REEL Review – Invincible: Season 1 (2021)

Creator: Robert Kirkman | 50mins (episode) | Action, Fantasy, Adventure

After finally getting his powers, Mark Greyson (Steven Yeun) tries to balance his personal life with his new found responsibilities in a world full to the brim with superheroes.

In an age where the superhero genre dominates every inch of film and television we rarely get to see the simplicity of the superhero cartoon era. The joy of watching episodic tales of heroism in the likes of Batman: The Animated Series (1992) and X-Men: The Animated Series (1992) feel lost but luckily for fans of the style, Invincible brings it back with it’s own unique voice. The Robert Kirkman created show is a satire on all things ‘super’, with each character feeling like a purposely ripped-off version of the most famous heroes stapled across popular culture today. In the first scene we meet The Guardians of the Globe, direct ode’s to the Justice League combining to stop an attack against The President. 

The first episode is full of pulpy action and classic comic book characters all being introduced to us including our protagonist, Mark Greyson, who tries to adapt to his new powers as the son of the most powerful man on earth, Omniman. The first 30 minutes or so of the first episode feels like basic fun that never amounts to anything past the mediocrity of what’s come before it, but it’s all a ploy in order for the shock of it’s ending to pay off. Violence isn’t a new thing to come from adult animation, but to lead you into a false sense of PG rated security is a stroke of genius. 

After the initial shock of the first episode’s ending though, Invincible still has the pressure of maintaining six hours of content. Instead of opting for the classic 20-minute structure that so many cartoons have adopted, Kirkman puts faith in his audience by allowing us to rejoice in 50 minute episodes that are able to unpack all kinds of characters and storylines. Although you may have to sift through all the blood and action, there’s genuine challenges to the archaic ideas of the classic superhero at the show’s core, what it would mean to be a hero in this day and age and how any human-super hybrid will be always be flawed no matter how strong they are. 

…everyone’s dedication to both the satirical scenes and the emotional ones allow the show to fight through it’s spoof qualities and emerge as something original. 

Mark Greyson, played by Steven Yeun, is a Peter Parker-esque teen who begins to get powers similar to that of his Father, the already mentioned Omniman. The two major storylines interlocking throughout the series are Mark’s challenge of balancing his youth with his responsibility and his Father’s secret brewing in the background. Both are propped up heroically by numerous characters that all have their own dealings with right and wrong. Invincible has an exceptional way of weaving it’s stories together fluidly through the chaos and what’s even more impressive is the voices it uses to tell them. 

Lending their special powers to such a hefty cast is the likes of J.K. Simmons (Omniman),  Gillian Jacobs (Atom Eve), Sandra Oh (Debbie Greyson) and Zazie Beats (Amber Bennet). Five names, not including the countless other stars that are involved, that all add an extra level of gravitas to a show of epic proportions. It’s not just their names that give Invincible an edge though, it’s the passion of their performance. Simmons and Yeun have a wonderful balance of frailty and stubbornness in their emotional moments, Zachary Quinto (who plays ‘Robot’) has a cold and discernable ring in his voice and everyone’s dedication to both the satirical scenes and the emotional ones allow the show to fight through it’s spoof qualities and emerge as something original. 

Within the first five minutes of the show you’ll feel as though you’ve made your mind up already. But if you stick with Invincible what follows is a throwback to an era you loved as a child while creating something drastically different in the grand scheme of things. Performed to perfection by it’s all-star cast and balanced wonderfully in it’s writing, Invincible is an ultra-violent gem that isn’t afraid to challenge the ideas created in a worn out genre.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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