Caila went to Meremac-STL for journalism and has been writing for most of her life.
From the Comics to On the Screen!
I have heard about this show ever since it premiered on Amazon Prime! Everyone said to watch it and I saw nothing but good things about it so far. Never hearing of the comic, of the same name, I went in completely blind to what the show was about. I just saw that it was about superheroes, it was animated, and it looked fun! The style of animation it is bright, bubbly and seems like something that would be on Nickelodeon or another cartoon show channel. However, this is not your average superhero show. There is so much that doesn't meet the eye with this show that doesn't come to the forefront at first. Although the animation and the beautiful colors deceive the eyes and seem like this could be a kid's show, this is not something for children at all. It is really a beautiful teen/teen adult/adult animation show that dives into different realms of genre for everyone watching! From teen drama, to the superhero genre, to a coming of age story, love story, and great action, this "cartoon" has it all!
Charm and Appeal!
The show follows Mark Grayson on his journey to become the latest and greatest superhero, Invincible, while he also follows in the footsteps of his father, Nolan, who is Earth's greatest superhero, Omni-Man! We learn that Mark is half Viltrumite, a race of people that can fly, have super strength and super speed, and that he has not gained his powers just yet. He's kind of a nerd in high school (but still cute enough to receive attention), has a great family (a really cool superhero father and a real estate agent mother who is supportive and cool), he's funny, but desperate to get his powers soon, and is also entering the dating world with a girl named Amber. You really like Mark and feel for him! Typical teenaged cartoon superhero show, no? Initially, you are very charmed by the Earth that this show has created where everyone is used to superheroes, super villains and crazy events that happen every other day. Although they don't explain where all of these heroes and villains come from, it still finds a way to immerse you into the world of it all. The show balances the superhero content with the teen drama very well.
The first episode leads you to believe that this is a wholesome show, honestly! While we see violence happen, but it is nothing out of the ordinary for a superhero medium. By the end of the first episode, you're drenched in blood through your TV screen, you don't even know why, and you feel betrayed by the story and the character! It takes an immediate turn and drags you into the next episode and the show only gets better and better. The show gains little quirks, almost as if it is coming of age also, as Mark is coming of age and into his powers. The title card gets bloodier and bloodier each episode as the plot unfolds, the dialogue gets funnier, and it does not stop for a single beat! I love things like that because it feels like it adds layers to the story, even if just a little bit. Very first episode we are introduced to this world's Justice League, which is almost laughable at first because it is a complete and utter ripoff of the characters that everyone knows and loves, with very minor details being changed in each hero for copyright purposes, I'm sure. However funny it was when you see them appear in the show, it soon becomes very serious and bloody!
The Plot Thickens.....
This show can be looked at as a satire of superhero movies and tv shows by its blatant rip-offs of other characters and the superhero genre tropes, but it also does it's own thing and I love that! By the end of the first episode, we see that Omni-Man is a big deal! He helps where he's needed, alongside the Guardians of the Globe (discount Justice League), but he is not apart of their team and does not want to be either, as Cecil Stedman has tried to get him to be for as long as Omni-Man has been on Earth. He could outdo them at just about anything as he helps clean up their messes during battle. We see that he is a little bit smug with them, but I was not prepared for the end of the episode!
Omni-Man calls in all of the Guardians into their own headquarters and kills them all. Not just kills them, but he SLAUGHTERS them all!!! Every single one of them dies in the most horrific ways possible. The Guardians believe that Nolan might be being controlled by something but they choose their lives over his and attack full out and rough him up, which in hindsight was probably Omni-Man's plan all along, but the entire team altogether is no match for him. He kills each of the Guardians before passing out into a coma onto their floor beside them for the Global Defense Agency and Cecil to find them all. It is a powerful and shocking scene to end the very first episode of the show! Your mouth is on the floor at the stunning violence, the plot twist and change in direction, and the title card begins to get bloody! As a first time viewer, this scene alone pulled me in for two more episodes that night because all I wanted to know was why that happened. It was brilliant!
