One of the longest-running superhero series reaches its conclusion this week. Invincible may not have hit the 600s or 700s like Amazing Spider-Man or Detective Comics, but it’s notable for two very big reasons. First, it’s one of the longest-running creator-owned series. Only a handful of other series, like The Walking Dead and Cerebus, rival the complete collection of 144 issues under the Invincible banner. It is also one of the longest-running superhero comics from a single creator. Robert Kirkman has written every issue of Invincible, and the indomitable duo of Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley have drawn every issue between the two of them. Even the famed run of Kirby and Lee on Fantastic Four only ran about two-thirds as long as Invincible.
This series departure from comics is a massive moment. It’s a historic accomplishment, and for a comic that has been adored both on a commercial and critical level. While Invincible never hit the sales heights of The Walking Dead, it remains one of the best-selling superhero comics outside of DC and Marvel Comics. It has also garnered a variety of recognition over the years, including an Eisner nomination. Now that the very final
These are the top 10 reasons why we will miss Invincible.
Every fan of Invincible agrees on the moment the series changed forever. At the end of its second volume, the concept was flipped on its head when Mark Grayson’s father was revealed to be an alien conqueror, not the Superman analog promised so far. A bloody battle followed, and the direction of the series was changed forever. Invincible has never backed away from changing its status quo, and that has made it a consistently surprising force in superhero comics. Unlike many series that always return to their baseline, Invincible’s only promise has been that things will really never be the same.
Superhero comics have a funny way of making violence seem safe. When two titans like Superman and Zod duke it out, there’s typically very little blood or collateral damage. That was never the case in the pages of Invincible. Every action had an opposite and equal reaction, when the strongest man on Earth landed a punch, cities shook and blood was shed. This is a comic that understood fights should come with consequences and made them felt in each issue. It was a refreshing take on a genre that normally ignores the costs of violence.
As the world of Invincible changed, so did its status quo. It wasn’t enough that characters left, plans changed, and new organizations took power. The scope of the series grew on a regular basis. What began with an emphasis on a small team of teenagers eventually became devoted to intergalactic struggles. An expansion of conflict was never a temporary diversion or event, but a permanent and important alteration. The world got bigger as Invincible got older, and it never shrunk back down.
If you were to gather 10 fans of Invincible in the same room, odds are that none of them share the same favorite character. The series' expansive cast provides too many options to make picking a favorite an easy decision. From far-out alien leaders like Allen to absurdly humorous villains like the Mauler Twins, Invincible loved to expand its cast with colorful characters. Looking back on 144 issues, it seems a veritable embarrassment of riches, one that fans will continue to relish for many re-reads to come.
Both Cory Walker and Ryan Ottler have brought a very special charm to Invincible. Walker’s sense of character design helped to make the world of this comic stand out from the very start, while Ottley’s richly detailed panels have made the epic battles of recent issues feel appropriately climactic. In both cases, the series has allowed artists to shape an entire universe and elevated their work to wider audiences. If you have followed Invincible, then you know this is a creator-owned title that cares for both halves of the writer-artist equation, and that has made all of the difference.
Death has become a passing matter in superhero comics, but not in the pages of Invincible. While there were still a few outs over the years, when a character was killed on page that has almost always been the end. It has come in climactic battles and surprising, unadorned moments. But no matter how death has arrived, it has always made an impact in this series and left readers and the story changed because of it.
Examining Robert Kirkman’s plotting on Invincible reveals a love for Marvel Comics in the 1980s. Much like the best X-Men comics written by Chris Claremont, Invincible would keep a dozen plot threads spinning at once before unleashing each one into an epic story. Silly characters like Dinosaurus would come to reshape both the titular hero and the world of this comic after years of development. It’s a great success for comic book plotting.
Invincible began with Mark Grayson as a teenager and now features him as a husband and father. Throughout the series, the focus has remained on Mark’s family in its many forms. That has provided a real heart to the story and allowed readers to track the growth of the story through the growth of a single family. This has allowed superhero antics and intergalactic struggles to remain rooted in the most essentially human context.
As the world of Invincible grew it became clear that future stories all pointed towards space. From Mark Grayson’s Viltrumite roots to the empire led by Allen the Alien, space held far more potential than Earth alone ever could. Rather than allowing for an occasional spacebound story, Kirkman and his collaborators made the universe the setting of the series. Space wasn’t just a distraction, but the eventual focus of this growing series.
As much as it pains us to see Invincible go, we also recognize the value of a good ending. Many series either lose track of themselves or repeat like a beaten record after too much time passes. That has never been the case with Invincible. Every issue has offered a step forward, and it’s ready to end as it reaches the limits of its universe. The hero has reached an ultimate level of attainment, and the setting has been fully explored. Rather than pushing for diminishing returns, Invincible is prepared to end on a high note. That’s a smart decision, and one that will help ensure its legacy for a long time to come.