Geiger Webskin

Invincible: Reboot? [Close Read]

Superhero reboots are a special thing. Since continuity, making sure that story A lines up with Story B and Story C, is so paramount in these long-running tales, reboots are a chance to wipe away stories that you don't like while you focus on ones you do, or even to re-tell the old classics in new, fan-pleasing ways. The thing about a reboot, though, is that something is always lost, be it one person's favorite story or a cool costume. What if you did a reboot where nothing was lost and everything counted?

That's what Ottley, Kirkman, and friends are exploring in REBOOT? One hundred and twenty-some issues ago, teenager Mark Grayson woke up with superpowers. He pulled on a costume, started calling himself Invincible, and battled crime for the good of all. His life and career led him to forming his own family, coming into his own as a superhero, and, of course, saving the world here and there.

In the first chapter of REBOOT?, Invincible wakes up on the morning he first got his powers. Almost everything is the same, from his mom fussing over him to his superhero father saving the day across the world on the morning news. The one thing that isn't different? Invincible remembers everything that he's experienced. That means he knows when villains are going to attack, when tragedy strikes, and even when he'll be betrayed by those he holds dear.

Is it time travel? A trick? A dream? It doesn't matter, not yet. REBOOT? is in progress, and the curious trick of forcing someone who has moved past a status quo back into it is fascinating. Invincible can change things, but he can't simply escape back to his modern life. He can help more people than ever, but his wife is a stranger to him, and their daughter—well, high school isn't really the place to start talking about long-term relationships and marriage, nine times out of ten, especially before you've technically "met" your wife.

REBOOT? gets to have its cake and eat it, too. As comics readers, as fans, we know that there has to be some way out of this. Invincible is going to pull victory out of his hat somehow, surely. But because Kirkman and Ottley are hewing close to the original story, Invincible has to rebuild the trust he once shared with his friends and family before he can get anywhere close to a solution.

This isn't a chance to do things right so much as a chance to do things differently, for better or for worse. It's a chance for Invincible to relive the crucible that birthed him long after he grew past it, and to see how he reacts now that he's older, wiser, and more powerful. It's a chance to avoid the trauma that clearly still pains him, too, but things don't always work out how we want.

For readers? INVINCIBLE: REBOOT? is a chance to see exactly how far the hero of the greatest superhero comic in the universe has come, both mentally, physically, and metafictionally.

REBOOT? began in INVINCIBLE #124, a back-to-basics issue that's a treat for longtime fans and a good introduction for newbies, too. INVINCIBLE #125 is available now, and INVINCIBLE #126 arrives 12/16.