Heroes Never Rust #22 by Sean Ironman
The Next Generation
There are new superheroes created all the time, but the most of the ones the general audience knows about were created decades ago. At times, I’m saddened by that fact. When I look around at the superheroes being created, most tend to fall into one of two categories—a version of a pre-existing superhero (for example, a spin on Superman), like I talked about in my post about Astro City or the superhero is placed in a different genre, perhaps a detective story or a horror story. Pure, original superhero characters that were created recently can be difficult to find.
A decade ago, Robert Kirkman, Corey Walker, and Ryan Ottley created Invincible, one of the great pure superhero comics created since 2000. Many people might know Robert Kirkman as the writer of The Walking Dead comic, which is now a hit show on AMC, but Invincible is his better work. Invincible recalls the superhero comics of the 1960s with bright colors and superhero action, but it doesn’t revel in it. The same goes for its characters. While readers may think of some pre-existing superheroes when reading the comic, Kirkman doesn’t constrain the characters to stay similar to other heroes. Only the most basic characteristics can be said to be similar. Kirkman is more interested in creating a new superhero universe than playing with an old one.
The main character, Mark Grayson, aka Invincible, can be thought of as another Spider-Man or other teenage superhero, but that’s where the similarities end. His father is Omni-Man, a member of the Viltrumite race, a humanoid alien race with super strength, speed, flight, and near immortality. Omni-Man also sports a great mustache. Mark develops powers as part of him being half- Viltrumite and teams up with his father, who is a superhero.
At least, that’s what he thought.
Omni-Man kills other superheroes and it’s revealed that he was sent to Earth as part of the eventual conquest of the planet by the Viltrumite race. He wants Mark to help him conquer Earth. Of course, our hero, Mark, says no. The two fight. But Mark loses, and he loses badly. The only reason Mark isn’t killed is because his father realizes he loves his son and can’t go through with his plans of conquest. His father being a villain was a great twist and helped not only further separate Invincible from other superhero comics, but it also gave the comic more weight.
One of the problems with many pure superhero comics is that nothing seems to have consequence. They’re fun and entertaining, but the actions of the characters don’t mean anything. Characters are either safe or the consequences are undone a few months later. Sometimes, like in Marvel’s Ultimate comics, too much occurs. Creators kill off and/or introduce characters constantly. The reader doesn’t have time to care about what’s happening. Invincible finds a nice in-between. Characters are altered by the events in the comic, but the reader also gets to spend quality time with them so that he or she cares about what’s going on.
The world of Invincible feels large and nearly anything can happen. Just a short time ago, it was feared that Mark Grayson was going to die. While he didn’t in that particular story, the world is full of enough rich characters that the series could survive in another form. It might have taken a while, longer than I would have liked, but a new superhero universe is out there and it shows the legs to be around for a long time. Invincible is over 100 issues old and doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon.
Sean Ironman is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida, where he also serves as Managing Editor of The Florida Review and as President of the Graduate Writers’ Association. His art has appeared online at River Teeth. His writing can be read in Breakers: An Anthology of Comics and Redivider.