Comic Review: Invincible, Vol. 2: Eight is Enough

Published: May 10th, 2004
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Cory Walker

Image Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

I’ve only read the volume before this one, so my knowledge of the broader Invincible universe isn’t very deep.

So far, I like what I’ve read, including this volume, which covers the second story arc in the series. Where the first volume is essentially the origin and backstory of the character and his family, this one serves to kill off the already established heroes of the main characters’ universe, leaving a gap for new heroes to grow up and enter the fray.

The old heroes, who we barely meet before they are murdered, are parodies of Justice League characters. They’re not too imaginative or exciting but I guess it was to symbolize a killing off of old heroes (in this case, a shot across the bow at DC Comics), in an effort to establish younger and more hip characters (a.k.a. Image Comics new breed of superhero titles that were coming out at the time). There is even a few shots thrown at Marvel, most notably in the form of the ridiculous villain Bi-Plane, who is a parody of the Spider-Man villain Vulture.

I do love the lightheartedness of this series. It is reminiscent of classic Spider-Man in the best way possible and also has a sort of charm similar to classic Superman. I talked about the similarities to both those long running series in the last review though.

This chapter also sees the disbanding of the teen superhero team that Invincible got pulled into in the previous story arc. It may feel too early in the series’ existence to start changing some things but I feel like it is in a state of flux with this chapter, as Robert Kirkman was still trying to find the proper footing for the series and was refining the details a bit.

Not a whole lot happens, other than the changes I’ve discussed already. But we do get to see cameos from the Savage Dragon, Super Patriot and Shadowhawk, who have all been a part of Image Comics since it launched in 1992.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The Invincible collected editions that follow this one.

Comic Review: Invincible, Vol. 1: Family Matters

Published: December 12th, 2006
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Cory Walker

Image Comics, 120 Pages

Review:

I have heard great things about Invincible for several years. I have also loved Roberet Kirkman’s work on The Walking Dead, his most famous creation. So I figured that delving into Kirkman’s lighter side was long overdue.

I have often times heard of the character of Invincible as being a mixture of Superman’s powers with the personality of Spider-Man. I guess that’s pretty accurate, after having read his first story arc. His father is actually more of a Superman type of hero and then Invincible hits puberty and develops similar powers albeit not yet as strong as his father’s.

This story serves as the origin tale for Invincible and his family. It also goes to setup his super powered team of teens that are trying to keep their town free of scum and villainy.

There isn’t enough to the story here to get the full feeling of the series. It’s a good place to start, obviously, and it has made me interested in reading through the first few volumes to see if it is a series I want to stick with over the long haul. I guess the only real negative is that it feels like too much of a rehash of things I’ve read elsewhere and for years. I hope that Kirkman takes this series in a direction that allows it to stand out and not just be a hybrid of Superman and Spider-Man while retreading all too familiar territory. I hope that the comic finds its own voice, even if it is a solid homage to its influences, thus far.

Invincible has the makings of something interesting and Kirkman is certainly an accomplished writer. If he can make zombie stories interesting for over ten years, I’m sure he can do the same for a young hero.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Invincible collected editions that follow this one.

Documentary Review: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics (2017- )

Release Date: November 12th, 2017 – current
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: various

AMC, 6 Episodes (so far), 43 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Since Robert Kirkman can do whatever the hell he wants at AMC, considering that The Walking Dead is such a giant money generator, he gave us this show.

I’m pretty happy with the result though because there really hasn’t been a lot of comic book documentaries in the mainstream. This show serves to tell some of the most important stories in the long history of that industry.

Kirkman isn’t on screen for this series and each episode seems to be made by different people but generally, it all has a cohesive style and each episode is pretty interesting.

So far, there is just a single season comprised of six episodes. These episodes cover the formation of Marvel and the relationship of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the creation of Wonder Woman, the legal battles of the rights to Superman, how comic books responded to 9/11, the history of Milestone Comics and lastly, the history of Image Comics.

Each episode is pretty solid and provides a lot of information that even I didn’t know about, even though I’ve known about the gist of all these stories. My favorite episode was the one about Milestone Comics because it is a story that is really important and hasn’t been told yet.

I hope that the first season did well enough to make a second season possible. I really enjoyed the show, loved the format and thought that it was marvelously produced and executed on screen.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Some of the more recent documentaries on comic books: The Image Revolution and Chris Claremont’s X-Men.

Documentary Review: The Image Revolution (2014)

Release Date: January 25th, 2014 (Amazing Arizona Comic Con)
Directed by: Patrick Meaney

Respect Films, Sequart, 81 Minutes

Review:

The cool thing about The Image Revolution is that it covers the coolest time in comic book publishing history and, as a fan, I lived through this when it was happening and it was honestly, the coolest thing that my young middle school brain got to experience. I used the word “cool” a lot in that run-on sentence but that’s what the early ’90s were all about: cool.

Image Comics was, by far, the coolest comic book company to ever exist. When seven of Marvel Comics’ top dogs left the company to breakout on their own and go independent, it was like the comic industry’s version of the punk rock revolution.

Here you have Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino and Whilce Portacio: all heavy hitter creators at Marvel, bucking the system and forever changing the game. These guys were superstars within the industry and after their revolution, became rock stars in pop culture.

This documentary covers why these guys felt the need to kiss away their steady careers and stick it to the man. It also follows the formation of Image Comics, the struggles they faced and how even after things seemed to fall apart, these guys all sort of found each other again, despite their young rebellious attitudes, their fallouts and their intense competition with one another. It also shows how each artist formed their own studios, what that meant and how all of this built a solid foundation for new and emerging talents to ply their trade independently. And truthfully, without Image Comics and what these guys did, there probably wouldn’t be The Walking Dead or McFarlane Toys.

