Borrowing a note from John Byrne’s “Incredible Hulk” days, “Invincible” #99 is filled with a full-color twenty-page splash page throwdown courtesy of Robert Kirkman and artist Ryan Ottley with Cliff Rathburn on inks, John Rauch on colors and Rus Wooton on letters. Sixteen of the pages are dedicated to the slobberknocker between Invincible and Dinosaurus, with four pages detailing the subplots swirling around the epic battle.
While the splash pages make for great projection of action, encouraging extravagant amounts of detail, the story loses benefit of standard comic composition. Ottley’s full-page (and in one case double-page spread) splash pages are dynamic for the battle between Invincible and Dinosaurus, giving the reader in-your-face moments that almost include the stink of Dinosaurus’ breath and the sweat flying off Invincible’s brow. Carnage and destruction make for great backgrounds in a story that features a teenaged superhero fighting a dinosaur, but little story other than the two titans trading blows is delivered through the pretty work of Ottley, which leads to excessively intrusive word balloons hugging each page. Visually, this is a nice contrast to some comics on the racks and it certainly honors the concepts on which Image Comics was founded. Still, I found myself feeling just a bit slighted, as though this issue were the ultimate decompressed tale.
I know it isn’t and I am well aware of the amount of story Kirkman poured into this issue, but placed this close to an expected milestone, it simply feels as though it is warming the seat for what’s to come or padding the pace to hold off the “real” story in “Invincible” #100. This issue is largely monologging from Dinosaurus, who is portrayed as a madman and manipulator. All of his machinations come to a head here and leave the reader holding quite the cliffhanger once the tale is told.
Leading up to the landmark hundredth issue, “Invincible” #99 throws a lot of great images at the reader in a fast-paced, full-blown adventure. Kirkman and company have thrown a curve into the world of Invincible and that curve appears set for a tremendous payoff in “Invincible” #100.