Invincible (the TV show of the comic)

So did anyone else check out the first three episodes of Invincible that dropped last Friday on Amazon? After those first three dropped all at once last week it will be one episode/week on Fridays for what I believe is an eight episode first season.

I like it. I read the comic years ago up through around what I think is collected in the first compendium volume (of three). Spoilers for a couple things that had just happened around that time in the comic, for anyone who’s read the series and wants to know what I’m basing my impressions on:

Oliver has just gotten his powers, Invincible has left Cecil and the CIA, just started dating Atom Eve.

The show just prompted me to start re-reading the now-complete series, and I’ve only just gotten back to around where I left off the first time, but that certainly takes me beyond where the first three episodes go, and probably further than the first season will go.

So anyway, the show! First off, the cast is loaded, and almost universally excellent. The only problems are that a lot of the cast is so recognizable it can be distracting (looking at you, Jason Mantzoukas), and a couple people have pointed out that Steven Yeun in the lead doesn’t quite sound like a senior in high school. But J. K. Simmons as Omni-Man is perfect, and I particularly like Zachary Quinto as Robot.

After starting to re-read the series I noticed several changes in these early episodes, but nothing that feels disruptive. Well, maybe Will William being gay right from the start in the show. I think maybe he comes out as gay later in the comic, but in the 1/3 or so of the series that I’ve read that hasn’t come up. That means a couple of the dating subplots might change, but maybe not in a way that significantly affects the big picture.

The show looks great at times, the animation is solid during the action. Sometimes that feels like it’s at expense of some of the slower moments, where it can feel a little static and lack detail, but I’ll be fine with it if whatever the budget is means they can keep this up for however many seasons it takes to cover the whole run.

Last—and maybe I should’ve put this first—my pitch to anyone completely unfamiliar with Invincible: It’s about high school student Mark Grayson, whose father is “Omni-Man”, one of the most powerful superheroes in Earth, and the beginning of his life as a superhero himself. It was published by Image, so it’s not connected to anything Marvel/DC, but the world feels very much like the Marvel universe where you’re tripping over superheroes and supervillains left and right (and it includes plenty of obvious analogs and nods to Marvel and DC characters). A lot of the appeal is the Spider-Man-esque struggle of a teenager trying to balance the pressures of his real life with superheroics.

But an even bigger draw for me was that it was all written by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), so there’s a consistency and focus that the dozens of writers for Marvel or DC can’t match in their worlds. You don’t have to worry about retcons and big changes every time a new writer starts on your favorite character or team. Kind of like when Brian Michael Bendis was writing Ultimate Spider-Man and got to more or less personally rewrite the Marvel universe on his own. Plot details that seem insignificant at the time may have bigger ramifications a dozen issues later, or just make for fun call-backs.

Big caveat, I’ve tried to avoid spoilers for myself so I don’t know if the comic stuck the landing. I hope it did!

Also, while it looks very comic-booky, it may not be suitable for your kids, depending on their threshold for violence. It can get bloody.

I like it, but have to agree with the voice acting. None of them are bad and some are excellent but it can be quite jarring. Atom Eve for example is played by Gillian Jacobs from Community. I like her just fine, but apparently not as Eve.

Supposedly Nicole Byers, from Nailed It!, is in this as two new characters, can’t wait for them to appear. She should definitely bring something to the table.

The comic was ultra violent and this TV series is no different. Super gory. Not a problem for me.

I’ve looked at the comic and watched the first episode of the show, and I think I just don’t “get” it. It’s colorful and animated in a way that reminds me somewhat of the 90s X-Men and Spider-Man, yet it can be surprisingly violent, and I think I find that tonal inconsistency kind of offputting.

I found all of the voice acting to be kind of terrible, actually - it just sounds like actors reading scripts, not really “voice acting.”

All that said, it’s made me intrigued to read the comic.

I can’t explain why the incredibly recognizable J. K. Simmons works for me in his role while the incredibly recognizable Jason Mantzoukas feels distracting in his role, so I get how all of them could be distracting to someone.

I have some feelings about this, mostly negative.

First and foremost, the writing is just…there. Like, there’s nothing clever about the world or the narrative, there’s nothing interesting or distinctive about any of the characters, and the plotting is some of the most egregiously event-driven nonsense I’ve ever encountered even considering the context of capes and spandex and primary colors.

The incredible voice cast is largely wasted due to the aforementioned bad writing and presumably flat direction. Like, Walton Goggins is an absolute joy in everything I’ve ever seen him in, even determinedly joyless productions like The Hateful Eight, where here he’s totally forgettable as White Nick Fury. JK Simmons is JK friggin’ Simmons, and I’ve enjoyed his performances more in network TV commercials. Mark/Invincible is a complete nonentity sleepwalking his way through boring teenager problems.

There have been some bright spots – the whole scene at the end of the first episode hits like a truck, and the CIA underling guy is a great foil to the absurdities around him. Mark’s mom has a little nuance and benefits from probably IMO the strongest voice performance in the show. Robot’s whole situation in episode 3 was interesting, I thought, and the Maulers are overall great.

The action has been weirdly uneven for me. Aside from the obvious, there have been some total duds (the lizard army) and some sweet scenes (especially with the Budget Justice League, and the uh resolution to the lizard army).

I do enjoy the '90s nostalgia methadone that I get from the art style. That part’s all right.

All that said there’s enough here to keep me watching – the bad parts are merely mediocre, the good parts are pretty fun, and my bar for superhero fiction is super low.

I think the heroes tend to emulate DC characters and the villains remind me of Marvel counterparts. My daughter agreed with me at least.

I thought the opposite about Omni and Invincible’s voices. I like them both but I don’t know Omni voice I imagined it different.

This is definitely not a kid show as the gore or even more than the gore the action of producing the gore is very intense (don’t know how to put in a spoiler n iOS to specifically talk about that one scene that comes to mind in the last part of the first episode).

If you just want to see the Spider-Man formula done freshly, this is not it. It’s the generic store brand superhero story whenever it rides along those old rails. The upcoming Ms Marvel show will likely have a much better take on the traditional coming of age superhero tale, unless they completely misunderstand the source material. Her character feels more genuine, and she has cooler powers to boot. (There’s also the recent Into the Spider-Verse, which literally made the Spider-Man formula feel fresh.)

However, if you can make it past the generic store brand superhero schtick that is most of the first episode and huge swaths beyond that, Invincible does subvert that idyllic trope in a promising way. I have no way of telling if QT3’s past praise of the comic was rooted in an absence of competition back then or reflects a lot of payoff for what they’re setting up so far, but my money’s on the latter.

It’s a pretty standard superhero story in some ways (and that’s why I fell off it eventually) but there are a number of ways it’s better than average, IMO, including following up stuff more consistently and just in general the superior focus of a single writer. And there’s definitely some cool story beats and twists.

Yeah, he’s playing his usual over-the-top personality and it’s very jarring. His character is not likeable at all, and I’m not sure why they have him around. He doesn’t seem powerful enough to put up with such an asshole.

The voice works great in Big Mouth, but not so much in this.

Jay in Big Mouth is so great, especially as the series progresses.

He’s awesome in Close Enough as Alex. Also that show is great, watch it.

I liked this a lot.

The end of the first episode is definitely jarring, but in a way that i find interesting. It reminded me of Miracle Man.

What happens if you have a super hero who isn’t totally benevolent? Turns out, some fucked up shit.

Yeah; I wasn’t familiar with the source material, so the end seemed to come out of left field for me; I had just been settling my opinion on the show as “okay-but-seen-it-before with very good voice talent” and then it was “wtf did I just watch?!?”

This was kinda my experience, i liked the story ok, but the end i was WTF, and then proceeded to stay up till midnight binge watching all 4 episodes released. This is a intriguing show, maybe not true to source based on some thoughts here, but I really was surprised where they took this and hooked.

Well this week’s episode was pretty good.

I went into this blind thinking it was geared toward a younger audience, so the ending of the first episode was shocking for several reasons. I expected this to be a show where I watch the first few episodes then forget about it until later when its season is over, but it has enough going on that I watched this week’s episode and plan to do the same for the next.

I agree with most of what has been said here, but I’ll note that I’m very much into the bright color palette the show has. I couldn’t handle another ‘mature’ superhero deconstruction with a desaturated color palette—especially since Amazon already has Th Boys, which I like but it also seems like the last word in that genre—so the bright colors and the fact that it is, for the most part, tonally different than most works like this make it more endearing.

From the last episode, I loved how Mark was way more into spending time with his new girlfriend than going to Mars. It’s a minor thing, but that felt very true to life. I also really like the design of the Martians.

This show is great, and this week’s ep was no exception.

I’m not familiar with the source material. Are the direct parallels to the DC heroes intentional?

Yes, although they’re mostly just fun jokes for the audience, like “haha, these guys are just like the Justice League!” The comic never goes in depth with those parallels or tries to deconstruct them or anything.

The off brand Justice League is pretty common, it’s a quick short hand for readers/viewers and writers often want to tell a story with the JL/Avengers/X-Men that they couldn’t really if they used the actual characters. The Boys, Invincible, Super Mansion, Soon I Will Be Invincible (novel) as well as many others do this.

So this week’s episode continues a strong showing for the series.