Review – Invincible: Eight is Enough
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Pencils by: Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley, Matt Roberts, Mark Englert, Dave Johnson, Cliff Rathburn
Inks by: Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley, Tony Moore, Erik Larsen, Dave Johnson, Cliff Rathburn
Letters by: Robert Kirkman
Colors by: Bill Crabtree
Release Date: December 12, 2006
Check out our review of Invincible Vol 1 Family Matters here.
If this is your first foray into Invincible, I do recommend going back and reading the first six issues found in Family Matters. It’s a solid origin story that lays the groundwork for the rest of the series. Invincible is a 144 issue long superhero comic series created by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker, published by Image Comics. Amazon Prime has licensed the comic for an animated series adaptation.
Kirkman does a really good job, with Invincible, of writing comics in a way that works not only as stand alone issues, smaller trade paperback chunks, but also as the story overall. He might be the very best at balancing consistent, long form storytelling in the comics medium. Volume 2, Eight is Enough continues the story of our titular hero, as the son of renowned superhero Omni-Man. While continuing with those characters, Eight is Enough begins to broaden the world with more characters and a broader scope. This volume introduces us to Allen the Alien and the Guardians of the Globe, both of which are important going forward. We’re also shown that the book exists in the larger Image Comics universe, with appearances from the likes of Super Patriot and Savage Dragon.
This second volume is where you really start to see what makes Invincible special. The pacing is still a little slow and it doesn’t feel like a lot happens, just some big things. Even in the first issue though, you start with what seems like a standard slugfest until the characters start asking questions. These subversions of comic book tropes are a hallmark of the book. It ends up being painfully clever and I can’t not appreciate how much care went into writing these moments. Kirkman also starts to show off his skills at sprinkling in little moments that he plans on paying off later.
There’s a grounded nature to the series, either in how they handle relationships or small things like not ignoring that a high school kid has homework. The conversations Mark has with his friends feel genuine for kids their age, where they’ll just have a rant about something like shortening names. Much like how in The Walking Dead Kirkman could sell you a zombie comic where you didn’t see zombies for multiple issues, I could read issues with these characters not throwing a single punch. Thankfully they don’t let up on the action that much though.
The Guardians of the Globe are a great parody piece. The small little snippets we get into their lives are pretty entertaining and feel like just the right amount. The twist at the end of Chapter Three gives the book a serious dose of spice and gives the reader endless questions. It’s not that dissimilar from the twist Kirkman delivers in early Walking Dead and defines the book similarly. This is followed up by a lesser cliffhanger at the end of Chapter Four that’s still exciting enough to keep you wondering.
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If you read the intro in the book, Erik Larsen tells us that Cory Walker was having trouble keeping up with the pace of a monthly book. This leads to some friends coming in to do some guest spots on issue 3. After that Ryan Ottley comes on to do issue 4. So the book gets a decent variety of art to compare. We’re introduced to a lot of fabulous new character designs in this book, from the Guardians, to Allen, to Science Dog, and that’s one of the strongest aspects of the Invincible series, in my opinion. These designs carry into the rest of the series and they help define the world.
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The guest spots are primarily for The Guardians of the Globe slots and they’re pretty fun. It’s a nice change of pace and gives each of the characters a little extra personality. Cory’s work in the book is better here than in volume 1, particularly when it comes to facial detail. The fight with Allen is really pretty with the space contrast behind them. The design for the attacker from the college campus is inspired and creepy. There’s consistent elements throughout the book, but it’s all kind of average. Ultimately I think you can tell that the pace wasn’t working. The splash pages are great but the smaller panels and quieter moments in the first couple issues do struggle sometimes.
All that said, when Ryan joins the book for Chapter Four, it clicks. The book takes on a personality that he will carry forward into the rest of the series. Cory’s designs are crucial for the start of this saga but Ryan’s art fits the book so well and looks so smooth. I think a lot of this goes back to Cory Walker’s comfort level with a monthly title. Ryan Ottley’s work on four comes across like more traditional superhero art. That style works so well for the universe Kirkman and Walker built.
Eight is Enough is another solid chunk of story in the Invincible universe. It’s an improvement on the first volume and better in many ways. It’s only four issues, though, and in that it does feel like it does less overall than the first version. It does meander a bit, especially as it stops to introduce us to the Guardians of the Globe. I would have preferred a bit more story in the volume, as far as progress, but the moments we do get are big enough to carry the volume forward.
Out of the 144 issue run, Eight is Enough is the next step in the uphill climb to the heights this series achieves. I would argue that Volume 2 is stronger than Volume 1. Volume 2 lays the groundwork for so much great story and art that we’ll get in the future. There are moments in this book that will reverberate through the entirety of the series, arguably more important than anything in the first volume. I can’t imagine someone reading this volume and wanting to stop but if that person is you, I would encourage you to keep reading.
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