By Juan Calvillo
“Invincible,” is Robert Kirkman’s savage yet smart take on superheroes. It is amazingly fun and story-driven.The series lands on Amazon Prime Video with the intricate plot and graphic violence mirroring the comic book it is based on.
Kirkman, along with co-creator Ryan Ottley, created “Invincible” and published the comic through Image Comics from 2003 until the series ended in 2018.
Amazon has released the first three episodes of the animated show’s first season and it is awesome.
The story for “Invincible” starts out quite simple. The shows protagonist is Mark Grayson the son of Nolan— the world’s most powerful superhero Omni-Man— and Debbie Grayson. Grayson is half-human and half-alien. His father Nolan is from the planet Viltrum.
The origin of Nolan’s people is similar to DC Comics’ Kryptonians. But while Kryptonians gain abilities from a yellow sun, Viltrumites unlock their powers in their early years.
The story goes on to show the trials and tribulations that life throws at a teenager when they gain super powers. He quite quickly settles on the name Invincible.
“Invincible” has enough sub-plots in the first three episodes to carry on until the end of the season. Each of these smaller plots show either the darkside of being a part of the superhero community or the moments where character growth is bound to happen on an emotional level.
While the premise may sound cookie-cutter, it is the layer upon layer that is piled on the show in just the first episode that gives “Invincible” its edge.
Grayson is voiced by Steven Yeun from “The Walking Dead,” another show of Kirkman’s creations. Yeun has a stellar turn as Grayson, he makes sure to infuse his voice acting with both, teenage angst and silliness.
In the first half of the season, Grayson goes through not only the pains that make up young adult-hood like dating, bullies and fitting in, but the character also gets to deal with what it means to have super powers. As Yeun’s character grows from a teen to superpowered Invincible, his acting shows just how emotional superheroes can be.
Nolan, voiced sublimely by veteran actor J.K. Simmons, tries to teach his son that there are things people like them have to do and things they want to do. This is the show’s “with great power, comes great responsibility” speech. Simmons is the perfect actor to voice the role of Nolan. His voice goes from harsh to understanding in the middle of a sentence. Simmons knows just how to emphasize certain words allowing him to be both understanding and threatening all at once.
The real stand-out on the show so far is Walter Goggins as Cecil Stedman. Goggins, from “Justified,” “Vice Principals” and “The Unicorn,” shows exactly why he can be in almost any genre and remain memorable.
Stedman is an older man who is the head of a worldwide organization that helps and fights alongside superheroes. The Marvel cinematic universe has the cool spy in Nick Fury, while the DC extended universe has the hard-as-nails Amanda Waller helping heroes. The “Invisible” universe has Stedman who is grizzled, cranky but ultimately thoughtful and understanding as their superhero connection. Goggins voices the character in that exact way, yelling at underlings one second then being compassionate to a fallen hero’s partner the next.
The rest of the cast on “Invincible” is spectacular as well. Debbie Grayson is voiced by the stellar Sandra Oh. Oh is perfect for the mother who won’t take any guff from a house full of superpowered people. Gillian Jacobs plays Eve, a friend and teammate of Grayson and Invincible. Finally, there is Zachary Quinto who voices Robot. Quinto’s take on Robot is similar to the inflections he used for Spock in the “Star Trek” movies, but just robotic enough to be eerie. It’s this eeriness that makes the character both interesting and unnerving.
The first three episodes show Grayson learning how to be Invincible, his heroic alter-ego. The episodes are well balanced with both positive moments and darker-themed ones. Some of the more captivating scenes come during the first times Grayson flies around as Invincible. The music and movement on screen fills the audience with the feeling of flight. The freedom it must bring to simply move through the air with ease is made real by the fun, light and energetic music.
The animation also does a more than adequate job showing what an actual fight might feel like. The combination of the animation style and music also makes the fight scenes on screen more visceral than what audiences might be used to. While Marvel loves adding in SFX to make a splash in their battles and DC goes more down the somewhat realistic view, “Invincible” takes the cake. The animation, music, and sound effects during fight scenes is incredible. Each punch, kick, and explosion shocks the system. There is a sense of brutality in the battles that is not often seen on-screen, unless of course if the audience is watching a war film. There are blood and broken things a plenty in “Invincible.”
Amazon Prime’s original animated show is a winner in every way. Superb music, animation, voice acting and story pacing make the show a must watch for fans of comic-related media.
It is violent and dark, but it is infused with the morals and kindness of the characters that makes it so interesting and just plain fun to take in.
“Invincible” is rated TV-MA for severe violence and gore, severe frightening and intense scenes and moderate profanity.
It is now streaming its first three episodes on Amazon Prime. A new episode premieres every Friday for an eight-episode first season.