Kirkman's 'Invincible': An Analysis of Gore

  • 133 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Posted by MattDemers (362 posts) - - Show Bio

While catching up on Invincible the other day, I came across a certain page that straight-up bothered me. It was a scene depicting Mark Grayson's worst fears about the consequences of his Viltrumite enemies, which he had just finished fighting, making it to Earth before he did. Though it was only a dream sequence, it showed the heroes of the Image universe getting brutally butchered by the superhuman terrors. It illustrated an extreme case of the brutality we know that the villains were capable of.

Edited for taste.

While I'm no stranger to the horrors of the Internet (and have read Punisher: Max cover-to-cover) Invincible is still one of the few comics that can make me feel squeamish. The actual cause, however, eluded me until I took a good long look at myself and how these scenes are produced.

== TEASER ==

Invincible is an extremely deceptive series. I took the first volume at face value: an homage to a number of superhero tropes that were updated for a new audience and included a number of original characters. Invincible (Mark Grayson) was a growing hero and had a number of support systems to ensure that he grew into his role "normally."

However, this changed in the second to third volume, where readers are treated to a knock-down, drag-out brawl between Mark and his dad, where blood, teeth and bone fly. Things are kicked up a notch.

As the series progresses, the fights get worse, and have higher tolls: Mark kills Angstrom Levy, Dupli-Kate's clones die in extremely gruesome fashion and Invincible meets Conquest, setting the bar high again. At the end of a recent volume, heads are ripped clean off bodies while heads get sandwiched between fists so hard that blood sprays from eye sockets. This is heavy stuff.

Each one of these fights does not shirk on the viscera; bones are exposed, teeth are lost and holes are ripped open in people. However, these things aren't what bugs me the most.

What gets me are the expressions.

Each one of the faces that are crying in anguish behind the smiley faces up there unsettle me beyond anything else.

Ryan Ottley's work is specifically done to make us feel for the character being maimed. While this shouldn't come as a surprise, consider this: when viewing a "typical" character death in super-hero comics, how often do we see them cry out in pain? Beg for mercy? Cry at hopelessness? Lose their confidence?

It's rare that we actually see that weakness in characters we're supposed to idolize, which I think is the whole point of presenting Invincible fights in this manner. Kirkman and Ottley wanted to show us that unlike stereotypical superhero books where fights can be inconsequential, characters in Invincible feel pain. They feel fear. They squish when hit by someone who has super-strength.

Titles like Punisher: Max and even The Walking Dead aren't strangers to this level of violence, yet they get a "pass" in my mind. Frank Castle can string a guy up by his intestines (and has) and it won't provoke a reaction; however, seeing someone in Invincible who's not quite dead with their arm ripped off, crying out in pain, shakes something inside me that doesn't feel right.

Ultimately, this can be attributed to another artistic style point. Invincible's style is very cartoony (again, it's an homage); this works tremendously in its favour because it looks like the story it's supposed to be portraying.

However, when panels like the above crop up, it almost shocks you out of the quaint superhero world you're enjoying, and reminds you that if the timing's right, any of the characters you've come to love could die in a horrible fashion. Each fight connects with you because you're sweating buckets, wondering if that next punch will go through the combatant.

Thankfully, Kirkman does not exploit this strategy. When used too often (like in Crossed), it becomes cheap and tired, which unfortunately detracts from the whole story.

Hopefully that won't be in Invincible's future any time soon. It would be a waste of a great title and great universe.

#1 Posted by cyberninja (10413 posts) - - Show Bio

"It's an animal thing."- Riddick 

#2 Posted by keithmoon316 (35 posts) - - Show Bio

awesome analysis. I do agree Kirkman really uses his violent scenes every so often in Invincible, and Walking Dead as well, so when you get to scenes like the Prison in Walking Dead, they hit you that much harder.

#3 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6885 posts) - - Show Bio
   
I remember how upsetting this was for me when I first read it...
#4 Edited by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio


Ottley is amazing.

 

Invincible is amazing.

 

 

Good article.

 

 

 

One of the best shots is when Allen and Nolan punch the Viltrumite in the head at the same time.

#5 Posted by NightFang (9634 posts) - - Show Bio

Good article.    

#6 Posted by otakucomics (6 posts) - - Show Bio

Agreed. However, I'm not sure why Walking Dead would get a pass. That's a book that is teaming with emotional impact from each character's pain.

#7 Edited by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio

 
 
 
#8 Posted by Red Rum (357 posts) - - Show Bio

What the F**K?

#9 Edited by doordoor123 (3721 posts) - - Show Bio

I dont understand why you had to edit the gore. Its art. Not real blood.
@Vitality: 
is the Astounding Wolf-man dead? I thought i saw alot of people die in that issue but they ended up showing their faces alive later.

