by Robert Kirkman (writer), Ryan Ottley (pencils), Cliff Rathburn (inks), FCO Plascencia (colors)

The Story: An epilogue to the Conquest arc sees relationships solidified and a preview of threats to come.

What’s Good: This issues serves as something of a breather after the back to back hell-rides that were the Invincible War and the Conquest arc.  Given the non-stop emotional and physical destruction that has been wreaking havoc both on our characters and their world, I suppose an issue like this really was a necessity, as things needed to be slowed down a bit.

As always, Kirkman shows that Invincible’s greatest strength has always been its infectious characters and their decidedly human relationships.  The increased tenderness, comfort, and intimacy between Mark and Eve is enjoyable, as is the heated revelation of the guilt Mark’s mother Debbie feels regarding his injuries.  Both dynamics feel very real.

Kirkman does a good job in this issue, sewing things up.  Rex’s funeral was oddly touching and humorous, with Robot both giving a eulogy and tearfully listening to his own speech from the audience.  It was nice to see Rex’s growth recognized; as Kirkman does a good job of demonstrating the value of the character.

On art, the all-star team of Ottley, Rathburn, and Plascencia continues to be one of the best in comics today, with each man shining in his own right as always.  Several frames are memorable here, particularly the interrupted kiss between Eve and Mark (flying spittle included) and the positively geriatric-looking Invincible at the funeral.

What’s Not So Good: Unfortunately, while this issue is necessary pace-wise, as a single-issue there’s only so high a grade that I can give a purely transitional issue.  In fact, while the little character moments are solid, a good chunk of this issue reads like a Geoff Johns-like preview of things to come over the next year.  All look interesting, particularly the idea that Eve may not have done a perfect reconstruction job, but that doesn’t change the fact that this book serves only as a preview.  Aside from reminding us of still-active elements or informing us of new issues now in play, there isn’t really any forward movement on any of these strands.

Indeed, there are so many future storylines being hinted at here that it would be impossible for any of us to see development this month, so as a result, you get an issue that at times feels scattered, or at least thinly-spread.  Two strands that will probably come to carry entire arcs are only given a single page each.  It seems that this month, Kirkman was more content to reassure that he has a lot left for the series than actually putting out a fully satisfying comic book.

Conclusion: Some solid character moments in what is otherwise a 22-page preview. Nevertheless, it still manages to tantalize.

Grade: B –

-Alex Evans