Drama in Between!
It can't be gory all of the time, so we head back into Mark's story! Before the massacre at Guardians Headquarters, we had a coming of age story there, didn't we? Mark is learning to better his newly found superpowers and is training with his dad! These moments are really heartwarming and touching between his father and him, even though we see small hints that something is off with Nolan. It really is such a twist when we finally get to see Omni-Man in his full strength killing everyone. Mark is coming into his powers and trying to be a superhero on his own after his father is put into the GDA hospital. He vows to become the next hero and tries to fight crime while his father is in the hospital recovering, but he still isn't any good at it. From here we are introduced to new characters like Amber and Atom Eve and the Teen Team.
Eve, who also goes to Mark's high school and is also a superhero named Atom Eve, helps him during a battle with an alien army called the Flaxans, learns that he is Invincible and that he could use some grooming for the job. She embraces him as a friend and introduces him to the Teen Team (a rip-off of the Teen Titans, really, but they're awesome). Mark is approached by a few people who help him make decisions toward his career as a superhero as he's clearly overwhelmed by trying to do it all immediately. This part of the story is very interesting and you feel compassion for Mark because he's so young and has the world at his fingertips, but is getting pulled by the many aspects of life right now. He doesn't know about superhero things, school, love or anything, and his life is only getting more frustrating as different problems arise.
He jumps into a relationship with Amber, a young girl who is very sassy, outspoken, and extroverted, but she soon finds issues with everything in their relationship. Mark is constantly late or stands her up for dates they've planned, and she is angry with him but still curious as to what is going on and still has feelings for him. Any girl would be, really, with hot and cold feelings like that, but she presses him about if he cares about her or not. Almost every episode and it comes across as nagging to the viewer because we know what Mark is going through and everything that he is trying to balance in his life. The show simply throws Mark and us in the middle of their relationship and I got just as stressed as Mark was! Teenage drama!
By now, Omni-Man is out of the hospital and back with his family at home, defending his innocence. He claims that he was attacked along with the Guardians by an unknown assailant in the dark. Cecil does not believe him, nor does a demon from Hell named Dark Blood, who is also working the case of the dead Guardians and coming to conclusions quickly. What makes things even more crazy is that right after he awakens, Omni-Man is tasked with speaking at the funerals for the Guardians and does it without issue, but things still get more tense for him afterwards trying to cover up his tracks. His wife, Debbie, is starting to become suspicious after one of the Guardian's wives tells her that she thinks someone is covering up the deaths of the team. Dark Blood also comes to Nolan, Deborah, and Mark's home to check things out for himself and ask her questions, which makes her even more suspicious of her husband and his actions since he got out of the hospital and back home.
I like Debbie's character a lot in this show! She is such a good mother. She is very supportive, but not blindly. She helps where she can as a human to relate to her son and to keep him grounded (literally sometimes). Once she catches wind of the conspiracy to hide the deaths of the Guardians of the Globe, she immediately starts to look into it. Debbie also gains a bit of a drinking habit throughout the show due to all of the stress she and her family are going through. She really is the heart of the family and helps to shape their dynamic so well when things are going well! Now outnumbered in the house by superheroes and feeling a bit alone now, and it is time for her to stay strong. You can feel Deborah's love for her son, her husband, and their lives together. She really is the mom you want to have! It's cool to be normal, Debbie! Keep being yourself!
What's Really Going On?
When the Flaxans return for a third time within a few days attacking the city with even more new equipment and technology, that is where Omni-Man steps back in and is sick of them. We are reintroduced to his dark side again and this is where the show shines, I believe! The violence, the deaths, the animations, and the art style are some of the best things about this show! It is another massacre. He follows them back to their home world through a worm hole since they couldn't understand the first two messages when they were sent back to their planet. We get THE MOST EPIC scene in orange, red and black, of Omni-Man just ripping through their entire planet. THIS is what we need! We see him at full power, going crazy! The way it is shot with the colors and the way he is speeding through their planet like a nuclear heat seeking missile or a series of bombs just continuously going off with the music in the background is gorgeous! It is scarily gorgeous and it is scenes like this one and the massacre in the first episode that ramp Invincible as a whole into a different category than other superhero shows or movies and puts it in a class of its own.
