After all the events that have occurred Mark Grayson’s life it is time to say goodbye to a character and world many have been reading about since January 22, 2003. As I mentioned when I first started reviewing Invincible last year I am a late bandwagon jumper for the Invincible series. I didn’t really start reading the series until late 2016, when I caught up by binge reading most of the issues of Invincible up to that point. While I don’t have the decade plus history with the series, I could see how every issue built on top of one another to make Invincible’s world something that is a match for anything over at Marvel or DC Comics. But now that it is coming to an end I’m excited to find out how Robert Kirkman decides to wrap things up for Invincible and his family. Let’s find out that out right now by checking out Invincible #144.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker
Inker: Mark Morales and Cory Walker
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Mark Grayson tells his son, Marky, all about where he comes from. Mark goes over how the Viltrumites were a race that valued strength over everything else which enemies developed the Scourge Virus that wiped out 99.9% of the Viltrumite population.
Eventually the Viltrum Empire’s leader, Argall was killed and Thragg became their leader and Thragg became the Viltrumites leader. When Thragg sent Omni-Man to Earth he conceived Mark who became Invincible.Overtime when Mark learned more about the truth of his people it all lead to him going to war against Thragg. During the war Omni-Man was killed by Thragg and Mark killed Thragg leading to him becoming the Viltrumites leader.
Mark tells Marky he is sorry for not being there for him as his son and that it is difficult for him to learn Marky wants to stay on Earth with Scott and his sister. But Mark says he respects Scott and Marky’s wishes. He says he knows Marky will do a lot of good on Earth and promises to visit him from time to time. Marky is just stunned to learn he is an alien.
Elsewhere Battle Beast’s daughter is shown having killed a bunch of rebels as she is unable to contain her killer instinct. When she hears a Viltrumite bested her father she promises to wipe out the Viltrumites or die trying.
Back on Earth Mark expresses to his mother that he isn’t sure he can lead the Viltrumites while leaving Marky behind. Debbie tells her son that while a lot of people need Mark’s help the Viltrumites need him most to make things right. She tells her son to go save the universe since she knows that he won’t forget to visit so Terra can see her.
Outside, Mark thanks Scott for letting him spend time with Marky. Scott assures Mark that he and the kids will be okay together.
Mark then thanks his mom for giving him the strength he need for what comes next. Mark tries again to convince his mom to come with him. Debbie says Earth is her home and that this isn’t goodbye forever.
After Mark takes off Marky is ecstatic to learn he now has two dads, a “space dad” and “real dad.” He then gives Scott, his “real dad,” a big hug.
A few years later Marky, now going by Markus, apologizes for breaking Terra’s tablet but is glad she left. Debbie mentions that Terra’s just not used to having siblings. Debbie then brings Markus to a special tailor and asks for “him.”
Debbie then introduces Markus to Art. Art reveals to Markus he is the one who made both Omni-Man and Invincible’s costumes. Markus happily hugs Debbie for bringing him to Art.
Markus wears his new costume that is identical to Invincible’s. While having fun flying around the city he sees the Guardians of the Globe fighting Vengeance.
Markus joins the fight and helps turn the tide against Vengeance. Eventually Darkwing, who has been missing since the Invincible War, pops out of Vengeance after beating the villain. Markus calls himself Kid Invincible and is complimented on doing a good job.
At the Pentagon Amanda (Monster Girl) gives an update on what happened with Vengeance and Darkwing’s return. Robot wants to talk to Amanda but she does not want to hear anything about what “truth” Robot wants to talk about and leaves him to deal with his existence.
At Scott’s house Markus says he has finished all his chores and homework so Scott let’s him go out for a flight much to his sister’s jealousy.
Markus flies over to Nolan’s grave and talks to his grandfather about his first adventure. Markus mentions that while Scott doesn’t like it he feels he is living up to a legacy by being the new Invincible since Mark became so much more than just a name.
Back to a few years ago when the Viltrumites leave Earth Mark tells Terra they are going “everywhere.” Over the next few years Terra joins Mark and Atom Eve on various adventures and lives out her adolescence. During those years Terra gets frustrated with how her parents treat her and grows to not like Earth, especially her brother Markus.
During her teens Terra saves some species from dying. She also ends up fighting with her parents who don’t approve of who she was having sex with. Eventually when she turns 18 she gets accepted into the Conservation Order helping improve lives on various planets.
