keywords: comics, superheroes
Long-time readers of this blog might remember that back in April 2019 (review #155 to be precise), I reviewed two French comics of a most unlikely and original superhero. Its creator, Pascal Jousselin, does not have much of a social media presence so I only recently found out that over a year ago, in April 2021, volume 3 was published. Do I want to read more mind-bending comics that play with the medium itself? What a question, allons-y!
Imbattable is an unusual superhero who defies comic book physics by being able to cross over between the different panels on a page, something his fellow citizens cannot do. For them, Imbattable seems capable of travelling through time and space, creating no end of clever jokes. The below panel should hopefully help you understand what I mean or refresh your memory.
Volume 3 is subtitled Le Cauchemar des Malfrats which translates roughly as “The Nightmare of the Bad Guys”. Imbattable will face enemies old and new who are out to get him. There is the return of the lab-coated inventor who (I think) goes by the name “savant fou”, though this time he has competition from a fellow inventor who unleashes a killer robot to try and capture Imbattable. Of course, this is no ordinary killer robot but one that interacts with the comic strip medium in a way that goes beyond the confines of a single panel. Another villain has similar superpowers in being able to cross over between panels and will test our hero to his limits. Fortunately, Imbattable will not have to face his foes alone and we see the welcome return of Two-D Boy who gets more attention in this volume and a small story arc of his own. His unique superpower is again employed in many clever ways.
Now, if you think that Jousselin has run out of steam, fear not, for he has found yet other ways to delight the reader. There is a new postal delivery worker in town who has invented a gadget for herself that plays with the comic book medium in a most unusual way. I will give you part of a panel and let you guess the rest.
Volume 3 features a mix of short, single-page stories with simple gags and longer stories stretching over several pages. One of these sees Imbattable end up in our world in a way that will have required Jousselin to produce a number of comic art installations in an outdoors setting. And there is some novel papercraft involved that is so subtle that you might miss it. I am tempted to take this book into a dark room or shine a UV light on it to see if I have missed anything.
If you like an unusual and original comic book, then Imbattable does not disappoint. Volumes 1 and 2 are also available in an English translation in one 96-page bundle, simply titled Mister Invincible. Volume 3 is only available in French at the moment and though my French is not fantastic, I could follow along reasonably well. If you already read the previous two volumes, you do not want to miss this one. If you are new to Imbattable, you really ought to pick all of them up. I would recommend the physical copies though, as there are some paper craft tricks that simply do not translate into ebook form.
Other recommended books mentioned in this review: