This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on February 2, 2017.
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Corey Walker
Colors by Nathan Fairbairn
Published by Image Comics
Invincible #132 is functionally the season finale before a planned final season of television. It is tasked with simultaneously establishing the status quo for the most epic and important events to come, while still delivering on action and drama built to this point. That’s an important thing to understand because it establishes a set of goals for the comic upon which it can be judged. It’s an unenviable challenge, as it requires moments to be explosive, but never too explosive. Looking at this way, one can see how Invincible #132 flops while also doing an excellent job.
Read purely on its own as the climax of a new showdown between the Grayson family and the resurgent Viltrumite Empire, Invincible #132 struggles to deliver much punch. There’s plenty of fighting and gore, but it lacks the oomph that have made previous throwdowns drawn by Corey Walker or Ryan Ottley standout. The most violent moment in this issue (one best not to spoil) is not given appropriate space to breathe. Based on the past it’s easy to overlook and its consequences must be stated for the reader later. That poor pacing removes a lot of tension from what should be a catastrophic moment for the entire series, not just this issue.
That’s not to say all of the action falters. The final moments are horrendous and Walker’s depiction of the violence on the last few pages is every bit as gruesome as anything the series has done to date. Despite the banner of “The Best Superhero Comic in the Universe”, this shows why it might be better described as “The Most Violent”. It’s tough stuff to watch, but an awareness of the 12-epic issue to come combined with some out of character choices make it clear that there’s a twist coming. And again that twist deflates everything that is supposed to be exciting on the page.
All of this is why Invincible #132 feels like a ship correcting course. Despite the thundering hum of motors and churning of water, no real movement occurs. It is steering itself to build momentum at the cost of any real sustained excitement in the moment. But by the end of this issue it’s clear the ship is lined up with its destination and it’s full steam ahead.
Kirkman, Walker, Ottley, and their other collaborators have been building this story for more than a decade and it’s stunning how clearly everything is set to collide at this moment. In a galaxy filled with heroes, villains, and a ridiculous amount of history, the future still manages to feel inevitable. The conflict is crystalline in nature with clear goals and consequences for either sides with threats and cliffhangers already set up. Anyone who has read the series for 132 issues can’t help but be thrilled to see how it concludes after this.
And that’s how Invincible #132 manages to both fail and succeed. Its own story and pacing are mangled by its primary goal of setting up “The End of All Things”. The action falls flat in spite of some excellent moments and the big twists of the issue are either broadcast or fail to land correctly. But the primary goal is achieved because the future is clear. Even if it comes at the cost of one exciting battle, the war to come has never looked more enticing… or terrifying.