I love the Invincible comic book. I’ve been following the career of comic book writer Robert Kirkman since his comic, The Walking Dead, was adapted to TV. The show is a roller coaster of quality but the comic book, in my opinion, is an instant classic of zombie media. I eventually found his super hero comic, Invincible. While the comic definitely has some rough patches, it was a series that got better and better with every issue. While my favorite comics hero will likely always be Deadpool, Invincible came pretty close. With the announcement of the animated show on Amazon Prime I became quite excited to see what was coming. Invincible’s first three episodes are now out at the time of writing and it’s a blast of bloody animated violence and strong characterization to back it up.
There are a lot of positives. The writing is on point, if you have read the comics you will know what to expect but you won’t get bored. The show does a great job in expanding on its source material and taking advantage of the new format. Fans might also find a lot of the expansions and changes to be improvements on the source material. Namely Amber is a vast improvement of her comic book counterpart with a great performance from Zazie Beetz. I have mixed feelings on recycled dialogue from the comic but it’s so uncommon that it ends up not mattering that much in the end. If you haven’t read the comic you’ll be fine and there’s a lot to like. One of my favorite approaches to storytelling is how it takes such an honest approach to the main character’s, Mark Grayson, superhero endeavors. During his first world threatening conflict he can’t save anybody. At the end of this conflict we are told that over three hundred people died (by the way, this show is not scared of getting bloody and violent). The show also portrays this as something that Mark has to deal with and when things start to look up for him the show throws him a final “screw you” by telling him the only old lady he was able to get out had died from injuries. This honest and brutal approach makes it much more refreshing than a lot of other superhero media. It’s more brutal than a Marvel movie but more optimistic than something like The Boys. When it comes to the voice work all the performances are great but the standouts are Steven Yeun as Mark Grayson/Invincible and J.K. Simmons as his father, Nolan Grayson/Omni-Man. The father son dynamic is fantastic and the tragic element that is overtly hinted at towards them makes their relationship all the more heartbreaking. There is also some great animation with excently framed action scenes, awesome music choices, and some added humor.
The issues with the show so far are uncommon but very apparent. While the animation can be downright gorgeous it makes some of the shortcuts more apparent. When speedster characters start running it looks like they just put a color brick on screen, some images will be frozen with specific character limbs being key framed, and 3D and 2D images don’t always blend. I don’t think these issues break the experience, but they did annoy me on occasion. Also, I’m pretty sure the show wants to capitalize on adult’s nostalgia for old superhero cartoons. As someone who loved the old animated Spider-Man shows and Batman Beyond it never made me feel nostalgic for anything other than the comic book. With that said, I don’t think it matters that much as long as the show is actually good. Lastly, I have very mixed feelings on the first episode. I should say that this is more of a concern for people that just turn on random stuff for their kids to watch and not really a fault within the show’s quality. I do think the first episode tells a good story but it does feel inadvertently deceiving on how family friendly it is. If you haven’t already got this, Invincible can get violent and bloody. The first episode is relatively PG until the end where it turns into a bloodbath. There are a couple bloody noses but it’s relatively tame and the show’s colorful look could end up causing issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if some parents saw the show on the Prime home page and thought it was a cool superhero show for their kid that likes those new Spider-Man movies. This could become an issue for a lot of parents. I do think the more bright nature of the first episode is important to the story because it shows the dream of being a superhero before the harsh realities that are soon to follow. This flaw lies more with parents not really connecting to their kids with what they watch or even looking it up, but that issue is far too common. There is a TV rating and content warning on the show’s episode selection page, but stuff like that is often overlooked when you are just putting on a cartoon for a kid to look at. I’ll agree that it’s not really fair that the show’s creators have to be the ones that let parents know up front, but it’s something that I think will bite them in the ass later on. Maybe there should be a confirmation for a content warning before it starts playing or a vocal warning at the start of every episode, but right now the only thing there is a warning for seizures. To reiterate, this is not really an issue with the show itself but this is something that can come back to haunt the show’s creators. When parents thought it was okay to take their kids to Sausage Party it proved that people don’t really pay close enough attention to what their children watch.
I still really recommend this show. I would say that if you haven’t really been entertained with either Marvel or DC films, this is unlikely to be for you. But if you are someone that has been following those Marvel and DC characters for a while and can take something more adult, you’ll love this. Invincible and other streaming comic book media such as The Boys, Doom Patrol, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League really shows that comic adaptations are thriving on streaming. I love this show and I think a lot of people will love it too. I can’t wait for the next episode.