After reading issues 43 through 47 of Invincible, I realized that the issues really serve to continue the themes that I brought up in my last review. Mark Grayson’s life is still in a state of flux. He’s unsure whether or not he should quit going to school. The strongest relationship he has, his friendship with Samantha “Atom Eve” Wilkins, is tested mightily when Mark tells her how he learned of her feelings for him. In case you you don’t remember, a future version of Eve confessed her true feelings. This makes present day Eve feel creeped out and extremely emotionally vulnerable. Yes, even a girl who can change matter is sufficiently freaked by time travel.
Elsewhere, Mark tells his extraterrestrial friend Allen that the set of pulpy science fiction books that his father wrote may be the key to finding a weakness in the Viltrum scourge. There’s a great bit in this sequence where Mark is hanging out with Allen in the dorm room that Mark and William Clockwell share; William takes one look at the alien nonchalantly chatting with his best friend, gives a girlish scream and books it right out of that dorm room. It’s a small moment that showcases Kirkman’s comedic flair.
In the perfect showcase of what it’s like to be a superhero, Debbie Grayson shows up at Upstate University campus unannounced to go to lunch with her son and tell him she has met someone new. She is explaining this when a female Viltrumite soldier, the first seen in this book, arrives to once again try and persuade Mark to join the conquering alien race and help take over Earth. The pair will eventually brawl, but Mark gets called away from the parlay to deal with a sea monster attacking a cruise ship, and for a moment the two are allies. This scene serves to further elucidate how far Mark has to go before he’s ready to face his father’s people. The female Viltrumite dispatches the giant with a scary detached ease and Mark is left gasping for breath. The cease-fire between the two superbeings ends when the monstrous threat does and our hero ends up with hands around his throat while a powerful lady berates him with ominous threats. She may not get to kill Mark Grayson due to complicated rules of engagement, but she does, however, get to capture Allen the Alien just one issue later. It’s not much of a consolation prize, but it’s a consolation prize nonetheless. Of course, Allen lets himself be captured so he can talk to Nolan who is in the brig on the main ship of the warrior race’s spacefaring fleet.
Much of Invincible in its fourth year it has focused on the title character becoming a better superhero physically. At the end of this group of issues, it seems that Mark and his governmental overseers have finally set their minds to doing just that by giving Mark a set of super ultra heavy weights located at the Guardians of the Globe’s secret Utah headquarters. I didn’t bring this up when the whole idea of having to exercise to get stronger as a superior was brought up all the way back in issue 31, but I think it gives that aspect of Mark’s story a certain sense of organicness that is missing from a lot of superhero books where the hero can or can’t lift something based on the needs of the plot. At the end of year four of Invincible, it’s obvious that Mark is at a true crossroads in his life and that’s great news because there’s no telling where the book can go from this point forward.