Welcome, welcome . . . to Comic Book Clash; where heroes and comics clash for supremacy. Allow me to say that we are about to go into a Triple Threat Match. There will be battles. There will be war and things will NEVER be the same.
We start this Triple Threat Epic with Robert Kirkman’s Other most popular book . . . Invincible. Invincible’s Viltrumite War is an 8 part storyline that will feature the title character to face off against his father’s race. What does this fight have to do with Earth? What does this fight hold as repercussions over Invincible and his family and friends. So join me as we take a look at Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley’s Invincible.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Invincible was a book that brought super heroes back into the forefront of Image Comics, who at the time, were concentrating on non super hero books like Powers. Kirkman gave us Invincible, who people may seem to roll up as Spiderman and Superman mixed together but I find Invincible really carved his own niche over time. You see Mark Grayson is the son of a Superman level hero named Omni Man; who is from a race of beings called Viltrumites. Mark Grayson’s father, going by the name Nolan Grayson, came to Earth, settled down and have Mark with a human woman that he fell in love with. Mark grew up and suddenly had powers like his father. He was a strong as his dad. As fast as his dad. He could fly. This gave Mark the incentive to become a hero, with some help of his dad. Mark becomes the hero Invincible as he goes through high school.
Time passes and Mark goes through a lot. He changes girlfriends. He ends up having a standing relationship with the Guardians of the Globe and their parent organization known as the Global Defense Agency. He goes stronger. He ends up fighting his father as we find out that his father was originally there for other reasons that were evil. He finds a half brother and makes him a side kick. He ends up killing someone. He changes his costume . . . twice. His father decides to be good again. He’s now dating and been . . . well, sexually active with his girlfriend, a heroine named Atom Eve. His mom was dating another guy since her and his dad . . . parted ways.
Invincible Returns one shot happens as Mark comes to terms with him killing someone, his new look and finding where he was going was not where he wanted to be. After a talk with Cecil Stedman, Mark realizes how far off the road he has flown. That how black and white Mark sees things and must realize that everything is not that clear cut. Mark sees that his judgment is not so clear and makes changes. After some soul searching and helping other people out after a disaster, Mark returns to a variation of his original costume . . . to find his dad with a super strong alien named Allen, heralding that it is team for them to go into space . . . for war against the Viltrumite Race; who originally sent Nolan to Earth to conquer it. Mark stopped him and Nolan was jailed by his race. During that time in jail, Nolan realizes how much he loves the Earth, his family and his life there more than being a Viltrumite. Allen and He meet up with Mark and so this . . . is where our tale begins.
The first part of the Viltrumite War opens with an invasion. Wait! Not an invasion of the Viltrumites but rather a bunch of beings from another dimension. Fighting along side the Guardians of the Globe, Invincible fights back the invasion of these weird aliens, losing 2 members of the Guardians along the way. Funny thing is that during the battle, Invincible is on the phone with his girlfriend, who tells her why he’s running late to help at the shopping mall. He tells her to call his younger brother Oliver, known as Kid Omni Man to fight off the problem at the mall. Oliver takes care of the issue at the mall while Invincible and the Guardians finish up at the battle site.
Meanwhile, Nolan (Omni Man) and Allen fly over, looking for another Kirkman hero known as Techjacket. When they come across one of Techjacket’s neighbor who happily tells them where to look. When questioned as to why tell them so easily, the neighbor answers that the Bad Guys don’t knock first. Techjacket is on his satellite with his dad when Allen and Nolan visit.
Mark and Oliver are back in the house with Mark’s mom as they talk about Nolan. Oliver is feeling a bit ticked for not being asked to go with Mark and their dad into space against the Viltrumites. He wants in. Mark counters that Earth needs protection but Oliver is sore about Nolan not even seeing him yet. Mark explains that their dad is worried about coming to the house and having his mom see him. You see, when Nolan decided to try to follow the orders the Viltrumites gave him nearly 2 decades later, he pretty much cursed and said really crappy things to Mark’s mom. Yet, before the Grayson brothers can continue, Nolan walks into the house; to the shock, awe and painful look of Mark’s mother. The two talk a moment about what they were feeling as Techjacket and Allen wait outside. We then see Nolan going upstairs to join the boys, being happy to see Oliver. Nolan decides that he will take Oliver along instead.
Mark goes to meet up with Eve in full costume, telling him it is just about time to go. They kiss and . . .seemingly more. Mark brotches the subject that he could very well die and Eve will have none it. Eve tells him to hold her and he does; crying cause . . . well . . .wow. (Note: Eve found out she was pregnant but has NOT told Mark so I think that is why she is crying).
