Fan Shelf: Invincible #100

With Invincible issue #100 coming out on January 30th, we wanted to highlight how great this creator owned series by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley is, so we found some fans to talk to. After Ottley re-tweeted our call for interviews, dozens of passionate fans got in touch, thrilled to chat about their favourite book. we quickly learned that while there are devoted admirers of every comic, Invincible’s fans are particularly loyal.

Take Robert S. from San Diego, for example. He gave one son the middle name Grayson (after Invincible’s titular hero Mark Grayson) and plans to give the baby boy on his way— congrats Robert! — the middle name Allen (after the series’ cycloptic muscle bound alien). He recounts how Kirkman himself introduced him to the series at a comic con as he got a Walking Dead book signed. “He asked me if I had ever read Invincible and [when] I told him no, he asked me what was wrong with me. He then signed a hardback book and gave it to me. After that, I bought the second hard back and loved every second. I now have every single issue, hard backs, a giant Invincible statue” and of course, two wee fans in the making. That’s dedication.

Other fans like Cory Puga of Las Vegas collect original art from the series. Both he and his father, who he shares comics with (personal note: that’s amazing and adorable), became hooked during the Conquest story arc. Cory especially loves Ottley’s work on Invincible. “I now own more than 20 pieces by him as well as numerous Invincible related art pieces from other artists.” But that’s not all he collects. “I buy any Invincible merchandise available and am always looking for customized items. I buy two issues of the floppies (one to keep and re-read, one to send to my dad), then the trade paperback, then the Ultimate Collection hardcover’s, then the Library edition hardcover’s.” He admits that he “may be a little obsessed.”

He’s not the only one. Toronto’s own Sean Jordan aka Wordburglar, has been a huge fan of the series since day one. “I got into Invincible through Savage Dragon, the other best superhero comic in the universe. Kirkman was a big SD fan and wound up writing a Savage Dragon spin-off mini-series about Super Patriot with art by Cory Walker. It was a really good mini-series and in the last issue they announced their next project, something called Invincible. I bought the first issue the following month and the rest is history.”

Though some fans like Wordburglar have been there from the very start, others came to the series later on, describing themselves as being hooked and obsessively catching up on back issues. That was my experience and Marc Lombardi from Abington, PA has a similar story. “Invincible is one of those series that for the longest time I had wanted to read but I knew it would take some time to get caught up. It wasn’t until this year that a good buddy of mine, Mike McKeon, loaned me the first five trades, basically insisting that I finally dive in and give it a try. From the very first trade I was hooked. In a span of a couple weeks I furiously went out and got every single trade (at conventions and my LCS (local comic shop), Brave New Worlds in Willow Grove). A few short weeks later I was caught up and at issue #95.”

It seems that fans beget fans when it comes to Invincible, as was the case with Jonny Borders of Cornwall, UK. “[My] friend pretty much forced me to read Invincible. ‘You NEED to stick with it until issue 7 man!’ So I did and true to his word, issue 7 changed everything. I bought all the Ultimate Collection hard covers and bombed through them in a week before swapping over to the singles.” Aaron Meyers from Oregon “asked other comics friends if there were any superhero books that would appeal to me now. Several told me to check out Invincible and after reading the first trade I was hooked! I caught up and have been reading the issues ever since.”

In the decade that Invincible has been running, it’s gained a dedicated fan following, largely due to being written and drawn by the same creative team since its inception. It’s nigh impossible to find another comic book that’s run this long with the same core creators involved in almost every single issue. This gives Invincible a consistent feel that lets readers connect to their favourite characters in a way that other books simply can’t contend with.

And connect they do. Most fans I spoke to had trouble narrowing down one favourite character, and there was a lot of overlap in the fan favourites department. Atom Eve, the series’ chief heroine— who also happens to be Invincible’s love interest— is a popular choice. “I fell in love with Atom Eve from the get go” says Luke Lizalde of Los Angeles, CA. “I loved how patient she was with Mark in showing him the ropes. I love her willingness to do more with her powers than just fight villains.” Sarah Grace of Brooklyn, NY agrees. “How could I not love Atom Eve? She’s full of empathy, but she’s never a victim. She’s whip-smart, pragmatic, sexy because she’s comfortable in her own skin (before *and* after her weight gain), and strong as hell.” Eve’s strength is what appealed to Aaron Meyers as well. “We’ve seen her evolve… from a high school girl trying to figure herself out to a mature, strong woman trying to hold her life, family and business together with chaos and danger all around her.” No small feat for any hero.

