Invincible Volume 25: The End of All Things Part Two
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Ryan Ottley & Cory Walker
Publisher: Image Comics
Reading the end of one of my all time favorite comic series reminded me a lot of watching the series finales for “Chuck,” “Six Feet Under,” or “Rescue Me.” Those were all shows I really enjoyed and was sad to end, however I also felt like they went out on great notes that provided enough closure that I didn’t walk away needing anything more from the stories. (Other finales like “Justified,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” or “Twin Peaks: The Return” were also excellent, but when they were over I was just really depressed that there wasn’t more to return to the next week.)
Here Kirkman has said goodbye to his characters, let us know all of their fates, and basically shut the door on future Invincible stories. I should be very depressed that the series has ended but instead I’m happy with where he left the characters. Mark and Eve get plenty of closure on how their lives end up, as do characters like Allen, the Viltrumite empire, and everybody’s kids. The end of Robot’s storyline felt rushed to me. My only real complaint is that when Mark returned to Earth and Robot is ready for him, that felt like it should have been the start of another arc and instead it got handled in one issue.
The art in Invincible is always consistent, and here Ottley and Walker are are their seemless best, with it never taking you out of the story when one hands off art duties to the other. The colors in this series are always vibrant and fun, and with less blood than normal and a cheerful ending it’s very hard to walk away sad from this book. Still, over the 25 volume (I read this book exclusively in trade paperback format) story I always looked forward to the next six issue set showing up at my comic shop every 8 or 9 months.
Unlike many mainstream comics, independent comics can actually end. While Silver Surfer as told by Dan Slott and Mike Allred was my favorite book of the last two years, when it ended I knew the character would be showing up in other Marvel books and adventures before too long. Even a character like Jessica Jones who had only been written by one author will be returning before too long as part of the greater Marvel Universe. Independent books like “Bone,” “Strangers in Paradise” or “Cerebus” can return when the author wants them to, but for the most part the endings are much more final than anything else in comics. Nobody else can do “Savage Dragon” but Erik Larsen, and “Invincible” by somebody other than Kirkman and Ottley/Walker could never be the same thing that was told over the last 15 years of this book. Congrats to the creators on an amazing finish to a great series.
Nailbiter, Vol. 2: Bloody Hands
Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Mike Henderson
Volume 2 of Nailbiter was a bit of a letdown from the first volume. The main culprit was story decompression as 2 of the 5 issues included featured what read like stand alone issues (featuring stories about a Beekeeper and a pregnant girl who wants her baby to be a killer). The issues that tied back into the main plot didn’t advance the overarching storyline much, with some further interrogations being teased and the Nailbiter acting creepier but not much else going on besides s religious guy rising as an antagonist. There’s also a weird Brian Michael Bendis cameo shoehorned in and a bus incident that would certainly be national news.
The art continued to be OK, but probably a step below most of the books I read on a month to month basis. The backup story at the end was certainly gross and shocking, but it also felt like a reveal that would have been better earned in the main storyline instead.
Invincible, Vol. 22: Reboot?
Author: Robert Kirkman
Release Date: February 2016
I don’t know the last time I’ve read anything, be it a comic or book, where an author laid out two possible paths for a plot and I was so equally excited to read either one of them. This volume of invincible continues the existing storylines on both Earth (with Robot eliminating crime at any cost) and in space (where Mark and Eve are adjusting to alien life with their daughter and searching for Thragg).
The diverging plot twist occurs when Invincible has an opportunity to go back to the events of the first issue and use his knowledge of the future to save lives. In a series like this one where so many major characters have secrets that is a very intriguing path to follow. The ongoing storyline that has been built up for years through hundreds of issues was left off on a cliffhanger that was equally interesting to continue reading.
I’ve heard this series is ending, and barring a total collapse of galactic proportions this will end up being one of the best comic series I’ve ever read.
Sam and Twitch: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Release Date: February 2012
This review is for the actual comic issues collected in this series.
I can only imagine that reading this series when it first came out would have been incredibly frustrating and one I would not have stuck with. The letters pages indicate that the book was always late, with a one year gap occurring between issues 24 and 25. For a mystery series (which is usually my least favorite genre in comics due to the long time between issues) that would have been a deal breaker.
