INVINCIBLE: HEAD OF THE CLASS by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, and Bill Crabtree
In Invincible: Head of the Class, Robert Kirkman expands Mark Grayson’s world and lets his fans know that their hero’s world is far larger than they might have at first thought. The series also takes a more series tack on Mark’s home life, giving him a lot to worry about.
As if finding out your father was actually an invading force from another planet posing as a superhero wasn’t enough to throw a monkeywrench into a guy’s life.
Mark deals with the fallout from his dad in this graphic novel collection, and the writing and art are up to their usual standards. But a lot of darkness invades his life and makes every day a little harder. The most emotionally draining of everything facing him is his mother’s inability to cope with losing her husband and her faith in their love. Kirkman does an excellent job of showing this loss, and of how it affects Mark. He’s torn between getting on with his life, learning the superhero game, finishing school, and a new love interest. He doesn’t want to be held back, but he can’t abandon his mother either. Even worse, for all the power that he has, he can’t help her.
The death of the previous Guardians of the Globe plays out in this one as well as a new team gets assembled. Mark gets invited to the team, but he opts out because he’s got too many things going on. But the events surrounding the Guardians never quite leaves him. Kirkman also builds up the mysterious menace of Angstrom Levy, and the splash page initially revealing that is awesome.
There are a few other subplots dangling out there that Kirkman will doubtless return to, and he manages to bring in Savage Dragon characters (ones that Kirkman has worked on) as a side plot that’s fun.
Despite all the darkness, there is some fun in this book. Simple, joyous stuff that recalls the lighthearted early comics of the series get reflected in the death of Aquarius plot line. As it turns out, the merpeople demand that Mark marry their princess. Since refusing the demand will result in all out war against the surface world, Mark is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The solution to the problem is a little simple maybe, but it works and keeps the story moving along.
Even funnier, and possibly more menacing, is the babysitter job he gets called on to do for a Mars mission. Invincible is supposed to stay out of sight, just shepherd the team and make sure they’re all right. But that tactic only works up until aliens abduct the astronauts.
I’m really enjoying these graphic novels and recommend them to anyone looking for a superhero romp. Kirkman may have turned a little more serious in the latest offing, but the surprises are still there and the stories are a lot of fun.