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‘Invincible’ and not-so-supermen

| Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Claire Reid | The Observer

It’s every rebellious teen’s worst nightmare to turn into their parents, but for Mark Grayson, the protagonist of “Invincible”, his number one fear is being nothing like his dad.

Mark is the son of Omni-Man, the world’s most powerful superhero, and a regular human woman. All his life, Mark has wanted to follow in his superpowered dad’s footsteps and save the world, but at 17 years old, he is still powerless, even though his powers should have already appeared, according to his father.

Never fear, though. Despite being a late bloomer, Mark gets his powers not even halfway through the first episode and can finally start to become just like his dear old dad. Follow along as Mark balances regular teenage drama with his world-saving responsibilities as he becomes the latest, greatest superhero: Invincible!

Sound generic? That’s the point.

Based on the comics by Robert Kirkman, the same man who created “The Walking Dead,” “Invincible” subverts and parodies superhero genre expectations with a lot of tongue-in-cheek references and a lot of violence and gore. The most powerful superhero group in this show is the Guardians of the Globe — an obvious pastiche of the Justice League. The members include unmistakable rip-offs of iconic heroes, such as Wonder Woman, Batman and The Flash. Although Omni-Man isn’t a member of the Guardians, he’s an obvious sendup of Superman, with an alien backstory to match.

The real appeal of this show is how it puts these copies of kid-friendly heroes into tremendously gory situations. Don’t let the candy-colored palette of the animation fool you: this show revels in its violent fight scenes. If you’ve ever wanted to see a member of the Justice League get their face smashed in, this is the show for you.

To balance out the outlandish gore, Mark’s development as a hero provides an emotional core to the show. As the audience learns about the gratuitous violence that entangles the world of superheroes, so does Mark. Although Mark chose the hero moniker “Invincible” for himself, he comes to learn he is anything but. After witnessing unwinnable battles and countless civilian casualties, being a superhero isn’t all Mark thought it would be, and perhaps Omni-Man isn’t exactly the hero Mark has idolized his entire life. It will be interesting to see what this show does with Mark’s disillusionment.

The audience can connect to the struggles of the characters due to the stellar voice acting performances. One of the most notable things about this show is its star-studded cast. Oscar-nominee Steven Yeun voices Mark Grayson, J.K. Simmons voices Omni-Man and Sandra Oh voices Mark’s mother, Debbie. Even the cast of supporting characters includes big-names like Seth Rogan and Mahershala Ali. Yeun brings a lot of heart to Mark Grayson, convincingly conveying Mark’s teenage idealism along with his snark.

Despite all the show’s strengths, there are some glaring issues holding it back. The pacing in the first episode is awkwardly rushed, as the show tries to get through Mark’s hero origin story as quickly as possible, while the next two episodes seem to pad out the content of the episode in order to reach a runtime of 45 minutes. Additionally, the fight scenes are bogged down by CGI that clashes with the rest of the animation.

Only the first three episodes of “Invincible” are out, and they leave a lot of questions I’m excited to see answered in the upcoming episodes.

You can watch the first three episodes of “Invincible” on Amazon Prime, with new episodes premiering on Fridays.


Show: “Invincible” Season 1, Episodes 1-3

Starring: Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh

Favorite Episode: “Here Goes Nothing”

If you like: “The Walking Dead,” “The Boys”

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

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