By Matt Johnson
Invincible Universe is the followup to the ongoing series Guarding the Globe, which itself was a followup to the original Guarding the Globe mini-series. Both series’ did a solid job of expanding on the world originally conceived by Robert Kirkman in Invincible. As with its predecessors Invincible Universe mainly focuses on the members of global super hero task force Guardians of the Globe.
Issue 3 focuses on El Chupacabra, a character we’ve only seen in small amounts since he inadvertently caused the death of another team member. The kicker is it was because he was drunk, which has caused him a great deal of guilt and the ire of his teammates. Still riddled with regret Chupacabra is looking to make amends and has travelled to Siberia to do so, specifically to the hometown of his deceased teammate. Not long after arriving he finds that things aren’t really quite what he expected. With the huge multi-person brawl last issue things become more personal this month with the issue staying with Chupacabra for its entire duration. With the solo point of view writer Phil Hester really gives us a good look at the character. I felt like this was the first time I really understood who Chupacabra is since back when he was first introduced in Guarding The Globe, I even felt a little bit guilty for judging him so harshly in the early stories. He comes across as genuinely sincere. It’s satisfying to see a super hero character have to deal with the results of their actions.
Meanwhile artist Todd Nauck continues proving he’s perfect for this series. Both the fight scenes and quieter moments look great with his lively art. It bears a strong resemblance to what we’re used to seeing over in Invincible, which keeps the world feeling cohesive, but there’s a noticeable style that Nauck brings making his work recognisable as his. Colourist Gabe Eltaeb adds very vibrant shades giving everything a bright dynamic appearance, which perfectly compliments Nauck’s work.
When all is said and done this issue is definitely quite small-scale compared to usual. We barely see the other cast members beyond brief cameos and the new threat is dealt with by the story’s end. Your enjoyment from the issue will likely come directly from how much you care about the character. Basically: don’t come for big super hero action, there is some fighting here but that’s hardly the point of the issue. Issue 5 is really all about Chupacabra’s continuing quest for redemption. If his character doesn’t interest you, or you were never around to see the original event, then this issue may fail to grab you. The opening pages do well at reminding everyone what happened but I feel like without the original context the impact is quite lacking.
The appeal of Guarding The Globe was always its characters, there’s real depth to them and Invincible Universe continues to proficiently utilise them. Overall it shows that Hester is more than worthy to be playing with Kirkman’s toys. With Nauck’s art beside it this is a great super hero book that can be enjoyed alongside Invincible or even on its own. But for better or worse this issue is almost like an interlude between stories than a vital chapter. If you’re looking for a place to jump aboard this is a straightforward issue that you’ll have no trouble keeping up with, meanwhile longterm fans get some interesting character development that may change their earlier opinions of the character.