Spoiler-Free Thoughts On Invincible So Far

Athena ScalziLook, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… an Amazon Prime original animated series about superheroes? Interesting.

I hadn’t heard of Invincible at all until my friend mentioned it, and I was shocked I hadn’t seen anything about it. Me, loving superheroes, immediately watched it. At the time I watched it, the first three episodes were out, and I binged all three in one night (even though it was like one in the morning when I started, and each one is forty-five minutes long).

Funnily enough, after I watched it, I started getting ads for it everywhere. Which I don’t mind, but it is odd. You would think the algorithm would know that I’m already super into it (haha SUPER).

Anyways, there’s only four episodes out right now, so it’s a little soon to be making calls about whether or not it’s a masterpiece or revolutionary or anything like that. However, I wanted to talk about some of the reasons I like it so far and why I think you should give it a try.

To give some context, Invincible is about a high school student named Mark Grayson, who is the son of the world’s greatest superhero. He, however, is a late bloomer coming into his powers. After finally getting them, he becomes a superhero known as Invincible.

Before I discuss the reasons the show itself is good, I wanted to take a minute to address how fantastic the cast is. Just looking at the lineup, you know you’re in for something special. Steven Yuen, J. K. Simmons, Zazie Beets, and Zachary Quinto are just a few of the amazingly talented people involved in this show. So, definitely a promising cast.

What I expected from this show and what I got were two totally different things. I can almost guarantee it will knock you on your ass within the first episode, which is something I can appreciate in a show. You think you have a standard, run of the mill superhero show on your hands, but you don’t know what you’re in for.

It’s fun, it’s colorful, it’s humorous, it’s all the positive things a superhero show should be. But it’s also dark, and mysterious, and more than a little disturbing.

The characters are relatable, and better yet, likeable. Invincible has Superman-like powers, but unlike Superman, he’s more human. I don’t just mean that literally, but in terms of character. He’s a high school kid, struggling with hormones and navigating bullies and crushes, and he can accidentally be a dick sometimes, but is all around a good guy. He’s human. Between Superman’s perfection and Batman’s unyielding brooding and moodiness, humanity is not something you see often in heroes.

On top of that, the secondary characters are so much more than just extras in the main character’s life. They’re more than the best friend that offers one liner advice, and more than the girlfriend that gets captured by a villain and becomes the “damsel in distress.” They’re their own, unique, fleshed out characters that are a lot of fun and have a lot of personality.

Aside from the characters, the fight scenes are pretty enjoyable. I really like the animation style, it’s very much like watching a comic book come to life. Seeing combat in this style is especially interesting. Fighting in comics has always been something I struggle following along with, just because I feel like a lot of the movements and punches can get lost in between the panels. To me, comic fights end up being hard to follow and it’s unclear what’s going on. Invincible does not have this problem, so you get all the pros of the comic style with none of the cons.

So, yes, I think this show is really great so far and I’m really enjoying it. But it’s important to address the issues it has, too. To be clear, this is not an issue that is specific to Invincible, but is something that seems to be an issue in almost all adult animation I see.

Not to be a total stick in the mud or anything, but adult animation consistently has the problem of trying to prove that it is for adults by being overly gratuitous in terms of gore, violence, sex, etc. Adult cartoons always seem to be trying too hard to show it isn’t for kids by putting in shocking amounts of blood and nudity, when it’s not really called for. Don’t get me wrong, I love violence and nudity! But I think there’s a line between tasteful and too much. And adult animation almost always crosses that line in an attempt to show that it is, in fact, adult.

Invincible seems to be guilty of this as well, but only in small doses. It’s not a constant or consistent problem, but it is note-worthy, at least. It’s not raunchy or full of sex or anything, but it can be gory. So much so that I was watching a scene through my fingers in shock and a bit of disgust.

So, aside from Invincible seeming to be afflicted with the usual adult animation curse of being overly graphic in one way or another, it’s really great! I do, in fact, recommend checking it out if you have Prime, since it’s free and whatnot.

I have high hopes for this show and am really looking forward to the rest of the season!

Have you seen it yet? What do you think so far? Who’s your favorite character? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


32 Comments on “Spoiler-Free Thoughts On Invincible So Far”

  1. You seem to have been raised in the DC-verse! Marvel comics were created in the 1960s to address that exact issue. Angst-R-Us. Spidey. Iron man. Doc Strange. Luke Cage. Check ‘em out! Not a Superman or Batman among ‘me! ‘Nuff said.

  2. I think that if you watch it knowing it was written by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, you get more of what you’d expect.

  3. I’m two episodes in. It’s fun to watch an screen adapation of a long-running superhero comic I haven’t read that operates in its own universe I know nothing about. Context-free non-spoilery note, I found the phrasing in Omni-Man’s statement that “This isn’t your planet to conquer” interesting, but that could just be me. And yeah, I had heard the creator of the Invincible comic was that same person who created the Walking Dead comic.

  4. The last 10 minutes of the first episode are what hooked me.

    If you like J. k. Simmons, last summer I watched something on Prime where he was the main character. The show was about a scientist who managed to make another reality, and in 1 place you could cross over. One side was trying to go all terrorist on the other. Simmons was Walter Mitty on one side, and James Bond on the other.

  5. I just watched the first four episodes in the past week, too. Good stuff.

    Sounded familiar, so I looked in my past Humble Comic Bundles. Sure enough, there was the Invincible Compendium containing issues #1-47. It’s also good stuff.

  6. The Invincible comic is just as bloody, perhaps more so, so they are doing a very close adaptation. So far, there’s only a handful of changes that they’ve made.

    The only major differences are Eve’s powers. In the comics, she’s a matter-transmuter, but here she seems to just have strength, flight, blast, and shield powers.

  7. I was a big fan of the Invincible comic that the series was based on, and had been looking forward to the show ever since I heard about it.

    The show did not disappoint. One of the things that made the comic awesome was that it wasn’t afraid to play with and subvert comic book tropes. It also explored the real-world consequences of what the world would be like if there really were super-powered people running around.

    And so far, the show is staying more or less true to the source material. There are some minor differences: characters have been made more diverse, which is fine, and there are some plot elements that are different, but on the whole it’s staying true to the spirit of it.

    I highly recommend the comic, It finished its run awhile back, so you can pick the whole thing up and binge it. Caveat: the comic is just as gory as the show.

  8. Superheroes without so much gore: look for any of the series (2 live action, 1 animated) of The Tick. All of them are hilarious in their own ways, and Patrick Warburton played the big blue arachnid in the first live-action series, so an extra star right there. As an example of the type of dialog you can expect to hear. the Tick telling a villain, “Stop your evil, naughty spawn!!” is typical. Arthur, his reluctant sidekick, is a great foil for Tick’s ultimate do-gooder.

  9. It is sticking very close to the comics in tone, with only a few minor changes plot-wise. The gore you mentioned (if I am thinking of the same bit) was meant to be shocking especially given who was involved – I think the shock definitely carried through to the animated series. But yeah, I watched it with my 18 year old son, and he was going, “Oh my God. OH MY GOD!” at that part. I knew what was coming and was still a bit surprised at the amount of gore.

    I whole-heartedly agree about the voice cast, they are terrific and I also like that the look and feel of the animation evoke the comic as well (which I recommend, it’s great).

  10. I’m enjoying it so far. So, trying to be spoiler free, I like that it seems to have multiple, overlapping “bad things” happening – things that may, or may not, be working in concert. The idea that I’m not sure about this 4 shows in really adds it. After so many years of TV, it’d depressing how often you know how things are going to end 10% into the story. Here, not so much, which is a very, very good thing.

    On the gore issue, I get what you’re saying, but I think that the sometimes over the top is the point. I think they’re trying to say that powers like these, if they existed IRL, would just be amazingly messy. For example, each show, when they show the “Invincible” title, they splash more blood on it. Then again, compared to something like The Boys, it’s positively sedate.

  11. Interesting. My beloved husband reads the comic, so I’ve seen it and chatted with him about it a bit but I too had not heard there was a show. He probably has. Anyway, we do have Prime so perhaps I’ll see if he wants to watch it together.

  12. I remember picking up the comics when they first turned up at my library. It started out as a fun teen-centric superhero story with great characters. The tone felt breezy and light, as though it aimed at kids.

    Then the fights started, and the gore went way beyond what I expected. Way beyond. It took me a while to realize that kids like ultra-violence, too, so of course it was incredibly popular.

    Haven’t seen the show yet.

  13. This is a solid, informative review: one that both makes me want to watch the show and warns me of something with which I might struggle a bit.

    Thanks, Athena.

  14. Definitely enjoying this. The cast is awesome, and it’s been very interesting so far.
    And yeah Counterparts was the Simmons’ show referenced and that was very good.

  15. Why do people care about the gore (or the sex (what sex, but I digress (track that reference)))? It’s obviously animated. If character A cuts out the heart of character B and eats for it “reasons”, is it violence? No. It’s a fricken cartoon. If Character A shoots Character B, and B’s guts slime Character C-F with slime, is it violent? No, it’s an effin cartoon. It’s like me in GTA V (which if memory serves you’ve never played) run over a pedestrian, who cares?

  16. J.K. Simmons is not young, and doesn’t look like a Hollywood leading man, so when I saw he was the hero on “Counterpart” I just had to try it. Excellent series.

  17. Hey Athena, not sure if you would want to know this or not. I think this is not a spoiler: If they follow the comic plotlines eventually they’re going to bring in some of the plotlines that you dislike from other superhero type entertainment.

    So it might be something you enjoy for the first couple seasons and then get annoyed by when that stuff comes in. I dropped out because of that, the ultraviolence, and the comics had some fairly normal sexist stuff that kept bugging me.

    Also, without giving anything away about it. The biggest plot arc had a resolution in the comics that made me go, “Meh, that seems like they wrote themselves into a corner and needed to pull out a solution to prevent the breaking of their comic universe.” Not one of the things that Athena has expressed a dislike for specifically, but it felt like a cheat.

