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Invincible Volume 14: The Viltrumite War Paperback – May 10, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
I won't give any details away to avoid spoiling this incredible series of issues for anyone but the battle between the Viltrums and our heroes' noble forces, goes from epic to heartbreaking to jaw-droppingly unbelievable and then to heartbreaking all over again. No doubt some will argue that the ending to the saga may be somewhat anti-climactic, but it's an ending that no one is likely to see coming, and more importantly, it's a criticism that is also somewhat unfair. Given the number of wonderfully surprising and truly epic moments in the stories collected here, it's frankly hard to imagine any ending that could have topped some of them for sheer punch. Rather than going for a neat, predictable wrap of dangling plot lines that could very well have robbed the series of much of its dynamic tension, Kirkman chooses instead to organically resolve the conflict in a completely logical and yet, unpredictable way, that simultaneously brings the long boiling plot to a clear level of resolution, while planting the seeds for the future. In fact, with "War," Kikrman takes us on an unbelievable rollercoaster ride that is in many ways, a superb "thank you" to fans for their patience and dedication since the series began.
In these stories, Kirkman displays his strength of inventiveness which has always been the hallmark of Invincible. His writing is endlessly inventive and if Kirkman were not already so successful with his burgeoning comic empire, he may very well have been a much sought after commodity in the gaming world, because he has a knack for world building that is rare from most modern writers. The multiplicity of characters, the expansiveness of the world they inhabit, and the complexity of the relationships involved, raise Invincible above the average comic and elevate it to a solitary realm of true entertainment excellence. What's incredibly rewarding for the reader of Invincible is the purity of vision which guides it, so that continuity has some meaning, there are no reboots or resets, and the quality of the product being produced is consistently high. Invincible is always entertaining, month to month, and on those rare occasions when the events themselves are not overly satisfying, (which really is incredibly rare) the likeability of the characters involved and the dynamism of the world they inhabit, make Invincible positively addictive.
By far though, perhaps the most important reason for the extra level of success with these issues is the incredibly epic art by penciller Ryan Ottley. With "Viltrumite War," Ottley was finally able to let loose and is unleashed to produce some of the most gorgeous, detailed and dynamic art comics have ever seen. The pages of this volume literally sing with the love and care Ottley lavished over every one, and the visuals are compelling as works of art in themselves while never distracting from or being a disservice to Kirkman's excellent and exciting story.
Invincible is one of the best comics on the stands right now and is just some of the most fun, most entertaining reads available from any comic company. If you ever bought comics as a kid for the sheer pleasure and entertainment value of it, trust me when I tell you that you won't regret checking this world out if you've never read any issues before. But beware, go back and start from the beginning to truly enjoy this volume in particular. You won't regret it.
(Image Comics, 2011)
Much ultra-blood flows in this slam-bang, action-packed deep-space superhero slugfest, as Mark (Invincible) and his father and friends take on the remnant of the once-mighty Viltrumite empire, far off in the wastelands of space. This volume picks up where the last left off, and has a similarly gory vibe: don't leave it out where little children can find it (in order to protect those little minds from multiple images of disemboweled superbeings, etc...) But by all means enjoy the story, where we find out just how "invincible" these Viltrumites really are. You've never seen a super-story quite as intense as this one -- plus there's some good character development back home on Earth, all of which left me eager to see what happens next. I do sort of lament the loss of innocence for this series -- it used to be pretty kid-friendly, but that was a long time ago, now it's way too graphic and gross. It's a fun read for "mature audiences," though! (Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain book reviews)
Limbs being ripped off, decapitations and eviscerations galore, trails of viscera and stanky effluvia staining the spaceways. Sam Peckinpah's jaw is all agape at the sheer bloody violence of this story arc. If nothing else, Kirkman demonstrates that war comes with very ugly repercussions. Artist Ryan Ottley is dynamite. Not known for exactly keeping himself in check with his illustrating, he provides one shocking imagery after another. Just when you think that no Viltrumite comes more vicious than Conquest - and his death (re)match with Invincible seems to substantiate this - along comes the current Viltrumite regent, Thragg. Thragg - who could pass as Freddy Mercury's clone, p0rn mustache and all - was bred to be the mightiest and most ferocious of all Viltrumites. It's frightening how effortlessly and dismissively he slaps Invincible and Omniman around.
INVINCIBLE is frequently a comic book that's more comprehensively relished when read in trade format. Kirkman sort of thumbs his nose at Brian Michael Bendis in that he doesn't much indulge in the decompression style of storytelling. There are several issues in this arc which read really quickly. In issue #73, Kirkman skips ahead for weeks at a time, pausing at certain junctures only long enough to unveil quick narrative beats but then promptly moving on. In eight issues, ten months would elapse. Ten months of Mark being away from home. There'd be repercussions to that, too.
Invincible's shared universe is so well-realized by now. Kirkman has done a phenomenal job of world-building. Each character just seems to have a natural place in the narrative. I love Tech Jacket's presence here. It makes perfect sense that, with his multi-tasking alien tech suit (referred to as "the most powerful weapon in the universe"), Zack Thompson would be recruited into the war. I even like that there's a touch of awkwardness between him and Invincible and Omniman. Even though Tech Jacket and Invincible are both human teenagers, Invincible's more used to this epic stuff.
Kirkman arrives at an unexpected resolution to the Viltrumite War which then opens up so many more plot threads for future story arcs. But this resolution is defined by Invincible's having to make one of those "damned if you, damned if you don't" decisions, although in retrospect, in that time and place, there was really only one credible choice to make. Kirkman also reaffirms one prevailing notion: that there's nothing more horrific than that provided by our own imagination. There is a sequence in which Mark and company frantically race back home, believing that the Viltrumites have taken the attack to Earth. During this journey, we peek into Mark's agitated mind as he envisions image after image of vile acts being committed on Earth by the Viltrumites in his absence. Mark's character arc really feels believable (given the extraordinary circumstances). His sense of responsibility has never been more telling. Kirkman also reveals a bloodthirsty aspect to Mark that he's recently come to accept more and more. In their no-quarter-given combat, Invincible's intense bulldog tenacity is impressive as he refused to let go of Conquest even as Conquest was pummelling the snot out of him. Sometimes, all-encompassing fear - including anxiety for your loved ones - allows for the achievement of incredible feats. Mark's distress makes him more believable than his half-brother Oliver who is cocky to the point of being cartoony. It's Invincible's ability to retain his humanity - even as his more vicious alien side exhorts him to inhumane acts - that makes him comic book's most compelling teenaged superhero. Except that Mark Grayson's moral compass isn't set quite to dead center anymore. It's a bit off.
As usual, there's a sketchbook (12 pages) in the end with commentary provided by Kirkman and Ottley.