#10 Posted by sj_esposito (457 posts) - - Show Bio
@RedheadedAtrocitus said:
"    
I remember how upsetting this was for me when I first read it...
"
I was thinking the same thing while reading this article! Something about that scene really upset me. And I've read Ennis' Punisher stuff cover-to-cover, as well, without it stirring my emotions.

I love the art in Invincible, and I think the fact that it's this kind of bubbly art interspersed with the uber-violence that would be reality if we had superhumans fist fighting all the time.
#11 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@doordoor123 said:
"I dont understand why you had to edit the gore. Its art. Not real blood.
@Vitality: is the Astounding Wolf-man dead? I thought i saw alot of people die in that issue but they ended up showing their faces alive later. "

Those pics are from a dream sequence.
#12 Posted by pulseangel666 (329 posts) - - Show Bio


It is not that big of a deal, It is just a part of the media today. No big deal. And if some do not like it do not read it, and parents could keep it away from their children ect. Until they are apeal to understand it.

But ofc I am a gorehound myself so just my 2 cents.

#13 Edited by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

Dude , authority is more violent... and gore should be showed man 

 Everybody plays mortal kombat so whats the big deal?
#14 Posted by craigbo180 (196 posts) - - Show Bio

Punisher Max will always be the most mature comic title of all time. Some of the stuff in that is messed up.

#15 Posted by Wattup (648 posts) - - Show Bio

Hahaha...he does look like Al Gore.

#16 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@Nerx said:
"Dude , authority is more violent... and gore should be showed man 
Everybody plays mortal kombat so whats the big deal?
"


I see your decapitation and raise you a punch through the body and out the mouth.

 

 


 

#17 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't think Invincible is "teh best book eva!!!!" that some people make it out to be, but it is very enjoyable. I think the goofy violence plays into that. Ottley's art isn't shocking when it's violent. It's just like "heh, they're ****ed". If someone like Alex Ross drew it, that'd be a different story.

#18 Posted by aztek_the_lost (30740 posts) - - Show Bio
@craigbo180 said:
" Punisher Max will always be the most mature comic title of all time. Some of the stuff in that is messed up. "
what's your definition of mature?

@Vitality said:
"
"
and WTF is up with that last pic? are the severed body and head supposed to be the same person? does she have three arms and shoulders above her neck or something?
Moderator
#19 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@aztek the lost said:
" @craigbo180 said:
" Punisher Max will always be the most mature comic title of all time. Some of the stuff in that is messed up. "
what's your definition of mature?

@Vitality said:
"
 
 
 
"
and WTF is up with that last pic? are the severed body and head supposed to be the same person? does she have three arms and shoulders above her neck or something?
"

What?...look at the pic closer.
#20 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt said:
"I don't think Invincible is "teh best book eva!!!!" that some people make it out to be, but it is very enjoyable. I think the goofy violence plays into that. Ottley's art isn't shocking when it's violent. It's just like "heh, they're ****ed". If someone like Alex Ross drew it, that'd be a different story. "


Please quote where people are actually typing "teh best book eva!!!!"

 

Anyways...what's your point.

 

Did you just reply to say you don't like Invincible and that another artist is better?

 

What's your point?

#21 Posted by aztek_the_lost (30740 posts) - - Show Bio
@Vitality said:
" @aztek the lost said:
" @craigbo180 said:
" Punisher Max will always be the most mature comic title of all time. Some of the stuff in that is messed up. "
what's your definition of mature?

@Vitality said:
"
"
and WTF is up with that last pic? are the severed body and head supposed to be the same person? does she have three arms and shoulders above her neck or something?
"
What?...look at the pic closer. "
oh I see that the one arms's a leg now...it still looks wrong with the body looking like it was cut at the neck and the shoulder being attached to the head but it's not a big deal, just confused me at first glance
Moderator
#22 Posted by Moonleming (39 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm not too sure what the point of this whole article is.  Excessive violence in comics is nothing new.  Invincible has always dealt this level of violence from time to time.  Now if this was a kid friendly imprint its news.  I can even see it being worth a mention if say the same panels shown depicted beloved kid favorites like Spidey and Batman.  I recently went and spoke to my daughters 1st grade class about FCBD. I made them a flyer for their parents displaying kid friendly logos and a cautionary note about comics not displaying the logos.  If your not sure assume that a comic starring even Superman has PG-13 to even R level content.  I also understand the larger debate about whether this type of content takes the medium in a direction we as readers want it to go. But was the article point boy this gives me the willies?  I'm the first to admit I can be kind of dense.

