by Robert Kirkman (writer), Ryan Ottley (pencils), Cliff Rathburn (inks), and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: Our heroes run to the rescue as the Viltrumites attack the Coalition of Planets’ headquarters on Talescria.

What’s Good: Man, it’s about time.  It feels like forever since the last issue of Invincible, but I guess the fact that I’ve reacted so strongly to an additional month’s delay means that this whole Viltrumite War thing has managed to suck me in more than I expected.

I think that part of this is because that now that the Viltrumite War has begun in earnest, Kirkman’s attempt at a cosmic-styled adventure is actually quite a bit of fun, which I didn’t expect given how bland some of those set-up issues were.  However, when the stakes are this high and when all the key players are pulled together, the end result is fast, grand, and undeniably exciting.

Much of this is thanks to Ryan Ottley, who is putting out some of his best work to date.  Apparently, Ottley is just really, really good at cosmic stuff.  Everything is extremely vibrant, dynamic, bright, and wonderfully detailed.  The action sequences are bombastic, over-the-top fun that’s a real treat to read as well as look at.  I also can’t help but mention how much I like haggard, scruffy looking Mark.  This is just great stuff all around from Ottley.  Also, the Great Thaedus actually fights this month and man, that guy is just jacked underneath those unassuming robes.  I couldn’t help but laugh.

As far as Kirkman’s script goes, there’s a lot to like here.  I continue to enjoy Tech Jacket’s place, even though I never had any prior attachment to the character.  His powers add something really unique to the heroes’ power-set and general look, and his youthful voice and unassuming awkwardness is a nice fit.  I also continue to enjoy the growing chemistry between Nolan and Oliver, which remains unique and highlights not only Nolan’s role as teacher, but the more unique aspects of Oliver’s racial lineage.  Together with Mark, the three have a great dynamic.

What’s Not So Good: Since Tech Jacket came on the scene, I’ve not really been a big fan of how Allen has been used, big fan of Allen that I am.  Somehow, Allen has become the straight man and while he’s all right at it, it’s not the character’s best use, since we no longer get any of the quirk that’s made the characters so beloved.  There’s even a scene this month between Allen and Tech Jacket that is quite similar to a hilarious scene a few months ago between Allen and Nolan, except this time, Allen’s in Nolan’s role.

The Viltrumites themselves are also fairly bland this month, which is pretty inexcusable given that we actually see the return of a certain Viltrumite character, who goes on to be completely underused.  Their fight banter is uninspired and their leader doesn’t have much compelling about him either, aside from being a dead ringer for Freddie Mercury.  Kirkman tries to add a mysterious element to him this month by having him lug about the skull of his “liege,” and while this helps a little, I’m still not as interested or as menaced by the character as I should be.  Whatever happens, Kirkman has an almost impossible feat ahead of him in getting the character to match Conquest.

Conclusion: Bland Viltrumites aside, this was a really fun outing with awesome art that continues to surprise me with how much I’m enjoying it.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans