Sometimes there’s enormous satisfaction in being wrong about a movie or TV show. To give a much-talked-about bit of viewing a short thrift and soon come to embrace it as a favourite is a journey many fans of beloved properties have gone on. ‘Sticking’ with a show is advice that has been applied to some of the greats. You know the ones I’m talking about. You may have been worn down by Walter White, given the Stark family a second chance, or heaven forbid, finally seen what all the fuss was about with Tony Soprano. For me though, it’s been the brief struggle I had with Mark Grayson and his debut in Amazon’s animated show, Invincible.
Even comparing the latest streaming super-gig and those coveted bits of television might sound criminal, but stick with me. Based on Robert Kirkman’s revered and long since completed story (take that GRRM), the initial three episodes that dropped on the show’s debut, for me, were compelling but uneven. The post-credit shock of its first episode unquestionably left a mark but felt like it took a while to return to the territory it had opened itself up to in the two instalments that followed. Thankfully, the ship was steadied when the show restricted us from binging any more and gave us a weekly instalment. As a result, it dragged this naive viewer across broken rubble, battered and bloodied, to the finale, where I felt sure of two things. Firstly, that Amazon’s Invincible may not just be one of the potential big hitters of television this year but could also be giving us something never before seen in the history of western animation.
Invincible looks like a Saturday morning cartoon but swings with all the ferocity of the bloodiest Game of Thrones episode.
Strip everything away, and this is the standard fare super story of a hero coming into his own. Steven Yuen voices Mark Grayson, a charming high school kid with hopes for the future but battling with the double identity of being the brand new superhero, Invincible. Adding to the pressure is Mark’s father, Nolan, who also happens to be the world’s greatest hero Omni-Man, who teaches him the ways of the world but has secrets of his own that Mark has yet to learn.
On the surface, Robert ‘The Walking Dead‘ Kirkman’s Invincible looks like a Saturday morning cartoon but swings with all the ferocity of the bloodiest Game of Thrones episode. Much like HBO’s flagship show, there’s more to this story than simply good battling evil, as we meet characters that may only appear in one or two episodes that are fascinating all on their own, leaving a patch of land you can’t wait to revisit. The fact that some incredible award-winning talent voices them is a cherry on top, but, these are genuinely complex pieces to a massively intriguing puzzle, whether they be psychotic super-geniuses or demon detectives hot on the trail of a world-changing conspiracy. Every one of them is someone you want to learn more about, if only because of the show’s common urge to wipe them off the playing field in an incredibly bloody fashion.
Besides matching the aforementioned show that took over the world a few years back, Invincible also a fondness for displaying vivid acts of violence with gut-churning originality. Besides the initial episodes wince-inducing post-credit scene, the show progresses in levels of gore that might be revered if they weren’t so grossly unsettling. It’s not just the show’s creativity with claret that makes each injury impactful either. Every super uppercut, jab, or spine-ripping moment comes with the gravitas that affects all parties involved. When characters square off, you feel it on various levels, both in the simmering fear for the person taking the hit and terrified of the opponent inflicting the damage. Without spoiling anything, there is one particular character soaring through this show that has all the presence and complications of Superman and the growing dread of The Terminator. Fans of The Boys will be happy(?) to learn that The Homelander has met his match.
Above all that, though, the real hook is the father and son bond put through its paces for the majority of the show. Steven Yuen and J.K. Simmons deliver incredible performances as Invincible and Omni-Man, respectively, culminating in one of the most epic and engrossing finales you’re going to see all year. It encapsulates everything that this show is doing so wonderfully and will now thankfully have every chance to expand on now the streaming service have confirmed two more seasons. If you’ve been doubtful about watching this because it’s animated, then just give in, take Invincible for the incredible show that it is, and be prepared for a super-sized beatdown. You’ll be so glad you did.