#23 Posted by TDK_1997 (13656 posts) - - Show Bio
@RedheadedAtrocitus said:
"    
I remember how upsetting this was for me when I first read it...
"
#24 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@Moonleming said:
"I'm not too sure what the point of this whole article is.  Excessive violence in comics is nothing new.  Invincible has always dealt this level of violence from time to time.  Now if this was a kid friendly imprint its news.  I can even see it being worth a mention if say the same panels shown depicted beloved kid favorites like Spidey and Batman.  I recently went and spoke to my daughters 1st grade class about FCBD. I made them a flyer for their parents displaying kid friendly logos and a cautionary note about comics not displaying the logos.  If your not sure assume that a comic starring even Superman has PG-13 to even R level content.  I also understand the larger debate about whether this type of content takes the medium in a direction we as readers want it to go. But was the article point boy this gives me the willies?  I'm the first to admit I can be kind of dense. "

As far as I'm concerned...this article is to show just how awesome the Invincible series is.
#25 Posted by Caligula (12417 posts) - - Show Bio

if you a upset by a comic book or movie. maybe you should either
A: Get A New Hobbie.
or
B: Grow the Hell Up.

I don't want my comics or movies dumbed down and censored because of some whiny easily disturbed adolescent mind got a hold of some sh*t he shouldn't have. There are plenty of comics for you little whiny girls out there, no need to take away what someone else enjoys.

#26 Posted by Moonleming (39 posts) - - Show Bio
@Vitality:
Agreed, no doubt.  It doubly reinforces that idea because we as readers care enough about the characters to get freaked at the idea they could be mangled this way. 
#27 Posted by -Vigil- (379 posts) - - Show Bio

I was really enjoying Invincible until the gore started, at which point I stopped reading. Too bad. BTW, I love the smiley-face censoring in that picture.

#28 Posted by Caligula (12417 posts) - - Show Bio
@craigbo180 said:
" Punisher Max will always be the most mature comic title of all time. Some of the stuff in that is messed up. "
someone hasn't read much Ennis.
#29 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@-Vigil- said:
"I was really enjoying Invincible until the gore started, at which point I stopped reading. Too bad. BTW, I love the smiley-face censoring in that picture. "

Just curious....why did that make you stop reading?
#30 Posted by Caligula (12417 posts) - - Show Bio
@-Vigil- said:
" I was really enjoying Invincible until the gore started, at which point I stopped reading. Too bad. BTW, I love the smiley-face censoring in that picture. "
what whiner
#31 Posted by -Vigil- (379 posts) - - Show Bio
@Vitality: First of all, I just find violence on that level wrong. It disturbs me. Secondly, it's really gross. I mean, EEEWWWWWW!
#32 Posted by -Vigil- (379 posts) - - Show Bio
@Caligula said:
" @-Vigil- said:
" I was really enjoying Invincible until the gore started, at which point I stopped reading. Too bad. BTW, I love the smiley-face censoring in that picture. "
what whiner "
Tolerance is a virtue, my friend.
#33 Edited by Kallarkz (3303 posts) - - Show Bio
eh... i don't mind it.  sometimes some people can just read about that stuff but others prefer not to.

Doesn't mean anything....it's just like people who don't prefer to see gory movies.
#34 Posted by Caligula (12417 posts) - - Show Bio
@-Vigil- said:
" @Caligula said:
" @-Vigil- said:
" I was really enjoying Invincible until the gore started, at which point I stopped reading. Too bad. BTW, I love the smiley-face censoring in that picture. "
what whiner "
Tolerance is a virtue, my friend. "
Practice what you preach. Telling me to be tolerant of your immaturity, while you are intolerant of violence regardless of context or story.
#35 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@-Vigil- said:
" @Vitality: First of all, I just find violence on that level wrong. It disturbs me. Secondly, it's really gross. I mean, EEEWWWWWW! "


The "realistic" level of violence shown is one of the reason Invincible is my favorite.

 

It shows what would actually happen if superhumans fought.

 

To each their own.

#36 Posted by JonesDeini (3616 posts) - - Show Bio
@sEsposito7: 
I think it hits you more in a DC or Marvel book because you don't expect it. I read Haunt before I read Invincible so it came as no shock to me, because I knew how Kirkman got down. Though those panel from issue 77 I think did mangae jar me a bit. Great, great work by Ottley, hope he never leaves the book. He does beautiful violence. 
#37 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@-Vigil- said:
" @Vitality: First of all, I just find violence on that level wrong. It disturbs me. Secondly, it's really gross. I mean, EEEWWWWWW! "


I urge you to continue reading.

 

As mentioned in this article...this violence...the act of your main characters actually being hurt...the threat of actual death...makes every issue that much better.

