If you’re a huge Invincible fan and you’re desperate to see Mark arm wrestle his father, then this is the issue for you, I guess. This is another one of those issues where Robert Kirkman is moving pieces around on the board, preparing for something bigger down the road. It feels like there have been many such issues lately, and unfortunately this is one of the most uneventful. The official description from Image is trying to be pithy, but really just feels like they’re phoning it in:
We hit on a couple story beats this issue: Battle Beast makes an appearance, and his portions are easily the most interesting, in terms of both story and art. Doc Seismic is in trouble, but we don’t know who’s behind it. Rex continues to sneak around, doing something that will surely turn out to be the wrong thing for the right reasons. Leading up to the arm wrestling match, there’s a great exchange where Eve puts both Mark and his father in their places.
Still, it’s the arm wrestling which is obviously intended to be the focus of the issue, which I honestly didn’t think would be the case for a book in 2013. Maybe in 1973. It’s meant to be in the same vein as the classic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali boxing match, but for all that Invincible is 10 years old, the character certainly doesn’t have Superman’s cache (or Ali’s); I doubt most readers will care about the event that much. No, I’m not going to tell you who wins. The Superman/Ali match had a certain cheesiness to it that counteracted its blatant gimmickiness. That’s not the case here. And, as if the scene needs to be even more ridiculous, Mark and his dad make a point of changing into their costumes before the the match begins. Good grief.
All that said, Ryan Ottley‘s artwork is great, and bloody gruesome in places. Battle Beast’s fight scene makes great use of silhouette’s, and the blood matted in his braids is sick. There’s this fantastic anthropomorphic lion space gladiator look to it. Invincible’s mother looks like she might be having an aneurysm in a few panels, which is understandable, but the cords in her neck are overdone.
If you’re not the biggest Invincible fan, you might give this one a pass.