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Invincible #144 [Review]

invincible_0144The End of All Things (part twelve of twelve)

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencilers: Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker
Inkers: Cory Walker, Mark Morales
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Covers: Ryan Otley, Cory Walker, Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $5.99

I’ve read relatively few issues of Invincible over the years. Off the top of my head, I remember reading some sort of #0 issue when the main series was in its 20s on numbering. Whether I read them or not, I remember when Invincible guest-starred in a couple of Marvel issues Kirkman was writing. I want to say I read #50 or so, and I remember the one-issue-summer-crossover-event Invincible War thing. I have the first paperback of the series, and recall getting the first couple hardcovers to read from a library. And at one point, I had the title on my pull list, though that didn’t wind up lasting terribly long. Without digging all that deeply, I’ve previously covered several issues:

And now it’s been a number of years since the last time I read an issue, consciously–I believe there was a 25-cent issue last year that I got but do not recall reading. So offhand, it’s been more than 1/3 of the series since the last I read, and here I went and bought the last issue, and read the last issue. The final issue "ever," until some follow-up special or mini-series or such is done.

I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. I knew I was buying the final issue, that it comes at the end of the series, the end of a 12-part story, etc.

Needless to say…spoilers ahead!

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Again, I have NOT read the previous 11 chapters of The End of All Things.

This issue picks up with Mark Grayson–Invincible–telling his son about where he comes from. The sense of deja vu that I got reading this makes me almost certain it is a recreation of a scene from the first issue of the series, as Nolan told Mark about himself and such. A fitting bookend sort of scene. We find that Mark is leaving, and Markus–his son–will be remaining on Earth with Scott, a character I’m not familiar with, but suspect was a fairly major character around #100, and apparently Markus’ acting father, or "real dad." Mark himself is now leader of the Viltrumites, and is leading them off into space to a new sort of greatness–as a peaceful people, rather than a warring empire of domination and conquest. And then the bulk of the issue is vignettes of the years that follow–as we see moments from the various characters’ lives, defining incidents, etc. Mark and his daughter visiting Earth, Markus getting his costume, incidents in space, a revelation about Mark’s wife, and finally, a reflective moment as Mark looks out upon the peace that he has led.

This is definitely a final issue sort of thing. It feels more like an epilogue…but then, an epilogue is still part of the story, so, we’re getting into stupid little technicalities there. In part through the use of the slice of life/vignettes, I suspect a number of lingering plot threads were dealt with, albeit over my head as of this first reading, addressing probable concerns such as Mark’s son, what Markus’ life might be like and if he’d follow in Invincible’s footsteps; and of course we see a number of things play out in broad strokes. In some ways, this seems to offer answers long-term and by covering so many years (centuries?) it effectively lays to rest the story as a whole. Maybe there’ll be other Invincible content or revisitations in years to come, but the broad strokes have been established; we see where everyone ENDS UP, even if we don’t have the page by page issue or story-length details.

I’m sure this is not nearly as satisfying for me as it would be if I was a lot more invested in things, if I had read more of the series and more recently. That said, I really like the way it ended, doing all this–while it gives me some idea of a handful of characters that survive, and some idea of those who don’t, and broad strokes of where things wind up, it also intrigues me–makes me want to find out the details, to go back and get to read the entire series from the start, all the way through. Even if I obtain the compendium volumes–and I suspect 3 of those would get the whole series, possibly with room for spinoffs–I have no idea when I’d actually get around to such an undertaking.

That Invincible gets to end like this–on the creators’ terms, that it gets an ending on their timing, and it becomes a "finite story," I think makes it a lot stronger in some ways, and as long as the series as a whole is kept in print, it will be interesting to see how it lasts, and what sort of fans come in "after the fact," that jump into it knowing/seeing it to be a finite story instead of just another indefinite ongoing series without end.

I’m not thrilled with high priced single issues, and this was $5.99 with multiple covers. I’m not even sure if I got the "main cover" or not, so I’m a bit less thrilled with that. But assuming I did succeed on that front, and given the extra length of this issue AND that it IS a final issue, a finale, a sendoff…I’ll give it a lot more leeway for a one-time "incident" of high pricing, as it’s definitely double-length, so at least justifies its cost.

The story is solid, as said, and seems to wrap up numerous plot threads and the like. Visually, this shares art by the two artists associated with the series, which is a nice touch, giving both a chance to handle this final issue.

All in all, I enjoyed the issue, I’m glad I got it, I’m not overly troubled by the price (only the use of variant covers), and would certainly recommend this to anyone already following the final story. It may be worthwhile also for you if you’ve read the series here and there, TO see where things have wound up and where they go. Yet, as a #144, if you’ve never read the series, this is hardly the place to start.

I wouldn’t consider this a masterpiece, but it seems like a solid wrap-up to a series, and caps off the series well while transforming it into something it would never be able to be as an indeterminate-length ongoing series.

