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Re-Reading Invincible

MTL76

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Re: Re-Reading Invincible
« Reply #45 on: February 19, 2018, 11:10:04 PM »
Right. He could have contracted half a dozen titles out to creative teams - Allen the Alien, some of the more popular Earth heroes, Mark’s daughter - split the profits with them, given a bit of overall guidance, and there’s your universe. But yeah, TWD is his money maker so he’s focusing on that.


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Jabroniville

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Re: Re-Reading Invincible
« Reply #46 on: February 19, 2018, 11:43:12 PM »
Funny thing is, Kirkman repeatedly said in the letters column that his dream was for Invincible to live on with other creative teams, so that he'd be some grumpy old man complaining about how his characters are being written now. Then he suddenly reversed course and said "that would go against everything the comic stood for!" and ended it.

Jabroniville

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Re: Re-Reading Invincible
« Reply #47 on: February 22, 2018, 03:25:50 PM »
Here's a lengthy review thing I did of the series, upon its completion:

-By far the most memorable aspect of Invincible to casual readers is the violence and gore- Writer Robert Kirkman and artist Ryan Ottley REALLY REALLY love blood, gore, brain-splattering and violence, and it shows.
. There is TONS of it. While it was initially shocking to see so much blood in a colorful superhero book, pretty soon we'd see fists flying through heads on a casual basis, brilliantly-drawn spirals of blood fluming out of impaled torsos, crushed brains, torn-off jaws, severed limbs, ripped-out intestines, smashed-in faces and people reduced to floating piles of organs. Ryan Ottley does EXQUISITELY detailed gore, but this eventually gets so common that it overwhelms the series. The creators insist at various points that "we don't want this to become a GORE book!" but... it's a Gore Book. No two ways around it. It's an orgiastic celebration of disgusting, organ-pulping violence. Now, I'm pretty far outside the Mortal Kombat era of my childhood, so I don't get my rocks off on that anymore, but they certainly are fans of showing just how messy comic books fights could be without "No-Kill Physics" place.

The comic was one of the most addictive things I've ever read back in the day, and really each issue was a "must-read right away" book until the very end. The best compliment I can give it is that it's never PREDICTABLE- the comic has a tendency to go off on rails every now and then, and it always keeps you guessing. I mean, at one point, Mark gets stuck in an alternate reality where he gets the chance to fix everything, then things go through a time-skip. He spends a HUGE chunk of the series living on an alien world after abandoning Earth to his old ally Robot, who's now taken it over. There is a TON of Character Development (especially between Robot & Monster Girl), and a lot of changeover in the cast, as the body count gets tremendously high. Hell, they even geared up towards the finale by annihilating even the GOOD characters- beloved people like Oliver, Battle Beast and more go the way of the dodo.

Ottley is AMAZING on art, too. Several issues are JUST TALKING, and he keeps them interesting. Few artists are better with expressions. It helps that he's a bit cartoonish (especially with people sticking their lips out when emoting). Ottley's style is very, very cartoonish- characters stick their lower jaws out when speaking, everyone has peglike teeth that lean inwards, and the hands have big and meaty sausage-fingers. But it's expressive, dynamic, well-posed, and brilliantly-characterful. Very, very few artists get "expression" like Ottley. His art comes and goes in quality depending on who's working with him- Cliff Rathburn on inks makes his stuff look way better than Ottley himself can (his own inking is rather sketchy). A John Rauch on colors actually adds shadow and "weight" to Ottley's rather "flat" people, but that huge jump in quality leaves when Rauch does.

The Flaws:
However... there are flaws. A good bunch of them.

Supporting Characters Don't Get Squat:
* You like a supporting character? Well if it's not Eve or a Viltrumite, then too bad- they usually get casually murdered and are barely dwelled on. Major supporters like William and Amber go from "every issue" appearances to never being in the book again after a point. It's quite funny, because it's both a positive and a negative that Invincible feels like you're reading one-quarter of an entire Comic Book Universe, and they just aren't releasing the other 3/4.

