by Robert Kirkman (writer), Cory Walker (pencils & inks), Dave McCaig (colors), and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: More details are revealed regarding the Viltrumite Empire, as Nolan and Allen prepare for war.

What’s Good: It really shows what a master of subplots Kirkman is when he can have an entire issue without its namesake, picking up on two characters we’ve not seen in some time, and have it actually be a fairly good read.

Of course, it’s hard to fail when one of those two characters is Allen. The jacked-up Unopan has got to be one of the most lovable characters in all comics today. He lights up any page he’s on with optimism and humour. Whether he’s describing his favourite food with wide-eyed joy as Nolan looks on in disgust, or attempts to stay off his sex-starved girlfriend, he’s just such a great character that legitimately makes you feel happy. If you dislike Allen, or are even impartial to him, I suspect that you aren’t human. Any issue is improved by his presence.

I also enjoyed the book’s final scene. Seeing Nolan’s pulp novels come to life actually leads to the book itself taking on a pulp sci-fi tone. A guy named the “Space Racer” who wields a magic ray-gun? That’s a lot of fun and the cheesy, retro tone of the scene promises much more fun yet to come.

This issue also marks the return of Cory Walker. Some of the visuals here are impressive. The giant splashes of what the Viltrumites do with their dead are particularly flabbergasting, as Walker manages to portray the enormity and scale of it all, making it really hit home with the reader.  Overall though, the art is solid and in fact feels stronger than his earlier work on Invincible.

What’s Not So Good: By and large, this issue’s obvious purpose is simply to provide info and nail down things we’d already assumed. It’s necessary groundwork as a prelude for things to come. That of course, doesn’t make it the most exciting book. Prepare to be smacked with expository text and some fairly meaty captions and bubbles. More than anything, Kirkman is just setting up the backdrop and getting the ball rolling, but all of this is done through pure exposition and in not the most subtle fashion. It’s basically one character opening his mouth and saying “here’s what’s going on.”

What’s worse, none of these revelations are particularly reveling. Much of it has been hinted at or mentioned indirectly in past issues of Invincible, so readers will probably feel like they already knew most of what’s being told. It’s necessary, but ultimately Kirkman is just nailing down those hints and assumption, fully realizing them, rounding off the edges, and providing the details. Essentially, we’d already read the back of the book, but now Kirkman’s actually reading the pages to us.

Finally,although he may be the co-creator, Cory Walker is sadly no Ryan Ottley. And even though I love him, Dave McCaig is no FCO Plascencia. Walker simply doesn’t put out the level of detail or vitality that Ottley does. McCaig’s colors are also much more subdued than Plascencia’s glossy, high-budget feel. As a result, the art just feels simpler and more laid-back than we’re used to. 

Conclusion: This book was obviously needed to move things along, but that doesn’t make it thrilling to read. Allen the Alien rules though, and is a definite selling point.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans

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