With the massive amounts of comic book properties that have been getting adapted lately, it is always nice to get one that surprises and subverts the general audience’s expectations. This year’s comic adaptation to do that, is Amazon’s first season of Invincible (2021- ), based on the Skybound/Image comic of the same name. By taking common comic book archetypes and themes and mixing it with fantastically written characters, great YA drama, and brutal action, Invincible has a DNA all its own despite many comparisons that audiences raised with Amazon’ other superhero flagship, The Boys.
Invincible follows Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun), a typical 17-year old high school student, except for the fact that his father is the strongest hero Earth has ever seen, Omni-Man (voiced by J. K. Simmons). After many years of waiting, Mark has finally developed the powers he inherited from Omni-Man, and as he trains and enters the superhero life, Mark must face many new complications in his life including relationship woes, strong villains, teenage superhero drama, and the fact that his dad may have a dark secret that could threaten the entire world.
Invincible was an absolute delight, particularly as a fan of the comic book series the show is based on. While it is an adaptation, there are many moments of the show that are directly lifted from the page, and as a fan, that was so nice to see. From a narrative aspect, Invincible‘s story is pretty cut and dry, but it’s the fantastically written characters and dialogue that sell the story and make it so much more. The writers of the show (Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker) really outdid themselves. Along with the writers, the voice cast elevated the dialogue/story on so many levels: Yeun and Simmons were both massive standouts, and Sandra Oh and Walton Goggins were also incredible additions.
There are two main complaints I have with the show, however. The first, is the way the Amber character (voiced by Zazie Beetz) is written and portrayed. I found her completely unlikable through the majority of the show, and that made the character a poor love interest for Mark because, as an audience member, I didn’t want to root for them as a couple. With their relationship being one of the main plot lines, I found myself waiting for a large portion of the show’s runtime to be over because I was tired of Amber by the time she hit the screen. My second issue is one that I saw many share when the show first premiered earlier this year: the animation quality is not good. Watching the show, it’s very obvious which scenes received all of the animation budget—the majority of the show is filled with very clunky and cheap animation. The only times the animation excels, is when the show wants you to be viscerally effected by the bloody action scenes—to be fair to the animators, they clearly had a very limited budget, and putting all the time and money into the action was probably the smartest way to showcase the show’s jaw dropping moments.
Invincible was an absolute delight from beginning to end, and I’m extremely excited for the already-green lit seasons 2 and 3. This show is adult animation, so it’s definitely not for everyone (especially not for young kids who just want to see superheroes flying around). If you are a fan of Amazon’s The Boys, DC comics’ animated films, and able to watch adult animation just fine, this show is sure to entertain you.
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