I Just Watched ‘Invincible’ And You Should Too
Amazon Prime’s animated adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s superhero series soars
I was a fairly faithful reader of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel The Walking Dead for many years until the George Romero-inspired zombie apocalypse book settled into a predictable formula that usually ended with a beloved character dying in a truly horrible, sadistic way.
But I couldn’t make it through two seasons of the hit TV show The Walking Dead. I know it’s wildly popular with fans so it’s my problem. And I’ll admit that the show could have improved over the last, what? Ten years? It’s been on the air for ten years, right? I may attempt to catch up on the series next pandemic.
The graphic novel, at its best, was desolate and lonely and full of zombies. It honored Romero, a filmmaker whose sympathies didn’t always lie with the humans. The TV show was too much doomsday prepper soap opera and not enough cynical horror, really.
But enough about The Walking Dead, because Kirkman’s other bestselling comic book was just adapted by Amazon Prime and, so far, I think it’s great.
The animated series is called Invincible, and it’s based on the long-running comic book of the same name. It’s a pure superhero story about a teen boy who gets his powers from his Superman-like father. This character, named Invincible, is eager to use his super-strength and invulnerability, and ability to fly to help people but has to learn lessons about the real world. Like, with great power comes great corruptibility.
The graphic novel is a love letter of sorts to the Silver Age of comic books which were populated by characters wearing bright colorful costumes fighting equally flamboyant supervillains and going on the occasional intergalactic mission to save the universe. The only difference is between Invincible and the comics that inspired Kirkman is the violence. Invincible is violent. It's ultraviolent. Over-the-top. Heads aren't crushed, they’re pulverized, with eyeballs popping out. Blood-soaked fists punch through chests. The good guys are pulled apart like steamed crabs. I know Amazon Prime’s dark superhero satire The Boys is also for adults only but that show has fun criticizing the superhero genre. Invincible is, literally, The Avengers, with additional action scenes directed by Quentin Tarantino.
The violence isn’t the plot, though. It’s like a crimson red dipping sauce on the side. The main course is Invincible’s moral journey — is he a god or is he a man?
The animation in Invincible is true to the source material, and it’s pretty good for a weekly series. I was worried the animation wasn’t sophisticated enough until we got to the gore and I was wrong — the splatter is well done. But the real work is done by Invincible’s all-star cast, including Steven Yeun, JK Simmons, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Walton Goggins, and voice acting legend Mark Hamill. These voices help the show soar.
There are new episodes every week. I’ll be watching.