  18. How do you feel about the Harley Quinn cartoon on HBO Max? There’s definitely a bunch of cussing and blood, but I wouldn’t call it gratuitous.

  19. I have been watching a lot of animation during lockdown and two surprising favourites have been Ascendance of a Bookworm and Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi (Inn for Spirits). Both are ‘slice of life’ shows, so no earthshaking battles but fun.

  20. I’m surprised at one commentor here mentioning a moment that turned him off from the comics and would love to know specifically which element it was.
    I’ve loved this series since I bought issue 40 on a whim and bought it monthly for the next 104 issues. Very little of it feel gratuitous, just that all the other superhero stuff people have been watching is unrealistic in terms of consequence and strength. Now, of that’s what you like, a watered down nonsense where everyone survives or the story just resets then, cool but as someone who was bored of all that safety by about 2005, this was exactly what I wanted. This is an intergalactic, multi-dimensional saga that shows long form story-telling at a high level. It also sticks the landing beyond most properties that get this far.
    In conclusion, if you’re protective of your heroes from the big two and enjoy them regurgitating the same old stuff, stick with them, they won’t disappoint. If you want those familiar tropes to be subverted, check it out.

  21. OK, I’ll give it a try. Your complaint about going overboard to prove how adult it is reminds me of the movies of the 70s, each of which apparently had to have a nude scene, regardless of whether it was necessary to the story, because it was the 70s and you had to. I still shudder at seeing much more of a certain actor than I wanted to. Those sunburned-looking freckled skin-tones, ugh. I suppose it could be the subject of another post, if you felt like it, productions of one kind and another jumping onto the current band-wagon.

  22. I personally would say that it has the curse of “adult” animation in that it is strongly targeting at what 13/14 year olds think is grown up. Other than the gore, and the oh-noes the hero didn’t do the heroics trope, it is pretty empty so far.

    And we really gotta stop claiming the idea of Superman-but Evil is in anyway revolutionary. It is a mainstream genre all on its own at this point. Frankly it would be more revolutionary and unexpected to have the Supermanesque hero actually be decent noble and true, that would stand out more.

  23. Yo, cripticmirror. I assume you’ve not read it nor know where it goes? Do you always speak on things about which you know very little? I assume you’re premature in numerous things n life but it’s a shame you’re being so with this saga.

  24. Alan Moore (writer of the Killing Joke, where the Joker finally goes over the line and Batman is finally implied to be just as mad as the Joker) also stated that, retrospectively, he was not so happy about turning the superhero genre into a place where real-life criminality was a thing. I am paraphrasing here, so be warned. Jlanstey, Crypticmirror and James Butlin all seem to have various points of view on this.

  25. What can I say? Maybe it’s ’cause we’re old, but this wasn’t for us. From the opening with NO Secret Service but an open gate and two uninterested guys chatting and waving in anyone who drove up to the White House – particularly unfortunate after last week – my wife just hated it.

    Glad it’s a favorite of yours, anyway.

  26. I purchased the first three Invincible Ultimate Collections as they were published at my local comic store. They collect Invincible #1-#35 plus some other material. The story line that made me stop buying them sight unseen came midway through the third volume. I later tried some more at the local library and decided it was not for me and I stopped reading by somewhere around Invincible #45.

    What I like is Astro City. Why? Because I mostly like brightly colored stories that come out well. There might be danger along the way and we may lose some of the friends we’ve made, but mostly the good guys win. The stories can be complex or tragic, but they’re not heavy on tragedy, horror, or violence. This does not make Invincible bad, it just isn’t for me. Taste needs no justification, be it in entertainment or food.

    Athena has written in the past about the kind of things she likes or dislikes in superhero stuff. It seems like, quite aside from my dislike of tragedy and the violence, that she might not want to get too invested in the series because it will contain some superhero plot devices that she has said she does not like. If the animated series follows the comic books (and we all know that isn’t always a safe bet).

    It was impossible at the time since I was getting them fairly soon after they were published, but I know that I would have liked a heads up about where the comics were going. I would have read something else instead not because they’re bad, but because there are so many other good comics, movies, etc. out there to be entertained by that will be a closer match for my tastes.

  27. And no, I’m not going to say what the element(s) that I did not like were or the ones that Athena has said she does not care for unless she explicitly says that she wants to know. Because she might want to make her own judgement and not be spoiled. Her party, her call.

    Also, while I like spoilers (dish it out, let me know), but most people don’t. I’m going to follow the standard geek etiquette in their blogs.

  28. Dear Jim,

    So, why would you care if it happens in a live film? That’s all fake, too. Not really blood and gore, just fiction.

    Or maybe you don’t.

    But for those of us who get wrapped up in a fiction, whether it movie/TV, animation, or just compelling writing, which shouldn’t it engage our emotions???

    pax \ Ctein

  29. I’ve known Alan Moore since I was 8 as I lived one street over, worked on one of his films and engineered a score for him but even I would struggle to tell you what he thinks about any given subject! I’ve talked to him about how much I enjoyed invincible and why but we never talked about that element, maybe if I ever get back to the studio, I’ll ask him for specifics.

%d bloggers like this: