Sometimes the most rewarding finds are purely accidental. The time was college. I had recently gotten back into comics after many years lapsed. My friend had gotten into a few as well by way of his brother. He had loaned me some trades of Invincible. After reading them, I wanted to pick some up myself. I went over to instocktrades.com and punched “Invincible” into the search. One of the first results was the hardcover for Invincible Ed. While this wasn’t what I was looking for, the premise intrigued me. Since I was making an order anyway, I added it and took a chance.
Sometimes the gamble is rewarded. What awaited me in Invincible Ed was a quite enjoyable story with a small spin on well-trodden territory. We all know the story of the jock and the nerd that he bullies. One day the nerd stands up to him and changes his life. Maybe he’ll even get the girl of his dreams along the way to go along with his newly found self-respect. This is a story that we all know. It is a story we have seen plenty. This time it is a little different.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, though. We need to backtrack a bit to the beginning. So we have this little green alien, Nod. He works for some interplanetary oversight council, as comic book aliens often do. The council has determined that Earths current path is one that can only lead to self-destruction. So the council decides to bestow upon one human the power referred to as “the right”. Despite his protests, Nod is sent down to accomplish this duty.
Now this is where things get messy. Nod has no clue how to pick the recipient. As a result, he picks the one who seems right on a surface level so he can get out of dodge. This recipient is high school jock Lance Lundgrin. Lance is the All-American football star. The paper even has a story on his football heroics. Surely, Lance is the sure fire winner. Seems that way, at least. As such, Nod places the power-transferring orb in Lance’s locker to grant him “the right”.
Also going in that locker is Ed. Ed is the affable dork of the story. Lance is stuffing Ed in his locker as punishment for Ed’s earlier mistake angering Lance, and because Lance is a stereotypical bully. When Lance opens his locker, they both see the orb and as a result, “the right” is split between them. Now, Lance receives the more offensive of the powers, attacking Ed with a beam that shoots him out through the wall and outside the school. On the other hand, Ed has luckily received the invincibility. Ed is fine, just in terrible pain (Unfortunately, his invincibility doesn’t come with reduction in pain).
What unfolds is an uneasy rivalry between the two. Ed works with Nod so that he can use his powers to the best of his ability. In contrast, Lance wants to use his powers for his own gain. Additionally, Ed having any powers infuriates him as he feels it is his right to have it all to himself. These two find themselves on a collision course with one another.
Along this path, we see their personalities clash. We also see Ed grow into his own and develop confidence in himself and his abilities. He even wins the girl along the way. Yeah, it does follow the tropes a little bit. We watch as he experiences tragedy, but develops the resolve to confront his bully head on.
While not a terribly deep story in this four-issue run, I still found it to be a lot of fun. The story is a little silly occasionally, likely to bring balance to some events in Invincible Ed that can be relatively serious in tone at times. I enjoyed how the powers each of them received matched their personalities. Maybe that is a bit trite, but I still think it is a nice touch. Ed is a likable dweeb despite his own failings. Lance is a little overboard as the bully jock archetype, but it helps you hate him and helps you like Ed more. We even get to witness Nod growing to appreciate him.
After reading Invincible Ed again, I would have liked to see more from Ryan Woodward in comics. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like he has been too active in the industry. It is possible that he just found that his work in film is a better use of his time. It could be that it is keeping him too darn busy to write and draw any more comics. Hopefully, one day we get more from him, as I think he could certainly bring us more enjoyable stories.
Overall, Invincible Ed is a surprisingly enjoyable little read. I didn’t love the art at first and it does change as the series progresses. Perhaps he spent a long time working on the series and his style changed, or perhaps it was intentional to match the maturing of Ed, but it really grew on me over time. Re-reading it after all these years, the lack of depth becomes apparent, but I believe it to be necessary for how much story is told. It probably could have benefited from another two issues, but it is still quite good in my opinion. Give it a try if you like the tried and true meek nerd stands up to jock storyline. You’ll find a little bit more in this one. The issues are a little hard to come by, but the hardcover is easy to find on Amazon and elsewhere.