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Invincible Volume 13: Growing Pains Paperback – September 7, 2010
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The information in Amazon is incorrect, this title is after fighting conquest (probably the goriest story out there). I don't want to get too detailed in this review, but this story marks the return of Omni-man and allen the Alien to earth. Overall a great read.
In addition to something crazy that happens to Eve (!!!!!) the other surprise (pleasant) is that Mark’s little brother, Oliver, gets a little sprucing up. I really like his new, older character design. He goes from a blue boy to a young, normal looking teenager:
If you haven’t read this yet it seems like a big change but it’s perfectly explained in one of the issues. Sometimes spontaneous changes with too-perfect explanations irritate me but not this one. Totally acceptable.
Athough I won't get into the details of the stories, there's a wonderful two parter involving Nolan, Mark's father and Allen, the Alien, which are exceptional for highlighting the overall strengths of the Invincible comic by Kirkman and which help to explain its success and longevity in a generally moribund comic market. Both issues display a sense of humor and level of inventiveness which are the hallmarks of the series, and stand out. The other stories are equally engaging if not quite as important to the overall symphony Kirkman has been building to since issue one, and the volume as a whole is a crucial prologue to the long gestating "Viltrumite War." In fact the issues with Nolan and Allen advance that plot dramatically, with both characters partaking in a cosmic search of "things that might help" our side in the coming war.
But other events are imporant too, including a disturbing/disgusting yet oddly humorous and bound to be controversial post dinner conversation with Mark and Eve's father, some growing suspense/intrigue in Mark and Eve's relationship as well, that promises no easy answers, and some advancement of the plot involving Mark using his superpowers to earn a living. All of these are important to the overall tapestry of Invincible though some seem less obviously justifiable than others. In fact the conversation between Mark and Eve's father struck me as a little much even for Kirkman, a writer well known for pushing boundaries in Invincible and elsewhere. At one time, the father's comments are clearly offensive and perhaps intended to offend, but may strike some as a litte out of place in the context of the comic we're reading. On the other hand, part of what makes Invincible a successful series is its ability to convince that the characters in this fictional world are grounded in a reality that makes the world believable; despite being a superhero Mark still had to go to college for a bit, deal with girlfriend troubles, figure out how to make a living, had some trouble with his boss, learn to deal with his mom's problems and a younger brother with a seriously skewed view of things...., as a few examples. So while the convo with Eve's father about Eve after dinner seems to come out of left field, some might argue that it's actually in keeping with the overall tone of the series, which is that there' some reality to this unreality we're reading.
In the end I couldn't make up my mind about how I really felt about the scene, mostly because I couldn't decide what Kirkman was really trying to achieve, based on the dialog employed and the artist's execution, or in other words, I wasn't certain Kirkman really didn't intend for the audience to identify with the father's statements. I'm assuming he didn't, as the comments were so outrageous as to be objectively nonsensical, but as executed, the intention of the creative team was not as clear as it could have been, which I think is unfortunate. In any event I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, and there's nothing there to acually ruin one's enjoyment of the series. It was however a moment that actually pulled me out of the comic and made me think, "Woah, am I reading a series about a half alien teenage superhero told in bright colors and a smewhat cartoony style here, or watching a sick episode of Law & Order, Special Victims Unit?"
All that aside, this is a really entertaining series and is well worth the investment. Invincible is one of the best things being published today and is worth checking out. I can't rave enough about the artwork. The art by Ottley is beyond amazing and the love and care he poors into every page is obvious. The high quality of the artwork is one of the main reasons I return to Invincible. Corey Walker's two issue contributions are equally competent and enjoyable, but it is a testament to Ottley's work ethic that the actual creator of the work is now being compared to him rather than the other way around. Both artists are fantastic and deserve praise. The color by Fco Plascencia is a little more muted or nuanced perhaps than the original colorist on the book, and I admit, slightly less to my liking, but continues to make Invincible one of the best looking comics in the local comic shop.
I wouldn't recommend this volume for beginners though. For that, I would suggest the excellent Invincible Ultimate Collection HC Vol. 1, which every fan of comics should own. This is a must have for Invincible fans... at least until these stories are collected in a HC edition.
Plenty of action – and bloodshed ensue. The artwork and story-telling are good enough and the volume ends with Mark about to go off to fight the Viltrumites. Volume 14 next.