A Western Animated Superhero Gem – ‘Invincible’ Season 1 Review

Thomas Ou ‘24
EE Staff Writer

When I first saw the trailer for Amazon’s new animated show, Invincible, I had expected another Justice League knockoff with the stereotypical “good guy beats up bad guy and saves the world” story arc. However, upon learning the voice actors that will be starring in the show, most notably the voice behind Stanford Pines and General Kai, J. K. Simmons, I decided to give the show a try. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this show has subverted all expectations, telling a heartwarming and compelling story about the dangers that come with power in a brutal, realistic world. Despite its ‘90s X-Men art style, this show has a very modern way of storytelling, very reminiscent of Kripe’s The Boys and the Harley Quinn Animated Series, two shows that I had found great joys in watching and highly recommend to those who like a unique, bloody spin to the superhero genre. 

Invincible was based off of a 144 issue comic series by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker from early 2003 to 2018, and centers around your average seventeen year old nerd who just so happens to be the son of the most powerful being on Earth, Omni-Man (think superman with a very admirable mustache and a not so admirable attitude). This show serves as a nice break from all the big-budget, live superhero shows that are running rampant nowadays. One of the main problems with the genre as a whole is that it becomes very stale due to the similar formula they all share. These shows end up having a hard time developing a believable world because the heroes are always able to save the day from the impending evil. Invincible establishes early on that these heroes make mistakes, sometimes fail at their missions, and are unable to save everyone. This paints these characters as actual humans rather than cartoon characters wearing spandex, and makes the viewers more engaged with their lives and decisions. 

Before I start talking more about the show, I would like to give a spoiler warning to those who might want to watch it since it is the type of show best enjoyed blindly. One of the things Invincible excels at is its plot twists; it feels as if each character has the potential to die at any given moment creating a sense of fear and mystery to the show, something I had really liked in other popular shows and games such as Game of Thrones and Danganronpa. The show spends a full episode developing their superhero team (meant to be an obvious parody of the DC justice league characters Aquaman, The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman) and just have them brutally murdered at the end of the first episode by Omniman. Despite being shown by this scene to be the twist villain and the potential main antagonist in the show, Omniman was still able to surprise audiences. The mystery of the show is not who killed the Guardians of the Globe, but rather why did he kill the Guardians. As Invincible progresses, you are able to see glimpses of Omniman’s true intentions and your image of this caring father and husband, who might have been manipulated into murdering his comrades, changes to one of a psychopath who is only pretending to act nice. 

Mark Grayson is a phenomenal protagonist; from his messy room filled with nerd references to his mess of a family, he is one of the most relatable characters in animation. He struggles with controlling his powers, and unlike other protagonists, he often loses in battle and relies on the help from others. His internal struggle as he fails to save people is something that the show heavily builds upon. While he is unable to rescue even a single elderly lady in his first major battle, he uses it as a motivator, gets stronger and becomes more and more confident with helping others. This whole character development gets instantly shattered when Omniman forces Mark to kill hundreds of innocent citizens in the most barbaric way possible. They were able to pull off this gore-filled subway scene and still make it very emotional due to how the viewers are able to see and feel Mark’s struggle. When Omniman beats Mark to near death and asks “What will you have after 500 years?” Mark replies “You, Dad. I’d still have you.” is one of the most iconic scenes of this show and has me to the verge of tears everytime I watch it.

While this show only has its first season out, the entire comic adaptation has been fully completed. Invincible has me so engaged, I was willing to read all 144 comic books of the series and it did not disappoint. Many of the fan favorites from the show, such as Robert and Allen the Alien, get fully-fleshed out character arcs later on with the story continuing to surprise the audiences. To summarize, Invincible is an incredible show that is a must watch for fans of the superhero genre. It is ultra violent and explosive, something that is uncommon in western animation. Judging from how the first season has been and all the stories in the comics, this series will only get better and darker as the show goes on and it leaves me very optimistic for the 2nd season.

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