Invincible — Top 10
Based on the Image comics and character of the same name, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible follows teenager Mark Grayson as he navigates through his newfound powers whilst balancing everyday life. After learning of his father Nolan’s superpowers and Viltrumite heritage, Mark spent years eager to become a powerful ass-busting superhero just like his dad, the famous Omni-Man.
Invincible has finally landed on Prime Video and it’s everything. Here are 10 of my favourite things from the first three episodes. WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
10. Kirkman and Walker’s Involvement
After creating the Invincible comic book series (2003–2018), writer/artist duo Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker teamed up again to work on the 2021 animated series. While Kirkman is the show’s creator, writer, and executive producer, Walker serves as the lead designer and ensures the characters on the show are accurate to the comics.
I’ve been anticipating this series for a while and I’m thrilled the creators are involved because it means we’re getting authenticity and continuity.
9. Fantastic Voice Cast
The star-studded voice cast does a brilliant job at bringing the characters and dialogue to life. Mark/Invincible is voiced by Steven Yeun while Mark’s mother Debbie is voiced by Sandra Oh and Nolan/Omni-Man is voiced by J. K. Simmons.
Zazie Beetz voices Mark’s love interest Amber, Walton Goggins as Cecil, Chris Diamantopoulos as Donald & Doc Seismic, Malese Jow as Dupli-Kate, Gillian Jacobs as Eve/Atom Eve, Jason Mantzoukas as Rex Splode, Zachary Quinto as Robot, and Andrew Rannells as Mark’s best friend William.
Several other characters are voiced by Mahershala Ali, Michael Dorn, Grey Griffin, Mark Hamill, John Hamm, Lennie James, Khary Payton, Kevin Michael Richardson, Seth Rogen, and many many more.
Each episode is approximately 40–50 minutes. How often do we get adult animated TV shows that are nearly an hour? With lengthy and juicy mid-credit scenes?
7. Animation Style
The best thing about animation and illustration is, they can go beyond your wildest imagination. And that’s why Invincible had to be animated. It’s vibrant and violent, and the style of the animation stays true to Kirkman and Walker’s vision in the comics. It’s on par with DC/Warner Bros.’s adult animated series Harley Quinn. This style fits the superhero genre like a snug cape to the nape because the ever-so-slightly limited animation gives you a touch of the comics.
Be it a cut to the title, or a cut to a new scene, there are some awesome transitions in Invincible.
In the pilot (‘It’s About Time’), Mark runs to the costume tailor Art (Mark Hamill) with his superhero name and his distinctive superhero “thing” (inspired by a chat with Nolan). Cut to Mark in his new superhero costume flying around and basking in his moment of clarity before taking on Killcannon (Fred Tatasciore). As Mark is about to defeat Killcannon, he says “you might as well give up. I’m…” cut to the Invincible title, 37 minutes into the episode. Here viewers finally learn that Mark is Invincible (oh the irony).
Another great transition is the opening scene in Ep.2 ‘Here Goes Nothing’ where Steve (John Hamm) —a security guard who got hit in the White House attack in the pilot episode — and his stepson Matt (Max Burkholder) are at Buckingham Palace in London when they’re attacked by a “Burger Mart” astroid. With a mysterious red sauce (cow blood? Ketchup? Both?) splurged across the characters and floor, there's a pan down and a dissolve to the Guardians of the Globe headquarters where Red Rush’s (Michael Cudlitz) blood, eyes, and disfigured face are splattered across the ground.
I also love what they do with the Invincible title cards. They’re used to finish sentences. As mentioned, Mark says “I’m… [Invincible title card]” in the first episode. In the second episode, as Donald (an agent at the Global Defense Agency) is walking Debbie and Mark to Nolan’s hospital room, he says “Who knows, maybe someday we’ll even work with…[Invincible title card].” At the Guardians’ funerals in the third episode, Mark says to Eve “If this could happen to the Guardians of the Globe, it means that none of us are…[Invincible title card].
The title cards are also used as a subtle form of foreshadowing, as they get bloodier with every episode. It hints that as the series goes on, the stakes are getting higher for Mark/Invincible.
5. Superhero Training
When Mark eventually inherits his powers, he’s is obviously trained by the most powerful man on the Earth, his father Omni-Man. Mark struggles with flying and literally blasts into the ground (leaving a massive hole) when trying to land. Omni-Man breaks down the mechanics of flying, compares it to walking (as an adult it’s second nature, as a baby, you’re concerned with balancing).
Omni-Man also tries to familiarise Mark with taking and delivering blows, but hits Mark too hard and ends up hurting him. It swiftly goes from a fun heartwarming scene to a sombre one — but all is repaired when the two are playing catch as they float in the air and Omni-Man inspires Mark’s superhero moniker.
4. New Appearance, Who Dis?
While they’re presumed to be White in the comics, Mark and Debbie Grayson are Asian-American in the show (and my guess is Korean, solely based on their voice actors Steve Yeun and Sandra Oh being Korean-American and Korean-Canadian). Their culture has not yet been mentioned on the show, but hopefully, it’ll delve into it or touch on it at some point.
Amber Bennett has also transformed from a blonde blue-eyed babe to a dark-skinned Black babe voiced by Zazie Beetz. And Rex Splode is now Brown.
3. Doc Seismic
One of the villains that Invincible and Eve tackle is a socially and historically conscious mad scientist. In the first three episodes, there are multiple funny battle scenes, but the fight with Doc Seismic is the most hilarious. They meet him at Mount Rushmore where he’s frantically yelling “You’ve come to pray at this obscene monument? They were oppressors. Racists. Slave owners. I give you a new God worthy of worship. Bow before Doc Seismic” and begins to demolish the mountain. “The great emancipator? He’ll emancipate you…from your lives” as Lincoln’s face falls towards the park guests.
Some of his other funny lines include his little back and forth with Atom Eve where he reveals he was an undergrad in Sociology and Women’s Studies and had a minor in African Dance.
Now, Seismic isn’t lying about the presidents, and he's not lying about the obscenity of the monument. The colonisers desecrated land sacred to the Lakota Sioux tribe by carving Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills and it’s an eyesore. So yeah, I’m all for tearing that bitch down.
2. The Writing
The writers are doing an excellent job with Invincible. Of course, the storylines already exist, but the series is so well-written that you don’t find yourself comparing it to the comics; you’re just excited to see how everything’s going to be executed. They’re also doing a great job of balancing the seriousness with the humour and hijacking one emotion to replace it with another.
For example, in the opening scene in the first episode where we’re introduced to White House security guards Steve and his colleague, we learn about Steve’s relationship with his once troublesome stepson Matt, and how much they’re bonding. Although the delivery was super amusing, I was also completely invested in these insignificant characters’ lives. Then the White House gets attacked by the Mauler Twins (Kevin Michael Richardson) and you think Steve is going to die.
The fight between Invincible and Allen the Alien (Seth Rogen) is also a rush because Invincible is getting his ass kicked so we’re asking “what are the consequences if he fails?” Only to find out Allen is an evaluation officer who goes around the universe ensuring planets have superheroes capable enough to defend them. The fight was 1) a test and 2) not even meant for an Earth superhero, but instead a Urath superhero; Allen was inspecting and fighting the wrong planet for years. Now we’re laughing again.
In the three released episodes, there are an array of scenes that have audiences expelling all kinds of emotions and as the story unfolds, it’s only going to get even more emotive.
1. Omni-Man vs. Guardians of the Globe
What happens so much later in the comics, comes to us extremely early in the animated series — Omni-Man vs. Guardians of the Globe (who are loose spoofs of the Justice League). Towards the end of the first episode, Omni-Man summons the Guardians of the Globe to their headquarters and brutally murders them all. In this compelling fight, we learn just how magnificently graphic this show is. It’s reminiscent of Eric Kripke and Prime Studios’ The Boys (also based on an explicit comic book series of the same name).
Kirkman says he moved the mass murder up in the show because he wants the audience confused and constantly guessing. It’s an insane plot twist that does just that. Viewers who are unfamiliar with the comics wonder whether Omni-Man is being controlled or if he’s an actual villain. Viewers who are familiar with the comics wonder how everything’s going to play out because now everything is tits-up. Moving Omni-Man vs. Guardians of the Globe up in the series is a sweet reminder of how strong the writing is and will be.
I’ve had maximum fun watching Invincible and there are so many more things that I love about the first three episodes. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
Episodes 1–3 of Invincible are available to stream on Prime Video now. The comic book series is also available on ComiXology (the very first issue is free).