I’m going to have to into spoiler territory here, because there’s no way to talk about what’s good about this book without digging DEEP into what goes on. I will block where appropriate. Rex/Robot and Invincible venture into the dimension where one of Invincible’s most insidious, diabolical alternates had essentially conquered Earth and wanted Angstrom Levy to help him expand his empire. When he dragged Levy back to his own dimension, Invincible wanted to follow not to rescue the mad scientist, who’d begun to show signs of reforming, but to ensure he couldn’t attack Mark or his family anymore. What he finds is...well, the cover isn’t misleading and I’ll leave it at that. It’s what happens after that will have you break your jaw with the impact when it hits the floor. Robert Kirkman has shown himself to be an absolute master of foreshadowing and sowing seeds of character development that don’t pay off until much later, and that happens here, but not to who you might expect. Robot not only immobilizes both Invincibles, but straight-up KILLS the more malevolent one before executing Levy and leaving Mark stranded. He reveals that, not only did his time in the Flaxan Universe give him an entirely new perspective, but that he believed Mark would eventually turn dictator and he was both being preventative AND ensuring his own plans move forward. It’s a bold move, but never once feels like a twist for a twist’s sake, the motivations feel not only well planned out, but like they’ve been percolating for issue after issue at this point. It’s one of those things that is shocking at first, but then you realize there was no other way for this to go.
Ryan Ottley's linework and John Rauch's colors were absolutely on FIRE this issue. The violence is suddenly and absolutely brutal, reminding us yet again that though the color palette is bright and cheery , this is far from a kid’s book and these are incredibly powerful beings that that are capable of unleashing absolutely RIDICULOUS violence at a moment’s notice. Every panel flows evenly from one to the next and the facial expressions are things of absolute beauty, conveying even more than the dialog suggests, simultaneously being over-the-top and filled with subtlety. I honestly have no idea how they do it, but I’m glad they do every single time.
There’s an entire month between this and the next issue. That is bad. It is very, very bad.
This is what I like to refer to as a “payoff issue.” Kirkman’s been leading up a lot, he’s had a lot pokers in various fires and clearly several have turned red hot. This issue has some absolutely shocking moments that simultaneously wrap up and set up future storylines gloriously. I have some rough idea of what will happen next, or at least have deluded myself into thinking I do but that’s also what I thought when this issue started, so clearly I actually have NO IDEA. And that is absolutely thrilling.