It seems like in the past 10 to almost 15 years now, comic book intellectual properties have been becoming ever more mainstream and prevalent in the public conscious. While comic books themselves have been steadily declining as far as general engagement, mostly staying in it’s niche as far as it’s audience is concerned, the characters within them have continued to find their way into the hearts of many who watch the television or movie adaptations of these shows. From prime time television shows like Black Lightning, Gotham, Green Arrow, and The Flash, to the immense success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, kicked off by the first Iron Man movie back in 2008, it’s needless to say that these characters have become pop culture icons in ways that arguably exceed their comic book forms. However, when it comes to the more hardcore audiences of these properties, some people may find the usual formula of these stories to be somewhat repetitive at times. They may not hate it necessarily, but they feel, same-y after a while (especially considering we’ve had at least two-three marvel movies drop every year for 12 years now). For some this leads them to curiously go out and seek other comics to engage with to see if they do anything differently. That’s exactly the case with the topic of this post, the 2003 comic turned popular adult animated show, Invincible.
First published back in 2003 through Image Comics, written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, Invincible is a coming of age story set in a universe of super heroes, at first glance similar to some other comic book stories, or even stories from Japanese manga. The story follows a teenage boy named Mark Grayson, who is the son of Debbie Grayson and Nolan Grayson, who is also known as the super hero Omni Man, this universe’s equivalent to Superman. Mark has the luxury (or curse depending on how you look at it if you’ve already seen it) of being both a human and a Viltrumite, the alien species that Nolan belongs to and grew up under before coming to earth and being it’s protector. The beginnings of the show sees Mark finally gaining his super powers from his Viltrumite DNA, which includes the power of flight, super strength, super speed, and enhanced durability. Donning the hero identity of Invincible, Mark meets and goes on missions with many other heroes, learning to balance not only his school and hero life, but his love life as well as we find later in the show.
You’ll notice by the first 13 issues (which make up the first episode of the show) that the art style, vibe, and energy of this show is really vibrant, but there are inklings of things that don’t seem right. This mostly is seen with Omni Man as while he is doing his duty and protecting the people of earth, he is very distant and almost cold when he interacts with his teammates, this Universe’s equivalent of the Justice League/Society, the Guardians of the Globe. This doesn’t stop him however from having an amazing relationship with his wife Debbie, his friend and tailor Arthur (Art) Rosebaum, and his son Mark, teaching him and training him on getting used to his abilities as a hero and as a viltrumite. However, as I said, there is an uneasiness that is felt in increments that finally comes to a head at the very end of Issue 13 (or the end credit scene of the first episode). Invincible is a series that shines based on it’s surprises, plot twists, and story beats so for the sake of any readers who have never seen the show or the comic, I will not spoil anything beyond this moment of the show. What I will say though is that going further, the show really stands out due to it’s violence (lots of it) and more importantly, for it’s overall story make up being a deconstruction of what makes a super hero a super hero. It studies the actions that many heroes in the story take as well as their understandings of the ramifications behind them. It dives into the implications of what a super hero is and conversely, what a super hero isn’t. It is an amazing piece of entertainment and quickly became one of my favorite fictional pieces of all time based on everything that outlined in this post.
Overall, if you’re looking for an action filled, twist ridden, rollercoaster ride of a show that breaks away from the general conventions of a super hero story, then Invincible just might be for you. I’ve personally always found Image comics to be a wonderful source for entertaining media. Ever since it’s founding in 1992 by a talented collective of former writers and illustrators at other established comic books companies, Image has cemented itself as a giant in the comic book space, with properties such as Saga, Savage Dragon, the Walking Dead comics, and more importantly, Spawn. However, Invincible in particular stands out due to it’s story elements, which just so happened to have come from Robert Kirkman’s experience on the Walking Dead. Through this, Invincible manages to amaze many people including myself both in 2003 when super hero comics were becoming rather dry collectively and nowadays when the market has been saturated with MCU movies and Marvel Shows on Disney Plus. If you’d like to experience Invincible for yourself, then you can either read the comics, which you can still buy online or possibly in your local comic book store, or you can watch the first season, which consists of 8 episodes, only on Amazon Prime. Thank you for reading and if you’d like, please share your thoughts on the show or the comic down below. Catch you all later.