Flying Bricks R Us:
* Like unusual and clever powers? TOO BAD- Flying Bricks are the only heroes that can compete in this world. Even the MINOR characters are Flying Bricks! Kirkman uses this power set on almost every major character with powers- there are almost NO Blasters in this book aside from Atom Eve and Rex Splode. That the main Viltrumites have this power-set wouldn't be so bad if the book didn't already have Immortal, Black Samson & Bulletproof as members of THE SAME TEAM. It gets to the point where Monster Girl gets points for NOT being able to fly, and Brit gets them for ONLY being invulnerable! You never see Magical Powers, Telepathy, Telekinesis or anything. It's VERY weirdly-limited, like he has no imagination for anything but hitting.

Forgotten Subplots & Characters as Cannon Fodder:
* Various subplots are done with VERY quickly (Debbie's alcoholism; Debbie & Nolan's reunion; the Guardians splitting from Cecil before casually rejoining after the Invincible War; the fallout from Anissa raping Mark). And any superhero on Earth who ISN'T a Viltrumite just isn't worth worrying about- Bulletproof and Black Samson are given only the most temporary bouts of credibility before they're beaten up as afterthoughts, usually going down off-panel (to Battle Beast, to the Mauler Twins, to Evil Invincibles, etc.)- it's like being a non-Saiyan in Dragon Ball Z- you're just living Cannon Fodder.

GORE! GORE! GORE!:
The shock value with the violence and subject matter is so overwhelming that the book is more or less impossible to really take seriously after a point- not only is the gore omnipresent, but various things like Bulletproof and his wife manslaughtering his father, the deaths of major & minor characters, genocide and rape all being shot out one after the other... it wears on you to the point where you don't care any longer.

Infodumps & Clumsy Exposition:
* Characters speak a bit too much in "Exposition-Ese" at times. There are MANY issues where it's literally just one character going on and on about something, explaining the new status quo. The first issue with Cecil, after Omni-Man abandons Earth, is literally just "okay, this is my history with your father; this was his job; this is what your life is like now; this is what we're going to do". Really, the comic is just FULL of infodumps- Nolan explaining the "World Betterment Committee" to his young son. Nolan revealing the TRUTH behind the Viltrumites to Mark. Cecil explaining his purpose to Mark, and his guilt at the revelation that Nolan is evil. Cecil explaining that someone leaked Nolan & Mark's conversation to the public. Nolan explaining his personality to Mark on his new home planet. It's a testament to Ryan Ottley's skill that this remains interesting, as many issues devolve into talking heads, but rather than be Bendis-style (ie. xeroxing pages), the heads are always changing, making different expressions, reacting in unique ways... Ottley does the best with it.

Shit's Too Easy:
* This one's arguably the biggest flaw of the series- nobody is that bright, and almost every possible problem that CAN'T be solved with punching is done away with very quickly. The Viltrumites appear to be an unstoppable Army of Gods? SURPRISE! There's actually less than fifty of them! And a handful can be one-shotted by Space Racer, Allen and Ragnar monsters!
* Mark is all alone after his father leaves? SURPRISE! Turns out a government organization can lead him everywhere he needs to be, and also deal with his family's financial future in a heartbeat!
* Various infants are born, and have to be written into the plots, while it's established that Mark only gained super-strength in his late teens? SURPRISE! His half-brother is from a super-aging race so he gains powers in childhood, and all future Half-Viltrumites inexplicably gain powers in their adolescent years! Mark's daughter even ages up as part of a timeskip! Wasn't THAT easy?
* Allen the Alien is popular, but was made too weak to harm the villains? SURPRISE! Getting nearly-killed actually makes him stronger, and then he stays at that same power level forever!
* Eve is dead, breaking the hearts of fans? SURPRISE! She has super-resurrection powers! She even does this to herself and MARK later- she's basically like how Dragon Ball Z utterly lacks any drama because the characters can just be brought back no matter what.
* Mark's facing a variety of super-genius opponents like Angstrom Levy, Robot, and Cecil, along with enemies MUCH stronger than him, like Thragg & Conquest? SURPRISE! Every one of these people can be easily defeated with MOAR PUNCHING.
* All of these potentially genocidal villains? SURPRISE! Most of them are easily-forgiven once people see their remorse, even if someone like Omni-Man has killed thousands of people.

