Invincible is the latest in a long line of comic book adaptations that I feel ashamed to say I had never heard of before watching it. An adult animated superhero show, it’s brought to us by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and the first three of its eight episodes will be arriving on Amazon Prime Video on Friday 26th March, before switching to a weekly episode release. The comic of the same name was created by Kirkman, along with Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, and ran for 144 issues before concluding in February 2018.
The story centres on seventeen-year-old Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun), whose father just happens to be the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (looking exactly like a buff J. Jonah Jameson in a super-suit, actually voiced by J.K. Simmons as well!). Omni-Man originates from the planet Viltrum but came to Earth before marrying Debbie (Sandra Oh) and settling down. Their son Mark is yet to develop similar powers to his father though (super strength, super speed, virtual immortality, and flight), but according to Omni-Man these usually develop before your eighteenth birthday on Viltrum.
Omni-Man isn’t the only superhero on Earth though. The Guardians of the Globe are a team of superheroes, many of which bear a striking resemblance to DCs Justice League (their original comic book lineup was actually based on them) and include Darkwing (based on Batman), War Woman (based on Wonder Woman), Red Rush (based on the Flash) and Aquarius (based on Aquaman). Not only are there an abundance of superheroes in the show, but plenty of supervillains for them all to battle too, with episode one opening with an epic assault on The White House that the Guardians must battle to stop.
The remainder of the first episode is the usual standard superhero introduction, with some familiar teenage angst thrown in, as Mark starts to come to terms with the emergence of his superpowers while being mentored by his father. Mark tries his hand at battling bad guys on his own and decides upon the superhero name of ‘Invincible’, even picking out a costume to match from the local tailor responsible for kitting out superheroes. But hang on, wasn’t this supposed to be an adult show? Episode one nears its end and so far there’s been no sign of any bad language, sex or violence stronger than anything you might see in any other animated superhero show. Well, the final 5 minutes of episode one certainly manage to correct that as an unexpected shock twist (unless you’re a fan of the comics that is) results in an absolute bloodbath of gore and violence, leaving you desperate for more and marking a welcome shift in tone.
I don’t remember the last time I saw a TV series of this kind which didn’t feature SED (Second Episode Drag) – a major dip in pace and excitement following a high concept and jam-packed introductory episode – but thankfully, Invincible doesn’t suffer from any of that. We’re immediately introduced to the Pentagon based Global Defence Agency (GDA) and there are not one but THREE separate city attacks, similar to the New York attack in the first Avengers movie, with aliens arriving through portals and gleefully killing everyone in their path.
Luckily, another group of heroes is on hand to deal with this new threat, the Teen Team (everyone’s fourth favourite superhero team, apparently), who consist of Atom Eve, Rex Splode, Dupli-Kate, and their leader Robot. When Invincible learns that Atom Eve actually attends the same school as him, they strike up a friendship, with Invincible becoming a close ally to the team, much like his father became an ally to the Guardians of the Globe on his arrival at Earth. With so many heroes and villains to juggle, you’d think that Invincible would struggle to do them all justice and remain entertaining, but that’s certainly not the case here. In just the first three episodes that we were treated, some strong foundations have already been laid for the remainder of the season and beyond.
On top of the big-name voice cast already mentioned, Invincible also stars Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Mark Hamill, Walton Goggins and more. Just three episodes in and it’s already proven to be one of the most exciting new shows I’ve seen in a long while. And with 144 issues of comic stories to draw from, I cannot wait to see where this show is heading next.