Discussing The Controversial End Of Invincible #110 – SPOILERS

Having just read Invincible #110, I feel compelled to write about it. Since finishing issue 109 last month I’d been really excited to read it and find out how the cliffhanger is resolved. The previous issues had really been a return to form for the series. They’ve been incredibly intense with dark storylines peppered with a little bit of light humour and fun callbacks to earlier issues. Altogether it ensured I was very excited for 110.

I was not expecting what happened at all.

 

SPOILERS follow for Invincible #110

 

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Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence And Rape

Issue 110 is a comic that made me incredibly uncomfortable. I’m used to seeing horrific things occur in the series and explicit violence, but 110 was dark in a very disturbing way that the series have never approached before. If you are unaware of what happens, towards the end of the issue the titular hero Invincible, Mark Grayson, is flying from his home when Anissa, an evil character that had recently become a reluctant ally, approaches him. Mark refuses her advances and tries to leave but Anissa attacks him and the two briefly fight in mid-air. She then uses her superior strength to knock him to the ground where she holds him down and proceeds to rape him.

It’s an upsetting scene to read, the act itself is shown with small panels of their faces and silhouettes of their full bodies. There’s no explicit nudity but it’s made extremely clear what’s happening. Worryingly there is no warning at all, or if there is I didn’t see it. Invincible carries a 17+ rating on Comixology, so at least the series is intended for adults only, but when it comes to print there’s no indication. I’ve never been one to argue for censorship but with this subject matter there really should be a warning on the cover.

My gut reaction is that I feel like this has gone too far. Writer Robert Kirkman has previously jokingly come close to breaking the fourth wall in Invincible to remind everyone that it’s his comic and he’s perfectly fine with having increasingly controversial events take place. I sincerely hope that this isn’t intended to be seen in the same way those events were, to the creative team’s credit I really don’t think it is. But this has really pushed the limits of the type of content that’s expected in Invincible.

This is a very personal tragedy to inflict upon Mark and it’s an incredibly sensitive topic than the comic has never shown before. It’s incredibly rare to see it in a comic book and there are obviously reasons for that. It’s not something that should ever be shown lightly, it could be argued it should never be shown at all. I’m not trying to imply what Kirkman’s reason was for writing this, as obviously I can only speculate, but the whole sequence feels unnervingly out of place with the rest of the series. It’s never been shy about showing excessive and bloody content, but sexual violence like this is new territory.

Reading it there are signs that show it’s been taken appropriately seriously by the creative team. Mark has tears in his eyes and is visibly shaken by what happens, Anissa comes across as despicable. There is clearly no consent at all from Mark about what’s taking place. On the letters page there’s none of the usual light-hearted introduction, they acknowledge what happened as a horrible act.

Everything else aside, one thing that left me particularly uncomfortable about this is that the upcoming issue 111 is being billed as a fresh new direction, a new jumping on point. It makes it feel dangerously like it was something just to fill time between issues. If Mark just shrugs off what happens a few pages in then it’ll be painfully insensitive. How it’s handled going forward is key. I hope instead that 111 is the consequences of this, and that’s supposed to be the new story.

I expect Kirkman to comment on it in some form before the next issue is out and it’ll certainly be brought up in the letters. A couple of mainstream comic book sites might stop to reflect on it too and I’m sure some other bloggers like myself will put in their thoughts. I look forward to seeing that as I think it needs to be discussed.

Overall I think I need time to stew on it. I originally wrote this draft after having immediately finished the issue, instead of writing the review I had intended to write. I’m aware of the fact that I am not someone who has the right to properly address whether this is suitable for a comic book like Invincible. Instead I can only state what was my personal reaction to it, now I’m going to keep an open mind and listen to what others have to say over the next few days.

 

Author: Mia Violet

Mia has been blogging about comics and video games for several years from her home in merry ol’ England. She invites you to take a look around the blog before saying hello on Twitter, where she can be found tweeting about pop culture from @PanelsAndPixels

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6 Comments

  1. I don’t read Invincible. Never have, probably never will. I can’t understand the mindset of female on male rape before soliciting that the following issue is a ‘jumping on’ point. Something like this would most certainly have a lasting effect on the main character. There’s no reason to believe he’ll just move on and it’ll be sunshine and rainbows the rest of the way. This is something that the protagonist will have to work through. Does he get angry and go after his attacker? Does he become a shell of himself emotionally? Does he lash out and seek someone else to rape as a way to compensate for his own moment of weakness?

