by Robert Kirkman (writer), Ryan Ottley (pencils), Cliff Rathburn (inks), FCO Plascencia & Sheila Saldana (colors), and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: The battle over the ruins of Viltrum reaches its conclusion and a new leader is chosen for the Coalition of Planets.

What’s Good: In an issue with a whole ton of fighting, it seems fitting to start with the artwork.  It’s great.  While Ottley’s action scenes are always great, equally strong are his characters’ faces.  However, it’s issues like this that remind you just how goddamned violent Invincible really is as a comic.  It’s ridiculously gruesome, yet never comes close to being slapstick.  The end result is a gorgeous but shocking book, one that’ll have you cringing at numerous points as Ottley and Kirkman do horrible, horrible things to your beloved characters.

Outside of that, Kirkman tosses quite a few twists into a comic that could’ve just been a bland 22-page brawl, which he deserves to be commended for.  It’s really something when a writer can truly, honestly make me believe that a major character may very well have been killed in the midst of a brawl.  Part of that is Kirkman’s reputation, but it’s also due to the amount of physical trauma he’s willing and able to inflict on his characters.  No one is safe and there’s no way to be jaded in reading this fighting scene, which is a sadly unique experience when it comes to superhero comics.  Many of them want you to believe that a character’s been beaten to death, that he can take no more, or that he’s truly in danger of getting killed off.  Invincible, however, is one of the few that makes you believe it.

Beyond that, Allen the Alien fans are guaranteed to get a kick out of this month.  It’s not just because we get Allen being Allen either.  There is a major development regarding the character and his future in the series that comes totally out of left field.  It’s one of those creative decisions where it’s clear that Kirkman could’ve gone a safer route, but went for the wacky instead.

What’s Not So Good: Thragg still isn’t doing anything for me.  He’s fearsome and he’s ridiculously powerful, sure, and Kirkman gets that across, but personality-wise, the guy’s pretty dull.  Thus far, he’s a cardboard cut-out template for your average mega-powered super villain.  I have yet to see anything that suggests otherwise.  Very little about the character seems particularly unique and there’s the constant sense that his dialogue more or less writes itself.

I’m also a little irritated at the character death fake-out this month.  Kirkman did it once already with Atom Eve and here he does it again.  It’s frustrating because the character’s seeming death ultimately carries no meaning – it was done purely to get your jaws to drop last month.  That really, really sucks and I hope Kirkman doesn’t make a habit of this.

Conclusion: Bland bad guy aside, this was a solid outing for your favourite characters with art that’s guaranteed to make you wince.  In a good way.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans