Today, the 100th issue of Robert Kirkman’s superhero opus, Invincible was released digitally and in stores across the country.
Over the last ten years, Kirkman’s has accomplished amazing things with this book. He has shown the growth of Mark Grayson from naive neophyte to global icon. He has dealt with nearly every superhero trope in the book, all while crafting an immensely deep shared universe packed with fully-realized characters.
Like many readers, I found myself wondering if, at long last, the only place left for Mark to explore was the afterlife. He has overcome so much, found himself questioning who he is and his purpose on Earth, and has achieved every young person’s secret desire and surpassed his father in almost every way.
So, where does one go from there?
With so much having been accomplished in the last decade, there was a great deal of concern amongst fans that Kirkman may have taken Invincible as far as he could. There was a strong belief among fans that the creator, who has a well-known capacity for killing off beloved characters such as The Walking Dead‘s Darryl Dixon, would choose to end Mark Grayson’s journey with this landmark issue.
He doesn’t. The path that Kirkman chooses to follow promises a major sea change for the book but in a way that feels completely natural and organic.
In the story’s final scene, we see Mark and his girlfriend Eve sitting on the roof, talking over what happened, as we have so many times before. The “whoah!” moment comes at the very end, when Eve reveals to Mark that she is pregnant with their child.
The look on Mark’s face in the final splash panel is priceless. As someone who’s been where he is before, I found the stunned silence accompanied by slack jaw to be both hilarious and utterly realistic.
In Kirkman’s Invincible, we finally have that rare superhero title that allows its characters to grow up, change, and adapt to the circumstances of adult life, rather than remain in a sort of perpetual adolescence. How will Mark and Eve cope with the pregnancy? How will Mark react once his shock wears off? How will they balance superheroics with preparing for parenthood? How will becoming a parent impact Mark’s role as the world’s preeminent superhero?
These are topics that have been covered very rarely in comics. Those few titles that have ventured into this territory have either been very far out of the mainstream (Love and Capes)or have been largely forgotten in the midst of reboots (Mark Waid’s Flash). Invincible is one of the best-selling independent titles, and Kirkman himself has become one of the industry’s heavy hitters in recent years. As he has done throughout his time with the character, he is challenging the established conventions of superhero books in a way that seems utterly common sense yet is absent from the mainstream.
What the final result of these decisions will be is anyone’s guess. What is certain, however, is that Invincible is sure to be one of the more interesting titles to watch moving forward.