Savor the title of this volume because it’s likely the last we’ll see of “Invincible’s” traditional naming scheme when it comes to these things. I’m expecting the titles of its last two volumes to be “The End of All Things, Part One” and “Part Two,” respectively and this volume really does read like a buildup towards the finale. When we last saw Mark Grayson he was confronted with the cruel reality that he had lost five years after returning to the present from his trip to the past. Now he has to deal with getting to know his six-year-old daughter Terra and finding out how his wife Eve coped in his absence. While the narrative doesn’t shy away from some of the more complicated parts of Mark re-adjusting to his new life they are dealt with rather swiftly in the first half of the volume. It’s all handled decently enough, but it feels like writer Robert Kirkman wanted to move on to more important things. Such as the building of Thragg’s All-New Viltrumite Empire.
The former ruler of the Viltrumites has been busy in the time that Mark has been gone and is now a genuine threat to the galaxy. However, Mark is in no hurry to rejoin the fight after losing five years. If you’re thinking that it’s only a matter of time before Thragg brings the fight to him, then you get a gold star. In fact, this is probably one of the more conventionally plotted volumes of “Invincible” to come along in a while. There are a few twists here and there — like with Anissa’s current domestic situation — but the broad strokes of the narrative play out about as you’d expect. It’s just the tiniest bit disappointing for a series that has thrived on breaking with superhero conventions over the years.
Still, there is still plenty of entertainment to be had from seeing the various cast members interact with each other in a normal fashion in what may be the last time before the finale. Returning artist and co-creator Corey Walker also does a stellar job in handling all of the emotion in the story as well as the gut-punching, torso-ripping action that caps it off. I’ll admit that I’m not entirely cool with the get out of jail free card Kirkman throws Mark and Eve at the end of the volume. Even if it has been done before, I’m wondering how it’ll be addressed to maintain the drama going into the final arc. I’m fairly certain Kirkman has an idea about that as the storytelling confidence on display here makes me ready for “The End of All Things.”