(Robert Kirkman / Ryan Ottley / Cliff Rathburn / John Rauch / Rus Wooten; Image Comics/Skybound)
Back when I still read superhero comics, Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley's Invincible was a monthly staple. It was a series that both myself and my son could read and enjoy together. Time passed as it is wont to do and as my son grew older and my taste for superhero comics soured, we both left the Invincible world, seeking our own greener pastures.
So it was an interesting opportunity to get to review Invincible #106 and check in with my former self.
Hello there old-timey Elkin, your hair looks fantastic.
That's right, reading this issue kinda made me miss old-timey Elkin, much like a conservative Republican misses Andy Griffith. The source of my rose-colored nostalgia can be summed up in two alliterative words:
Invincible #106 features, at its heart, an Oedipal tale of a young man (our titular hero) trying to prove that he has grown beyond his father – this story-line focuses on a particularly amusing arm-wrestling match written in the usual Kirkman breezy dialogue and rendered perfectly by Ottley and Rathburn and Rauch – but the soul of issue #106 lies in the character of Battle Beast.
If you follow Invincible, then you know what bringing an unfettered Battle Beast into the mix means. If you don't ...well... I weep for you.
Kirkman and Ottley have the ability to create these characters that, in the hands of lesser artists, would be one dimensional and hardly memorable. With their skills, though, a character like Battle Beast is fully fleshed out. He's more than just a unquenchable killing machine – there's depth to him, and it is this full realization of character that makes you love him.
Another old character, Doc Seismic, is brought back as well to add a third plot to this book. Kirkman is a master at following the classic monthly title formula of keeping at least three balls in the air at all times. As one plot point is wrapped up, the next one comes to the fore and a new one is introduced. It's formulaic, certainly, but Kirkman is able to do it with such glee and abandonment that it breathes fresh and pushes you along as a reader.
Yea, so, reading this issue reminded me of all the things that I used to love about this series and, maybe more importantly, made me consider adding it back to my monthly pile.
The fact that after 106 issues the story is still cracking is testament to the talents of the guys putting this comic book together. Well done, fellas – you've brought me back into the fold.