Slaying Mantis. Claire Voyant. I absolutely love the names in this series (and Invincible itself) and they typify the kind of book this is: it isn’t reinventing the wheel of superhero books, it’s perfecting it. This issue is something of a rarity as it’s the beginning of a longer storyline (though how long, I don’t know), but that’s not a bad thing. Phil Hester’s done a stellar job of crafting one-shot stories that focus on the team’s individual members, so having a longer term story definitely feels earned. I also don’t think, with all the twists and turns that come out of this issue, that this story could have been organically contained to one issue. If you’re new to the series, this is still a great place to jump on as Hester does a fantastic job establishing the characters right out of the gate. Also: Best Tiger. Anytime Best Tiger shows up, it’s good times for me.
Todd Nauck keeps up the great work with his over-the-top cartoonish pencils and inks that still have weight and impact, both physically and emotionally. There’s an absolute metric ton of action in this issue, and Nauck controls it all amazingly, flowing naturally from one panel to the next, keeping everything distinct and contained. Gabe Eltaeb’s colors also bring the world to rich, full life, strengthening the visual language. I think I’ve mentioned it in prior reviews, but if not the lighting in this comic deserves special mention, especially with the villainous Redeye’s particular brand of ability.
The clip that this issue moves at is a little frantic for my taste. We’re introduced to Redeye, we see Slaying Mantis’ role, Astounding Wolf-Man shows up, but is quickly derailed (as in on the page he first appears on) and we then snap to a secondary team. All the while we catch glimpses of Cecil back at headquarters and even an, admittedly touching, scene between two Guardians’ members who aren’t related to the mission at hand. I’m not saying this story could’ve been a single issue, or shortened an issue, if not for these, but I would’ve liked to spend more time on each scene.
This is an absolute must-read for any fan of the...well, Invincible Universe. It’s the perfect compliment to that story, but even if you’ve never checked it out, or don’t want to have to start at the beginning of a well-established title, this can whet your appetite for great superhero action. It’s the perfect walk-in, check-out, BUY title as the cast is constantly shifting focus and there’s going to be SOMEone that you wind up attaching to. Someone like Best Tiger. Cause he’s the best. Tiger.