I’ll talk around spoilers as much as I can, but something incredibly and intensely traumatic happens to a major character in this issue, and I doubt it’s something that will soon be forgotten. Invincible returns from the other dimension and meets with Eve, now very pregnant and very, very fed up with Mark’s constant departures into danger. Unlike Mark's mother, Eve isn’t willing to tell their child that daddy’s just gone for awhile and may never come back. Robert Kirkman ably handles this scene without making either Eve or Mark seem unreasonable, this is a very realistic problem with their relationship to which there is no easy solution. They part ways with things still VERY up in the air and that’s when Mark encounters Anissa and a vicious battle ensues. Kirkman writes an incredibly uncomfortable, horrifying scene with the appropriate gravitas, and it’s likely to change the book and its characters in the extremely longterm. This is a very character-limited issue, there are only three major ones that show up and all three characters definitely get their moments to shine, though that may be the wrong phrase to use, this is not a shiny issue.
Ryan Ottley’s layouts and incredible pencil details in this outdo...well the layouts and incredible pencil details from the previous issues. He is an artist always in the process of topping himself. This is an emotional roller-coaster of an issue and one that trades in massive moments, though the emotions never go so far as melodrama, and the pacing of the book is perfect. Scenes transition from one to the next with incredible fluidity, and the scenes has some incredibly expressive faces, which is good considering this is almost entirely dialog-driven. We also get, as usual, Cliff Rathburn and his incredibly sharp inks. The linework in this issue, and really in this book in general, is extremely smooth, but never lacking in a defining edge. The best way I can describe it is sharp without being jagged, and that is not a bad thing. Everything is sharply defined and the colors, by John Rauch, are likewise leaping off the page. There’s a lot of great use of shadows and sunlight that illuminates some panels and obscures others, but it always looks incredible. It's especially grim to see such a scene occur in broad daylight with such a diverse color palette.
There’s nothing “bad” in this issue quality-wise, but I’m not kidding when I say it will leave you feeling highly uncomfortable. This isn’t a reason not to pick it up, but it’s definitely worth reiterating.
Beyond the obvious incident, there’s an incredible theme of racial purity being upheld that I think might be undercut, but is definitely present and makes the whole thing EVEN MORE uncomfortable and despicable. I’m going to come out and say that this is an important issue of an amazing comic, and not just from the plot’s standpoint. Knowing how Kirkman has operated over the last 110 + issues, this isn’t going to be some blip on the radar, this is going to have far-reaching, devastating consequences, even if they’re not immediately apparent. The drama has been brought to a whole other level in this issue, and I’m absolutely reeling with wondering where it goes next.