Invincible (Season 1) 2021

"The strength of your character and spirit, that is what truly makes a hero.""The strength of your character and spirit, that is what truly makes a hero."

“The strength of your character and spirit, that is what truly makes a hero.”

We are in a golden age of comic book adaptations. Superhero wise, currently, there’s the MCU, the DCEU, The Umbrella Academy on Netflix and The Boys on Amazon Prime. It’s an embarrassment of riches to be honest. And while the MCU and DCEU is more geared toward a younger audience – the latter properties mentioned are more adult, in theme and tone. Enter, Invincible. From Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead – Invincible gives an alternate perspective to the superhero genre like The Boys or Umbrella Academy. If you think this is just a mindless action-packed animated show with no depth, think again. Invincible is grounded in ways that won’t work in a live action adaptation and packed with nuance from every single character that appears on screen. No character is wasted or underutilized.

What makes Invincible stand out in an over saturated genre is the fact that its an animated series yet its fresh with different ideas. Yes, there have been animated shows in the past, some that are beloved by many but Invincible dives headfirst in the adult rated madness which forms its identity. Having this amount of diversity among these comic book adaptations allows for the genre to remain fresh – never feeling tiresome or played out. 

The voice cast of Invincible alone is enough to draw anyone in if you’ve read the comics or not. The talent from top to bottom is stellar. Seriously, who isn’t lending their voice to this show? there is way too many incredible actors and actresses to list. Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) is a typical 17-year-old high school senior whose father Nolan (J.K. Simmons) is the most powerful superhero in the universe named Omni-Man. Nolan is from the planet Viltrum who came to earth as a part of their intergalactic expansion. To keep his identity safe, Nolan married Debbie (Sandra Oh) and writes best-selling books for the masses. Mark being half Viltrumite is expected to gain superpowers and when he finally does everything in his life suddenly changes and gets infinitely more complicated. 

“I didn’t mean to hit you so hard. I’m sorry.”

Invincible does something that other adaptations haven’t done previously. It explains superpowers in a human and nuanced manner. When Mark is first learning how to control his powers, hell, even learning how to fly and punch in the air is a struggle even though he was born to do this, its portrayed in a way that we can feel the frustration when he doesn’t get it right the first or second time. This is where the brilliance of the writing comes in. Robert Kirkman gives these astounding explanations to how Omni-man flies which is easily translated and understood. Mark getting his powers instantly changes his relationship with his father too, as it should. Nolan doesn’t hold back the same way a father of a successful athlete would push his son. The toxic masculinity trope is given to Nolan which is released in bursts to not give him the full antagonistic role, right away. Save that for the end of episode 1. Putting that new spin on superpowers and how Mark learns to control them is enough to make Mark a likeable hero to root for. 

Having the mature rating gives a certain amount of freedom to Invincible to remain true to the comics. Of course, it’s not a page to screen adaptation, storylines are told in the show that makes more sense than how the comic tells it. Beat for beat, it’s still pretty spot on. Seeing all the hype surrounding the comics, when the show was announced, it was enough motivation for me to begin exploring the comics. Knowing what happens still doesn’t curb the excitement of seeing Invincible soar through the clouds or fight crime with the Guardians of the Globe – the new iteration of the team. Or for that matter the pure horror from the villains actions. It’s enough to drop a jaw and keep it on the floor.

Creating a comic book universe means taking inspiration from other properties. The Guardians of the Globe is inspired from the Justice League. It’s a bit derivative but there is only so much originality to create from that hasn’t been done previously within this genre. The parallels are cut and dry but Kirkman makes them feel unique enough. The original team consists of War Woman (Lauren Cohen), Green Ghost (Sonequa Martin-Green), Martian Man (Chad Coleman), Red Rush (Michael Cudlitz), Darkwing (Lennie James), and The Immortal (Ross Marquand). I think Kirkman may feel some type of way about the actors on The Walking Dead.

“Does that make you feel strong? To know I can’t make you psychically do something?”

The new iteration of the Guardians of the Globe consist of Robot (Zachary Quinto), Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas), Dupli-Kate (Malese Jow), Monster Girl (Grey Griffin) & Black Samson (Khary Payton). 

If Invincible gets one thing right it’s character. Second would be the relationships between each character. With how large the cast is with as many moving parts and sub-plots established, everyone plays a role in the overall story behind Mark. Many act as a support system and Kirkman adapting his own comic gives him the freedom to express who these characters are in an authentic manner.

Invincible packs one hell of a punch. Filled with bloody action, sincere and pure emotion and world ending battles, Kirkman squeezes every ounce of the mature rating to his advantage. Every episode a new threat pops up but it’s the perspective from Mark that makes Invincible one of a kind. He learns the hard way what it takes to be Invincible, and Steven Yeun puts his heart and soul in Mark Grayson. When the weight of his responsibilities crushes him, Yeun hits the emotional beats perfectly. Being a superhero is fun and all but when you have to balance school, friends, homework and saving the planet from destruction, that is enough for anyone to feel overwhelmed let alone a Viltrumite.

Personally, I like the changes in certain characters from the comics. William (Andrew Rannells) is given more depth to his character and his own storyline; Nolan is more empathic than in the comics when his true purpose is revealed. Amber (Zazie Beetz) isn’t as clueless as she is about Mark’s identity, and she’s given a bigger role in his life as the love interest. How can you not root for the two of them to be together? It’s impossible. 

The animation is gorgeous – each scene is crisp, clean and vibrant, and the color palette is utilized well even with the strong use of red in every episode.

Invincible hits every beat that’s necessary in a comic book adaptation. Story, emotion, action, perspective – all are balanced flawlessly from one episode to the next. Even the way the title card randomly pops up when a character is about to say Invincible and how every episode more blood is added to said title card – Invincible satisfies every craving imaginable for a property in this genre. Even though it may alienate an age bracket – there is still an audience for mature superhero content. Look at Joker or The Boys – There’s still an audience who will eat this show up, it’s that damn good. There is nothing I would change about this first season nor do I have any negative to say about it, but if there was, I want more. More Invincible. The universe Robert Kirkman created is vast and ripe with stories to tell. Waiting for season 2 will be a nightmare but at least I have the comics to fill that empty void between seasons. Seriously, read the comics, you’ll thank yourself.

Invincible season 1 premiered on March 25, 2021 and can be streamed on Amazon Prime. Invincible season 1 has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%. Invincible was created for TV by Robert Kirkman, was based on characters created by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley and stars Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Zachary Quinto, Gillian Jacobs, Jason Mantzoukas, Walton Goggins, Seth Rogan, Zazie Beetz, Mark Hamil, Clancy Brown & Andrew Rannells.

So, tell me, have you seen Invincible season 1 and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 5 out of 5.

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