Edit: (22nd October 2015) I originally wrote the below piece in July, as a bit of a speculation and news piece upon the reboot’s announcement. With the first issue now out today, you can find my review of it here, either way, enjoy!
Announced at Image Expo last week, Invincible is rebooting, kind of. For those unaware, Invincible is the long running superhero series by that rather noteworthy person named Robert Kirkman, the same guy responsible for that tiny sleeper hit The Walking Dead, which you might have heard of at some point.
Joking aside, what’s the deal with this Invincible reboot? Is it really a reset of the storyline? No, not quite.
Details are slim but here’s what the official press release says:
In this new direction for Invincible, Mark suddenly finds himself without powers. Back home… but aware of everything he’s lived through. What does he change, who can he save… and how will he deal with his father now that he knows what’s coming?
It also mentions that this “reboot” begins with issue #124, so there’s no renumbering, and the creative team is unchanged.
I could leave the article at that like many other comic book sites have, but here at Panels And Pixels we like to give you some discussion and speculation with our news, because we’re terribly self-important and like to pretend people care about our opinions.
Warning, Spoilers follow for Invincible (issues 1-120/volume 1-21)!
So, is it a reboot?
I don’t think this is an actual reboot, despite the name, that seems quite obvious. It’s more likely that Invincible is again being self-aware and poking fun at the rest of the comic book industry. This happened recently with the The Death Of Everyone storyline where none of the main characters died, but there was a fake-out where it looked like Invincible died in a spectacularly gory mess, but it wasn’t actually him. Meanwhile a ton of unnamed civilian characters died. So it was technically true there was plenty of death in the story, but it toyed with the comic book trope of killing a significant character after marketing the hell out of it, see: Avengers Disassembled, Batman Inc., Death of Superman etc. and also the fact that the main character did die, kind of, but then came back in the same issue. It’s of course absolutely normal in comic books for dead characters to return a year or so later, see: Avengers Disassembled, Batman Inc., Death of Superman etc. The point being Kirkman loves to play with these tropes and use them in unexpected ways. So will this reboot be a traditional reboot? Certainly not.
Furthermore, Invincible loves to position itself as having new jumping on points. Whether this is another sarcastic slap across the face aimed at Marvel and DC, or sincere attempts to invite in new readers, I guess that’s up to us to judge. Either way, issues 70.5, 89, 101, 111 and 118 have all been advertised as great jumping on points over the last few years. So having this reboot positioned as another potential point to start reading would be nothing new.
A temporary reboot?
So how long will this reboot last? It’s got to be about 6 issues, right?* I’m guessing this is a volume’s worth of story that plays around with the “what if?” angle and has some fun before it’s back to business. Personally I think it sounds like it could be quite fun.
Although it’d be interesting to see it stretched out for more issues, Kirkman usually doesn’t mess around. The previously mentioned The Death of Everyone story lasted only 3 issues. The press release may say this is a ‘new direction’ but my money is on it being just a short storyline. I’d be shocked if this lasts any longer.
*Edit: D’oh! I was close but wrong, it’s actually just 3 issues.
Why this is a great idea…
I think this reboot is a great idea, it’s been a long time now since those early issues and a lot has changed. This is a great opportunity to revisit old storylines and have fun with how much has changed since.
This reboot also raises a lot of moral questions for Invincible. The big one being what will he do about his dad? Invincible fans will know that the protagonist’s dad, Omni-Man, was playing at being a hero while secretly preparing the planet for takeover. I think perhaps the question of “will Invincible try and stop his dad?” is not as interesting as can Invincible stop his dad?
It reminds me of how once I was part of a wonderfully nerdy conversation with some fellow comic fans online, where we loosely ranked the power levels of those in Invincible. It was a reminder that when it comes to Invincible’s universe super powers are often treated like a muscle. Characters get stronger as they mature and as they exercise their powers. Meaning if Invincible is back in his powerless teenage body, his powers are going to kick in and be the weakest they have ever been. Physically stopping his dad is out of the question. This story is going to be a lot more interesting than simply being Invincible vs. Omni-Man round 2.
So what might happen? Invincible’s dad and the atrocity he’s about to commit has got to be the main thing on his mind, right? Well what if he manages to talk him out of it? That would mean in the modern day Omni-Man can remain a hero and be visible to the people of Earth, instead of staying out of the public eye like he’s having to. Also the Avengers/Justice League stand-ins who were all killed could still be around. Although this seems like it’d have a big knock-on effect and alter a lot of continuity, so I’m not so sure that they’d take this route. Time travel has played a role in the series a couple of times but it was always people from the future coming back, not our modern day characters traveling backwards to change old stories.
Another problem is Robot. Going back in time means Invincible could warn Robot about who he’s going to turn into, namely a megalomaniac who fancies himself king of the planet. Would that make any difference though? The alternate universe version of Robot recently seen showed how much Robot has changed, so perhaps he would listen? Speaking of which that doesn’t mean that alternate version of Robot isn’t going to pose a problem in future too, but that’s a story for another day I suppose.
But, all this is assuming the changes stick. This could be an alternate-dimension, it could be completely fake and all in Invincible’s head, it could be a simulation, etc. But that said, it would be very un-Kirkmanish to pull the “it’s all a dream!” card and have there be no consequences. At the very least this is likely to change Invincible’s outlook in some way. Maybe he’ll learn that he could have changed things had he said the right words but none of the changes stick, giving him some added guilt to carry around?
We’ll have to wait and see, one of the reasons I like Invincible is because it is so difficult to predict.
Looking forward to the reboot storyline? It drops in October so there are still a few months to go until we get our hands on it. But less time until solicitations come out and inadvertently start teasingly spoiling what happens. Oh well! I’m looking forward to it, I have faith that Kirkman will handle it in an interesting way.