Invincible, Amazon’s animated series based on the comics of the same name, is a punchy, ballsy and unapologetically gruesome addition to the superhero genre. Although the opening episode purposefully gives the impression of being a cheap Justice League knock-off, merged with a high school drama, enduring the initial set-up is worth the effort. A shocking twist ending acts as the show’s statement of intent as it paves the way for what’s to follow.
The premise centres around high-schooler Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), the son of all-powerful, Superman-like saviour Omni-Man (JK Simons). Shortly after his 17th birthday his own powers are awoken, and he’s taken under his father’s wing for a crash course in hero training. Mark takes the mantle of Invincible and is subsequently thrown head-first into the life of a being a superhero. However, the reality is much bleaker than he imagined.
In a similar vein to The Boys (another of Amazon’s mature superhero outings), Invincible is commentary on violence and power, though it takes its influences more seriously. This is achieved by contrasting the show’s ultra-violence with its vibrant animation style, which could trick an unsuspecting viewer into thinking it’s a child-friendly affair. Every spattering of gore catches audiences off-guard as every head-popping blow is felt. This juxtaposition in tone reminds viewers that nobody is invincible – a point that’s emphasised by the increasing amount of blood on the title card for each episode.
In addition to the crunchy action, the dramatic elements are nailed. Underneath the slathering of gore is a surprisingly touching family drama that’s driven by an enticing mystery, which only grows deeper with each episode. Moreover, no plot detail is wasted: every seemingly disposable character or story beat plays some relevance later down the line, which makes for a rewarding viewing experience. As the drama escalates and the truth is revealed, the season finale culminates in an intense and gratifying showdown that hits hard in every meaning.
There are some lines that could have used another take, and it takes itself a little too seriously at times, but none of these comparatively small blemishes are enough to detract from what the creative team has accomplished. The first season may be over, but bigger things are yet to come.
Invincible is released on Amazon Prime Video on 25th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Invincible here: