The comic series “Invincible” published by Image Comics, is writer Robert Kirkman’s love letter to the Superhero genre. (Anyone living in America should know who Robert Kirkman is… He created a little comic turned television show called the “Walking Dead”… Maybe you’ve heard of it?) Kirkman uses the book “Invincible” to celebrate everything that is fun and exciting about Superhero comics. The story focuses on the adventures of Mark Grayson A.K.A. Invincible, and while Mark is the book’s title character, it’s not the character Invincible that makes the book so fantastic, but the world that Kirkman has created for Invincible to exist in. Invincible’s supporting cast is the size of Marvel or DC’s entire catalog of characters. Much like Stan Lee did with the comic series “Fantastic Four” in the 1960’s, Kirkman’s success with Invincible is based on the fact that Kirkman has created a whole new Superhero universe within a single title for Fanboys to obsess and debate over. The format and writing style that Kirkman brings to “Invincible” is similar to that of Chris Claremont’s run on “Uncanny X-Men” in the 1970’s and 80’s, there are lingering plot threads that have taken years to resolve, social commentary on both society and the comics industry, plus the story has so many twists and turns that it is near impossible for the reader to predict where the series will go next.
Invincible issue # 1 was released in January 2003. Ten years later on January 30th, 2013 Invincible issue # 100 was released. This is a major accomplishment for not only Kirkman and Image Comics, but one for the entire comics industry at large. Fanboys everywhere should take pride in Invincible’s success. It’s because of these Fanboy’s hard earned dollars that Invincible was able to reach issue # 100. Today’s Fanboys have taught the comic publishers through our purchasing that what fans want are new issue #1’s… Lots of them! Marvel and DC would not be re-numbering all of their books every other year if not for the small bump in sales. (Remember the publisher’s number one goal is to sell comics, so even a small bump in sales will make it worth it to them to re-number.) Invincible (and the Walking Dead for that matter) has never been renumbered. Not once. Part of that is due to Kirkman’s personal philosophy on the industry, which he vocalizes through the characters in “Invincible”. Mark is a comic book collector himself, and his interactions with characters Filip Schaff (creator of Mark’s favorite comic “Science Dog”) and the employees of his local comic store (Night Flight Comics) reflect Kirkman’s personal feelings on the comics industry at large.
For Example, check out this page from issue # 80:
On this single page Kirkman is expressing his feelings on re-numbering, Fanboys who are “Soooo Indy” but still read mainstream comics (no matter what), and fan expectations, while at the same time making a self-conscious jab at a creator pledging to get his comics out on time. (Remember Kirkman’s “On Time in ’09”?)
On this page Kirkman is drawing a line in the sand. He is a saying to his audience that he intends to be creator with integrity, that fans of his books are not going to be re-numbered to make a “quick buck”, and that one should not “talk shit”. The subtext of this page is that today’s Fanboys should want comics of quality, and that Kirkman plans on delivering. The marketing directions Kirkman has taken with “Invincible” and the “Walking Dead” are proof that a comics series does not need a new issue # 1 every six months to survive. Kirkman being a Fanboy himself understands that fans just want to read the comics they want to read and that numbering may not matter (see Mark’s reaction), but at the same time he wants us to know we can have better.
Robert Kirkman has delivered something better.
His secret? Consistency. He has written every single issue of “Invincible”. Every issue of “Invincible” has been drawn by Cory Walker or Ryan Ottley. There is only one “Invincible # 1”. There is only one place to start. This is true of the “Walking Dead” as well. Charlie Adlard has drawn 100 issues of the “Walking Dead” in a row. Robert Kirkman has shown that with a consistent creative team, singular vision, and logical numbering that independent, new properties can exist, and be successful in the comics industry. In fact over the decade since Invincible started Robert Kirkman has gone from the “Obscure Indy Freelance Guy” to one of the most powerful people in comics today, ( # 3 according to Bleeding Cool Magazine.) with one of the highest selling comics in history. The “Walking Dead # 100” was the highest selling comic in 15 years.
Many of you reading this may think; “Is 100 issues a big deal? Isn’t Spider-Man on issue 700 and something?” Those of you asking that would be surprised that the answer is “No”. Most Marvel and DC comics such as the “Invincible Iron Man, “Superman”, “Thor”, and “Green Lantern” have been re-numbered many times over their multi decade histories. When a title such as the “Amazing Spider-Man” does reach issue # 700, it due to the publishers adding the number of issues all the different series they released with that title together to get 700 issues. Most of Marvel and DC’s current series never reach 100 issues. For example, Marvel’s top selling New Avengers only made it to issue # 64 before relaunching with a new # 1. (The very next month, with the same writer.) Independent comics are guilty of this too. Most Vertigo books never make 100 issues. (Examples include “Transmetropolitan”, “DMZ”, and “Y: the Last Man”.) Dark Horse is a little better at the relaunch game in the fact that they will at least change the book’s title for a relaunch. (Examples include “Hellboy”, “Fear Agent”, and “Conan”.) So “Yes” 100 issues is a big deal! It’s an major accomplishment in this industry, and one to take note of.
Fanboys everywhere should thank Robert Kirkman, not just for “Invincible” and the “Walking Dead”, but for showing the industry that a quality comic no matter what the issue number, can survive and make money just as easily as a new issue #1.
Robert Kirkman writes “Invincible”, the “Walking Dead”, “Super Dinosaur”, and “Thief of Thieves” all published by Image Comics
Invincible # 100 is on sale now at your local comic book store and on the Comixology App on Apple and Android devices.
In Portland? Buy your comics at Floating World Comics located at 400 NW Couch Street Portland, OR 97209 (503) 241-0227.
Too Broke? “Invincible # 1”, the “Walking Dead #1”, and “Thief of Thieves #1” are all FREE on the Image Comics App on Apple and Android devices.