Our first glimpse of the superhero known as Invincible is of him flying across a wintry landscape, carrying a humanoid body with a bomb in its chest. He hurls the body into mid air and the bomb detonates. Presumably, we’ve just watched him save someone or something from explosion.
On the very next page we see him sitting on the toilet while his mother yells at him to get out of the bathroom.
The “kid learns he has superpowers” story wasn’t a new thing when creators Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Cory Walker brought Invincible to Image Comics in the early 2000s, but rarely has a version of that tale been told with such humor and originality. Invincible #1 is just a small blip of the tale that Kirkman, Walker and artist Ryan Ottley would come to create, but it’s enough to get you hooked.
Mark Grayson is an average teenage kid. He has a part-time job, he goes to high school, he reads comic books on the toilet. There is something different about him, though: his dad is Omni-Man, the world’s greatest superhero. Kirkman leads into the series with the implication that Omni-Man’s powers (similar to Superman’s) are genetic, and a few pages into Invincible #1, Mark finds that his own powers are kicking in when he tries to chuck a bag of trash into a dumpster and ends up hurling it into deep space.
In another classic example of Kirkman’s blending of the domestic and the super, Mark lets his parents know over dinner that night that he seems to be getting some added abilities (his Dad just returned from battling a dragon in Taiwan).
“I think I’m finally getting superpowers,” he says.
“That’s nice,” his mother replies. “Can you pass the potatoes?”
Things get even more fun when Omni-Man takes Mark to his favorite superhero tailor (yes, they have those) to get a suit together for his crime fighting adventures, and he begins to develop his own superhero nickname. The issue ends as he’s just beginning his official adventures as Invincible.
There’s no deep philosophical sense of what it means to be a hero at this point, no angst, no dread of the great responsibility that comes with great power. Kirkman handles his origin story with the same kind of effortless commitment that an issue like Action Comics #1 has. He’s just rolling out his hero and having a good time, supported by Walker’s bright, streamlined art. Something like Invincible’s debut is always refreshing to read, because it reminds us that, more than seven decades after the dawn of the superhero, creators are still finding ways to tell the story anew.