Invincible – A Review

Posted: 03/29/2021 in Uncategorized

I have rarely been this impressed by a new series. Created by Robert Kirkman and assembling a cornocopea of voice talent, this latest entry into superhero genre fare is mind blowingly good. From the animation to the performances, we have something new, fresh and oh so very grisly. “Invincible” is Kirkman’s animated answer to the live action ‘The Boys”. My review follows below.

Wow. Three hour long episodes dropped for what is a short, I believe 10 episode season. Based on the first three, I am impressed with how much good material gets crammed into each episode. To be honest, the first episode had me hooked and by its end sequence, my interest was at a peaked level. Again…wow.

This series is very much a reimagining of the superhero genre offered by animated fare thus far. Make no mistake folks, this series is a hard R. The violence is visceral and deeply unsettling. The intrigue runs very deep. The goals of making Mark Grayson relatable,likeable and easy to root for are very easily attained. Steven Yeung is excellent in the titular role. His mother Deborah Grayson is played with snark, wit, charm and compassion by Sandra Oh. The great J.K. Simmons plays Omni- Man/Nolan Grayson, Mark’s father and current world’s greatest superhero.

The series feels different. I have done myself the service of not reading up on the character or series. As such, this is all very fresh to me. The opening segments present Omni-Man as a force. A segment featuring the “Guardians of the Globe”, an obvious parody of the Justice League reveals that there are super powered individuals who are more than capable of protecting citizens as well as doling out punishment to both superpowered and non superpowered foes. Omni Man stands apart from the team, thus avoiding the trope of the Superman led organization. In fact, Omni Man stands apart from everyone besides his wife, son and Cecil Stedman (Walton Goggins), his handler.

The family dynamic plays well as Omni Man/Nolan hopes for his son’s abilities to kick in that he might train him and prepare the next gen of protector/hero. Nolan is a Viltrumite whose alien physiology gives him super speed, strength and near invulnerability. This plot point shouts out to Superman. The parallels cease quickly enough as we learn that Nolan seems to have an on/off switch regarding his behavior as ‘protector’. His hopes for his son seem mired with both familial pride and a quiet desperation. O.M’s training Mark when his powers manifest reveals an edge to the world’s strongest hero.

Mark’s struggles at school to meet a girl, Amber (Zazie Beetz), take a beating from a bully are standard teen tv fare. Upon his powers kicking in, Mark’s struggles change and his inherent heroism takes root quickly. His meeting a newer hero team led by Robot (Zach Quinto) and run by Atom Eve (Jillian Jacobs) opens Mark’s opportunities and provides him with due friendship and potential romance. This plot aspect too has been done before though here it is beautifully depicted. The last ten minutes of “About TIme”, the pilot episode, completely decimates any preconceptions the viewer might have and spins the series on its head.

What follows is world building. New heroes, new alliances and a mystery of what the hell is going on. An investigator who feels all is not what it seems and happens to be a demonic detective Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown) opens up the series providing an agency outside of the government order and super hero community. His character is an obvious amalgam of Hellboy and Jack Kirby’s Demon, but he absolutely sells the role as someone outside whose sole goal is learning the truth.

The next two episodes “Here Goes Nothing” and “Who You Calling Ugly?” add more intrigue and adult flavor to the already adult series. A so called superhero Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas) having a “four way” with another hero, “Dupli-Kate” (Malese Jow) is well… nuts…. and the subsequent fall out of his actions adds fuel to an already shaky dynamic.

The fight sequences with due hard core violence would easily play on Amazon’s “The Boys” and strengthens both the aspect of a high cost to be paid should one choose the super-heroic life as well as enhancing the adult grittiness of this series. Alliances are made, battles ensue and the notion that something absolutely diabolical is going on behind the scenes gains evidence at the end of the third episode.

Honestly, I was hooked after episode 1. This series has seemingly come out of nowhere and nails it on all fronts. The drama is earnest, the performances are tight, the battle scenes are resonant. Invincible is absolutely off to a terrific start. It is amazing and a must watch.

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