On the Viltrum Empire’s headquarters Mark tells the Viltrumites that the reason he is doing away with the old customs is so they can change things for the better in the future in the name of peace.
One day Mark meets with Allen, who does not like how much peace the Viltrumites are bringing to the universe. Allen is worried now that with the universal peace that more and more planets will leave the Coalition since they don’t believe in the organization anymore. Mark mentions that the Coalition may not need to exist. Allen was afraid Mark would say that.
Eventually the Viltrumites and Coalition go to war with the Viltrumites coming out on top. After the final battle Mark helps Allen back-up. Allen expresses his amazement in how Mark really did change everything. Mark says that the Coalition was making worlds poorer by draining their resources and this all could have been easier.
Elsewhere Ursaal visits Terra and they end up catching up Ursaal. Ursaal mentions that Mark does not hate Terra for sitting out the war. Terra reveals that she was against the war with the Coalition and that the Conservation is thinking of breaking away from the Empire which she is thinking of supporting. Ursaal tells Terra she can’t help fracture the Empire. Terra mentions that his father should know something about her mother.
Terra finally visits her parents and before she apologizes Mark says they can’t waste time since Eve doesn’t have much time. At Eve’s hospital bed Terra tells her mom not to strain herself. Eve tells Terra she is proud of her and begins to pass away. Before she passes away Eve’s powers activate and she regains her youthful appearance much to Mark and Terra’s joy.
Over the years with Mark and Eve leading things the Viltrum Empire is able to broker peace for many planets, though they face some conflict that do not end well.
As years pass Mark and Markus end up fighting to a draw. Markus admits that he pushed himself to live up to Mark’s legacy to the point his worship turned to hatred because of how he was made. He goes on to admit he felt he wasn’t good enough especially compared to Terra.
Mark tells Markus that he believed Markus would live the same life he did and that he is indeed proud of all the good his son has done. Markus starts crying because he could’ve killed his dad. Mark says they have plenty of time to make things better.
Sometime later Terra is in an arena fighting the champion of a planet. Terra ends up easily defeating the champion much to the chagrin of the planet’s ruler. The ruler is upset that Terra allowed his champion to live. Mark says that they believe all life is sacred. The ruler does not accept this and tries to attack Mark but just ends up breaking his sword over Mark’s head.
The ruler still can’t believe with all of Mark’s strength that he and the Viltrumites talk about peace rather than ruling the universe. Mark reveals that in the past his people were ruled by rage but that is not who they are anymore and now fight strength to do good for everyone. The ruler is still not sure why Mark spared him and his champion. Mark says because that is the Viltrumite way.
At there home Eve tells Mark he did everything his dad asked for by changing the Viltrumites into a force for good who are celebrated. Mark admits he has been thinking of the past a lot and he keeps coming back to what his father asked him: “What will you have after five hundred years?” Mark smiles as he and Eve continue to enjoy each other’s company. End of series.
The Good: Invincible #144 is a fantastic ending to such an incredible series. Saying that, Invincible #144 is by no means perfect. There are a few small story choices that will definitely leave some readers scratching their heads. But when the time came Robert Kirkman closed things out Mark Grayson and his family’s story in an extremely satisfying way.
Opening the issue with Mark and his son, Marky, having a heart to heart was the right way to set the tone for Invincible #144. This allowed Kirkman to revisit everything that has happened up to this point. By doing so it gave more weight to how much work Mark had ahead of him now that he is the leader of the Viltrum Empire. It is also a reminder while the name may have a bad taste in the universe Mark wants to make sure the Viltrum Empire can be a sign of hope and peace rather than conquerors and warmongers.
This also gave a chance for Marky to be the driving force of the first part of Invincible #144. Even though he is a relatively new character giving Marky the spotlight helped emphasize that this epilogue issue is about the legacy Mark is leaving behind. And while he wasn’t conceived in the best circumstances it does not mean Marky will be tucked away in the shadows. Mark allowing Marky to stay with Scott further showed how much Mark has grown as a character. Because after everything he has been through Mark knows that the best teacher in life is being allowed to make your own choices which Marky was able to do throughout this issue.
It was also fun to see Marky have a similar arc to his father as he developed his powers later than his sister Terra. Seeing the fun Marky had when he got to become Kid Invincible was infectious. It also showed how the Invincible legacy will continue to live on even when Mark isn’t around. At the same time it was good to see that Kirkman did address how Marky was conceived. This would’ve been a big mistake if it was left out. And even if we only saw the end of their fight it was an important thing to see Mark and Marky actually addressing this with each other to complete their arcs as father and son.