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Invincible #73 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Haunt #2 [Review]

Co-creator/Writer: Robert Kirkman
Layouts: Greg Capullo
Pencils: Ryan Ottley
Co-creator/Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Cover/Variants Artists: Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley
Publisher: Image Comics

I’m actually enjoying this series. We’re only two issues in, and there’s still a lot of questions about the main characters, and I still have to look back into the issue to remember character names and such. But it’s a pot brewing a good deal of potentil to come.

The brothers from the previous issue must literally work together to stay alive and protect their friend–the dead brother takes control of their “merged” body and explains to the living brother that he can do what needs done, but needs to not be fought.

Father Kilgore–the surviving brother–is none to pleased at the current state of affairs and wants to be left out of things. As his brother makes clear, though, he’s already involved. They wind up fighting a mercenary who seems to almost be played for dark humour more than actual threat. Finally, the brothers–as “Haunt” (though I don’t think the name’s been given yet for their merged form) begin to move toward some answers, with a fairly cliche sort of cliffhanger.

As said, there’s a lot of potential here. Backstory to both of the brothers and their friend will be interesting to discover in coming issues. Seeing how the cliffhanger will likely add greatly to the status quo, and that development will be cool.

And whether the visual style and tone or something else, I can’t help but be reminded somehow of both Spawn and Spider-Man; though this character seems like he’s much more at home in a Spawn world, obviously. He could also almost work in an Invincible sort of world. (Though as yet, I don’t believe there’s anything to say this takes place in one, the other or either).

Taken as a whole, the writing and visuals make for an interesting issue, and I find myself intrested in and planning on pickin up the next issue to see how that one is.

For now, especially if you can still get ahold of the first issue, I recommend this for fans of McFarlane, Spawn, Kirkman, or Invincible…and casul fans somewhere in between.

Story: 6.5
Art: 8.5
Overall: 7.5

Haunt #1 [Review]

Co-creator/Writer: Robert Kirkman
Layouts: Greg Capullo
Pencils: Ryan Ottley
Co-creator/Inks: Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Cover/Variants Artists: Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo
Publisher: Image Comics

OK, so call me a sucker. This is a first issue, yeah. And I recently missed out on the debut of Chew, which had seemed interesting from an ad or two I’d seen. The Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman co-creation Haunt also seemed like a sorta interesting thing–again, from an ad. I’d pretty much forgotten about it entirely, though, until I received an email yesterday (the day before the comic’s release) about its release. I don’t know what landed me on this particular email list, but at least it was targeted, and did its job very, very well. Take these factors: two big names–creators whose books I’ve enjoyed recently, and a cheap-in-today’s-market cover price (this book’s only $2.99 cover price)–and combine them with “notice” or “attention” and you have a combination sufficient to get me to pick the book up. (Unfortunately, though I should’ve realized, there is the taint of variant covers, which I didn’t even consider…I wasn’t paying attention and am not particularly thrilled with the cover I wound up with).

So…what’s this Haunt thing all about? It’s only the first issue, so there’s plenty to wonder at. We’re introduced to a handful of characters and how they’re related to one another…and find out that one of them is actually dead, apparently a figment of his brother’s imagination. Only, there’s something more to it than “imagination.” When the surviving brother looks in on a woman both brothers had been involved with in the past–he’s got some less than wonderful history with her, it seems–he doesn’t think there’s anything to protect her from, though is soon proven wrong. When a couple of armed individuals enter the scene, a bit of a transformation occurs, and we meet the title character of the series.

I doubt much of it will stick as interesting to me long-term. But for the moment, there’s something interesting about the title character to me–the relationship between the brothers and the transformation that leaves one facing “Haunt.” I was put in mind of the Kevin Green transformation into Prime (for those few of you who remember the character). There’s also the slight twist on a quasi-archetype that I won’t get into as it’d be pretty serious spoiler territory.

The art team’s pretty familiar, and yet brings something new to the table. There’s a difference in visual style from Invincible and Spawn, but also a similarity to both…sorta like it has the grittiness of Spawn softened by the brighter style of Invincible. And honestly…works very well to me.

On the whole–for both the story and the visuals–this feels very much at-home in the same universe as Spawn (it remains to be seen if it is, actually) while not entirely out of place in a universe that has Invincible in it. With or without the comparisons…it’s got a fairly generic premise mixed with an intriguing twist sufficient to hook me and leave me interested in seeing what the next issue brings.

I bought this issue thanks to the initial hype/marketing and the names attached to it.

The package itself–the story, the hook–will bring me back for another look-see.