This is an exciting documentary for fans of the comic book industry, especially Generation Xers that were savvy to this story, back in the day. It’s really cool seeing these guys, all these years later, reflecting on the details of how this all went down. While comic industry reporting was great back in the early ’90s and my friends and I knew the story, some details were unknown until now.

Comic Review: The Walking Dead – Compendium Three

Published on: October 13th, 2015
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Charlie Adlard

Image Comics, 1088 Pages

Review:

After reading the 2nd compendium of The Walking Dead, I had to jump right into the third one.

With Compendium Three, I have finally reached where they are at in the television show. Negan actually shows up at the beginning of this big book and his entire saga against Rick and his people is covered in this volume.

So I now know what happens further into the future than where the TV show is at. Granted, the show doesn’t always follow the comic book but it does stay pretty close to it and I feel as if the conclusion to the Negan era will be similar.

Compendium Three also goes beyond Negan. At a point, it jumps ahead a couple years and we see how Alexandria has evolved, as have the other communities and how they have created a new civilization. It also goes further into the fate of Negan. The book ends with the introduction of a group called the Whisperers and leaves you hanging, as you realize another war with another threat is most likely on the horizon.

Out of all the Compendiums, this one is my favorite, by far. This was the best era of The Walking Dead. Rick and the group are challenged like never before and everything seems hopeless. However, they find ways to overcome and create something even better.

When people say that the Negan era is a turning point in the series, that is an understatement. The event changes everything and it effects every character on a deep level. We end up seeing this world that we know completely turned on its head, reorganized and reestablished. This point in The Walking Dead series is pretty magnificent, actually. It features some of the best comic book writing I have ever encountered and I’ve been reading comics for at least thirty years.

I wasn’t sure how a comic book about a group traversing through a zombie infected world could last for thirteen years but once you get to this point, it is pretty apparent. The Walking Dead is one of the best comic book series of all-time and this, right here, is The Walking Dead at its absolute best.

I’ll be eagerly anticipating what comes next.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: The other Walking Dead collections.

Comic Review: The Walking Dead – Compendium Two

Published on: October 16th, 2012
Written by: Robert Kirkman, Sina Grace
Art by: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn

Image Comics, 1068 Pages

Review:

I took a big break between reading the first Compendium and this one. These things are huge and are equal to 48 regular sized comic books. That’s a lot of reading and my mind needed a break. Funny though, because after I finished this one, I couldn’t do anything other than jump right into the third volume, which I am reading now and will review when I’m done. So essentially, as good as the first Compendium was, this one was far and away superior.

The plot starts just after the Governor scenario and leads all the way up to the introduction of Negan, who doesn’t physically appear until the beginning of the third Compendium. This era of The Walking Dead is focused on meeting some new people, finding Alexandria and then turning it into a home, where Rick and the gang eventually run the show. It ends with the Saviors appearing and starting trouble for the group.

While this is somewhat of a transitional stretch between the series’ two biggest villains, it delves into the human element more and it sells the idea of the future and civilization rising up once again. The comic book does a much better job of creating a community and then a network of communities than the show has ever done. There is just more room to flesh out the details of what is going on in the world and how each character plays a part in it.

The artwork is consistent and fantastic, the story has improved and it is with this volume that I can truly grasp people’s love and admiration for this comic book series. In fact, it kind of puts a damper on the television show, as it just isn’t up to speed or nearly as bad ass as the comic book is. And sure, you can get away with a lot more in a comic book but the AMC show just doesn’t get this intense. Furthermore, Rick Grimes doesn’t feel like some deity of bad assery, he feels human in the comic books. Sure, he’s a Grade A Bad Ass Motherfucker but he shows his weaknesses and his insecurities and isn’t as one-dimensional of a character as he seems on the show sometimes.

This Compendium covers issues 49 through 96. It is hard to believe that a comic book series that is that deep into its story is still able to build and get better. And from what I’ve read of the third Compendium, thus far, it improves even more.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The other Walking Dead collections.

Comic Review: The Walking Dead – Compendium One

walking_dead_compendium_1

Published on: May 19th, 2009
Written by: Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard
Art by: Cliff Rathburn, Tony Moore

Image Comics, 1088 Pages

Review:

I am a comic book fan and have been my entire life. However, when it comes to The Walking Dead, I was first introduced to the world through the television show. I was aware of the comic book series but had never picked it up until recently. Now that they have released a few of these massive compendium editions, it makes it much easier to binge read the series.

This thing is huge. It is 1,000 pages huge. It collects the first 48 single issues of the series, which equates to the first 8 volumes of trade paperbacks. “Huge” might actually be an understatement.

The book and the television series have many similarities and many differences. The tone and the feeling of both are similar but the comic series goes even darker. Things happen in this series that will shock you, even if you are desensitized to being shocked.

The whole saga that pits Rick and his people against the Governor is much darker and sinister and makes the television version of that story feel light. The TV Governor is almost a nice guy by comparison.

The comic is black and white, which for some people, is irritating. I found it to be refreshing and it fits this series well. The art is superb and even without color, the characters are all distinct and so well drawn that it is easy to follow each one through their journey regardless of the fact that there are literally dozens of people to keep tabs on.

Everything about this series in comic book form is pretty great. If you are an avid fan of the show but have never read the comic books, you’re doing yourself a big disservice.

I have the second and third compendiums, which I plan to read in the very near future.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The other Walking Dead collections.