On top of that, the series had a major creative change, going from Brian Michael Bendis and Angel Medina to Bendis and Alex Maleev, to finally writer Todd McFarlane and artist Paul Lee. The most jarring change in in the writing, which went from solid, very Bendis style dialogue to an overwritten McFarlane style that frequently used every available inch of panel space to cram in dialogue. On top of that, the editing appears to have slipped as well at the creative transition, as typos routinely slip through (I noticed a few “you’re” instead of “yours”) and lettering issues where spaces are missing and apostrophe’s dangle away from their words. I’ll probably draw ire for saying this, but I actually prefer the simpler Paul Lee art to either of the prior two guys, and think the best drawn segment of the entire series was the two detectives exploring the killer’s property in issue 26.
The two storylines collected in this volume include a bounty hunter storyline where Twitch’s girlfriend is shot in a random act of bad luck by a visiting bounty hunter and a serial killer who targets Sam and sends him videotapes of all his killings. The first story is fine, though it seemed like an excuse for Bendis to have his Jinx character crossover into this book. The concluding storyline not only completely brushes the ending of the previous arc under the rug and ignores exploring Twitch leaving the force, but then ends up feeling like so many police story cliches strung together. Besides enjoying the art in this final story, I did also appreciate that we finally get a sense of Sam as a human being outside of work. I enjoyed this series overall when read in a few sittings, though the quality was up then down in terms of writing and inconsistent in terms of art.
Nailbiter, Vol. 1: There Will be Blood
Author: Joshua Williamson
Release Date: 2014
Nailbiter is a series about a small town that has been the birth place of 16 different serial killers, including a man who gnawed the fingernails off of his victims. A police officer goes to the town to try to discover what happened, and he goes missing. The series picks up when the officer’s friend, a man who specializes in interrogation, goes to find out what happened to his friend. **Spoiler alert** There’s also some indication the main character is on trial for murder somewhere.
This series had a lot of interesting twists and ideas at work, so I’m interested in seeing if the author can make everything payoff and/or tie together. The art is slightly below average, with faces in particular looking warped in profile shots. It’s also unclear at the beginning whether there is a supernatural element or not, and while I’m sure that’s intentional by the writer the way it was executed was a bit frustrating (a character disappearing between panels).
Author: Jack Kirby
Release Date: 1993
I wish that Jack Kirby’s last comics could have been a stronger set than this one. Although his name is prominently featured throughout (literally, on the cover, tons of pages in the back, and liberally listed in the “created by” section) this book is likely more the work of Michael Thibedeaux. The story (in 8 issues plus a zero issue) is about an alien named Darkfyre who comes to Earth to get a sword being wielded by a hero named Apocalypse (when told that’s a stupid name, he changes it to Ragnarok) and his teammates Probe (a woman who exists to wear bikinis and make Ragnarok and Darkfyre feel horny), Gin Seng (really, that’s his name; he’s good at fighting), Sensei (Asian stereotype Kung Fu Master), Bobby (a kid who invents stuff) and Suzie (who can switch dimensions with a big guy who doesn’t get much backstory b/c he was supposed to have a four issue series explaining everything that as far as I can tell never came out).
The story is very decompressed, using 6 of the 8 issues to tell the story of Darkfyre getting captured and then escaping, with the first two issues feeling like a totally different series (and those being the only ones Kirby worked on). I probably would have liked this a lot more at 12 years old than I go in my 30’s. There is a light-heartedness to it that is fun at times, but overall the book feels like a generic good vs evil with lame versions of both. The one female character in particular gets the short end of the stick with mostly only scenes of being in peril while almost nude.
The Private Eye
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Marcos Martin
Release Date: December 2015
I’d rate this as an average Brian K. Vaughan title. What does that mean, exactly? Overall it’s a five star story, although I’d put it behind stuff like Y the Last Man, Ex Machine or Pride of Baghdad but ahead of Paper Girls, the Escapists or We Stand on Guard.
The story takes place in a future where privacy is the cornerstone of society, a complete backlash from our ultra public, internet filled lives. Against the backdrop, a Private Investigator is hired by a woman to find everything he can find about herself. The woman is killed almost immediately afterword.
I liked a lot of the characters in this story, and thought the world it took place in was a fun change from the typical Blade Runner/Mad Max futures of most science fiction. The art was fine, although not in the same league as Fiona Staples or Pia Guerra. The Cloudburn Edition looks awesome, although it was slightly awkward to read because of the extreme rectangular dimensions of the paper; good luck getting through this without catching or creasing a page on something.