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Invincible #12

Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2004
By: Kelvin Green



Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencils and inks: Ryan Ottley
Colours: Bill Crabtree

Publisher: Image

Well, you know, it's just a fight scene, and the dialogue between Mark and his father has been seen so often, whenever this "trying to convince an essentially good person not to do something nasty" situation comes up. So why does it work nonetheless?

It has something to do with the fact that Kirkman apologises for it on the letters page. "I know there are some of you out there that THINK you're going to hate this," he writes. That's because we've become so emotionally attached to these characters that the betrayal on show here, as a father beats his son almost to death for opposing him, affects us deeply. If this is the first issue of Invincible you've read, then you're not going to get much from it. If you're a long-term reader, then you're put right into Mark's shoes. We know Omni-Man as Mark knows him, a good father who just happens to be the most powerful man on Earth. As such, we were shocked when we saw him kill the other superheroes, but we trusted that there'd be a good reason. Last issue, we saw that the reason wasn't so good, at least from an Earth-dweller's perspective, and the betrayal that Mark felt was all too palpable, because we felt it too. This issue, as Mark attempts to stop his father's plans, we're sickened, not just because of the violence, or because it's a father beating his son, but because we trusted this kindly man and we were so very wrong.

And we're touched as the issue ends, even though it's a conventional and predictable ending, because we know these people, and we know that it's genuine. This is the only way the fight could turn out, because of who was involved, not because the writer is a hack pushing our emotional buttons with calculated cynicism (hello Messrs Howard and Spielberg). Kirkman isn't pushing the conceptual boundaries of superheroes, nor is he going for cheap thrills. He's merely emphasising the "human" in "superhuman", and frankly the result pisses all over the similar Ultimate Spider-Man.

The art is wonderful. The fight is rendered with a suitable brutality, both physically and emotionally. Omni-Man stands impassively as his relatively weak son pounds at him, something that's familiar to anyone who's disagreed with their parents. But it's not Mark's physical blows that eventually hurt him, and his fury as he finally snaps is also captured beautifully by the art team. These are complex characters with complex feelings, and it's all conveyed as much through the art as the writing, a perfect synergy. The awful sound-effects-lettering is still in plentiful supply, but I won't let that spoil the issue.

Funky lettering aside, this really is one of the best superhero comics out there. Superb stuff.



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