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Invincible Volume 15: Get Smart Paperback – January 24, 2012
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Somehow, when we weren't looking, Mark Grayson evolved from a wide-eyed teen superhero to a jaded and wiser person. He's been through a lot, and, thinking about it, what Mark's experienced had to have changed him. The result is a more mature, more pensive Invincible. Mark has always wanted to use his powers to help people, except that lately he doesn't feel like he's making any headway, that all he's been doing is gravitating from one bloody skirmish to the next. We see several examples of this more contemplative Invincible as he finds alternative methods of settling disputes with this and that villain. And after learning of a shocking fallout from a recent disastrous encounter with the savage Dinosaurus, Invincible is struck with an epiphany. What he does next is one of them game changers, one of them status quo breakers. When Cecil Stedman found out what Invincible did, it almost provoked a spit take. I don't know where Kirkman is going with this particular arc, but as ever I am on board. For a volume mostly taken up with quiet character moments, I couldn't read the thing fast enough. But it's just Robert Kirkman realizing that he can't shove epic battles down our throats every dang issue. You have to build up to that.
I was also intrigued with the sub-plot involving Robot and Monster Girl, two of my more favorite characters in the Invincible universe. Last I saw them, they'd vanished into the Flaxan dimension, a place in which time moves at a different rate. Robot and Monster Girl have found their way back to Earth after having spent (from their perspective) twelve years in that dimension. Except that the now grown up Robot and Monster Girl are inexplicably on the outs, and for now Kirkman is keeping mum as to why. But I'm liking the focus on them. Another neat surprise is Gravitator, a villain by necessity who is given a second chance by Invincible. The scenes with Gravitator and Invincible make for nice and funny moments, and I hope this guy sticks around. As ever, Kirkman isn't shy about populating this series with a wide cast of characters, even if it's by virtue of a throwaway cameo. It makes Mark Grayson's world feel lived in, as if even when he's not around, stuff is still happening. The Invincible universe benefits from one of the most well-realized world-building ever exercised by a comic book writer. And because it's a title that is creator owned, I always feel a genuine sense of anticipation whenever I crack open its pages. There's no sweeping company agenda here or editorial constraints. It's Robert Kirkman unbound, baby. At this stage - really, at any stage - there are several ways he can go with Invincible, and it's for sure a compliment that I'm nervous about what I think he's about to do. After a volume of a heap of introspection, things are gearing up again.
Oh, and let's not forget that the sensational Ryan Ottley draws the thing.
A major event shakes Marks confidence and he is left pondering the question of how effective he truly is at defending the helpless, he comes to a decision that will shock some but certainly not all "Invincible" fans out there.
If you have been with the series this long be sure to pick up this volume as this new development and storyline promises a fresh wave of intensity and excitement that I have found missing for the last 30 issues or so.
There are super-hero confrontations but this is much more about resolving conflict without fighting and doing good without destruction.. A more intelligent volume in my opinion and worth a look
"Invincible, v.15: Get Smart"
Written by Robert Kirkman
Illustrated by Ryan Ottley
(Image Books, 2012)
Coming off of a particularly gruesome story arc, in which multiple super-beings were graphically, gorily mashed up and eviscerated, the Invincible series shifts gears and "gets smart," with college-age superbeing Mark Grayson rethinking his whole approach and taking some radical steps to change up his game and step out of the typical superhero paradigm. I kind of wish author Robert Kirkman had skipped the whole Viltrumite War gross-out phase and gone straight to this more nuanced twist... "Invincible" used to be a book that was relatively family friendly, but the extreme on-screen violence of the last few collections brought that era to a swift and decisive end. I get that there is a hunger for "realistic" super-books, but I still mourn the passing of a more innocent, accessible "Invincible." Anyway, moving on, I thought this volume was one of the best in the series, well-paced and intelligently written, with our hero's character taking some fascinating turns and headed for some real growth. Very eager to read the next installment and see what happens next! (DJ Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain books reviews)