Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Invincible, Volume 3: Perfect Strangers Review (Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley)

With the Guardians of the Globe dead, we’re gonna have tryouts for a new superhero team! Also, Mark discovers the shocking truth behind his dad - he was never “Superman”, he was more like “Zod”!

The main part of this third Invincible volume is a ton of exposition from Mark’s dad, Omni-Man, a reveal I thought was pretty good - until I tried to follow the reasoning behind it all and, wow, was it confusing! So, unlike Superman whose powers change with different suns, Viltrumites’ (Omni-Man and Invincible’s people) powers work anywhere in the galaxy? Alright. Weirdly, Superman's explanation for his powers makes more sense but whatever, let's go with this lazy assumption. 

So, about the explanation: the Viltrum people want to expand their brilliant eugenics-type empire across the galaxy by force but only by targeting worlds that are less developed than their civilisation. Anyone stands in their way, they’re killed. If they become part of the empire then their race takes a massive leap forward with the help of Viltrum’s shared technology. Earth is less developed – Viltrum want to bring us up to speed. What’s bad about that? Nothing I can see! 

So what was Omni-Man doing on Earth? Well, he’s there to research and protect Earth for 500 years until Viltrum invades and they see if Earth will become part of their empire. Ok - why not just invade straight away? Why wait 500 years? And why that number – why not 10 years? And is that Earth-years or Viltrum-years or is an Earth year a standard unit of measurement in the galaxy? Because our version of time is only really suited to humans on Earth! 

Robert Kirkman’s increasingly convoluted and crap explanation continues to trip itself up. One minute Omni-Man is saying he made certain major choices because he fell in love with Mark’s mother and his feelings made him act differently - then, mere pages later, he’s saying that she means nothing to him. Zero consistency. 

And apparently the death of the Guardians was Omni-Man’s way of preparing the way for Viltrum to invade by wiping out Earth’s defences - but if they’re all like him, and it takes only one of them to effectively cripple Earth in a minute, why even bother with a pre-emptive strike? A handful of Viltrumites, let alone who-knows-how-many, would easily defeat anything Earth could possibly throw their way! It just makes the last book completely contrived. 

There’s a kernel of a good idea amidst this incredibly messy exposition but Kirkman’s incapable of finding it. He just throws in pretence after pretence for no reason! Despite the superhero tryouts being as boring as they sound, I had thought that, following Omni-Man’s actions, this book would be the turning point in the series where Invincible stops being a crap superhero parody and becomes its own thing but re-reading Kirkman’s garbage about Viltrum changed my mind. Oh and look, in case you missed seeing that place in this volume, Mark’s going back to high school in the next book... yay...

On a related note, Tom Cruise read this volume and instantly became a believer in the Viltrum race, giving millions of dollars to his new idol, Robert Kirkman!

Invincible, Volume 3: Perfect Strangers

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