I’ve been very open about my love of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. It’s my absolute favourite comic series and I’m sure my friends, family, colleagues, and pets are all sick to death of hearing me gush about it by this point. I even listed it as number one in my Top 10 comics you should be reading list.
From the moment I put down my first trade paperback, I was hooked. I fell in love with the interesting and relatable characters, the gorgeous artwork, the unexpected twists and turns, and the unrivaled craziness of its fight scenes. With the sad news that Invincible would be ending with its upcoming issue #144, I thought there was no better time to reflect upon this amazing series and the moments that catapulted it to the top of my (and a lot of other people’s) list. So, without further delay and in no particular order, here are my top 10 favourite moments from Invincible!
[Disclaimer: As with all top 10 lists, this is purely the writer’s opinion and does not reflect the views and opinions of anyone else. Full spoilers follow for Invincible up to the most recent issue #132]
The birth of Invincible (Issue #1)
What better way to start this list than with the main man himself, Mark Grayson. Born to a human mother and alien father, Mark spends his entire life waiting for the day he would finally develop super powers like his old man. The day finally comes as Mark is taking the trash out at his dead-end burger joint job, when the trash bag hurls into the distance with superhuman ease.
While there have been many such moments in superhero comics, from Spider-Man breaking furniture with his super strength, to Hal Jordan wearing his Green Lantern ring for the first time, no other superhero origin comes with such unbridled enthusiasm. Rather than rub his eyes in astonishment or rhetorically ask if he’s dreaming, Mark simply smiles and says “It’s about time.” It’s about time indeed.
Everyone’s favourite alien (Issue #2)
Invincible boasts many memorable and important side characters, but perhaps none are more beloved than Allen the Alien. Originally appearing as a long-time opponent of Mark’s father, Omni-Man, Allen would quickly prove himself to be far more heroic and likable than originally believed. Appearing in Earth’s atmosphere to challenge Omni-Man once more, he would instead be greeted by the fledgling Invincible.
Engaging in the politest combat since The Princess Bride, Allen would soon reveal himself to be an employee of the Coalition of Planets, assigned to evaluate Earth’s defenses. Upon being informed by Mark that he’d been visiting the wrong planet for 15 years, Allen leaves the planet, confident that it had found a new saviour. But that would not be the last we see of this cycloptic beefcake, as he would return in later issues to assist Mark and his friends in their many adventures.
Family Feud (Issue #12)
Invincible started off as a fairly standard superhero story. While well-written and gorgeous looking, it didn’t truly launch into “What the hell!” territory until the earth-shattering revelation that Mark’s father (the greatest hero in the world, Omni-Man), was actually an alien sleeper agent hell-bent on taking over the planet for the Viltrumite empire. He revealed his true colours by murdering the Guardians of the Globe with ruthless efficiency. This shocking turn of events lead to a truly epic battle, something that the series would soon become well known for.
After realising that his father could not be reasoned with, he engaged him in one of the most bone-crunchingly brutal fights ever put to paper. Causing the deaths of thousands in their super-powered brawl (before Man of Steel, might I add), it became clear that Mark was hopelessly outclassed by his far more experienced father. Beating Mark to a bloody pulp, Omni-Man nearly murdered his own son in cold blood before finally succumbing to his paternal emotion and flying off into self-imposed exile. This turn of events would lead to Invincible assuming the mantle of Earth’s mightiest saviour, and all of the responsibility and tragedy that entails.
Conquest (Issue #61)
I was a fan of Invincible from the moment I put down the first issue. However, it wasn’t until the explosive events of issue #61 and the arrival of the Viltrumite wrecking-ball known as Conquest that it became the greatest comic in the universe (to me). After evil versions of Invincible assault the world, killing millions of civilians in the process, Mark Grayson and his fellow heroes attempt to clear up the devastation left in their wake. No one imagined that there was something much worse coming just moments later.
Conquest, the legendarily sadistic and destructive Viltrumite warrior arrives on earth to inform Mark that he would take over the planet if Mark was unwilling to do it himself. Angry and frustrated at the countless deaths caused by his evil doppelgangers, Mark engages Conquest in a titanic battle. While Mark’s fight with his father was no cakewalk, his duel with Conquest was on an entirely different level of brutality. Though Mark was nowhere near as powerful as the grizzled warrior, his rage and hatred allowed him to pummel Conquest into submission by headbutting him repeatedly until his brain began to leak out of his skull. This level of gore and violence was shocking, even for a mature comic like Invincible, but it showed a more realistic depiction of what would happen when two god-like beings engage in combat.
Everybody needs a nemesis (Issue #16)
While there have been several recurring villains in Invincible, perhaps only one deserves the title of nemesis. That villain’s name is Angstrom Levy. Like all good supervillains, Angstrom started out with noble intentions. Looking to expand his reality-warping powers to allow him to benefit mankind, a freak accident caused him to be horrifically mutilated and driven murderously insane. All of that rage, hatred and madness was directed at none other than Invincible himself.
Waging a deeply personal and destructive campaign of terror against Mark and his family, Levy cemented himself as perhaps Invincible’s most dangerous foe. Every time Mark managed to outsmart and defeat this cerebral psychopath, Levy would regroup and return, more dangerous than ever before. While the idea of a mad scientist supervillain is certainly nothing new, Invincible proved once again its talent for taking well-worn superhero tropes and spinning them into gold. Levy’s sympathetic origins, his crazy design and his deeply twisted hatred for Mark Grayson make him an unforgettable villain, and a huge part of the series’ brilliance.
