Saturday, 27 August 2016

Invincible, Volume 4: Head of the Class Review (Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker)

Mark Grayson/Invincible and his ma are still reeling from the revelations about his pa Omni-Man. But Mark hasn’t got much time to reflect with aliens invading and high school graduation ahead. Being a teen superhero, eh? 

There’s very little that’s decent in this one. I liked how Robert Kirkman showed the effects of Omni-Man’s absence like aliens deciding to have a punt at Earth now that he’s out of the picture, righting some perceived wrongs he made against them, with Mark and the other superheroes having to step up as a result. And I liked how Mark’s ma is falling apart right in front of him with alcoholism and depression – it felt very real and was the only emotional aspect to this comic. 

Head of the Class is a table-setting volume which is rarely fun to read. Lots of things are set up, most of which weren’t interesting like Robot no longer being leader of the Guardians of the Globe, Mark graduating high school, and the introduction of a series of possible threats. 

But Invincible still feels like a cheap, derivative knock-off of better superhero books. I think Robert Kirkman wants Mark and Amber’s romance to be like Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy’s but it’s not at all convincing and is impossible to care about. There are shameless rip-offs of Rorschach, Black Mask, Riddler, and Martian Manhunter while the superhero action is so mundane, rote and uninspired. 

The Angstrom Levy storyline might have some promise – a guy is dimension-hopping and collecting all the versions of him across the multiverse for some mysterious purpose – but the jumbled mess of other stories added up to one big shrug. Aliens invade! Fish people stuff! More aliens invade! Graduates high school! Mission to Mars! Superheroes punching supervillains! Eh… I would’ve preferred a continuation of the Omni-Man storyline instead. There weren’t enough character-building moments to justify so much treading water in such a large book. Mark still feels like a dreary lead and comes off as more of a tool than usual while the others, barring his ma, were all their usual blah selves. 

Cory Walker’s art isn’t bad – it’s very sparse but I like that aesthetic and it works well here. And he’s still doing the repeated panel stuff which is a cute in-joke for readers. 

The fourth volume of Invincible continues to show the series as a sub-par superhero title that tries to subvert mainstream superhero stories and ends up being a poor imitation of them instead.

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