We’re enjoying a golden period of superhero shows right. It feels like every other month Disney Plus has a new Marvel series launching, and The CW has released more than half a dozen DC shows over the last few years. Granted, these are of varying quality but people seem to really like Supergirl and Superman & Lois.
Another show based on a comic book that gets a lot of love is The Boys. The first two seasons of the show, and a spin-off animated anthology series, are currently available to view on Amazon Prime Video, and I generally echo the positive sentiment expressed by others. The Boys makes for enjoyable viewing, even if season two was a little spotty in places.
However, earlier this week, while browsing multiple streaming services for something superhero-flavored to watch I stumbled upon Invincible. I recalled hearing some positive things about the show when it debuted last year and decided to give it a shot without doing any further research. To say I was hooked before the first episode even finished would be an understatement.
I’m someone who doesn’t typically like to binge-watch. I enjoy taking my time with a series, generally watching episodes at a slower pace in order to really digest each installment, but with Invincible I breezed through the entire series in just a few days. I couldn’t help myself, this show is just too good.
Invincible is a superb superhero show
Invincible is an eight-part animated show based on the Image Comics series of the same name created by Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead), Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley. Kirkman also serves as showrunner for the series, which definitely shows, while I haven’t personally read the comics from what I've seen readers are particularly pleased with this adaptation.
The show follows Mark Grayson, a seemingly normal teenager. Or at least he would be normal if his father wasn’t the world’s most powerful superhero, Omni-Man. To further complicate Mark’s life, he’s started developing powers of his own and must quickly learn how to use them in the wake of a global crisis.
The series blends together tons of comic book tropes and liberally borrows from a whole load of sources. There’s a little bit of Spider-Man, nods to Superman aplenty, a healthy dose of Kick-Ass (granted, Invincible came first) and a particularly excellent spoof of the Justice League — complete with members such as Darkwing, War Woman and Martian Man.
Sharing DNA with so many other superhero stories could have resulted in Invincible feeling extremely fragmented— or even worse, predictable and played out — but the show still feels remarkably fresh. A big part of this is because Mark (voiced by Steven Yeun) is such a compelling character, but the world he inhabits is equally interesting.
It’s a world where a vengeful alien warlord springing from an interdimensional portal is considered an everyday occurrence. Humanity has adapted, even setting up a government organization that effectively a-lists heroes to help save the world every other day. The show also touches on the toll being an active superhero takes on a person, and the threat that such powerful beings could pose if they were to switch sides and decide to no longer be an ally to the human race.
Another big aspect of Invincible is Mark's complicated relationship with his father, who is expertly voiced by J.K. Simmons. Nolan Grayson, AKA Omni-Man, is the patriarch of the Grayson family and is both a strong father figure and also an aloof mentor to Mark that appears to be hiding dark secrets from his wife and son. The constantly shifting dynamic between the family is probably my favorite part of the show's first season.
As I said, none of the ground Invincible covers is super original, but it’s all done so compellingly that it’s easy to brush off the familiarity. The excellent animation, and brutal violence (something it shares with The Boys), also keep Invinclbe interesting. In fact, the first episode ends with one of the most shockingly violent scenes I’ve ever seen in a superhero show, and it left my mouth literally agape. I challenge you to watch it and not immediately start episode two straight afterward.
If you enjoyed The Boys, I really strongly recommend you give Invincible a watch as well. There’s plenty of connectivity tissue between the two, both have a streak of dark humor running through them. While Invincible definitely treads closer to classic superhero story beats, in my opinion, it’s the superior show overall.
There’s more Invincible to come
Amazon Prime Video (where you can buy one of the 7 best new movies to stream this week) really needs new content if it’s going to keep subscribers like me sticking around. I’ve already written about how I would cancel it service right now if it weren't for Prime perks like free shipping keeping me locked in. However, more content like Invincible would definitely have me booting up Prime Video on a more regular basis (our streaming editor is concerned he's going to cancel HBO Max soon, though).
Thankfully, Amazon announced just last month that Invincible has been renewed for a second and third season. There’s no release date information yet, but while I let Invincible pass me by when its first season debuted in 2021, that definitely won’t be the case when its next batch of episodes hits Prime Video. I can’t wait to catch up with the (mis)adventures of Mark Grayson as soon as possible.
Plus, check out this new Spanish thriller series that has social media abuzz with fan theories. Also, Netflix's new must-watch true crime doc has 88% on Rotten Tomatoes — and it's a chilling story about a disturbing doctor — and action comedy fans should check out a new movie is No. 3 on Netflix's top 10 list.