The final issue of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible is upon us. Is it good?
Who would have thought we would ever have reached the day where we’re reviewing the very last issue of Invincible? When it was announced that Invincible would be ending in 2018, I was initially worried. I’ve been reading Invincible since the fall of 2015 when I decided to start reading it on a whim. Two days and 130 issues later and I had caught up with it and was obsessed. With a story as sprawling and all encompassing as this one, how could Kirkman manage to tie up every single little plot? The answer is simple. He didn’t. Now you’ll look at the number score I gave this issue and wonder how could that be? With all the ways in which a story like this, that has spanned so many years and so many issues, could be satisfyingly wrapped up, the creative team did it splendidly!
Invincible #144 is split into two parts. The first follows the immediate aftermath of the last issue, with Mark explaining the story of the Viltrumites to the son he didn’t know he had. This was a really poignant way to wrap up this storyline, with Mark telling a version (however different) of the story his father told him before he got his powers in the first arc. It also catches you up on the events of the last 50 or so issues for people who may have fallen off further down the road but still want to see how the story ends. This first half of the story is the weaker of the two, but that’s just because the second half is so perfectly done. Long-time series artist, Ryan Ottley, illustrated this part. I’ve had my issues with Ottley’s art later on in the series, but this was free of the weird facial expressions and overly exaggerated teeth he sometimes draws, and really expressed a great sense of nostalgia.
The second half of the story follows Terra, Mark and Eve after they leave Earth and set out to help the galaxy, to atone for what the Viltrumites have done over the course of the series and even before. The idea to tell this part in short vignettes, glossing over parts that if the series had continued on normally would have been huge storylines, was an inspired one. A war with the coalition gets one page of face time. We see Terra grow up and become an Invincible for the galaxy, and it drives home a sense of ‘life going on’. There were plenty more stories to tell in this universe. However, by showing us glimpses of what continued to happen, without dwelling on the events as Mark and his family work to make the world a better place, this ending makes it seem like the last hundred issues were only the set-up to a much larger story. It is left open-ended, but without the frustration.
There are new villains introduced in this issue. We will never know how they affected the world, but that’s kind of the point. This is the closure to a story, but like real life, it’s not the end. None of the main characters die in this issue, and there are no big revelations, but in a way, it’s perfect. I can’t quite explain how it made me feel, but as someone who was extremely worried about how this was going to turn out, Kirkman ended it in what I can now see was the only way to do it well. To show glimpses of stories for which we will never know the context or fruition was probably the perfect ending for a tale that was, for the most part, extremely linear. If Marvel and DC stories ever had endings, this is how I would imagine them to be.
Having Cory Walker, the co-creator and original artist on the series, do the final portion of the story was a great decision. His art has changed a lot since the original seven issue run, but knowing that it’s him gives the reader a grand feeling of finality. A lot of this issue is about coming full circle in life. Having Walker illustrate the final page, where Mark quotes what his father said to him during their fight in the 10th issue, evoked a sense of comfort in my heart.
Part of what’s both great and annoying about superheroes is that their stories will never truly end, and this issue captures that perfectly, while also ending a superhero story. You can tell that Kirkman loves superhero comics, and in its entirety, Invincible is a love letter to them. Invincible is also about the humanity in the heroes we love and to end a story with such a human idea as ‘life goes on’ really was the absolute perfect note to close out this epic. This issue captures the core values and ideas of the series while also doing what some said was impossible: giving a satisfying and finite end to a superhero saga.