With the subplot of Debbie figuring things out for herself is very interesting! She is so strong without losing a mother's charm and femininity. She ends up eventually having a drinking problem as her husband continually lying to her and talking her out of her suspicions every time she brings it up. And boy, can he talk her down with smooth moves and diversion of conversation. Throughout the middle of the season, Omni-Man's personality becomes more and more insufferable, especially around his family. What's even scarier is that we, as the viewers, still do not know why! This puts us on edge for his family and friends he comes across.
The plethora of villains and enemies that Invincible comes across makes this season what it is as well. A hero is only as good as its villain, so they say. So Invincible has a lot to overcome throughout the story! My favorites are the Flaxan Army attacks and the fight with Battle Beast, who gives Invincible his first REAL ass whooping as a superhero. He is completely broken down, as is the new Guardians of the Globe (mostly comprised of Teen Team members) in battle and almost killed. During this scene, we are really made to feel the pain with how much these heroes endure physically. The beatings FEEL and SOUND realistic! The attack made the subplots for Atom Eve, Robot, and Monster Girl even better and more intriguing to the storyline as a whole, as it ramped up the stakes. After this fight, every interaction that Nolan has with anyone is very nerve wrecking. You get the feeling that his whole world is crashing in around him and we still know nothing. It's getting tense!
The Beating of a Lifetime!
When Debbie finally has enough suspicions and evidence to bring it to Nolan, she does, while drunk off wine. Everything changes! She confronts her husband about killing the Guardians, which is very brave on her part because she's talking to the strongest and most powerful man on Earth, cursing him out, and kicking him out of their home! It is so intense! I think this is the point of no return for Nolan. His wife is turning on him, he has betrayed Earth, Cecil is on his ass, and his son still knows nothing and he needs to get to him before anyone else can. Omni-Man has a moment to himself on Mount Everest where he is practicing his speech to tell his son what is really going on. It is a rare moment we get inside the mind of Nolan as a character and is very effective to make you feel something for the conflict he is going through. He's trying to make himself feel like he is in the right for what he's done and get Mark into the same mindset as him, although we still do not know what that mindset is yet still.
Drawing the season to a close, Omni-Man is terrifying! He is confronting everyone in his path to find Mark and doesn't care whether you know he is Nolan or his superhero alter-ego. Cecil has already figured out that Nolan was the killer of the Guardians. He just doesn't know why. He does everything in his power to try to slow down Nolan from finding Invincible and warping the truth in his mind. Cecil is not a character that you like at first in the show, as he seems so heartless, but you really end up feeling for his character in the final two episodes! It sucks to be that person that isn't the bad guy but is looked at as being the bad guy simply because they're doing their job.
By the time the Immortal (one of the members of the OG Guardians) comes back, you just feel terrible for everyone involved in this situation! Everyone in the world is in a state of confusion, shock, and everything is crumbling around all, as Omni-Man kills The Immortal on live TV in front of the world. He then tells Mark, who is in disbelief, about Viltrum and how his planet is actually trying to unite the universe under Viltrum to lead them all and take all planets over. To expand their horizons of the galaxy. Hearing about how Viltrum actually is hits heavy! You just knew the entire time something was wrong with the stories that Nolan has been telling his wife and son, you just didn't know what. They're Space Nazis, really. Omni-Man tells his son how Viltrumites age and how Mark will be left alone after hundreds of years of being alive and how his love for humanity is weakening him for his true purpose. This hurts and is another conflict for Mark to overcome as a character one day. When his father says he only loves Debbie as a pet, it hurt my feelings bad!
