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Summary

  • Invincible #144 served as a sprawling interstellar epilogue, bringing the series to a proper ending after subverting familiar superhero tropes.
  • The finale answered a core question from early in the series, showcasing Mark’s growth and finding stability with his family in the distant future.
  • Despite disappointing some readers, the conclusion stands as a fitting end to an ambitious superhero story that continues to captivate new audiences through the Invincible TV adaptation.



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Warning: spoilers for the Invincible comic series!


According to the franchise’s creators, the ending of the Invincible comic book series was a deliberate rejection of the biggest superhero cliche – the idea that their stories never end. According to Robert Kirkman, Invincible was always unexpected and different,” right up to and including the decision to make the story finite, to give it a satisfying and unambigious conclusion.

At San Diego Comic Con’s “A Conversation with the Cast and Creator of Prime Video’s Invincible” panel, Robert Kirkman – along with the comic’s artists, Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley – discussed the decision to end the series, explaining that the goal of Invincible was always to subvert the familiar tropes of superhero stories, using them to “show [the reader] new and different things.

While the final issue of Invincible couldn’t tie up every loose thread the epic series had introduced over the course of its run, it was consciously crafted to bring resolution to many storylines, while answering some of its core questions.


Robert Kirkman’s
Invincible
ran for nearly 150 issues from 2003 to 2018, telling the story of Mark Grayson, the son of an alien superhero who becomes a costumed adventurer himself, with the series growing over the course of its fifteen-year run from its humble origins as a Superman homage to become an epic tale of family and war spanning both time and space.

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“A Couple of Dumb White Guys Made This Comic”: Invincible’s Creator Calls Out Original Comics for Lack of Representation

In an interview with CBR, Robert Kirkman discusses learning to value representation in media and making Amazon’s Invincible adaptation more diverse.


Invincible’s Creators Wrote The Ending With One Goal

Finish The Story

Robert Kirkman and his co-creators subscribed to an “always leave them wanting more” ethos with
Invincible’s
ending, choosing to bow out before fans lost interest in the story.


The series concluded with Invincible #144, a double-sized epilogue that itself covered hundreds of years, as Mark left behind Earth in order to bring peace to a galaxy devastated by the conquests of his native people, the Viltrumites. With the Amazon Prime Video adaptation of Invincible on its second season, creator and showrunner Robert Kirkman spoke at SDCC about the ending of the comic, and how it fulfilled his intention for the story from the beginning – which was to subvert as many familiar superhero storytelling techniques as possible.

Invincible #144 (2018)

invincible 144 cover

  • Writer: Robert Kirkman
  • Artist: Cory Walker; Ryan Ottley
  • Inker: Mark Morales
  • Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
  • Letterer: Rus Wooten
  • Cover Artist: Ryan Ottley & Nathan Fairbairn (color)

On ending Invincible when and how they did, Kirkman said:

Most superhero stories go on forever and ever and ever, and they usually get traded off to other creative teams, and they continue – and that’s what superhero stories do. With Invincible we were always going against type. Everything we did in these books was always unexpected and different. We used the tropes of superhero comics to try and show you new things and different things. The ultimate way to play against type with a superhero story was to give it a finality, to give it a proper ending.


In more ways than one, Invincible’s conclusion can be described as a success. In terms of its narrative fulfillment, fans may have been disappointed that the series wasn’t continuing, but few leveled direct complaints against the substance of the ending. This was in itself a victory for the creative team. Robert Kirkman and his co-creators subscribed to an “always leave them wanting more” ethos with Invincible’s ending, choosing to bow out before fans lost interest in the story.

Superhero Stories Never Get An Ending, But Invincible Did

A Satisfying, Optimistic Finale

[
Invincible
] delivered a refreshingly linear superhero narrative, one that eventually reached a natural, terminal end-point. The series certainly could have kept going, but that would have undermined its purpose.


The power of Robert Kirkman’s creative decisions throughout Invincible – and most potently, at its ending – came from its intentional divergence from traditional superhero storytelling. Superhero narratives are, by design, never supposed to end. This is frequently a virtue of the genre, and the comic book medium; without critiquing other superhero stories for what they are, it can be said that the default mode of the superhero genre set the conditions for Kirkman to work against, allowing Invincible to distinguish itself the way it did.

All stories end; in a way, it is reductive to say that superhero stories don’t – rather, superhero stories never stop. They are, however, constantly ending and beginning anew. It is this rhythmic nature that often gives rise to repetitiveness, and in turn, the ascension of tropes and cliches. Though Invincible was certainly comprised of smaller arcs, within its overall story, it also delivered a refreshingly linear superhero narrative, one that eventually reached a natural, terminal end-point. The series certainly could have kept going, but that would have undermined its purpose.


The Ending of Invincible Answered Its Biggest Question

Mark Got To Have It All

Invincible’s final issue leaves its share of unresolved plot threads, but one crucial thing it delivers is definitive answers a question posed early in the series, when Mark’s hero-turned-villain father Omni-Man asked:

What will you have after five hundred years?

From a long-lived Viltrumite conqueror, it was a question dismissive of Mark’s attachment to his humanity, to Earth. Invincible #144 ends with Mark, having brought peace to the galaxy, finding a measure of stability with his family in the far-flung future. Though this question was posed in one of the most memorable scenes of the series, most readers were nevertheless surprised for its answer when it came.


Invincible #144, Kid Invincible flying in costume for the first time

Invincible #144 is full of allusions to the early issues of the series, most notably the scene where Mark tells his son about their alien heritage – with panels directly recreates Mark’s father revealing the same information to the future Invincible, from issue #2. “Kid Invincible,” as Mark’s son goes on to be known, grows up idolizing his father, moves on to hating him, seeks him out for a fight, and reconciles with Mark, all in the span of the final issue. It may have been a lot for long-time readers of the book, but the creators felt that concluding the story in a grand, satisfying, spectacular way was necessary.

The Series’ Creators Were Happy Invincible Fans Were Angry About The Ending

It Proved They Loved The Comic


The ending might have disappointed some fans – if for no other reason than it was an ending – but in retrospect, it stands as a fittingly ambitious conclusion to an ambitious take on superhero storytelling, and superhero clichés.

Original Invincible artist Cory Walker – who co-created the series with Robert Kirkman, drawing the first seven issues, as well as Issues #127-132 – said of ending the series:

I know it sounds horrible, but seeing how upset people were that it was ending was a really good feeling. Just knowing that people cared enough to be upset.

Years after wrapping up Invincible, Walker’s sentiment reads as even more novel than it did when Invincible #144 was released in 2018. Most creators – across all mediums, from film studios, to social media influencers, and everything in between – do backflips to keep from upsetting their fans, to keep them engaging with their content in perpetuity. Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, and Cory Walker consciously rejected this, and Invincible’s ending was the result.


As with every storytelling decision that preceded it, ending Invincible stayed true to the core goal of the series, set out from issue #1. The ending might have disappointed some fans – if for no other reason than it was an ending – but in retrospect, it stands as a fittingly ambitious conclusion to an ambitious take on superhero storytelling, and superhero clichés, one that continues to reach new audiences, as Amazon Prime Video’s Invincible continues to ramp up what will likely be its own long run.

Invincible Franchise Poster Amazon Video

Invincible

Invincible is a multimedia franchise that began with the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley. The series follows Mark Grayson, the son of Earth’s strongest hero, Omni-Man, as he enters into his powers at the cusp of adulthood. A television adaptation began in 2021 and retells the core story of the comics while fleshing it out and expanding on characters and concepts introduced in the medium.



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