“Invincible” #120 showcases the duality of the series, featuring some of Ryan Ottley’s bloodiest drawn fights next to some of Robert Kirkman’s most touching, feel-good family moments for Mark Grayson.
The issues-spanning battle between Thragg and Battle Beast finally ends in the bloodiest two page splash in recent “Invincible” history. To the victor go the spoils. The punchline to the victor appears on the final page of the issue (no spoilers!) and is a laugh out loud moment that will also send chills down readers’ spines.
Following up on the battle, Mark and his half-brother, Oliver, arrive on the scene to assess the damages, leading to a sequence on the ship where Ryan Ottley makes the most of his “Star Trek: The Next Generation”/”Voyager” reference material. Everyone on the ship should look very familiar to fans of those shows, right down to the pair of doctors seen together on one panel. Those characters don’t get in the way of the plot at all. It’s all incidental, but it’s a nice bonus and a light-hearted counterbalance in the middle of a story sequence that’s been filled with blood and guts for so long. If you’ve never watched a moment of “Star Trek” in your life, you probably won’t even notice it, but the caricatures are well done, lightly cartooned in the same style as every other character in the series so as not to be jarring, but suggesting enough similarities to make the parallel obvious.
Speaking of balance, a chunk of the issue is devoted to Mark Grayson in his new alien home, tending to his daughter. The father/daughter montage, which takes place over two 16 panel pages, is so rarely seen in comics but will feel very familiar to many first-time fathers: the combination of joy and silliness that goes along with having that child in your life, along with the profound way one might talk to a small child honestly, knowing they’ll never be able to repeat it and embarrass you (yet).
While still acclimating to their new home (one particularly funny culture shock scene nails that), things back at home seem to be slowly getting better for Eve and Mark. Their roles and relationships are starting to solidify, and a generally peaceful and happy life is within their grasp. I give it three issues before the rug gets pulled out from under them.
Ottley and inker Rathburn run a gauntlet in this issue, depicting the most brutal fights with the meekest talking heads scenes. None are visually boring. Whether it’s the fantastic elements an alien setting has to offer or the simpler pleasures of Mark with his daughter, Ottley delivers it all. His facial expressions and body language movements are only getting more interesting and diverse, leading to a series that’s never boring to look at. Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s warm and slightly purplish color scheme keeps everything properly separated yet saturated in interesting light.
“Invincible” #120 may not be the most important issue of the series or even of the current story arc, but it delivers many satisfying moments out of things that lesser titles would plow through to get out of the way. Kirkman’s script and Ottley’s art combine to make the book greater than the sum of its parts. Can’t ask for too much more than that!