With its third issue, The Incredibles: Family Matters continues to cement its position as one of the most enjoyable licensed comics in recent memory.
Mark Waidís story functions as both a metaphor for middle age and as a good old-fashioned superhero romp, accomplishing both goals without ever short changing one at the expense of another. After the events of the previous issue, the depowered Mr. Incredible has been grounded--left holding the baby, quite literally--and so itís up to the rest of his family to cope with an attack of self-replicating faceless monsters in the local mall.
In terms of plot, the issue is nothing to write home about. However, the individual characterisation of each team member elevates the book above the ordinary. Mr. Incredible receives the most attention, with Waid taking the Incredibles movie as a jumping-off point in his depiction of Bob as a nostalgic middle-aged hero whose best days are behind him, dwelling in the past and going over past glories in an attempt to recapture his mojo.
Other characters are well-sketched, too: Violetís opening scene of teen romance provokes a perfectly fitting reaction of pre-teen disgust from Dash, and Helen remains a protective maternal presence without ever feeling as though sheís relegated to an outdated token female role. Thereís an easy banter between them that reflects the tone of knockabout comedy from the movie, making these versions of the characters feel identical to their animated counterparts.
The issueís central action scene is also well written. The bulky, faceless monsters make for an effectively threatening foil for the Incrediblesí attacks, and Waid makes clever use of the teamís powers in order to resolve the situation peacefully. The writer gets a lot of comic mileage out of Bobís backseat driver role, too, with the benched hero coordinating events from his sofa as he watches the fight play out on TV.
Marcio Takaraís artwork also plays an important role in making the action feel exciting, with his dynamic storytelling conveying the choreography of the fight clearly. His style is fairly clean and simple, but itís perfectly suited to the Silver Age inspired world of the The Incredibles. There are also smaller touches that show greater subtlety, whether itís the inventive super-villain designs in Bobís old scrapbook, or the coldly atmospheric splash page that shows the moment at which Bob is left at home alone by his family.
The final pages bring a twist that I didnít see coming, cleverly making use of Jack-Jackís unpredictable and erratic manifestations of power and changing the familyís relationship with one of their supporting cast members in a way thatís bound to be explored further in the next issue. I look forward to it.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!