This weighty graphic novel begins with likeable teenager Mark Grayson, discovering he’s developing super powers. This isn’t unexpected as his father is Earth’s most powerful superhero, an equivalent to Superman, and it was predicted Mark would follow in his footsteps. We now know Robert Kirkman as a consistently inventive writer over several ongoing series, but knowing that and little more about Invincible still means anyone picking this up is due for some massive surprises even if they’ve read superhero comics since childhood.

One obvious enabling feature is Invincible not being tied to any franchise. There’s no compulsion to ensure however much things may change, they essentially remain the same, and real progress occurs at a clip. You can be pretty sure Mark’s going to survive whatever’s thrown at him, although there are occasions in volume two where that’s not a certainty either, but throughout the series and well beyond what’s collected here, anyone else is fair game for a premature demise or startling change.

Also excellent is Kirkman’s creation of a super-powered supporting cast and villains. Again, even long-seasoned superhero readers are going to encounter something different here. Be it the cloned Mauler Twins (genius hulks with a world-ruling agenda), Allen the Alien (cyclopean planetary protector) or Angstom Levy (constantly mutating mad scientist) he serves up the new or the inventively reconfigured time and again. Most of all Invincible is fun. A hell of a lot of fun. Probably more fun than any superhero series you’ve read since you were twelve.

The first artist to work on the series was Cory Walker, who illustrates just under a quarter of the book. He’s a talented designer, but with an odd quality to his faces, which are angular and blotchy, and while his layouts work, he’s not one for an excess of background detail to embed Invincible in his world. The series actually works better when Ryan Ottley becomes the regular artist, although in his earliest pages there are a few wrinkles that were rapidly ironed out. Ottley loves a challenge, and is instinctively thrilled by seemingly impossible tasks thrown in his direction. This is coupled with an incredible work rate. In well over a hundred issues since Ottley began pencilling, the only other artist to have contributed to Invincible is Walker, and then infrequently. It supplies a consistency unavailable to the likes of Spider-Man and Superman.

The first nine Invincible paperbacks are compiled within this compendium, in order Family Matters, Eight is Enough, Perfect Strangers, Head of the Class, The Facts of Life, A Different World, Three’s Company, My Favorite Martian and Out of This World. More in depth reviews can be located by following the links. The titles may seem familiar, and indeed Invincible shares a sharp professional polish with better sit-coms (few of which actually appear in that list of titles). Anyone who’s heard Invincible is good and is thinking of sampling may be put off by a list price just shy of $65, but it’s an investment continually repaid. Do you like the unadulterated joy of Batman Adventures, the current Star Wars series or Mark Millar at his peak? Well, do yourself a favour and try Invincible.