May 18 2009
I’ve read the first thirty issues or so of Invincible. A lot of it is awesome and a lot of it is an absolute trainwreck. Here’s what I think went wrong. (I’ve detailed its positives here).
Especially by issue 20, the story felt like it had ADD. The story flits around a lot; a character might be introduced for a few pages in issue 15 and he might make his next appearance a few issues later and actually matter a few issues after that. This storytelling style is often effective, but it can get grating. Let me demonstrate that by doing this review as a random series of paragraphs. Take that, transitions!
For the first few issues, the art was noticeably bad. The good news is that it improves. The bad news is… well, see for yourself.
The protagonist suffers from severe Mary Sue problems. Let’s ignore that he’s easily the most powerful being in the world–after all, we could probably say the same for Superman. What really annoys me about Mark/Invincible is how much the story bends over backwards to avoid holding him accountable for his actions.
- He has a hissy-fit with his boss and quits in issue 3. His next thought is that “Dad’s going to kill me.” He sees his father in the next panel and claims that work is going well. In the very next panel, his father asks him if he’d be OK with quitting his job so that he can have more time for superheroics. Lucky break!
- Mark fights on behalf of another student in issue 1 and the principal shrugs it off. “You’re a good kid, Mark.” In issue 14, the principal gets really angry with another character that was attacked by a gang of kids. I bet he wishes he got the Mark treatment.
- GIRLFRIEND: “I was completely out of line. You had every right to be pissed.” Issue 14. Darn, I wish I got the Mark treatment.
- GIRLFRIEND, whining: “It’s been weeks since I was at your house.” MARK: “Feeling happy after everything that happened with my family just didn’t feel right.” GIRLFRIEND: “Oh, Mark. I’m sorry. You’ve been through so much, and now this. I’m such an idiot.”
Other characters keep complimenting him. But he rarely does anything impressive. He’s just superstrong, and not nearly as clever as his teammates.
- “You’re a good kid, Mark.” Issue 1.
- “From all indications, you’re not doing too bad. Especially for being as new to this as you are.” Issue 3.
- “Damn, son. I’m impressed.” Issue 5.
- Onlookers break into applause. Issue 10.
- “You did the right thing, son.” Issue 15.
- “You did well, kid, as usual.” Issue 21.
- He gets his own parade.
- “You did good, kid.” Issue 31.
- “I remember when we met. You were so unsure of yourself then. You’ve come a long way.” Issue 41.
- “That was some impressive work back there, kid. Not just with the Martian ships, either.” Issue 41.
- “You did a remarkable job out here, son. You’ve really proven yourself.” Issue 41.
- “You did some impressive work today.” Issue 44. Even his enemies are spellbound by his impressiveness!
Everyone that opposes or disagrees with Mark is meant to seem nasty, paranoid and/or hysterical. This is another sign that he is a Mary Sue.
- In a drunken rage, his mother blames him for a very difficult situation with his father. There is no remotely logical way to blame this situation on Mark, and it is hard to dispute that the family is better with the father out of the picture. This scene reads like bad fan-fiction.
- Mark quit his job because his manager said (correctly) that he wasn’t concentrating enough. The manager shows up later just to show how nasty he is. “I’ll show you a confrontation!”
- Mark automatically fails a class because he missed 80% of the classes. That’s pretty reasonable, right? (At Notre Dame, most courses automatically fail students that miss 20% or more). Mark gets really annoyed with the professor. WTF? If you missed 80% of a professor’s classes without explaining why, of course he’s going to fail you. That’s not the professor being nasty–that’s just Mark being a dumb brat. Mark doesn’t even try to concoct an explanation, even though he has a government handler that can forge documents. (Maybe Mark’s National Guard unit got called up when the aliens invaded 🙂 ).
The pacing occasionally gets awkward when it tries to mix dialogue and action. Mixing an info-dump with a chase scene is questionable.
Seriously… Who robs a joint in a suit and tie?
There’s a fair bit of creepiness. Horny twenty-somethings in twelve year-old bodies… Eww. I could also have done without the aliens Frenching each other.