ADVANCE REVIEW: “Invincible #111″ Angles for Walking Dead Readers with New Direction

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR “INVINCIBLE #111″

Invincible #111″ (w) Robert Kirkman  (a) Ryan Ottley  Image Comics  $2.99
Invincible #111″
(w) Robert Kirkman
(a) Ryan Ottley
Image Comics
$2.99

“Invincible #111″ is the first issue in Robert Kirkman’s “bold new direction for the title.” According to the solicits, this new direction would see the title “Suddenly infused with more gore and terror than a zombie apocalypse.”

This issue certainly delivers on that particular promise, as Kirkman gleefully smashes heads, slashes throats, and causes all kinds of trauma to pregnant women. This bold new direction also appears to include no mention of the fact that the series’ title character was raped in the previous issue. Dealing with the ramifications of that are obviously far less important than the “Terror! Violence! Mayhem! Horror! Misery!” themes which feature prominently on the cover.

Let’s be clear about what is happening with this series: Robert Kirkman is angling for The Walking Dead‘s audience. He makes no secret of it. The solicits for this book loudly trumpet that title in reminding anyone who doesn’t already know that Kirkman writes The Walking Dead. The letters column for this book consists of a tongue-in-cheek back and forth between the Robert Kirkman who has written Invincible for all these years and the Robert Kirkman who writes The Walking Dead. Already this book feels nothing like its past self and more like a version of The Walking Dead. The reasoning behind this isn’t difficult to figure out. New issues of The Walking Dead consistently sell above sixty-thousand copies, making it a regular entrant in the monthly Top 25 and occasional entrant into the Top 10. Invincible, on the other hand, has been relatively sluggish, dropping from more than fifteen thousand copies in April of 2013 to just over twelve thousand for the same month in 2014. Fan interest has apparently waned in sync with the writer’s commitment level, as the series has skipped four months out of the last sixteen, though never skipping two in a row. Given that sort of inconsistency, it’s no surprise that the readership began to fall away.

Perhaps this new direction is what Kirkman required to stay interested. Perhaps this is just the kind of story he wants to tell now. This is just what the “Bold,” “Startling,” “New” Invincible is.

For what it is, it’s well-crafted. The story moved along very quickly. The reader is left with little time digest one horrific moment before the next comes hurtling at them, though there are some monologue-heavy moments from the now-villainous Robot to break things up. Rex’s thoughts on world domination place him among a growing number of villains who try to justify their actions as attempts to fix a broken world, a theme which has gained increasing traction as even mainstream media begins to report on the rigged system which makes up our own reality.

Despite the amount of action in this issue, Ryan Ottley’s art seems uncharacteristically static. What movement is present is largely conveyed through the use of Dragonball-Z-esque speed lines. There are a couple of standout panels which really use forced perspective to effectively create action in the panel space. When these moments occur, they add fine punch to their scenes but are not frequent enough to lessen the feeling that the visual plotting for this issue consists primarily of filling space between ultra-gory shock moments.

Rus Wooten’s lettering really stood out for me in this issue. The way he uses angles and varies his compression/decompression of action phrases lends them a degree of kineticism which is difficult to quantify in terms of its value to the overall reading experience.

VERDICT: 5/10

“Invincible #111″ is a shell of the title’s former self. The characters look like the ones long-time readers know, but they’ve lost the liveliness and mirth which once set them apart. For a well-crafted, if ultimately depressing and joyless book, it gets an average rating. It’s certainly not The ONLY Super-hero Comic Book You Will Ever Need, unless you want the psychic fuel which will lead you to hurl yourself headlong over the nearest bridge railing.

 

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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