Invincible is one of my favorite titles on the shelf with consistently amazing issues every month in a world that feels established and fleshed out. The announcement of a spin-off series that would flesh out that world further, while focussing on the non-Viltrumite non-main characters had me both excited and nervous, after all a book like that really could go either way in terms of quality. Phil Hester, Todd Nauck and Gabe Eltaeb have, over the last seven issues, put any fears that I may have had to rest. By focusing on side characters and having very limited plotlines, we not only get fantastic snapshots of this universe, that also help to expand it, but it’s a title that can be jumped onto at any time. For instance: who WOULDN’T want to read a book that is focused squarely on the superpowered French bulldog, the aptly named Le Bruiser? Now I have to confess a certain bias: I’m very much a dog person. Yes, Grant Morrison and Alan Moore’s beautiful treatment of Krypto brings a tear to my eye and yes I’m allergic to cats, but this book is a great one regardless. While a lot of tales of superpowered dogs target the more heartstring-tugging moments, this one focuses squarely on hilarious, high-octane (and gore) action. From uncovering a dog fighting ring to having a C-list villain monologue self-consciously to her, Le Bruiser’s day is truly a full one.
Todd Nauck has a very cartoony style with extremely clean linework and sharp character designs that very humorously contrast the ultra-violence often on display in the Invincible titles and never has that been more true than in an issue that centers around a super-fast super-strong French bulldog. Gabe Eltaeb’s colors are the perfect, popping complement to the sharp visuals, bringing a level of detail that makes every panel not only more eye-catching, but helps maintain the fluidity from one moment to the next and from one scene to the next.
There’s not a ton of dialog, so this winds up being a VERY fast read, even by $2.99 standards. There’s an incredibly abrupt, rough scene transition between the second-to-last page and last page of the issue that made me wish there was one more page (at least) separating them. As it is, there’s not even an “elsewhere” caption or anything of that sort, so it’s very jarring and takes a moment to get one’s bearings back.
Those complaints are minor at best as this continues to be one of my favorite under-the-radar books. The storylines are easy to jump into, the dialog is witty and the tone is consistent. It’s a book that manages to mesh some legitimate drama (see the Best Tiger issue) with amazing humor (this issue!), but it never feels like it’s giving either short-shrift. The action is also absolutely top-notch, so if you can’t get enough of the world that Invincible and company inhabit out of one book per month, this one is absolutely worth checking out.