As something new, to get in at the beginning of what’s likely a major project with either Kirkman or McFarlane, this is well worth checking out…if only for this first issue.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Invincible #65 [Review]

Conquest Epilogue

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Aubrey Siterson
Cover: Ryan Ottley & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

This issue provides the wrapup/epilogue to the Conquest story arc. As such, this issue is pretty low-key action-wise (though the visuals don’t hold anything back). Invincible wakes up in a hospital room where he finds out how Atom Eve survived. We’re then moved along to the funeral of Rex Splode, who actually did die, and see the reactions of key characters (and there are plenty of other Image characters to be spotted in the crowd attending the funeral). Invincible gets some closure as he sees the mangled body of Conquest, and we also see some ominous foreshadowing of what’s to come. The issue closes out with Invincible stating an official change in personal policy regarding his dealing with supervillains…one that makes plenty of sense, and should be interesting to see explored in coming issues.

The story itself is solid as usual. No real complaints there…it’s what I’d expect of an epilogue. While a couple of scenes seemed a bit drawn-out, it’s the same sorta thing I found charming/enjoyable in early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, so I don’t have any real issue there. I’m not chomping at the bit for the next issue…but I’m suitably engaged, and can’t see just arbitrarily stopping here. This story came out of the single-issue Invincible War, which was a point I decided to try “jumping on” this title. I’m interested to see where the next arc goes, as I expect it to tell me more on whether I’m enjoying the title in and of itself, or just enjoying seeing direct follow-up to an issue I decided to try.

The art’s also quite good. Things look as they should, and probably my only complaint is that the remains we’re shown of Conquest are quite…gory. That’s fitting in the story, but none to pleasant to look at (even though being such is the point and so the intent of the art seems achieved).

I don’t see this issue being a great jump-on point for new readers; though just because it’s an epilogue is no time to jump off for newer/continuing readers. A good issue that continues to be worth its cover price.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Invincible #63 [Review]

Conquest part three

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Aubrey Siterson
Cover: Ryan Ottley & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

After all that hype for Captain America #600…I had no trouble at all getting that book. However, this book was sold out, and sold out again this week resulting in my needing to visit another store this week just to get it. I’ve taken new notice to the banner at the top of the issue’s cover: INVINCIBLE WAR: Aftermath…this is the third or so issue to sport that banner…after the single giant-sized “crossover event in one issue” #60.

This issue, we see Invincible continuing to fight the individual known as Conquest, suffering quite the beating at the man’s hands. While trying to survive and figure out how to defeat him, Invincible’s allies (those still able, after the events of Invincible War) are also attempting to help out. Expectations lead one to expect one thing…but this issue delivers something else that’s not entirely shocking, but also wasn’t telegraphed from the beginning of the issue, either. We see some real change going on in the character’s status quo–stuff that will have drastic effects on who he is as a person for experiencing what he does.

The story and art both continue to work very well together, getting things across and in general presenting a story that–in character and in visuals–maintains an excellent consistency from one issue to the next. As I said in my review of the previous issue, I’ve not read more than a handful of issues of this series, but I feel like I’m able to figure things out as I go along.

THere are better comics out there…but there are so many worse comics out there. If you’re a fan of Kirkman’s work in particular and haven’t yet checked out the series, it’s worth jumping in if you can find the last few issues as well.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Invincible #62 [Review]

Conquest part two

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Aubrey Siterson
Cover: Ryan Ottley & FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

This is actually the third consecutive issue of Invincible that I’ve picked up. I was drawn in by reviews for #60, the “summer event in one issue” bit, and decided I’d stick with the title for a bit and get a feel for things. (After all, that’s how I’ve wound up following other long-running series through the years: snag a crossover issue and then stick around finding out about the title post-crossover). I’m still far from really knowing who all the players are in this book beyond the title character, but I can follow along recognizing faces and what little I do recall from reading the first TPB (and the #0/recap issue that came out a couple years back).

Someone recruited alternate-universe/reality Invincicibles, and invaded earth. “Our” Earth’s Invincible–with a little help from his friends–was able to save Earth…but not without massive destruction, a lot of deaths, and plenty of other things now in the aftermath of that event. Someone from Invincible’s dad’s home planet is the big-bad of this issue, basically forcing Invincible to prove himself worthy of that planet’s heritage, and giving our hero quite the run for his money. There’s what seems like a bit of a “reveal” at issue’s end that’s certain to have further ramifications in coming issues…and I’m sufficiently hooked to at least stick around for this story arc.

The art’s quite good. There’s a consistency to it that fits it in with every other visual I can think of that I’ve seen of the character(s)…something very welcome, and yet highly unusual to me in contemporary comics. The art by itself isn’t entirely a selling point, but it definitely enhances the reading experience in the way I expect comic art do so.

The story’s interesting–maybe not as interesting as it could be, but I definitely enjoy the fact that the same writer (the creator of the character) has been on the book since its beginning–another rarity in comics found from the bigger companies.

All in all, not a bad point to jump into the series. It by no means explains everything up front, but allows one to pick up on things as we go along…just like comics I enjoyed in my youth. All the more if you can pick up the prior two issues, this is worth picking up if you’ve any interest in checking out the title.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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