JUMPING RIGHT INTO THINGSThe Latin phrase "In medias res" (pronounced "in meh-dee-us race", among other ways) means "in the middle of things" and is normally used to describe a narrative technique that involves dropping the reader into a story that's already in progress, leaving the beginning of the story to be filled in later (hopefully). It's also normally a bad sign. It's often used by writers as a hook. An attempt to draw in the readers attention right away by plopping them into the middle of the action, which normally means that the beginning of the story isn't believed to be capable of doing that. I'm sure you can see how that would be a bad thing. This isn't true of every use of the technique, of course, but it does happen quite a bit.
"In medias res" certainly describes issue one of Invincible. The very first page details a currently unnamed character, who's obviously the protagonist, hurtling through the air with a man "wearing" a bomb. Three pages later, we have the same person, four months earlier, sitting on the toilet. The next few pages show that character (whom we soon learn to be Mark Grayson) going to school and working at a fast food restaurant. This brings me to my original point. Tell me, which beginning would have had you more excited to turn to the next page: The (actual) beginning, where a teenage kid sits on the toilet while his mom makes a masturbation joke, or the (used) beginning where we're treated to a giant explosion by the end of page three? I bet I know the answer.
I'm by no means attempting to criticize the storytelling techniques of Mr. Kirkman, as this is a very good debut for the series, but I do find it interesting that even a comic that has as strong a story as this one has to rely on this type of technique in order to get the attention of readers. I wonder, would the modern day comic world even be able to survive without "hooks" and the words "to be continued..."?
Something to think about.
A FAMILY AFFAIRAs I mentioned, Invincible has a very strong story, and we get to see its foundation in the first few issues. There's a strong family element to this comic that provides a large source of material for later stories. At this point, the Grayson family is a lovable set of people, the writing behind them is strong, and you immediately get a sense of how close these people are. We also get a good sense of each individual's own personality. It's all done very well and the good work goes on to be the fuel to some truly great stories later on in the series.
That's part of the problem, though. Perhaps it's not so noticeable reading this comic for the first time, but looking back on it, it's easy to see just how much of this issue is all ground work. The story's there (in a very small way), but it really hasn't got rolling yet. Mark getting his powers, the introduction of the family dynamic, and Mark getting into the superhero business is all setup. There's really nothing wrong with that, this is the first issue, after all, but when you factor in the comic's "in medias res" beginning, it really makes you wonder about how much confidence was behind the foundation of such a great comic.