He needlessly hurls insults at Mark about himself, his mother, and the people of Earth all while beating him up because Mark will not give in to being a Viltrumite that takes over Earth one day. Omni-Man goes out of his way to show Mark a lesson about humanity and what is the inevitable in his mind by using Mark to kill thousands of people in Chicago via his body. Mark sadly learns he cannot save everyone and that his father is RUTHLESS!!! The way Omni-Man kills people and harms Mark in the final episode is a full blown gore fest! It is SO insane, fully equipped with a-hole insults and comments.
By the end of their fight, you almost wish Mark would just give in to what his dad is telling him just so he can stop killing people and beating him so badly. You are in physical pain with every punch thrown by Nolan at his son's face. He is so tired from fighting at the end and he is no longer on either side (Earth or Viltrum) that he just lies down and reminisces on past times when Mark was a child. He seems just as confused and troubled as everyone else, as his son pleads to his human side that he's learned over the past 20 years on Earth. Nolan's heartbreaking words do not break Mark's spirit of love for his mother, father, and human life and it is very inspiring and painful to watch all at once. Nolan leaves the planet and our final shot of Mark talking to a friendly alien on the moon about everything is the last we see of the season. It is an extremely good cliff hanger to leave off on for the next season to pick up on.
Characters and What Works
The characters in this show are something else that turns this show up a notch! There is a lot of diversity and good representation in characters. They all have something to do in the show and aren't just used as background fodder as much. Every character has some sort of quality about them that you either really like or you really hate and that is what makes them all endearing even when you're supposed to hate them. Mark is a typical teenaged boy going through the motions. Nolan is a good dad until he's not and even when he's not being a good dad, you still find things to like about him, whether it be his asshole comments or the way his smugness that he hides behind his red cape! Deborah is such a good character to the show! She really provides a lot of the heart and compassion of the series. Atom Eve has become one of the stories that I really want to follow in the next season with her family and boyfriend drama! I think she will have an even bigger role in the next season as well as a future romance with Mark (I ship them and I do not care).
There was one character that I did not like, as I am sure that a lot of the audience did not like. That character is Amber, Mark's love interest of the season. At first, you think that she is simply a strong love interest, which she is, and which I thought as a bit forced because it didn't seem like they like each other at first and just needed to happen for the sake of having an extra factor of a problem for Mark. She becomes a lot of the stress that Mark ends up having for no reason for the show's run. Amber comes off as a secure woman who has a mind of her own. At the middle of the season, she is very clingy, wants all of Mark's time, knows he's a superhero, and still has a problem with his time management! It's very annoying of her character and completely changes how she is viewed as a character. I really hope that she's either X'd out or gets a better character arc in the next season because she was just a drag to me for most of the time! Needless teenaged conflict.
My Final Thoughts
The mix of commonalities with real world people and real world problems mixed with the extremities of superhero stories is seamless and is perfect! The show excels at combining cartoon-y visuals, insane violence, good storylines, and heaping amounts of tension! This show might not be for kids, but I suggest to any adult to watch this show if you can get past the fact that it's a cartoon. It is very exciting and keeps you sucked in every episode! Even the filler is interesting and has a point to it. The villains are coming back next season and Mark has even more to think about next season. College, his relationship, the superhero thing, the effects on him and the people from his fight with Omni-Man, and his relationship with his father, in general, now that he's gone. I do not think we will see much of Omni-Man in the next season, as he probably has more important things to consider as well now too after his actions of killing hundreds, maybe thousands, almost killing his child, and completely turning his back on Earth. I think we'll see him again a little bit or by the end of the second season. Mostly everything works for this show and in its favor! It has already been green-lit for a second and third season and I could not be more excited about that! I cannot wait until the next season premieres and I just hope that it is just as good as its predecessor. It's just an all around good show! It's so good that I feel like I don't have ENOUGH good things to say about it.