More than meets the eye in “Invincible”
The cult comic series gets an animated adaptation that aims to make a bold statement on animated superhero shows.
It’s been a while since someone has made an exciting superhero cartoon that was equally worthwhile. It seems as though the cartoon style that existed in so many animated television shows such as “Justice League,” “Legend of Korra” and many more, have fallen a bit out of trend — especially when most of them are meant for a younger audience.
Amazon’s new adaption of the comic book series “Invincible” is a fresh take on the genre that definitely packs more of a punch than it looks. Initially, I had thought that this show was going to be somewhat similar to “Young Justice” mixed with sexual innuendos and the casual curse word here and there, but what we got was a humorous, and most importantly, mature story told through lots and lots of violence and difficult concepts.
The show stars Mark Grayson, played by Steven Yeun, who’s just like any other 17 year old except his father is Omni-Man, also known as Noland Grayson — voiced by J.K. Simmons. As Mark comes to grasp the powers of his own, he begins to learn that his father’s heroic upbringing might not be as heroic as it seems.
It’s a sort of coming of age story where the main character comes to find himself while having to deal with and take on huge responsibilities at such a young age. The characters tend to find themselves in positions that they would otherwise not want to be in, and these themes run throughout the entire season.
It’s important to know that this show and its comic books parody classic superhero narratives, like those in the DC universe. This is evident through the blatancy of the characters in comparison — in both look and powers — such as Omni-Man resesembeling Superman but is dissimalarily deeply disturbed and complex, more so than the show would lead you to first believe.
This show takes common comic and film tropes to then subvert them by showing the real hardships that heroes have to go through when they can’t save everyone from harm. It creates a very compelling story.
However, the art style itself comes off as bland as it’s a little too reminiscent of the shows that it parodies and doesn’t make an effort to really do anything to be unique, other than the huge amounts of blood and gore that can be found in certain scenes. Otherwise, the animation itself seems a bit empty and the settings, like the city skylines and the occasional field here and there, become repetitive.
While this could be interpreted as the show parodying classic superhero cartoons, I would argue that it can’t excuse how bland and forgettable the settings are. The show’s lack of distinctive style almost turned me off the show to begin with.
It seemed like most of the budget went into the fights, which definitely don’t hold back. It’s interesting to see cartoon art mixed with intense gore. In the first episode, they waited until an important after-credit scene to throw the viewer into what was going to be one of the most gruesome scenes portrayed in a superhero cartoon, which I thought was a very surprising and refreshing introduction to the series. The mystery and pure shock of that scene alone made me want to binge the rest of the season.
Watching the rest of the season definitely paid off, the story never ceases to surprise and subvert the expectations that you would have in a show such as this one. The stakes are incredibly high and characters will die unexpectedly. Even the important ones.
Upon first glance, “Invincible” is a bleak look at a superhero universe, but what emerges is a very well told story through the eyes of a teenager who possesses otherworldly powers. If you can handle scenes that deal with lots of blood and gore, then “Invincible” is worth a watch. Personally, I’m waiting for the next two seasons to come out.
Availability: Available to stream on Amazon Prime
Star Rating: Four out of five stars
- Very well told story that does the original comic books justice
- Does not hold back on violence
- Subverts all expectations
- Bland artstyle
- Uninspiring and repetitive settings