    There are a lot of directions to go here and to assume the following issue is a great place for new readers seems ignorant. What happened in the previous issue should get brought up and be a central theme going forward until there’s resolution. The point of an issue where new readers can ‘jump on’ is so they don’t feel alienated by what’s happening and feel as though they need to buy back issues. If nothing else, Kirkman seems to have gotten his book some free marketing. Writing a story for shock value is a cheap way to get some publicity and hopefully this isn’t a trend he intends to continue.

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  2. I don’t read the comic, but I’ve seen that scene, and couldn’t resist reading what people think about it.

    Isn’t it ironic that a rape done on male is called “going too far”? There is a general shock and disgust, even if the scene itself is actually laughable.
    But it’s good that the topic was brought, maybe it will encourage enough to discuss how society views certain things, maybe some people will finally realize what rape really is. Unfortunately, with current intelligence of people, this is probably the best and most direct way to send the message, even if it was done in a juvenile, incompetent way.

    P.S. If this funny scene shocked you, then man, you really don’t want to know how the real-world rape done by women on men looks like. It’s more violent and brutal then you could have ever assumed.

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  3. I have trouble believing that Mark will just shrug it off. When they say that 111 is the issue that changes everything I think they mean in regards to the Invincible Universe. In 110 something happens that’s traumatic only to mark. Also in 110 they dedicate more of the issue to the rape scene than they did while killing all of the guardians. Did they just drop the death of the guardians and move on? No. It completely reshaped the course of the series all the way up to Robot being the most dangerous man on the planet. Anyone who reads Walking Dead, Invincible, and Thief of Thieves will know at this point that everything pops back up at some point. I assume he’ll handle it like many do. He’ll keep it a secret and bury it. The problem with that is the writing isn’t going to let it be that simple.

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  4. Hey man, if you have read any of Kirkmans statements leading up to 111 he said the series is going to get excessively dark, almost as if “Walking Dead Kirkman” has talrn over. That along with the endibg of IU makes me fairly certain this is going to have huge lasting impacts on the series

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  5. I was shocked to see this happening in Invincible its such a dark thing and I am not sure if I want to continue on with this series. I’ve been collecting Invincible, Invincible universe, Brit, Guarding the Globe I am very invested in this comic book universe but not sure if I want to go in this direction… Having said that Outrun was possessed and had sex with her teammates against her will so I guess its already in that direction

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  6. You are being especially harsh on Kirkman. I fully trust that he understands the gravitas of what has happened and will deal with it in a respectable way. what happened was HORRIBLE and will guaranteed have a permanent effect on the character. the thought that the next issue will be all sunshine and rainbows is a huge assumption on your part and judging by the comments from people who dont follow invincible but are chiming in on what a horrible way its being handled, is a terrible dose of misinformation.

    There’ve been “jumping on points” where invincible just basically sits down and talks out everything he’s had to deal with to someone close to him. Its a jumping on point because it addresses what’s happened and what that means to mark. So it can go in that direction, which is exactly what one should do and speak out on it. If not, it could easily go in the direction that happens all the time, where he feels ashamed and hides it from others, which would be absolutely horrible but unfortunately realistic. It could also go in a direction where mark himself is blamed, and its an absolutely horrible but realistic depiction of what could happen, which is something that I expect from Kirkman. regardless, it will be dealt with. I get that you wrote this directly after reading the book, but it is a terrible experience and we as invested readers feel horrible with Mark. Try to look at it objectively from the perspective of the story, rather than trying to make excuses about who made this happen in order to pull yourself out of it. No one saw this coming, but it sadly makes sense from the story’s progression, and I for one am glad the Kirkman has the balls to deal with what comes from the story and how it will be dealt with. And thats what it came across as: a horrible reality. I didnt get the sense of a sensationalist ratings grab, but if anything, it came across as a dialogue starter. Some might think it crossed a line, but I think it seems more like they found the line and now we have to figure out what that line means.

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