Full disclosure, I had never heard of “Invincible” until prompted to watch it from trusted sources. Despite my overall enjoyment of Robert Kirkman’s work, this one escaped me. The Amazon Prime Video show wasn’t even on my radar, but with a somewhat open Saturday morning I decided to fire it up and see what all the talk was about.
My god, was I unprepared for what the first 3 episodes of “Invincible” had in store. I was not ready, and frankly, I’m better for it. Going in with 0 expectations allowed the show to hit me with all the might of a Superman punch, and I absolutely cannot wait for more. From its stellar voice cast, playful DC/Teen Titans subversions, and brutally violent animation, “Invincible” feels like a Saturday morning cartoon for adults, and ends up filling a void I never even knew I had until now.
[Editor’s note: please be advised while the show starts out rather PG, it does go to pretty violent and adult content before the end of the first episode. So, yes, it’s animated, but maybe not for kids.]
“Invincible” channels countless superhero narratives that precede it, drawing strongly from DC Comics’ Justice League and Teen Titan heroes with a touch of “Sky High” (if it were rated R instead of PG obviously). In short, superheroes and supervillians with powers exist, and after an unexpected and violent turn of events, Mark Grayson sets to follow in his all powerful Superman-esque father Omni-Man’s footsteps and become one of earth’s mightiest protectors. At just 17 years old, Mark not only struggles with following in his father’s footsteps, but also with becoming his own man, proving himself to the world, and yes, high school love triangles. It soon becomes clear that there is a foul plot afoot, and Mark’s world continues to expand into what may prove that he’s not so Invincible after all.
“Invincible” is so cleverly paced and casted it immediately sets itself apart as being one of the best new animated additions to Amazon Prime’s ever growing roster of original content. Even without knowing anything about its source material, it starts strong and ends even stronger, choosing to reel you in with familiar superhero tropes and before you know it, leaves you mouth agape in bewilderment. This show is something borrowed, and something new in the best of ways for both.
You may have seen this all before, but you most certainly haven’t seen it like THIS. The show seamlessly moves from teenage angst to brutal violent superpower beatdowns to geo-political questions of superheroes in the real world to the nuanced examination of the cost of all it. Credit to Jeff Allen (supervising director) who somehow manages to pack all of this into just 3 episodes without under developing one to over develop another. Everything is so beautifully balanced and crafted, and that’s just the storytelling aspect.
The voice cast of “Invincible” reads like an Oscar Nominated best picture. Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh, JK Simmons, Zachary Quinto, Malese Jow, Jason Mantzoukas, Seth Rogen, Lennie James, Gillian Jacobs, Walter Goggins, Zazie Beetz, even Mark Hamill is in this thing. And that’s not even all of the recognizable names that have or are set to make an appearance. Yeun as Mark Grayson embodies all of the charm and self doubt of a teenager saddled with overwhelming expectations and makes for a compelling and relatable protagonist. Mantzoukas as Rex Sloan is dialed down a bit while still channeling his typical, boisterous, naively narcissistic schtick he does so well. This is the most balance performance I’ve seen from him, and that’s speaking as someone with loved him on “The League.” There isn’t a single voice actor that isn’t giving it their all here, named or not and it boy does it show.
Additionally, “Invisible” goes 3 for 3 by sporting some truly impressive animation as well. The visuals are colorful and violent, and bring life to a fully realized world. It has a few tinges of everything, paying homage to classic DC Animated films, a sprinkle of “Heavy Metal” and even some anime favorites like “Dragonball Z.” Much like its narrative framework and impressive voice cast, while the animation may feel familiar, it never feels cheap. It still managers to tell its own visual story, utilizing every facet of its world building that breathes life into “Invincible.” In short, everything looks good. Really good.
After only 3 episodes, this show makes a bold statement as a can’t miss series. There is so much unfolding in such a short time and so much left to uncover you’ll wish the whole series was available already. It is well paced, well casted, and visually stunning, making it a solid entry into the superhero genre. Even if you’re feeling a bit of superhero fatigue (understandably so), “Invincible” is JUST unique enough to feel fresh in an overcrowded medium. Hell, we didn’t even talk about the music and score, which is just as good as the rest of show.
If you were excited for “Invincible,” I believe you won’t be disappointed. If it wasn’t even on your radar, I would bump it to the top of your watch list. With so much promise right out of the gate, I would say that the show may very well be invincible.
I’ll show myself out.
“Invincible” is available to stream now, only on Amazon Prime Video.