‘Invincible’ review

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

The hit amazon prime series, “Invincible” is based on the 2003 comic series by Robert Kirkman — the show has gotten a lot of popularity recently with its take on superheroes.

We’ve definitely seen other properties give their own spins on the genre like “The Boys” and “The Umbrella Academy,” but something about this series has clicked with its audience as everywhere on social media you see clips, memes, and reviews of comic fans saying how good it is. 

The series focuses on Mark Grayson, a normal teenager whose father Nolan, secretly Omni-Man, is the most powerful superhero on the planet. Shortly after his seventeenth birthday, Mark begins to develop powers of his own and enters his father’s tutelage in the world of heroics. This is a big challenge for Mark as on top of constantly saving the earth, he has to make time to help his mom, be with friends, and go on dates. Basically all the comic book tropes we’re familiar with. However, in a realistic turn of events we see how the world of heroes isn’t as simple as it seems as he witnesses tons of destruction, civilians dying, and lots of bloodshed. Mark has to deal with this harsh reality as he finds out there’s more to the life of a hero than he thought. Particularly with his father who himself is hiding a dark secret.

Image courtesy of Amazon Prime

Having seen the show in its entirety, I can safely say that I absolutely loved it! I know I say that a lot in these reviews, but there truly is a lot to appreciate in this series. As I mentioned earlier, while it does have a lot of comic tropes, the show executes it in a way that gives a new spin to them. While the show is portrayed as a comic book-type world where superheroes and villain attacks are the norm, you’ll find that this show has a mature edge to it with its story and characters.

One of the biggest highlights of this series is the casting which is spot on. Particularly Steven Yeun who’s one of the biggest standouts in this series. I do find it ironic that he also starred on “The Walking Dead,” another show based on a comic series by the same creator of this series. He really shines here as he’s essentially living out our fantasy of being a superhero, only to realize that there’s a huge responsibility to it. Even though he’s what the title of this show suggests, he still faces difficulty with the level of threats he faces. The rest of the cast is also wonderful, a lot of them have starred in other films and shows I enjoy. But the best actor, in my opinion, is J.K. Simmons as Omni-Man. Simmons is one of my favorite actors of all time and to see him in this show feels so satisfying to me. It’s interesting because when they introduce him it starts out as the role of the parental figure who takes his son under his wing to show him how to use his powers. Even though it’s something we’re familiar with, they do it in a way that makes it interesting with the powers they have and the role they play in this world. Without revealing anything, all of that changes after the end of the first episode and the story starts to take a darker turn with the character. While they do show that there’s a real bond between him and his son, you find that there’s more to this than what Omni-Man is leading on as people begin to wonder what his true goals are. While you want to find out more about him and what he’s up to, you’re scared at the same time because you don’t want to cross this guy because of what he can do. He has a legitimate presence that genuinely comes off as intimidating.

The animation from a first glance doesn’t look like it’s anything unique. That may be the case if you’re not familiar with the series, but there is a surprisingly large amount of effort put into this aspect of the show. The action scenes are fast-paced and intense as they should be. They allow the characters to emote whenever something big happens. While it may not be that expensive-looking like other shows, they still manage to give high quality to the show. Even though there are times where the frame rate may slow down a bit, particularly with some of the action scenes, it doesn’t detract anything because the motions and expressions are so detailed that you feel like you’re watching a comic book come to life — which I guess is the series intention.

I also like to talk about the tone of this show because it plays a huge part in the show. While you still have characters wearing colorful costumes, they don’t shy away from showing people being pummeled, eviscerated, or bloodily mutilated on screen. The level of violence in this show is insane, the last episode, in particular, has some of the most graphic scenes I’ve seen in any animated series. While a lot of the violence is exploitative in some ways, I feel it works because it’s done to drive home the point that not everyone can be saved or come out the same way. You can tell that a lot of the experiences that the main character goes through has a legitimate impact on him. When he fails to save someone, you feel his failure. When he’s beaten to an inch of his life, you feel his pain. This aspect of the show adds a lot of stakes to it as everyone, particularly the main character who despite his hero name is still vulnerable to the dangers they face. I especially love the detail of how every episode begins with the show’s logo getting bloodier and bloodier as the series goes on — almost as if it reflects how the story is becoming darker as it progresses.

Image courtesy of Amazon Prime

It’s also great to know that the creator Robert Kirkman is on this show, as it’s not often you see a creator comes back to one of their stories and make narrative changes while also staying true to the source material. I started reading the comic series a few months ago and I can tell while the show does portray a lot of major moments from the comic. I feel it works better here as it gives more time and development to plotlines that play a big impact in the story, particularly the one revolving around Omni-Man. Without giving anything away, in the comic the reveal happens relatively early on in issue #11. While there was a buildup to it, I can’t help but feel a reveal like this happens so early in a series that spans over a hundred issues. So when you see them do it as an animated series, you can tell they wanted to take their time in developing this part of the story. Even devoting an entire season to it so that it has more of an emotional impact. 

I know it’s rare that I say this but this show has the potential to outshine the source material. I don’t say that to be degrading as the comic is a lot of fun with so many great elements. I mean that this show makes a lot of smart narrative choices that both enhance and deepen what’s already a big narrative. From a writing standpoint, I can see why they made the choices they did, as translating a comic series to a medium such as television allows the creators to give more time and development to this series.

That about sums up my thoughts. “Invincible” is a series that I’m definitely going to be looking forward to in future seasons. It’s got great characters, big action, and a story that gives fans what they want while also attracting newcomers. Give it a watch and see for yourself.

Spinnaker Rating: 5 / 5 Sails.


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