Thragg vs Battle Beast (Issue #115-Issue #120)
Battle Beast is the coolest freaking character in comic books! Okay, okay, I’m glad I was finally able to get that out of my system. But in all seriousness, the character of Battle Beast is the reason I started reading Invincible in the first place. Flipping through a random issue at my local comic book store, I immediately wanted to know more about this crazy lion viking man. I was disappointed to find out that he was a fairly obscure character in the series, and didn’t appear nearly as much as I’d hoped. Maybe that was for the best. Battle Beast is such a ridiculous (and awesome) character that he’s probably best used in small doses.
His shining moment is by far his gruesome, knockdown, drag out death match with the Viltrumite Emperor, Thragg. While Thragg is an amazing character in his own right (we’ll get to him later), his pairing with Battle Beast results in one of the most brutal fights in the series. This several-issues-long slugfest is unrelenting in its gore and violence. While the action is intense and satisfying, it also serves as a great character moment for Battle Beast. Until this point in the series, he’d been nothing more than a ThunderCats inspired attack dog (or cat, I guess?). His battle with Thragg showed his junkie-like NEED for battle. This wasn’t simply a fight with a hated adversary for Battle Beast, it was the culmination of his years-long search for a worthy opponent.
Betrayal (Issue #108)
I hope I don’t seem too hyperbolic when I say that the shocking betrayal of Invincible’s long-time ally and friend, Robot, ranks as one of the biggest twists in comic book history. After spending hundreds of years ruling an alien civilisation in an alternate reality (comic books, amirite?), Robot finds it difficult to adjust to the real world again.
Robert spends months angrily observing what he deems to be a flawed and unjust world, then he enacts his bloody coup, systematically killing, maiming, and arresting the world’s greatest defenders to establish his new world order. What was most shocking about this turn of events was that he actually succeeded. He won. While most stories like this would result in the hero defeating his corrupted ally and restoring the world to its natural state, Invincible is thoroughly defeated and humbled by his former friend.
After reluctantly admitting that Robot is 10 steps ahead of him at every turn, Mark leaves Earth with his family to escape from his dictatorship forever. Kirkman again proved his storytelling brilliance by telegraphing this betrayal for months in advance. He’d been sowing the seeds of Robot’s treachery ever since his introduction in issue #2. The cherry on top is the realisation that the world may indeed be a better, safer place under Robot’s rule.
The Viltrumite War (Issue #71 – #78)
Comic books have a long and storied history of disappointing and inconsequential events. Marvel and DC are notorious for their constant promises of earth-shattering stories and big creative changes. However, they almost never succeed, and before long things always return to the status-quo. Invincible has a much better track record when it comes to events, and The Viltrumite War may be the biggest one of all.
Spanning seven issues, The Viltrumite War saw Mark and his allies go toe-to-toe with Emperor Thragg and his unstoppable Viltrumite army. With characters from all across the Invincible universe coming together to battle this seemingly unstoppable foe, we got to see some of the most eye-popping action from the series to date. We even got the much-anticipated rematch between Mark and Conquest. With Mark, Allen, Battle Beast and friends taking on the wrath of the Viltrumite Empire, this event came as close to perfect as comic book events get. It also changed the landscape of the series forever. Watch and learn Marvel.
Brother from another Mother (Issue #26)
The introduction of Mark’s alien half-brother Oliver was a big surprise for the series when he was introduced in issue #26. After leaving earth following the bloody beat-down of his own son, Nolan Grayson sought sanctuary on a planet inhabited by a peaceful, Insectoid race. Fathering Oliver with one of the natives, he invited Mark to his new planet to repair their strained relationship. Little did Mark know that he would soon end up with his very own sidekick.
Oliver soon became a regular fixture of the series, and his alien rapid-aging made him outgrow his boy wonder origins very quickly. The narrative impact Oliver had wasn’t fully realised until he began to question his new human family. Kirkman brilliantly allowed Oliver to be the mouthpiece for the non-human characters. His ruthless approach to crime-fighting and his seemingly psychopathic lack of empathy made it seem like it wouldn’t be long before he traded in his superhero licence to become the series next villain. Thankfully Oliver saw the light in the end and began to operate in a much more heroic way. In the end, hero or villain, Oliver was an excellent addition to the series.
Bad Timing (Issue #126)
Invincible is primarily an action/superhero series, but that doesn’t mean it can’t bring the feels every now and then. The consequences of the “Reboot?” story arc are perhaps the most heart-breaking of all. After a run-in with a mysterious alien creature, Mark is transported back in time to the beginning of the series. Trying in vain to return to his own time, Mark sees this as his opportunity to undo the many mistakes he has made in his superhero career.
After recapping some of the series most memorable moments with a new time-travel twist, Mark finally manages to contact the creature that sent him back in time. The creature tells Mark that he has a second chance to do things better, to save countless lives and make the universe a better place. However, Mark cannot stay in this new utopian reality. He realises that if he doesn’t return to his own timeline, he may never get to see his precious new-born daughter, Terra ever again. The creature reluctantly returns Mark to the present, condemning him for selfishly choosing his own family over the safety of the universe. The truly devastating revelation isn’t until Mark steps back into his home to come face-to-face with his now toddler-aged daughter. Mark bursts into tears as he realises that he has missed the first few years of his daughter’s life, and she doesn’t even know who he is. That’s some heavy stuff, Kirkman. Damn.
That does it for my top 10 list of the greatest moments of Invincible! What did you think? Did I miss anything? Did your favourite moments make the list? How are you going to survive when this series ends? Let us know in the comments and on social media!