Invincible – The Non Comic Reader’s Review

Dept. of Animated Adaptations


Until today, and despite many offers, discounts and humble bundle offers, I’d never read a single issue of Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker’s Invincible (I’ve had the first two volumes sitting in my humble account since 2015! Ooops!). I had a rough idea of the series’ high concept, which I will not be going into here, just in case you want to go in cold (and you should), but I’d heard what it was about and more importantly, that it was good.

After experiencing the first three episodes of the animated series and the first 13 issues of the comics (which are available free to prime/kindle unlimited customers) it’s clear the TV show executes that core concept just as finely as the comic did, while taking full advantage of the change in format.


As you might expect from Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead), Invincible the comic and Invincible the TV show, are two very different beasts, while still being apples from the same tree. Just like Mark Grayson, a “normal” 17 year old, who hasn’t fallen too far from his own family tree. Mark is the son of Omni-Man, a strange visitor from another world and mustachioed superman analog in the non-Image comics infringing world of the animated series.

Mark’s known about his dad’s powers for some time, along with the fact that he should develop superpowers too when he enters puberty, right as the show begins. So far this might sound like the set-up for your standard superhero origin/coming of age story but there’s more going on in Invincible.

Holding Out for a Hero

As Mark slowly comes to grips with his powers and his place in a world that seems to be constantly under threat from aliens, kaijus, and super-villains, the most prominent super hero team is murdered in an absolutely horrific manner at the end of the first episode. This isn’t a murder mystery. The show makes very clear “who” did it. The more important “why” is left to be discovered.

The way this is handled is one of the biggest changes from the comics. In adapting the comic for TV, Kirkman, director Jeff Allen, and the production team have taken full advantage of the change in medium, even if the transition from comic book to animated series might not seem like such a big one.


Some characters are introduced earlier than they were in the comics, increasing their impact. Some storylines that work as two pages of a monthly comic are jettisoned completely (although they may return later), and I assume that some of the developments towards the end of the third episode are taken from later comics too, as I’ve not come across them in my reading.

While it’s an approach that may infuriate some hardcore fans, it does mean that there are still plenty of surprises to be had for fans of the comics. The school bomb plot is gone, there’s a lot more diversity on show, and Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown) is now based more on Hellboy than Watchmen’s Rorschach. While there are plenty changes, some scenes however are almost identical to their comics counterparts.

Moving Pictures

Another big change is the just seeing the brightly colored world of Invincible in motion. A comic splash page can suggest Mark’s joy as he flies through the air, but here you are right there with him. There are plenty of other small details that could only work in TV. The way that the title card is revealed in each episode. Debbie Grayson absentmindedly steadying a wine glass after it’s been disturbed by her husband entering the room at super speed. The slice of life vignettes with John Hamm’s security guard, Steve, that seem to have only the tiniest of connections to the main plot.

Invincible is great superhero TV.

Hamm’s character brings up another point: the voice cast is superb! J.K. Simmons is great in everything he does, obviously, but his voice perfectly conveys the authority of Omni-Man as well as the fatherly care of Nolan Grayson. Steven Yuen, despite nearly being in his forties, nails teenage Mark, while Sandra Oh is terrific as his human mother Debbie, who’s slowly losing Mark to the world of the superhuman. At one point the show begins to feel as if it was recorded during a break on The Walking Dead, with Sonequa Martin-Green, Ross Marquand, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James, Khary Payton, and Chad L. Coleman all turning up. Add in appearances from Walton Goggins, Mark Hamill, and Seth Rogen, that manage not to feel showy, and you have an almost perfect voice cast.

What Lies Beneath

So yet another great superhero story comes to TV on a weekly schedule, but before you sit down the while family to watch, be warned: this show earns it’s 18+ rating. Despite the bright, always sunny feel of it’s world, Invincible never shies away from the “reality” of a world constantly under threat. Innocent bystanders get get absolutely shredded during repeated alien invasions. The depiction of the murders that cap the first episode seem to delight in the brutality as human forms are twisted, and beaten, and squeezed out of all recognition. Do not watch Invincible with kids in the room. It maybe cartoon gore and violence but that seems to make it all more disturbing somehow.


This can leave a slight feeling of whiplash as Invincible moves from bloody slaughter to awkward teen interactions within minutes, but this is probably a side effect of compressing however many issues they plan to cover into this 8 episode series. Then again, if the violence hadn’t been so over the top gruesome it wouldn’t have been so noticeable.

Unlike say Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, Invincible is a great way on how to adapt a comic book for the screen. Rather than try and recreate comic panels on your TV, the showrunners have taken their story and molded it into a form that takes full advantages of the strengths of serialized TV.

More than just The Boys… for kids, I’m happily adding the weekly installments of Invincible to my Friday Superhero schedule, along with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

The first three episodes of Invincible are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and the first three collections of the Invincible comic book are available to Amazon Prime Members.

New episodes drop on Amazon Prime Video every Friday. 

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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