Seeing where Marky’s arc started and ended gave more weight to the ups and downs of Terra’s arc in Invincible #144. Kirkman did a good job showing how Terra went from a bratty kid to rebellious teenager to kind young adult. What was best about this is that through Terra’s evolution we got to see how it put her at odds with her parents, especially Mark. This showed that there is more than just Mark’s side of things when it comes to searching for peace. And it was a reminder that while Mark’s intentions are good that his way of doing things wasn’t the end all be all in bringing peace to the universe.
The way Kirkman wrote Terra’s arc felt like things came full circle as she was allowed to live her own life while still coming back to further establish peace with her father. Kirkman handling of Terra’s arc was made even better because he never outright stated that she came back to the Viltrum Empire. Instead we just see how through her experiences she comes to her own way of seeing how peace should be handled. And by implying she rejoined the Viltrum Empire Kirkman allowed the reader to put things together on how both Mark and Terra came to understand one another in the end.
Both Marky and Terra’s arc made everything we saw Mark go through in Invincible #144 stronger. Because while Marky and Terra represented the legacy he was leaving behind there was still a lot of work for him to do to create that legacy. Kirkman showed that by having Mark go through a lot of work to establish the Viltrum name as something that gives hope and prosperity to other worlds. His speech to the Viltrumites about why he is doing away with old customs, like growing a mustache, was important as it showed that he does not want their future built on looking to the past. Instead Mark made sure the Viltrumites, who were made up of a lot of young people, looked forward to the future.
This looking forward, not back mentality by Mark made the clash he had with Allen and the Coalition even more important. While initially introduced as a good guy we have seen Allen make a lot of questionable decisions over the years. It was only a matter of time before those decisions by Allen and the Coalition would come back to bite him. Mark telling Allen this and Allen not listening just showed how the Coalition needed to go away for every planet to live on their own rather than going from one ruling body to the next. Allen coming to realize this after his defeat was a better ending for his arc and gave further emphasis on how much of a change Mark was making to bring peace to the universe.
While she wasn’t as big of a part of Invincible #144 as some may have liked it was good to see that Eve was the constant in Mark’s life. With all the ups and downs they have been through it was only appropriate that we see the series close with the two of them talking about how things went. Though it wasn’t the best execution of it, I was glad that Kirkman didn’t just kill off Eve in order to have Mark reunite with Terra. Having Eve’s powers give her an extended life that resembles immortality made it so we can have an even more hopeful ending rather than having unnecessary sorrow close out the series.
As much as Invincible #144 was about Mark, Terra and Marky, Kirkman did a good job giving some closure to other characters. Little things like bringing back Darkwing was a nice move to bring back a fan favorite character. It was also good to have one final look at how Robot will continue to live as nothing more than a brain in jar. After all he has done he does deserve this fate and Amanda stating such made the loneliness Robot felt even more effective.
With Invincible #144 being the end of the series it was only appropriate that both Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker were brought on to draw the final issue. These are the two artist that defined the Invincible Universe over the course of its existence. Ottley drawing Marky’s arc was great to see as it brought a sensation of reading the series again during the height of Mark’s time as Invincible. Ottley brought out the youthfulness in Marky as he discovered his powers.
Meanwhile having Walker draw the second half of the issue gave him a chance to illustrate the characters he has drawn the most during his run. Like Ottley, Walker was able add depth to the arc both Mark and Terra went through over their years. He did an especially good job showing the wide range of emotions Terra went through as she grew up to become a young adult.
The Bad: The only real problem I had with Invincible #144 is the introduction of two unnecessary sub-plots that aren’t picked up on. Those two sub-plots are the ones involving Battle Beast daughter and the unnamed guy that cross dimensions. These two sub-plots never popping up in Invincible #144 did not make sense given that we saw decades pass during the course of the story. It would’ve been a better wrap up if only one of these characters was introduced and we saw one or two pages with them crossing paths with Marky or Terra. These two sub-plots don’t get in the way of the quality of Invincible #144 but just minor gripes with the issue’s otherwise excellent pacing.
Overall: Invincible #144 is an excellent ending for what will go down as one of the best comic book series of all-time. Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker created something special with Invincible and that was on full display in this final issue. While not perfect it brought a fitting conclusion to Mark Grayson and his family story. If you have not read Invincible before I highly recommend going back and reading this series from beginning to end. It is truly a special reading experience.