Beyond Atom Eve being a wonderfully written female character, her relationship with Invincible has become a staple of the series. “[It’s] the emotional centre and heart of the book to me,” art aficionado Cory Puga explains. “The book really focuses on relationships (father/son, husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, brother/brother, etc) and these relationships are what all decisions and storylines in the book revolve around. At its core, the book is about family and love. It’s this heart that really draws you in and makes you care about the series beyond other tights and capes books. And Mark and Eve are the core of that.”

Allen the Alien, a character barely part of the story initially, seems like an unlikely candidate for fan favourite but he kept popping up during interviews. Stephanie Cooke of Toronto describes Allen as awesome, adding, “his banter with Mark is hilarious and he’s a really fun, strong character.” Allen definitely provides comic relief and ass kicking when required, but we think Al from Long Beach, California hits the nail on the head on what makes this alien so unique. “Even though he is a huge alien, it isn’t beneath him to talk it out to resolve the issue.” That’s a big part of why Allen’s my favourite: his default approach to solving conflict is uncommon in smash ‘em up capes titles. Particularly impressive, considering he’s also one of the most powerful heroes in the book. That’s easy to see from this great Ryan Ottley commission Kevin Nguyen from San Diego shared (seen at right) during his interview.

It does seem a bit odd that Invincible’s titular character did not come up more often as a favourite, but Michael Jamieson of Aylesbury, England rallies to his defence. “[Invincible] is a very conflicted hero and he is not always right. He makes genuine mistakes.” That makes the character more relatable and also “what sets him apart” according to Kevin Nguyen. “[He has] very human emotions and vulnerability, even though he has super powers. I feel like that’s what’s lacking in today’s mainstream comics.” This vulnerability makes Invincible more believable overall: he’s the champion but also sometimes the villain, due to naive or misguided attempts at helping.

Other fan favourites include Battle Beast, Angstrom Levy and Octoboss, the villain that Jonny Borders calls “fricking hilarious.”

Everyone has a theory about what might happen in issue #100 and though they vary wildly, there’s a spoiler free consensus among fans: Kirkman is unpredictable. “Honestly, I can’t even begin to imagine what Kirkman’s got in store” says Sarah Grace. “He always surprises me. That’s what I love about Invincible!” Michael Jamieson shares that view, declaring Invincible “fresh, unpredictable and exciting even after 100 issues.” Robert S. is brutally honest and points out “Kirkman’s shown he will kill anyone at any time, but you grow attached to characters. I think as long as long as Allen the Alien, Omni-Man, and Invincible are good in this issue, I will be extremely happy.” You and me both, Robert!

This sense of uncertainty is par for the course in Kirkman’s writing, and a large part of what makes Invincible such a compelling read. No one is safe. “Kirkman is a genius storyteller” Kevin Nguyen states, “[with a] no holds barred [approach] when it comes to plot twists and deaths, which is why his titles are so great.” Between The Walking Dead and Thief of Thieves (Kirkman’s other ongoing series’), the sole common thread seems to be this cavalier approach to his character’s lives. Common thread or not, it’s an eclectic career, as Marc Lombardi explains. “When you look at what Kirkman has written over the years, it’s like he’s three different people. He has stuff like Invincible, which at its heart is a comic book about friends and family (and superheroes, duh!). Then there’s The Walking Dead: not only a great zombie apocalypse drama, it makes us look at humanity as a whole and how even in a world overrun by the undead, it’s the people you have to worry about the most. Then there’s Thief of Thieves, which is a great crime drama in its own right and he has had amazing support from other writers handling the scripts. Three different genres and three critically acclaimed hits. No wonder the guys at Image made him a partner.”

Invincible has been one of Image’s biggest successes and rightfully so. Beyond being a great read, it’s also inspired artists like Luke Lizalde “to pick up my pencil and start drawing comics again.” Wordburglar uses his favourite comics as inspiration, as you can see by the Invincible issue #1 appearance (and Ryan Ottley shout-out) in his Drawings With Words video, shot during FanExpo 2012.

“You can go places in comics that you can’t in any other media, and for that I love them.” Jonny Borders states simply, a sentiment that not every series truly takes advantage of. Invincible does and we are sure fans agree that we’re all lucky to have it. Stephanie Cooke encapsulates it perfectly. “Invincible is a great breath of fresh air from general superhero comics. I love Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Animal Man and other superhero comics, but they can take themselves too seriously sometimes. Invincible looks at all of the clichés and pokes fun at them in a hilarious way. They avoid doing things that regular heroes would do and as a result, they wind up with a book that can be enjoyed by just about anyone.”

Invincible #100 arrives on Wednesday, January 30th at your local comic book store. Thank you again to all the wonderful fans that contributed to this article!