Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead and Outcast fame seems to be the defining indie comics writer of this generation and this series showcases why.
Invincible: Ultimate Collection Volume 1
Collects Invincible issues #1-13
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Artist(s): Cory Walker
"Mark Grayson is just like most everyone else his age. He's a senior at a normal American high school. He has a crappy part time job after school and on weekends. He likes girls quite a bit, but doesn't quite understand them. He enjoys hanging out with his friends and sleeping late on Saturdays (at least until the good cartoons come on). The only difference between Mark and everyone else his age is that his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, and as of late, he seems to be inheriting his father's powers. But that's only the beginning of Mark's problems."
This series is just, simply put, brilliant. It's hilarious, thought provoking, brutal and gorgeous to look at. Upon starting reading Invincible it quickly became one of my favorite series and it showcases just why Kirkman is held in such high regard with indie comic fans.
Mark Grayson is your not-so-typical school kid who develops superpowers thanks to the genetics of his superhero dad, Omni-Man, who in essence, is just Invincible's version of Superman with a super macho mustache (no pun intended). Mark's newly found powers serve as his and the reader's gateway into the hectic and brutal world of Invincible as he uses his abilities to do what his dad does best; punch super criminals and space aliens in the face. As Mark learns to hone his skills as a superhero and juggle his day-to-day life whilst doing so, something much darker and sinister bubbles below the surface of this, for the most part, happy going teen hero comic.
So essentially this is just your typical "superhero coming of age" tale but with a lot of that Kirkman personality. This first volume is mostly a teen drama soap opera with a little sprinkling of superheroes for good measure; well, that's until the big climax of this volume, anyway.
Invincible is a book with a huge cast of reoccurring characters, all of which I feel have a place in the story and are not just thrown in there because they're cool. Each character arc feels natural and authentic and in such an over-the-top and extreme universe it would have been so easy for the character developments to have felt forced; but of course, the thing Robert Kirkman does best is character building.
The aforementioned brings me nicely to my next point: the tone. Seldom has a comic ever made me genuinely laugh out loud, but Invincible did so multiple times. The tongue in cheek and sometimes dark humor mixed with the overall "fun" feel of the book was a nice change of pace from my regular titles. The story, while being a little on the gritty side, doesn't take itself too seriously and can have you laughing one minute and feeling brutalized the next. It's the perfect example of an emotional roller-coaster.
The art in this book is awesome! I'm a big fan of stylized artwork and this is a prime example of what I mean. While the book's artwork may be simple, stylized and slightly cartoon-y, Cory Walker still manages to capture every little emotion a character is feeling. As well as character emotions and whatnot, the action also looks tremendous, you can feel the blow of every single punch dished out by or given to the characters. Seriously, read this book!
Now we've spoken about the story and art, I'd like to make a little note about the book's overall quality and aesthetics. The Invincible: Ultimate Collection books are beautiful. They're of the over-sized format, complete with dust jacket and sewn binding. The bindings on these books are nice, although a little tight, but it's still good. Each volume has a different color scheme for the cover and spine, which, when on display, can make your OCD go crazy. But hey, I'm just nitpicking now.
Overall, I would highly recommend this series. It's a fun, character driven teen superhero comic like no other and I had a blast reading it.