vulnerability and accountability, Ottley’s panels give you the sense of how monumental this 100th issue is. Ottley wastes no time in capturing the dramatic highs and lows of Mark’s shattered world and in graphic detail, too (with Rathburn’s and Rauch’s help). The first page depicts Dinosaurus mashing Invincible’s face with the intensity of a trash compactor (fans will later discover this is a clone). Although violent, the image does have a neat 3-D aspect; the blood appears to gush off the page and onto you. The next illustration is even more gory; Dinosaurus rips Invincible’s corpse in half similar to Noob Saibot’s fatality in Mortal Kombat. To make matters worse, the scene is televised; it’s viewed by Mark’s loved ones, colleagues, and enemies alike. In fact, there are so many spectators that it merits a two-page spread.
In Brady Bunch fashion, squares display the faces of the various onlookers, revealing their unique reactions to this startling development; the size of their squares depends on how close their bond with Invincible is. Atom Eve, Mark’s girlfriend and fellow heroine, has the largest square. She appears to scream and is visibly sobbing. Cecil Stedman is also heavily impacted by this news; he looks terrified. Another devastated face is William Clockwell, Mark’s best friend. Seasoned fans can easily identify the others. The illustrations are impressive. I like the look of Invincible’s costume. It seems influenced by Booster Gold’s (that’s fitting, considering he and Booster Gold have similar character-arcs).
I found Invincible #100 to be an excellent read. I’m not a seasoned reader of this series by any means, but Kirkman’s ideas on the struggles a young superhero must contend with is gripping. Heroes as they grow into themselves must be vulnerable and accountable. That along with the dynamic art of Ottley, Rathburn, and Rauch make this a must read.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…READ the article