After "Invincible" #100, the world is rebuilding, and Mark Grayson is working for the government in lieu of an ugly jail term. In this issue, Robert Kirkman has the challenge to show the fall-out from Invincible's faked death and everything else happening in the world around him. It's a relatively quiet issue, all things considered, but one that's packed with the humanity that lies at the heart of the series. While we gawk and recoil from the bloodshed and super-powered craziness of the series, it's the "little" issues like this one that reminds readers why we come back for the characters every months.
It's all about repercussions and accepting the consequences of one's decisions for this issue. Given the history of the series, these particular complications get even more complicated quickly.
Mark Grayson, for starters, is working for Cecil again, which traditionally has ended poorly. Mark's return is met with skepticism from the Guardians of the Globe, some of whom don't react too kindly to him not being either dead or in prison. That's only compounded by the sight of him working for Cecil again, who they once so famously separated themselves from. The original Invincible is now in something of a limbo, not being fully accepted by his peers, working for someone he doesn't entirely trust, but stuck in the position he's in because of his own past poor decisions. It's a pickle that can't be easily fought out of.
His father, Omni-Man, is dealing with his past history, too, accepting Cecil's exile to the moon to keep him safe and to protect Cecil politically. Of course, this being Cecil, there's a dual purpose to the exile. Omni-Man is to keep a watchful eye over the other Viltrumites living elsewhere on the moon. That group is having their own problems with members blending into earth society finding that they like it. Like Omni-Man once upon a time, they are also finding humanity not distasteful, after all. Their leader, Thragg, is frustrated. A fight between these two is inevitable. In fact, it's on the cover for issue #102.
Finally, Mark Grayson and Eve are dealing with her pregnancy. This is the storytelling high point of the issue, from a pure skill point of view. There's a lot said in their conversation with an economy of language. The awkward rhythm of the conversation belies the surface calm and merriment. Ryan Ottley's art sells the piece, using everything from body language to subtle expressions to let the reader in on what's going on under the surface. The uneasiness is only heightened by a visit from the super-powered doctor later in the issue with some bad news.
The issue bounces around a bit, but fills in a lot of necessary gaps. It might not be the issue that's remembered in specific detail a few years from now, but it's one that shows off some of the skills of the creators involved that don't always get remembered. "Invincible" has a large cast, and keeping up with as many of them as the title does will require issues like this, to close some doors and set some scenes up in the near future. Long-term readers will enjoy the more personal moments, though readers looking for the big bloody violence of recent issues will come up short.