Invincible Compendiums + Comics by Robert Kirkman
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
First off, I want to start this review by saying: I never really read superhero comics before. When I was little, I liked Superman and Batman, but mainly because of stuff on TV, and the fact that my dad always told me a Batman & Robin story before bed, ones that he’d make up about them, and I LIVED for those. Aside from that, I never actually read superhero comics. I don’t get the frothing Marvel vs. DC debates, or the “Gatekeepers” and all their nonsense. My most recent foray into super hero comics was reading the first bound volume of the new Ms. Marvel and enjoying it. (Female leads FTW!) So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the Invincible comic series, as heavily suggested by my friend Nick, who worked with me at B&N.
I’m completely caught up with the series now, I’ve read both giant Compendiums (lent to me by Nick) along with the bound books + single issues up to this point (Also all lent to me by Nick, he is like some kind of comic saint) Anyways, the story is obviously about a superhero, a boy named Mark whose father is also a super hero respected by the city as one of the top superheroes around. He realizes his powers one day and starts coming into his own, hiding it at first, and then taking on an identity of his own to start fighting crime with other superheroes his age. It starts out like I imagine all hero stories begin: Kid figures out he has powers, is kinda awkward about it at first, grows into it, meets girl, begins dating girl, saves the world a few times, etc.
Although, Invincible really takes a turn. The twists it throws at you are low blows. The characters develop well and in very realistic ways. The girl characters actually have dimension, go through difficult situations and grow from them, and they don’t always fit that mold of “Blonde, big boobs, and weird poses” (You know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t please check out The Hawkeye Initiative and Escher Girls and laugh/cry about it) The most recent issue left me reeling, and Nick and I furiously texting each other a lot of “WHAT IF???!?!” questions back and forth, working ourselves up into a “NEW NEED THE NEXT ISSUE NOW!” frenzy that one can only get from series that publish monthly (or even weekly…seriously, you should have seen me after certain One Piece chapters that basically left me screaming on the couch, pounding my fists into my already wobbly IKEA coffee table shouting “NEXT WEEK NEXT WEEK!”) The writing in the comic is fabulous, the characters are well rounded and believably human, the plot seems solid, it’s gripping, and it deals with some situations that are made as serious as they are. It’s an undertaking to read (being as long as it is, which might intimidate some folks) but it is without a doubt worth it!
What can I say about Carry On? It’s fabulous. A book of fan fiction about the fan fiction written by a character in a book she created based on a book series in the book she wrote….and I’m confusing myself. Fan fiction on fan fiction on fan fiction! The story follows an unlikely trio that go to a magic school to study witchcraft and wizardry. (Think Harry Potter.) In fact, it’s almost like Harry Potter fan fiction but with original characters and way more interesting magic. There are all sorts of magical creatures and the Humdrum, a creature that is at war with the magic world, who steals magic, creating pockets where magic ceases to work/exist. Like he sucks the magic right out of them. Simon, our hapless lead character, is being protected by the school, since the Humdrum seems to be after him, even though he isn’t good at controlling his magic at all. Simon is borderline obsessed with his room mate, Baz, who he thinks is a vampire trying to kill him.
The story is well developed, the world is interesting, and the characters have personalities and development. My favorite part though, is the world, and more specifically, the magic. The way magic is used and even created in this world is just so wonderful, it gives such power to words, which really are magic, in a way. Spells are created from nursery rhymes, which never loose their magic since no one forgets them and they are passed down from generation to generation. You can even create new spells by using things like song lyrics, or other meaningful strings of words that are constantly spoken and used by the public. Think of the song “Call me Maybe” that everyone was humming for a while, you could use that lyric as a spell, until it fell from popularity and everyone forgot it, that is. How cool is that? Seriously one of my favorite magic forms I’ve ever encountered in reading. (Though I did recently read something with similar magic recently called House Witch, but I’ll get to that later on when I review it!)
The relationship that develops between Baz and Simon is touching and reminds me of the kind of relationship that fangirls always create for their favorite characters. (You know, like fan fiction?) I’m reminded of a lot of Draco x Harry fan fiction. The anti-hero paired with the hero is always a wonderfully blossoming romance, what with all the obsession and constant wondering “Where are they?” “What are they doing?” “When will he next attack?” turning into worry and then eventually devotion. (You can tell I’ve read these sorts of fan fictions before.)
Regardless, it’s a nice fluffy magical romance between two boys and it was a wonderful read. Very fun! It channeled the fan fictions that I grew up quietly reading on the shared desktop, but without the stomach dropping realization that they haven’t posted a chapter in 2 years and you’d never know the actual ending.