It's actually a weird contrast. Mark can suffer all manner of personal calamity, and supporting characters can die in droves, but nearly every ACTUAL problem is done away with in moments, usually by either Deux Ex Machina or MOAR PUNCHING. Mark almost never outsmarts his foes- he just gets angry and punches them to death. Most of the villains who get built up over a dozen or so issues (Levy, The Sequids, The Reanimen) actually get defeated in an issue or two.

Upper_Krust

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Re: Re-Reading Invincible
« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2018, 08:39:52 PM »
Agree with many of your comments Jabroniville. I'll re-read all the trades when I get the last one to freshen things in my mind but I think its an above average comic that really hit greatness during the early-middle period but fell off towards the end.

If I had to peg the slow decline (Post Viltrumite War) of the book I'd have to say Kirkman's inability to up the ante and present a sufficient challenge to Mark.

But I wanted to individually address some of your criticisms.

Shit's Too Easy:
* This one's arguably the biggest flaw of the series- nobody is that bright, and almost every possible problem that CAN'T be solved with punching is done away with very quickly. The Viltrumites appear to be an unstoppable Army of Gods? SURPRISE! There's actually less than fifty of them! And a handful can be one-shotted by Space Racer, Allen and Ragnar monsters!

Well otherwise the heroes would have been totally fucked. I think a bigger problem (than the 50 Viltrumites remaining one) was that some of the Viltrumites were weaker than Invincible himself. I'd agree THAT was a cop out.

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* Mark is all alone after his father leaves? SURPRISE! Turns out a government organization can lead him everywhere he needs to be, and also deal with his family's financial future in a heartbeat!

Logically this simply makes sense. If you have superheroes then there would be some sort of agency trying to control them.

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* Various infants are born, and have to be written into the plots, while it's established that Mark only gained super-strength in his late teens? SURPRISE! His half-brother is from a super-aging race so he gains powers in childhood, and all future Half-Viltrumites inexplicably gain powers in their adolescent years! Mark's daughter even ages up as part of a timeskip! Wasn't THAT easy?

To me that was simply clever writing.

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* Allen the Alien is popular, but was made too weak to harm the villains? SURPRISE! Getting nearly-killed actually makes him stronger, and then he stays at that same power level forever!

I thought that was a nod to DragonballZ.

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* Eve is dead, breaking the hearts of fans? SURPRISE! She has super-resurrection powers! She even does this to herself and MARK later- she's basically like how Dragon Ball Z utterly lacks any drama because the characters can just be brought back no matter what.

In my opinion you can get away with this sort of Deus ex Machina ONCE in a comic. More than that and you 'lose' the reader.

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* Mark's facing a variety of super-genius opponents like Angstrom Levy, Robot, and Cecil, along with enemies MUCH stronger than him, like Thragg & Conquest? SURPRISE! Every one of these people can be easily defeated with MOAR PUNCHING.

The Conquest fight was one of the best in the history of comics.

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* All of these potentially genocidal villains? SURPRISE! Most of them are easily-forgiven once people see their remorse, even if someone like Omni-Man has killed thousands of people.

I don't think Omni-man was forgiven by the people of Earth only by Mark and Cecil (who knew/suspected he couldn't stop Omni-man). We see that Cecil is happy to use former criminals (and their talents) to further his goals of protecting the planet.

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It's actually a weird contrast. Mark can suffer all manner of personal calamity, and supporting characters can die in droves, but nearly every ACTUAL problem is done away with in moments, usually by either Deux Ex Machina or MOAR PUNCHING. Mark almost never outsmarts his foes- he just gets angry and punches them to death. Most of the villains who get built up over a dozen or so issues (Levy, The Sequids, The Reanimen) actually get defeated in an issue or two.

Not sure what you are asking here:

1. Mark is a college drop-out, not a super-genius. He's not going to outsmart intellectual villains, he's simply going to overcome their plans by not giving up.

2. Levy; The Sequids and the Reanimen are recurring villains.
A. As recurring villains you don't need to 'blow the whole wad' in one story.
B. How many issues do you want devoted to individual threats!? A couple of issues is plenty and keeps the pacing up.

Jabroniville

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Re: Re-Reading Invincible
« Reply #49 on: March 14, 2018, 06:40:32 AM »
Bunch of stuff

See, most of these rebuttals are fine... INDIVIDUALLY. The fact that the series did this with almost every single threat is the problem.

