Invincible: A Modern Masterpiece
The Amazon Original animation, based on the comic series of the same name, graced our screens earlier this year, and might I say that the hype I heard online was very much deserved. My taste in super hero fiction tends to sway into the grittier titles more than the mainstream ones, due to the more down-to-earth and personal stories they tell. This series was a joy to watch from start to finish, and to tell you all why, I am going to spoil this show if you haven’t seen it, so get out now if you want to go in blind.
Another disclaimer: I am not talking about this show as an adaptation, as I haven’t read the comics yet, so this is strictly a discussion on season 1 of the animation. With all of that out of the way, let’s get to it.
The first episode alone is one hell of ride. It gives us a good view of the hero squad known as the Guardians of the Globe, which most are obvious nods to heroes from other series’, along with giving us backstory on our main character Mark Grayson, son of the strongest hero: Omni-man. We get to see into their lives as a family unit and the late awakening of Mark’s powers. As soon as we get comfortable with our cast of characters, the episode ends with Omni-man slaughtering the other Guardians of the Globe in cold blood, seeing every gory detail, without any indication as to why it happened. And that’s it, the viewer’s introduction to this world. It’s jarring, disturbing, and absolutely makes you want to watch more.
The story now has to move forward with the audience knowing who killed the Guardians while the cast have to work toward finding out the truth. As the show progresses, we get to watch as Omni-man teaches Mark the ins and outs of his powers, while the world begins to fall apart with a lack of heroes who are strong enough to stop the constant unrest. Despite being called Invincible, Mark never gets out of a fight without a scratch. He’s often hospitalized near death due to biting off more than he can chew while trying to fulfill his dream of saving others like he believes his dad does.
With each episode inching toward the end of the season, we get more clues as to what’s going on with Omni-man and why he did what he did. It turns out, his people are conquerors and he never came to Earth to save it, but rather force its people to submit to the empire he belongs to. This results in a conclusion where Mark is the only person strong enough to even dream of stopping him, since he has the same powers as his father. However, if it wasn’t clear by him ending up in the hospital so much, he doesn’t stand any chance when push comes to shove. He’s beaten near death, heartbroken by learning what his dad is really like and failing to stop him. Having survived hell, now he has to decide if he still wants to be a hero, and that’s where the season ends.
I left plenty out of this summary, and that’s for good reason. While I did want to cover major story beats, I didn’t want to spoil the main reason this show is as good as it is: the characters and their relationships with each other.
The writing in this show is always on point and the actors make it very easy to picture our cast as real people with believable personalities. The relationships between them all are strained as the situation gets worse. Hell, the main hero team that replaces the Guardians barely functions through the majority of this season’s runtime.
I find Mark to be a very compelling protagonist, having to struggle with his responsibilities and how hard being a hero really is. He also doesn’t know how to balance his hero life and his personal life, resulting in him being a bad friend and boyfriend. You want him to succeed, but can still question his bad decisions that a 17-year-old is inexperienced enough to make, like just not talking to his girlfriend and instead hiding the truth from her. These decisions can be hard to watch, but they’re similar to ones we’ve all made in our teen years.
Nolan Grayson (Omni-man) is another interesting character to follow, as you’re never quite sure what he’s thinking. We see him a lot in his interactions with his wife, and some of his older friends. He’s strong enough to end a world and he knows it, which makes his cold, insensitive attitude terrifying, He comes off as a sociopath in much of his scenes, which are only heightened by the detailed animation this show has.
The animation itself adds depth to every scene, no matter how disturbing the content can be. From little facial details, to the truly fantastic fight scenes choreographed with great weight in mind. You can feel every impact and the camerawork adds a sense of hype in every encounter. This is one of the best works of animation I’ve ever seen and can’t wait to see what they do in the next season.
This show also has a good contrast in tone, with most of it being bright and hopeful, much like our protagonist, with tight corridors and depressing industrial tones pulling us down with the darker scenes.
Do you know what else elevates this series? Its banging soundtrack, with songs picked from various artists, which add a sense of excitement when needed, along with some tracks that add more weight to scenes lacking dialogue. Composer John Paesano breathed so much life and thrill into this story and he should absolutely get an award for it.
Everything about this show is a treat and in an industry now full to the brim with super hero fiction, Invincible stands on its own two feet and gives us a personal story about duty, discovering oneself, and overcoming the impossible. Do yourself a favor and give this a watch.