Comic Publishers

March 25, 2011
 

Image Reviews: Invincible: The Viltrumite War

Invincible #71-78
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artists: Ryan Ottley
Cover Artists: Ryan Ottley, FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image/Skybound

*Spoilers Ahead*

From the moment Nolan (Invincible’s father) first revealed his true identity and purpose for being on Earth, Invincible fans knew that a confrontation with the Viltrum Empire was inevitable. Now some 71 issues into the run and eight years later, war has begun! With the ever present threat of the Viltrum Empire looming over the galaxy, the Coalition of Planets decided that it was time to put an end to their tyranny, once and for all. The Coalition is finally provided an opportunity, with an actual chance of winning thanks to Nolan. Since that faithful day when Nolan beat the tar out of his son after revealing the Viltrumites true  intentions toward the Earth, he has since had a change of heart and has in fact turned traitor to the Viltrum Empire. With Nolan providing information on every possible Viltrumite weakness, the Coalition is able to arm their soldiers with weapons that are actually effective against the near god-like Viltrumite. The coalition also assembles a super group of warriors, capable of going toe to toe with the Viltrumites, including Nolan (Omni-Man), and his two half-breed sons Mark (Invincible) and Oliver (Young Omni-Man), and also including  Space Racer, Battle Beast, Tech Jacket, Allen the Alien, and the Coalition of Planets leader himself, Thaedus.

The Viltrumite War is the kind of war you would expect between beings possessing this much power. It’s epic in scope and gets down right vicious at times. Before it’s over some people lose limbs, some become impaled by fists, and many die in some very not nice ways. Did I mention that cities get decimated and planets get destroyed, because that happens, too. While it may sound like a lot of senseless violence, with Kirkman masterminding the plot, it’s anything but that. As with most of his stories,  Kirkman brings humor, drama, and just good old comic book fun to every issue. While this massive war is the focal point of the story, he also adds equally compelling sub-plots for nearly every character. For Nolan this entire story is about him trying to gain redemption and build or rebuild the relationships that he destroyed with his family. Most notably, Nolan attempts to reconcile with his wife, whom he abandoned and betrayed so long ago, and develop a bond with his younger son Oliver. For Mark, his story focuses on becoming a man and having to be in the forefront of this war, doing what is necessary to protect his family, friends, and planet. Ultimately, Mark is forced to make a decision that drastically effects the Earth’s future.

Kirkman brings many comedic moments throughout the war as in any issue of Invincible, but most of those best moments come thanks to the character of Tech Jacket. His bad timing and inappropriate banter, especially when he is paired with Allen the Alien, always comes off with hilarious results. Then there are characters like Thragg, who is the ruler of the Viltrum Empire and the most bad-ass one of them all. Thragg is not your typical villain in that he often makes decisions and takes actions that you wouldn’t expect. As the war progresses, Thragg’s outlook on things changes as he, like any great leader, does what is in the best interest of his people’s survival. On the other side of the coin, there is Thaedus, the original Viltrumite-turned-traitor, who also does what is necessary to free the galaxy from the cruel rule of his own people. By the time the war is concluded, it is revealed just how far Thaedus was willing to go to win.

While Kirkman’s storytelling lays the foundation for this epic war, it’s Ryan Ottley’s art that really brings it to life. Ottley is at the top of his game and his work has never been better than it is in this story. Unlike The Walking Dead (Kirkman’s other book that you might have heard of), where many of the “holy crap” moments are more emotionally driven, in Invincible the  “holy crap” moments are almost always visually driven. Whenever something shocking happens to one of the characters or an entire planet gets destroyed, Ottley does not disappoint to provide that punch to the gut, mouth dropping visual that is required. What really makes Ottley stand out from other artists, though, is the fact that while he is great at doing the massive fight scenes with blood and guts flying everywhere, he is even better at capturing the emotion of a scene in just the characters’ expressions alone. When an artist can consistently make a book where the reader can literally follow a story and know what the characters are thinking and feeling at any given moment, without having to read a single word of the text, you know that artist has got something special going on.

With the amazing talent of both Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley fueling this book, not to mention the incredible work of Cliff Rathburn on inks and FCO Plascencia on colors, Invincible is the book every superhero comic fan should be reading. This eight issue epic in particular, makes for a great read even if you have never picked up an issue of Invincible before; if you have been reading since this book since day one, it’s pretty much the ultimate payoff you’ve been waiting for. The Viltrumite War is Invincible at its best and just demonstrates why this book is indeed, “The best superhero comic book in the universe!”

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Nick Zamora
nickz@comicattack.net

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