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To me that was simply clever writing.
Oliver being a super-aging kid was somewhat clever (at least Kirkman didn't get TRULY lazy with it until later), but all of the Half-Viltrumite kids being super-powerful even as small children? Going against Mark getting his powers as a teen? It was clearly Kirkman just going "ah, the hell with it".

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I thought that was a nod to DragonballZ.
Kirkman INSISTS that he's never watched the show. Probably because the parallels are so clear that people would accuse him of hackery if he copped to it. Personally, I don't buy it- there's too much the two have in common for this all to be coincidence.

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In my opinion you can get away with this sort of Deus ex Machina ONCE in a comic. More than that and you 'lose' the reader.
Yeah, they pulled it off twice. Thrice, if you wanna get specific and go by the ending.
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The Conquest fight was one of the best in the history of comics.
Hard to deny. But still... Mark more or less solo'd the guy who was built up as an unstoppable threat- Eve only got in one shot.

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Not sure what you are asking here:

1. Mark is a college drop-out, not a super-genius. He's not going to outsmart intellectual villains, he's simply going to overcome their plans by not giving up.

2. Levy; The Sequids and the Reanimen are recurring villains.
A. As recurring villains you don't need to 'blow the whole wad' in one story.
B. How many issues do you want devoted to individual threats!? A couple of issues is plenty and keeps the pacing up.
My issue was that most of Mark's threats were dealt with too simply and easily. A couple of times he got smart (like how he got off of the alternate dimension Robot trapped him in), but the rest of the time he just broke his limits again and punched the other guy to death.

The thing with the short-lived threats came to me as I was re-reading, as they'd build guys up for a YEAR, only to have the battle end in a single issue's time. It felt very weird to have that happen repeatedly.

Upper_Krust

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Re: Re-Reading Invincible
« Reply #50 on: March 14, 2018, 07:36:38 AM »
See, most of these rebuttals are fine... INDIVIDUALLY. The fact that the series did this with almost every single threat is the problem.

I can accept that, I thought you were right on most of your points.

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To me that was simply clever writing.

Oliver being a super-aging kid was somewhat clever (at least Kirkman didn't get TRULY lazy with it until later),

Agreed, it was a cool way to bring in a sibling that wasn't going to be a baby for years.

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but all of the Half-Viltrumite kids being super-powerful even as small children? Going against Mark getting his powers as a teen? It was clearly Kirkman just going "ah, the hell with it".

The idea of it was a good extension of the time travel/fast aging gimmick, but the execution of it was poor. It was as if Thragg grew impatient and rushed his plans (maybe by that stage Kirkman knew Ottley wanted to leave and just tried to wrap everything up quickly?).

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I thought that was a nod to DragonballZ.

Kirkman INSISTS that he's never watched the show. Probably because the parallels are so clear that people would accuse him of hackery if he copped to it. Personally, I don't buy it- there's too much the two have in common for this all to be coincidence.

Who knows, its a bit suspicious though. Even before I ever watched the show I knew basically what it was and I suspect anyone into comics (as much as Kirkman) might know as well.

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Hard to deny. But still... Mark more or less solo'd the guy who was built up as an unstoppable threat- Eve only got in one shot.

1. Conquest initially takes the fight too lightly.
2. Oliver saves Mark on one occasion.
3. Eve does burn virtually all his skin off down to the muscle.
4. Mark does think Conquest just killed Eve.

To me the end result is just about believable. Its a great 'against the odds' win.

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My issue was that most of Mark's threats were dealt with too simply and easily. A couple of times he got smart (like how he got off of the alternate dimension Robot trapped him in), but the rest of the time he just broke his limits again and punched the other guy to death.

I think you have to take into consideration the state of Mark's health after many of these battles. He's often hospitalized/comatized for weeks after.

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The thing with the short-lived threats came to me as I was re-reading, as they'd build guys up for a YEAR, only to have the battle end in a single issue's time. It felt very weird to have that happen repeatedly.

I think maybe comic readers in general have been so desensitized by decompressed comics that taking care of threats in an issue or two (ie. basically how the first 50+ years of comics handled things) is jarring. :)