Invincible Season 1 Review

Invincible Lives Up To The Name

Warning: The first episode ends with a series-defining spoiler discussed below.

Starring: Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Gillian Jacobs, Walton Goggins
Created By: Robert Krikman

Invincible: “You may as well give up. I’m…”

Invincible “It’s About Time (Season 1, Episode 1)

DC and Marvel aren’t the only companies with superhero shows. Invincible features the son of Earth’s greatest hero becoming a superhero just as the Guardians of the Globe die. Now the next generation must step up and prove themselves. But who killed the Guardians?

So does Invincible live up to his name or is he vulnerable? Let’s find out.

The Good

Like Father, Like Son

[Invincible is being sent to fight an alien on the moon]
Invincible:How do I breathe in space?”
Omni-Man:That’s the neat thing! You don’t.”

“Here Goes Nothing” (Season 1, Episode 2)

Many superhero fans have fantasized about becoming a hero. The show’s main character is no different, but he’ll need to be more than a superhero to prevail. He’ll need to be… Invincible.

Mark Grayson is an average high school student aside from his dad being Omni-Man, the local version of Superman. He has spent years waiting for his tardy genetics to give him superpowers and become Invincible when it finally happens.

Despite his pedigree, Invincible quickly learns that he’s in over his head. He doesn’t know how to fight and isn’t prepared for the consequences of superpowered battles. Mark slowly gets the hang of superheroics from lessons with his dad and superpowered classmate Atom Eve.

Mark is goofy and awkward, often chatting with mass-murdering villains or awkwardly attempting de-escalation. He is good-natured and never gives up, which often leads to fighting foes out of his league.

Guardians: The Next Generation of Invincible

Robot: “Welcome, Invincible. My name is Robot. Apologies for Rex Splode. He’s…”
Rex Splode: “Unbelievably awesome.”
Robot: “…Incorrigible.”
Atom Eve: “And rude.”

“Here Goes Nothing” (Season 1, episode 2)

Invincible isn’t the only hero flying around. Many other heroes have stepped up to fill the Guardians’ shoes.

The Teen Team is an alliance of teenage heroes. They are led by Robot, a Spock-like android with advanced technology and a hidden agenda. Rex Splode is the team’s hot-headed artillery, and Dupli-Kate overwhelms their foes with numbers. The Teen Team are pushed into the limelight as the new Guardians and recruit three more members. Monster Girl is a Hulk pastiche who becomes younger after transforming, Black Samson is the only surviving former Guardian, and Shrinking Rae is an Ant-Man parody.

Atom Eve is the female lead. She is an experienced superhero with the ability to manipulate atoms. Atom Eve leaves Teen Team as they’re promoted because of a sex scandal. She bonds with Invincible because he wasn’t part of the team. Eve spends a lot of time debating whether she wants to fight crime or directly use her powers to help others. 

The previous generation isn’t out of the fight yet. Cecil Stedman leads the Global Defense Agency, coordinating superheroes when he’s not investigating the Guardians’ murder. He halfway between Nick Fury and Amanda Waller, benevolent but willing to commit atrocities. There is also Hellboy parody Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown) and Allen (Seth Rogen), a charming but dim-witted alien adventurer.

The Never-Ending Battle of Invincible

Battle Beast:I was promised this world offered worthy opponents! But, oh, how you disappoint. Killing you is an act of mercy.” [caves in Invincible’s chest]
Black Samson:NO!

That Actually Hurt” (Season 1, Episode 5)

Many superhero stories brush aside how much damage fights do. Plenty of villains can destroy a building with a single strike, so what happens when they hit a hero multiple times? Invincible wastes little time before showing the harsh reality.

The first episode is relatively normal. A hulking villain gets shot in the eye, but without much blood. It seems on par with standard superhero fare until the end, when the local Flash stand-in has his head crushed into chunky salsa. The other Guardians are torn limb from limb, their blood staining their headquarters bright red.

The blows keep coming as Invincible faces bigger threats. Many fights leave Mark in the ICU and civilians don’t fare much better, being murdered en masse. The title card reflects this, adding more bloodstains with each episode. 

The murderer creates mountains of corpses by themself. Their kills are often fast and brutal, and a few lean into sadism. The murderer rarely goes out of their way to kill, but won’t blink at genocide if it suits their goals.

Sins of the Father

Omni-Man: [staring down an alien army] “You don’t seem to understand. Earth isn’t yours to conquer.”

“Here Goes Nothing” (Season 1, Episode 2)

Invincible is largely the story of a new generation of heroes trying to live up to their predecessor’s legacy. But while many of Earth’s heroes have died, their greatest champion survives.

Nolan Grayson is a Viltrumite, an alien with Superman-esque powers who travels to less-developed worlds to help uplift them. Arriving on Earth, he became Omni-Man, joined the Guardians of the Globe, and settled down to raise a family. Nolan trains Mark and often dispenses wisdom from years of adventures. He’s the perfect hero for Invincible, except for one small problem.

Omni-Man is the murderer.

Nolan slaughters the Guardians of the Globe to end the first episode. He never says a word as his comrades demand an explanation. Why he killed them is the central mystery of Invincible’s first season.

Omni-Man spends the season trying to hide his crime, split with traditional superheroics and the occasional massacre. J.K. Simmons is on top of his game, easily swapping portrayals of Omni-Man as a jovial parent, regretful murderer, and a legally-distinct version of General Zod.

The Bad

Frozen in Amber

Mark:I tried to tex-
Amber:Am I important to you, Mark?
Mark:Yeah, of course!
Amber:Well, it really doesn’t feel like it.”

“You Look Kinda Dead” (Season 1, Episode 6)

Invincible is a packed show. It splits time between Mark’s nascent heroism, Omni-Man’s cat and mouse game with the investigators, The Guardians attempting to fill their new role, and Atom Eve’s wavering priorities. Sadly, another element hogs the spotlight.

Mark loves Amber, a tough-as-nails, socially conscious classmate. He manages to impress her and they start dating, but he frequently has to miss dates to save people. Amber slowly becomes frustrated with being ghosted, but always returns to Mark after he apologizes.

Amber is meant to deconstruct superhero relationships like Superman and Lois Lane or Spider-Man and Mary Jane. She isn’t the type to sit back and accept being led on because of make-up gifts and often calls Mark out. Unfortunately, viewers see Mark getting the crap kicked out of him to protect others and often regretting missed dates, which shifts the fanbase perception to Amber being selfish.

Mark and Amber’s toxic relationship is interesting, but is given too much story time compared to more relevant plotlines. It is also very repetitive and becomes formulaic.

The Verdict

Despite the time spent on the relationship, Invincible’s first season soared high. The next generation proves themselves worthy of the title “superhero” while Omni-Man takes the throne for best Evil Superman pastiche. Invincible’s first season is worth your time.

Image: Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson) in Invincible. Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

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