Invincible - Season One Review (Spoiler Free)
A brutal, bloody, animated series, to what might be one of the most violent graphic novels out there. Invincible combines the grittiness of Amazon’s The Boys adaptation with the joyous, innocent fun of Justice League comics.
Genre: Action/ Animation / Adventure / Sci-Fi
Created By: Robert Kirkman
Cast: Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Gillian Jacobs, Walton Goggins, Zachary Quinto & Clancy Brown.
Network: Amazon Prime Video
Average Runtime: 45 min.
No. of Episodes: 8
Release Period: 25 Mar. 2021 - 29 Apr. 2021
It’s Superhero Sunday and I thought to try something new. Needing a breather from Marvel plus DC, I decided to review one of the most underrated adult animated TV shows on Amazon Prime Video. Adapted from the Image Comics series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, the premise follows a seventeen-year-old teen, as he obtains his superpowers. Created by Kirkman, who signed a deal with Prime Video through his company Skybound Entertainment, the result is a unique and grounded story told in eight instalments. So soar with me through my review for… Invincible!
Mark Grayson is a seemingly normal teenager, wouldn’t it be for his father, Nolan, the most powerful superhero on the planet. Shortly after his seventeenth birthday, Mark starts to exhibit superpowers of his own, needing to learn how to wield them. Life becomes complicated as he struggles to balance his personal life with his superhero duties.
I don’t think this TV show has been watched by many, so I’ll keep it spoiler free. At the height of the pandemic in 2021, my entertainment roster consisted of video games, as well as streaming services. Enter Prime Video, recommending me this production after having binged The Boys. I did not expect much, especially since I had never read any of the comics, however, it surprised me with its emotional hook, astonishing relatability and grittiness.
The first episode might come off as generic, using a Justice League-type team with cardboard copies of those heroes. It also contains versions of super- / anti-heroes from other entities such as Marvel or Dark Horse comics. That said, the big twist comes at the end of the first chapter, setting Invincible on its own distinctive path! If I had to describe the premise, it would be Justice League meets The Boys, though with less cynicism.
The story includes violence, but it isn’t played for simple shock value, the bloodiness in this animated series has a reason. It also isn’t as dark or pessimistic as The Boys, inserting a good portion of humour, without coming off as comedic. Each episode has good pacing, never feeling like filler. The accessible component comes in the character of Mark Greyson, as the plot follows this teenager’s trail to becoming an indestructible superhero. He is young, naive, and is suddenly bestowed with powers, inherited by his alien father.
The dialogues contain a lot of teenage vocabulary, including typical high school quarrels, as well as modern-day discourses about openmindedness. On the other hand, there are also a lot of family talks added to each chapter, just like the business of “superheroing”.
Mark Grayson, a.k.a Invincible, is the lead centre of his series. Audiences follow him from the moment his first powers established. He can be quite naive and times behaves like a character from a high school rom-com. Nonetheless, this is done on purpose, to successfully balance out the larger-than-life superhero facets, giving the teenager a lot of likeability. Steven Yun lends his voice to Mark, infusing him with a lot of heart. Thus, when a revelation is made at the end of the season, the emotional betrayal hits that much harder!
J.K. Simmons is the voice actor for Nolan Grayson, also known as Omni Man, Mark’s father. Simmons gives the persona some characteristical complexities, which make Omni Man so interesting. He is basically the Superman of that world, a humanoid alien with powers from another planet. His motivations start to gradually surface, the further the program advances. Then there is Debbie Grayson, Mark’s mother, voiced by Sandra Oh. Debbie is human, giving Mark a lot of her moral values.
The supporting cast is generally fantastic! Gillian Jacobs portrays Samantha Eve Wilkins, a classmate of Mark’s, who also has superpowers. She helps Mark train, giving him some pointers on how to deal with civilian casualties. Amber Benet is Mark’s love interest, spoken by Zazie Beetz. She is smart, independent, and has high ethical values.
Further memorable vocal performances are given by Walton Goggins as Cecil Stedman, the director of the Global Defense Agency; an organisation that coordinates global superhero responses. Finally, Clancy Brown as Damian Darkblood, a demon detective, is a lot of fun!
The animation is astonishing, incorporating many details that some might miss during their first view. From bloodshot eyes carrying on to the next episode, background damage being carried on from scene to scene, or even minor aspects like an article on a newspaper lying on a desk. It is that level of commitment that makes this TV production so unforgettable! From what I can tell, the art design of the animation tries to mirror its comic counterpart, not straying off too much. The colours are vibrant, yet not oversaturated.
Impressive is also what the art department did with the opening credits. The show's title imagery keeps getting bloodier the further it progresses.
The score, composed by John Paesano, contains a solid mix of thrilling tunes, ominous foreboding, valorous sounds, all of which are brass-heavy.
Verdict: I would have never thought that an adult superhero animated TV show could put big-budgeted, superhero blockbusters, to shame. Robert Kirkman’s creation, though, does exactly that, and with ease! While the first episode might feel a little cookie-cutter, especially in concerns to its heroes, the last minutes pull the rug from underneath the viewer, revealing a much darker background to the narrative, However, it never feels nihilistic, given that viewers follow a teenager on his path to becoming a hero. Serious topics are intertwined with high school drama, while family sub-plots are a vital component. This all gives this animated series a surprising amount of depth plus relatability! The animation is off the charts, adding complex detailing, while the artwork tries to pay tribute to its source material. The voice cast is impeccable, with even the smallest guest roles giving it their best. If you are tired of Marvel or DC, this Amazon production contains enough originality, while paying homage to the big leaguers. Invincible is not only worth watching but deserves a 10 out of 10.
Have you seen this Amazon Prime Original? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my review? Leave a comment below, to let me know! Thank you for reading.