It's been running for more than four years now, and Image Comics' superhero epic "Invincible" is approaching the half-decade mark. CBR News spoke with creator Robert Kirkman about the series and the storylines that are coming to a boil as the march to issue #50 continues.
When it comes down to the reasons behind the series' inception and endurance, it's simple for Kirkman. "I love superhero comics, I really and truly love them," Kirkman told CBR News. "They've always been my favorite kind of comics even though I recognize how important it is to the medium that we diversify and move past them to a certain extent. I love them, I always will and I don't apologize for it. So 'Invincible' is every single thing I love about superhero comics, thrown into one book. Its inspiration comes from all corners of superhero books. Also, series co-creator Cory Walker and series artist Ryan Ottley have always been a big part of what goes into the book."
Kirkman's protagonist, Mark Grayson, is a superpowered teenager who finds himself working for a government bureaucracy known as the Global Defense Agency, charged with protecting the world from planetary level threats. It's a job Grayson is uniquely suited for in his alter ego, Invincible. But as Kirkman tells it, that arrangement may not work out so well. "For our big issue #50 there's definitely going to be some conflict between Invincible and the G.D.A., and in particular, the head of the G.D.A., Cecil Stedman," Kirkman explained. "Now, whether or not that means they have a sinister agenda remains to be seen. I like to think there's a level of 'anything goes' alive and well with this series, the sinister motive could just as easily belong to Invincible. Who knows?
"Thus far, Invincible has been very naive about the whole arrangement," the writer continued. "He really just needed someone to tell him who to punch, basically. He needed help finding the threats in need of his intervention. But he never considered any kind of motives or repercussions from this agreement. The fun of doing a long run on a book you control completely is that you really get to sit down and work out all the changes a character can go through as he grows and matures and moves from a child to a man. This isn't a matter of a new guy coming on a book and trying to say, no really... this character would behave this way now. I get to show Mark Grayson, Invincible, getting smarter, and more mature as the years go on... and starting in issue #50, for better of for worse, we see how he's changed."
Invincible isn't just a name though; the powers granted by Mark Grayson's alien heritage make him a match for virtually any superpowered menace, so one could be forgiven for wondering how exactly a bunch of government suits can stop him from doing what he wants. But Kirkman explains those suits have planned for just such an eventuality, and they're ready. Said Kirkman, "The fight seen on the cover to issue #50 won't be nearly as one-sided as it appears. "
Explaining the careful planning that went into the forthcoming showdown, Kirkman detailed, "The stories in issue #50 were plotted out shortly after I wrote issue #13 of the series. So things are plotted well in advance. At this point I know every single thing that needs to happen between issues #50 and #75 and I have a rough idea where we're going after that and what issue #100 will be. With the book currently doing as well as it's doing, I try to plot it in 25-issue chunks, just rough ideas, nothing I'm married to if a better idea comes along, but I like to know where I'm going while at the same time, writing the issues pretty much on the fly--allowing the story to dictate where things go along the way."
Mark's "work" problems are far from his only ones, though. He recently broke up with his longtime girlfriend Amber Bennett due to his concerns about how his superhero lifestyle might affect her, and now finds himself in an awkward attraction with fellow superhero Atom Eve, but is uncertain about entering a relationship. With Mark facing the burden of choosing between two beautiful women, can a regular girl really compete with a superheroine? Kirkman thinks so.
"Amber represents a normal life with a normal girl that I think appeals to Mark at least a little bit," Kirkman said. "He's certainly not a hero who looks at his powers as a burden, at least not yet--but at the very least, he does wonder what it would be like to be a normal teenager, able to go to the movies whenever and have fun without worrying about saving the world. That's what Amber is to him--a connection to the real world, in a sense. And it's a connection he just lost, again, one of the small pieces of the puzzle leading up to issue #50."
With all of this brewing, Kirkman promises still more as the countdown to #50 continues. "The return of Doc Seismic, the return of the Reanimen, an appearance of BRIT, (who has his own series starting up at the end of August), big changes, big shake-ups, deep character moments and lots of superhero coolness. Y'know, business as usual."
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