Over the course of the third volume of Invincible it’s interesting to see both the characters and the creative team find their groove. Mark is getting more comfortable in the superhero world and, at the same time, the visual look of the book is getting sharpened to what it will become for the remainder of the series. There’s not much difference between Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley’s artistic styles in terms of broad strokes, but I have to say I like Ottley’s faces better as they are better at conveying emotion.
This arc begins with the fallout of the brawl between Invincible and Omni-Man; Mark was put out of commission for two weeks after the severe beating his father laid on him. What I really like about what Kirkman does here is, it’s clear that Mark’s father’s betrayal has greatly affected the high school senior, but he is much more worried about his mother because during their fight Omni-Man referred to his wife as nothing more than a pet. She’s quite understandably heartbroken and turns to the bottom of a bottle for solace. At the close of issue13, Mark finds his mother passed out on the floor of their kitchen and a drunken Deborah asks her son why he chose to fight his father and consequently, in her mind, drive him away. I should mention this all happens after Invincible has agreed to take over his father’s job of stopping major threats to earth that no one else can. This is Mark’s “Welcome to being a superhero, I hope you survive the experience.” moment. Yes, punching bad guys is relatively easy for the half-alien teenager, but the emotional toll is really where the job gets you.
Don’t worry, for all is not doom and gloom in the life of our nascent superhero. Due to the tragic death of his novelist father, as far as the non-superhero rubes know Nolan Grayson was a successful writer who died in a car crash. For that reason, Mark has gotten a full-ride scholarship to the college of his choice if he graduates. So, he’s got that going for him, which is nice. His best friend William Clockwell has begun dating Mark’s coworker Atom Eve. Mark’s dating some random blonde girl named Amber, even though he’s clearly carrying a torch for Eve. I’ll be honest, I find the teen soap elements of this book enthralling.
Reginald VelJohnson High, as well as most of Mark’s town, was damaged by an alien incursion. Something that the patchwork version of The Guardians of the Globe that was put together after the previous team’s wholesale slaughter at the hands of Omni-Man isn’t very good at stopping. Large world-ending-threats aren’t their forte. In fact, they’re kind of bumbling idiots, even if they’re a team made up of compelling and seemingly competent superheroes who, despite all this, haven’t been able to click as a team. And when you’re a superhero team being funded by the government, results are important. The struggling superteam presents a fitting counterpoint to the relative ease with which Invincible handles that aspect of his life.
The next threat on deck for our hero is unknown. Although, issue 18 introduces a new character with dimension hopping abilities named Angstrom Levy, a man who’s going around to different dimensions collecting that dimension”s version of himself. It’s basically an independent comic version of Marvel’s Council of Reeds or Kangs. (Reed Richards of Fantastic Four resident dick fame. You may know Kang from being a time-traveling conqueror of many worlds within the Marvel universe.) And if you know the history of those groups, you understand that any time a group of like-minded super geniuses are in the same place bad shit is bound to go down. It should be fun.