 

You're also missing out on what I believe is the most EPIC comic book fight ever between Invincible and Conquest.

(you have to read Invincible from the beginning for that fight to really impact you)

#38 Posted by MattDemers (362 posts) - - Show Bio
@Caligula said:
" if you a upset by a comic book or movie. maybe you should either
A: Get A New Hobbie.
or
B: Grow the Hell Up.I don't want my comics or movies dumbed down and censored because of some whiny easily disturbed adolescent mind got a hold of some sh*t he shouldn't have. There are plenty of comics for you little whiny girls out there, no need to take away what someone else enjoys. "
This is my favourite comment on this website. It actually made me laugh quite hard.
#39 Posted by Kallarkz (3303 posts) - - Show Bio
I would recommend others to continue reading as well. It truly is a good read. I really appreciated Marks character in the very last issue that came out when Eve told me him what she did and how he reacted. He showed a level of maturity and responsibility that few characters have ever show.
#40 Posted by Caligula (12417 posts) - - Show Bio
@mattdemers said:
" @Caligula said:
" if you a upset by a comic book or movie. maybe you should either
A: Get A New Hobbie.
or
B: Grow the Hell Up.I don't want my comics or movies dumbed down and censored because of some whiny easily disturbed adolescent mind got a hold of some sh*t he shouldn't have. There are plenty of comics for you little whiny girls out there, no need to take away what someone else enjoys. "
This is my favourite comment on this website. It actually made me laugh quite hard. "
thank you :D
#41 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29330 posts) - - Show Bio
@Caligula said:
" if you a upset by a comic book or movie. maybe you should either
A: Get A New Hobbie.
or
B: Grow the Hell Up.I don't want my comics or movies dumbed down and censored because of some whiny easily disturbed adolescent mind got a hold of some sh*t he shouldn't have. There are plenty of comics for you little whiny girls out there, no need to take away what someone else enjoys. "
If Comicvine had a like button.....
#42 Posted by brc2000 (1680 posts) - - Show Bio

To people commenting on this article and complaining about gore in comics, I'm sorry, but either grow a pair or don't read it. There are plenty of family friendly comics, and it sickens me that in most people's minds comics are not allowed to go as far as films or books.

#43 Posted by MattDemers (362 posts) - - Show Bio
@Caligula: Wasn't a compliment, sir. Just made you look like an asshat.
#44 Posted by Kid_Zombie (824 posts) - - Show Bio

It's not a big deal, in fact I like this much better, To see the actual pain these heroes could inflict.  Makes the book more real to me. Ive never read invincible, but been meaning to pick it up, and this just kinda made me want to read it even more. Seems like a more real take on heroes.

Whats with comicvine lately? Always complaining about ratings and sex and violence, its like your turning into the "man" ha ha, but am glad to see an article not about marvel or Dc.

#45 Posted by Caligula (12417 posts) - - Show Bio
@mattdemers said:
" @Caligula: Wasn't a compliment, sir. Just made you look like an asshat. "
thank you :D

coming from an asshat like you that is in fact a compliment.
#46 Posted by Caligula (12417 posts) - - Show Bio
@brc2000 said:
" To people commenting on this article and complaining about gore in comics, I'm sorry, but either grow a pair or don't read it. There are plenty of family friendly comics, and it sickens me that in most people's minds comics are not allowed to go as far as films or books. "
I agree.

If you don't like it, go read the 9 bijillion other comics made for your tastes. Don't come and bitch about somebody else's entertainment that wasn't made for you.
#47 Posted by sj_esposito (457 posts) - - Show Bio

Wow. This conversation went right of the tracks...

#48 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29330 posts) - - Show Bio

Sh_t just got real.

#49 Posted by Vitality (1755 posts) - - Show Bio
@sEsposito7 said:
"Wow. This conversation went right of the tracks... "

Yeah...and an article about Invincible deserves better than this.
#50 Edited by sj_esposito (457 posts) - - Show Bio
@JonesDeini: I think it's not really about publisher, because I expect that type of violence when I buy a Punisher book, but more about the characters involved. When Kord took it in the head like that, I was upset because I never expected that to happen. And yes, it's a DC book, but if I'd have been reading Lobo or something else, I'd have been much more ready for it.

Another moment that kind of shocked me was recently when Green Arrow murdered Prometheus. I was really taken back by that. And it was a combination of the ultrarealistic art with the context of a hero crossing that line. I think it was one of comics' finer moments, where you really get a sense of the character.

Contrast that with the cartoony violence of Invincible  or the uberviolence of something like Crossed or Punisher MAX, and there's a clear difference that transcends the art.

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.