INVINCIBLE | TV Review

RELEASED: March 25th 2021 – April 30th 2021
DISTRIBUTED BY: Amazon
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Robert Kirkman, Simon Racioppa, David Alpert, Catherine Winder, Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen
WRITTEN BY: Robert Kirkman, Simon Racioppa, Chris Black, Ryan Ridley, Christine Lavaf & Curtis Gwinn
DIRECTED BY: Robert Valley, Paul Furminger & Jeff Allen
MUSIC BY: John Paesano
STARRING: Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Zachary Quinto,  Gillian Jacobs, Jason Mantzoukas, Malese Jow, Grey Griffin, Khary Payton, Ross Marquand, Walton Goggins, Chris Diamantopoulos, Kevin Michael Richardson, Ezra Miller, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Clancy Brown, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Hamill, Mahershala Ali & Seth Rogen

REVIEW: Invincible stars Steven Yeun as Mark Grayson, the son of legendary superhero Omni-man, after his alien powers finally start to kick in. But as Mark juggles his new superhero adventures with the trials of high school, his father’s darkest secret threatens to tear his world apart.

Based on the Image comic of the same name, this series is fascinating because it’s both very loyal to the source material, but also, at times, takes some creative liberties which luckily work out for the best, as the show makes some slight alterations to the main cast of characters, and mixes around the order of the various story arcs (the series ends in the same place as the first volume of the Ultimate Collection, but also takes stories from later collected editions to help build up the stakes and level of suspense).

While the comic is great, it’s fair to say that it takes a few issues to get going. In many ways, the first episode is also like that (which makes sense as they’re both written by Robert Kirkman). The animation seems an odd choice at first, and the dialogue is a bit standard fare and occasionally stilted, but in reality it’s just setting the stage in a very similar way to the comic, and by the end of the episode, the series shows its cards in a way that you’ll know whether or not it’s for you.

By taking the comics big twist from the end of the first story and introducing it as more of an ongoing mystery that plays across the series, Invincible highlights that sometimes, changes in adaptations can be for the best, and the series flows a lot better as a result. With the cat out of the bag, viewers are able to settle into Invincible‘s style of superhero adventures, and the often excessively brutal action sequences that come with them. Make no mistake, despite the colourful costumes and simple designs, this show IS NOT for kids (which, again, makes sense – Kirkman also created The Walking Dead).

Even the tame mid-fight shots feature blood.

Instead, it’s a much more visceral spectacle, that perfectly mixes the charm of, say, early Spider-Man comics, with the world shaking fights of Man of Steel and the shocking imagery of The Boys.

The show does a great job of making these characters feel godlike as they punch each other through buildings and their mere presence causes death and destruction. The stakes they face are often incredibly high, especially compared to the likes of your Marvel and DC movies, and the body count similarly so. And while it can be incredibly grotesque at times, if that’s your sort of thing, it makes for a pretty awesome watch.

These same characters are brought to life by a phenomenal cast, with the likes of Steven Yeun, J. K. Simmons and Sandra Oh leading the charge. Yeun, in particular, does an excellent job, and really sells his characters naivety and the various emotional beats through his vocal performance.

I did think Simmons’ role, by comparison, wasn’t as strong, but I think that’s partly down to the writing presenting him as a less sympathetic and nuanced character than his comic book counterpart, as opposed to a fault with Simmons’ performance.

However, while Omni-man is perhaps less nuanced than he is in the source material, other characters like Mark’s mother (Sandra Oh), his love interest Amber (Zazie Beetz) and his best friend William (Andrew Rannells) all feel like they’ve been improved upon, getting more agency and actually helping move the plot forward more than their counterparts from the early issues.

Alongside a cadre of other colourful and interesting characters, Invincible successfully juggles a host of fascinating and diverse stories in a way that makes it both familiar and quite unlike the majority of superhero film and television available today.

All-in-all, Invincible is a great example of how to adapt a comic book series, and I can’t wait to see the recently greenlit subsequent seasons (and go back and finish the comic). As such, I give it a…

Thanks for reading! How do you like your superheroes – kid-friendly or ultra-violent? Let me know in the comments below!

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