Omni Man, Invincible, Kid Omni Man and Allen go on to a ship, leaving Earth. Nolan goes over stating that he is giving them telepathic earpieces so they can talk in the vaccum of space. As they joke over teaching Oliver to hold their breath for a long period of time, time passes. Suddenly, the ship gets hit. And hit hard. So hard that most of the ship, except for the main deck which detaches and flies off is destroyed. Invincible and Kid Omni Man both leave the ship to look for Allen and their father, who were in other parks of the ship along with Techjacket when it was destroyed. Techjacket comes out with Allen floating behind their attackers . . . 3 Viltrumites including Conquest, a Viltrumite Mark thought he had killed.
Conquest mocks Invincible about Eve, since Conquest nearly killed her during their last battle. Oliver goes in to fight but gets . . . karate chopped away? Okay. Blood in space . . . nice. Invincible fights some of the other Viltrumites with Allen and Techjacket. Nolan flies in to fight Conquest and gets his nose broken for his trouble. Invincible and Conquest begin their bloody, some what graphic and glorious battle as our hero asks how did Conquest survive their last bout. The group fends off the three Viltrumites, thinking they will win till . . . Vitrumite reinforcements arrive to make their day that much more special. Kid Omni Man loses the rest of his air and goes to the nearest planet and Conquest decides to go after him. Conquest is on his tail but Invincible follows. Invincible and Conquest continue their EPIC clash. Nolan breaks away from Allen and Techjacket to go after his sons. The EPIC fight between Conquest and Invincible stains the pages to its . . . let me just say that you have to see the rest of this fight to believe it as one combatant has inter organs on the outside while the other gets their throat crushed.
In Talescria, the home of the Coalition of Planets and the ones that were gathering Omni Man, Invincible, Kid Omni Man, Allen and Techjacket. They get worried and going to meet with their congress about plans for the war with the Viltrumites. Meanwhile, Allen and Techjacket hid within Techjacket’s suit attached to the Viltrumite ship that had come in during their fight. Since Invincible is badly beaten and wounded in his battle with Conquest, Omni Man decides that him and his youngest son will stay on the planet where the battle took place to give Mark time to heal. They create a camp, hunt for food and bond, giving Mark several MONTHS to heal! There are some good character bits of bonding between Nolan and Oliver, who barely knew his dad while Mark was healing. This includes Nolan and Oliver hunting for bug creatures. At first Oliver refuses to eat them but comes to love them over time. Meanwhile, the Coalition of Planets initiate war with the Viltrumites. There are also character bits between Allen and Techjacket while attached to the ship till the ship is attacked by the Coalition and they join them. Oliver and Nolan have a heart to heart as Nolan admits his love for Debbie, Mark’s mom. The passages of time go as more and more hair grows on Mark, Nolan and Techjacket. The comic ends with one of the aliens that help motor and dispatch activities of the Coalition’s armies contacts the ruler of the Viltrumites. Oh yeah . . . Conquest is dead.
Invincible #74 opens with the Coaltion leader, Thadeus, a Viltrumite that betrayed his race to be peaceful, tells the other members of the Coalition that they are indeed winning. Til an invasion of their very palace and planet brings their planet to their knees. Allen grabs Techjacket . . . who was about to have sex with an . . . blue alien chick. What?! Um . . . okay. They go out to fight alongside Thadeus as Viltrumites go out of their way to beat the hell out of the Coalition. Meanwhile, Mark finally heals and the three heroes go off that planet to join the Coalition . . . in time for a full scale assault. Thadeus, Allen and Techjacket hold their own but their other forces seem to be getting pummeled by the Viltrumites. That is til Nolan, Mark and Oliver arrive as reinforcements, helping to turn the tide of the battle. Thadeus finds the traitor, one of a weird group of aliens who share parts of a brain amongst 2 of their number. His brainmate shoots his traitorous half through one eye as our heroes catch him. The leader of the Viltrumites pull back his forces while the judas reveals that the Viltrumites are planning a counterattack . . . using every last Viltrumite they have.
Thadeus, leader of the Coalition, decides to take a group of heroes, including Allen, Techjacket, Invincible, Omni Man and Kid Omni Man in for an assault on the homeworld of the Viltrumites, Viltrum in order to prevent them to get this counter attack ready. They fly out to the planet without a space ship. As they approach Viltrum, Thadeus gives a little background on the planet, claiming that most of Viltrum’s population is dead due to the Scourge Virus. And while the Scourge Virus killed a majority of the Viltrum, the planet stands as a monument of the empire. And there is nothing no apparent of that than the ring that surrounds the planet Viltrum. This is probably one of the most powerful, disturbing yet genius things that has ever been printed in comics: a planetary ring . . . made up of dead bodies of the Viltrumites. I am NO kidding. A ring on orbit made up of DEAD BODIES. Wow. Just . . . wow. Normally, I would wait to comment on something like this but . . .DAMN. Kirkman you are a genius for coming up with a disturbing and grandiose concept and Ottley, thank you for being the artist of your caliber for doing it in both a disturbing yet tasteful manner.
The group arrives at the ring only to get attacked by a female Viltrumite. She is quickly joined by others. And another nasty brawl beings as many Viltrumites go after Thadeus, known as this great betrayer and come to find out the man responsible for creating the Scourge Virus that nearly killed the Viltrumite race. As the battle goes crazy, Space Racer, another member of this Coalition team, comes in with monsters to eat Viltrumites.
Invincible tries to battle against the Viltrumite leader, Thragg. Yet Thragg seemed so much stronger than the other Viltrumites. Invincible’s brother joins him against Thragg; only to have his arm ripped off and his lower jaw pulverized. Seriously. I mean, if it makes you feel better, just a page before, Allen punched off a head of another Viltrumite. Invincible is angry at this point, attacking Thragg, proclaiming on how he killed Conquest. Thadeus decided that while everyone is distracted to have Space Racer shoot a destructive blast into the planet. The leader of the Coalition grabs Invincible and Omni Man as the three fly, following Space Racer’s blast. The three Viltrumite heroes follow the blast as it pierces the planet . . . and destroys it. Wait. WHUT?
Yes. Thadeus, Invincible and Omni Man fly through Viltrum, causing it to explode . . . and destroy the planet..
Hold on a second.
Yes, our heroes basically go through a planet, causing its destruction as well as killing many more Viltrumites.
As our combatants are surrounded by debris and a sea of dead Viltrumites, Thadeus proclaims their victory. That the Viltrumite Empire that sought to rule over all . . . was now no more. As survivors go towards their respected forces, Nolan and Mark flank Thadeus as he faces Thragg. The Coalition has freed the planets that were under the Viltrumite Empire. They had won and Thragg went on about how Thadeus had took their history, their heritage, their home away. In utter rage, Thragg PULLS off Thadeus’s head. PULLS IT OFF! Thragg proclaiming that there is nothing left but vengeance. Thragg proceeds to beat the hell out of Invincible and Nolan for a bit. Space Racer collects Allen and they retreat, leaving the Graysons on their own. Thragg’s rage was about to kill Invincible when his father came in and took a shot that was meant for Mark; watching Thragg’s arm bust through Nolan’s gut to the other side of his body. As Nolan’s intensines were floating out of his body, Thragg had Mark in his grip. Thragg knocked Mark unconscious and was about to kill him when . . . Thragg stopped. Thragg stated that if the Viltrumites were going to survive, they needed all Viltrumites. As one solder was about to finish off Mark and Nolan, Thragg stopped him. The leader of the Viltrumites stated that they would need Nolan and Mark most of all if they were going to survive.
Mark wakes up to see Allen in a Coalition Ship, healed from his injuries after 2 weeks of rest. Allen explained that he was now in charge of the Coalition after Thadeus’s death and that the Viltrumite Empire had collapsed. Mark joins his dad to see that his brother Oliver was being healed in a stasis pod. Nolan explains that Oliver’s genetics of both Viltrumite and whatever alien race that his mother is from is what saved Oliver from death. Okay . . . I just want to say that what is up with the heroes in Image. Is Superman type power mean you have to go have sex like there is no tomorrow? Was Nolan Capatin Dynamo’s wing man? WTH?! LOL.
Anyway, after find that Oliver will recover in time, Mark goes and talks with Allen to find out what has happened to the remaining Viltrumites. Allen proclaims that there has not been a single attack since the day of Viltrum’s destruction. Not a single sighting of the Viltrumites has been reported and Allen had the Coalition search all their planets and former members of the Viltrumite Empire in order to find Thragg and his crew. But nothing. Mark stops, horrified at what the answer could be; They went to Earth.
Mark , Nolan and Techjacket race towards Earth, fearing the worst. Mark especially goes through anxiety of what would happen if Thragg and the Viltrumites were attacking Earth . . . killing his loved ones to the point that he’s obsessing over it. Nolan tries to keep Mark calm but the moment the ship is in Earth’s orbit, Mark rushes out. He flies into Earth. Nolan joins him shortly as they find that nothing is wrong with the planet. Nothing was destroyed. Everything is okay. . . till Thragg appears before him.
Mark punches Thragg and wants to fight but Thragg brushes him off. Thragg states that he had done nothing to the planet but that could change depending on the decision Mark and his father makes. Mark and Nolan agree to hear out Thragg. Thragg said that their Empire is dead, just like their homeworld. And while there are 37 Viltrumites left, they have come to Earth. They would not interfere with Earth live, becoming part of it and cross breeding to rebuild their race. After thousands of years, they would ascend again. So the choice was either late the Viltrumites stay or Thragg would order them to attack and destroy this world in retaliation for the destruction of Viltrum. Mark seems against it but thinks it over as they talk . . . and agrees.
Mark and Nolan reconnect with their loved ones on Earth, seeing Debbie first. Debbie is glad that her son and husband are ok. Debbie and Nolan reconcile while Mark goes to see Eve, who is a bit . . .Thicker now, ashamed of her weight gain but Mark is happy to embrace his love. They talk for a bit. Cecil appears at Debbie’s house, shooting Nolan at first then apologizes, stating it is good that he is back to being on their side. Cecil goes back and stops a top secret project. The story arc ends with Mark in the sky stating that the Empire had fallen and destroyed Viltrum but still lost the war. Over in Talescria, the Coalition homeworld, Allen finds a special data note for him from Thadeus who tells him that if they failed against the Viltrumites, to use the Scourge Virus he had hidden away to kill anyone with Viltrumite dna.
The story was just . . . in a word, EPIC. There was so much to this storyline and to the book in general that made it engaging, appealing and full of concepts that were different and fresh. Robert Kirkman does here just what he does with almost every single thing that he writes, take tropes that are common place and turns them on their ear. Taking Superman, Spiderman and other hero like tropes and make some striking yet relatable differences that resonate with any reader. Mark Grayson seems to be one of those characters that is instantly likable and realistic. His multitude of feelings and beliefs are all brought to a forefront as this war gives him some very harsh looks at reality and himself.
Kirkman weaved an epic that there was just as much character development, interesting plot and great character interplay as there was action. Every character, even ones without a name, seemed to have a personality all their own. To Mark’s interpersonal relationships with his Mother, Brother, Father and Eve to the friendship that develops between Techjacket and Allen to Thragg’s begrudging need to help his race survive; these were all great examples of Kirkman’s skill to display personality and building character interplay behind events. Thragg deciding to let Nolan and Mark live was surprise yet seemed in line with a character who is a leader of a race. And it was a race he wanted to survive. Thragg knew that Nolan and Mark are the best examples of how they could survive. And he gave a very nasty yet honest deal to the Graysons. All these complex decisions and great build up to each event, not necessarily battle but event in the story gave so much fruitful discussions, character development and over all scope that just rang with readers. And the fact that our main hero is responsible for the willful destruction of a planet is a great way to mirror our own dealings with war as good people fight and casualties a great. Kirkman is every bit as skillful and intelligent a writer as people make him out to be. Honestly, Kirkman is going to take his place among the greats like Moore, Gaiman, Miller and more sooner than later. This book is more than proof of that.
Ryan Ottley is probably one of the best artists in the business now as he blends his somewhat cartoony style with some realism and graphic detail at just the right places. Every last panel of The Viltrumite War is a feast for the eyes. If you wanted emotion to be convey ed, Ottley did it with style. If you wanted a bloody, drag down fight to displaces the ugliness of war, Ottley gives you near cinematic displays that will put you in awe. Every single panel of Invincible tells a story without words; as Kirkman lets Ottley tell you many things about our characters without a word being spoken; like Mark’s complete nervousness and fear about the Viltrumites on Earth was exceptionally displayed on Invincible # 77. Mark did not talk . . . just think and his words, body language and graphic thoughts more than summed up the nervousness and fear that he was feeling without flat out saying he was afraid. Kirkman and Ottley alone are worth picking up this book.
Cliff Rathburn does an incredible job on inks if Ottley does not ink himself. You know when someone is good. You know when someone is evil. All the spectrums of emotion are easily laid bare as well as the mood and atmosphere of whatever planet our heroes are on. Kudios to you Rathburn with the assist on Ottley’s artwork. Also, please give some thanks to Fco Plascencia who is the colorist for the entire Viltrumite War storyline. Every page was vibrant and full of life thanks to the colors provided and really made Ottley’s pencils and Rathburn’s ink stand out in this blood soaked, emotional epic.
Overall, Invincible has been getting a lot of hype and is worthy of every second of it. Kirkman, Ottley and company give us a tale of war at its most realistic yet at its most wonderous at the same time. It is ugly. It is hard and it is full of choices that we may hate for the rest of our lives but have to live with. Kirkman and Ottley are a dream team that really takes usual super hero tropes and gives it more emotion and action that we have dreamed off while giving quality characters and story that resonate with us all.
So with great pleasure, I give Invincible: The Viltrumite War (#71-#78) a World Title Contendership. And thus ends this round of Comic Book Clash.
Next Week: Invincible will face off against another cosmic themed story. Find out Who next week.