After their smash hit The Boys, Prime Video has decided to adapt another hyper violent superhero story, this time from the mind of the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman. In Invincible, Mark Grayson, voiced by Steven Yeung, is the son of the world’s greatest superhero Omni-Man, voiced by J.K Simmons. The show follow Mark as he develops his father’s powers and strives to become a hero in his own right under the moniker of Invincible, while a mystery concerning the deaths of the world’s premiere superhero team unravels.
Invincible is without a doubt my favourite comic series ever made: I have every single issue in either single issue or trade paperback form. So when I say this is a great adaptation, you know I really mean it.
The plotting of events in the show is far more concise, energetic, and accessible to anyone who hasn’t read the books. Events that take place after the final episode in the books are brought to the middle of the series, which I prefer as it makes the world the show lives in feel bigger and the characters more developed.
The cast is absolutely stellar all around. Steven Yeun both embodies the joy that having superpowers would provide, but also the weight of the world on his shoulders as he tries to live up to his father’s legacy. It not often that an action hero will cry under the pressure he’s in, but Steven Yeun keeps it from being forced and I couldn’t have asked for a better actor to portray him.
J.K Simmons voices Mark’s father Omni-Man, and again he’s able to knock it out of the park. Simmons is my favourite actor, and he’s easily able to go from a supportive, loving father to the most powerful being on the planet at the drop of a hat. He’s truly intimidating and inspiring to watch all at once.
If I were to list off the entire cast, they’d all be the same. The cast is full of A-list actors like Zazie Beetz, Seth Rogen, Djimon Hounsou, and Gillian Jacobs just to name a few, but I’ll mention one more in detail. Debbie Grayson, Mark’s mother and Omni-Man’s wife, is played by Sandra Oh and is likely my favourite difference from the comic series. In the comic, she’s a supportive role with not much else to do in a world filled with people with the power of gods. However in the series she takes a much more proactive role in the main plot, being one of the prime investigators of the deaths of so many superheroes. Her character is brought through the wringer of emotions, and while I can’t give too much of the show away I can confidently say the Sandra Oh steals the show turning a fine supportive character into a driven, capable one.
With such an amazing cast, you’d expect the animation to be up to par right? Well, that’s true some of the times. When it comes to action, the animation of fluid, vibrant, energetic, and above all violent. Not all the battles contain buckets of blood and gore, I’m just saying that the best fights in the show do. If you can’t handle gore well, do not watch this show. Spoiler alert: the last five minutes of the first episode and the entire last episode is pretty much a bloodbath. Apart from the fights though, the animation can leave a lot to be desired. There are many moments where characters are talking and the animators will simply have a single model moving side to side to simulate walking. It’s not bad per se, the models are still nice and colourful, it just seems more lazy than anything else.
Compare it to a cartoon show like Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes. The character models of Invincible may look better, brighter, and more proportionate that in Avengers, but when characters in Avengers talk there are subtle differences in their body language and facial expressions making it feel more alive. After the seventh talking face scene in Invincible, you really start to notice how stiff and plain the animation can be.
There’s a weird moment I’d like to gripe about. In one episode there is an explosion. The scene is animated in a way I’ve never seen before. The power and devastation of said explosion is beautifully animated it made my jaw drop. But then seconds later, you see birds falling dead from the sky. The same model of dead bird is repeated dozens of times in the span of a few seconds and it looks absolutely awful. It reminded me of the bird gifs used in the “so bad it’s good” Birdemic.
While the animation may leave something to be desired, the dynamic action scenes, incredible cast, and engaging story are able to make up for it in some part. The first season of Invincible may have stumbled along the way, but Prime Video has the makings of another fun if not gruesome superhero epic. I can’t wait to see what seasons 2 and 3 bring to the table.
Invincible gets 3.5 out of 5 stars