Invincible – Season 1 Review

I was hesitant to watch Invincible because I’m a bit superhero’d out and couldn’t be bothered with yet another “sort of Justice League” and another over-bloody “mature” take on the genre (from Amazon!) but I eventually gave it a go and really enjoyed myself, in fact to the point where I’m looking forward to the next season! So let’s take a closer look…

Synopsis:

Mark Grayson is a normal teenager, except for the fact that his father, Nolan, is the most powerful superhero on the planet. Shortly after his seventeenth birthday, Mark begins to develop powers of his own and enters into his father’s tutelage.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Your typical high schoolers have a nice chat.

I appreciate Invincible’s tone, it’s constantly self-aware and will play with the genre it finds itself in but never directly go against it. It’s happy to be a superhero property even if it takes a more “realistic” look at injury and civilian casualties. Our titular protagonist, Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun) is naïve but excited to become a hero like his Dad, Nolan Grayson, otherwise known as Omni-Man (voiced to perfection by J.K. Simmons) and spends this season throwing himself head first into alien invasions and mad scientists and often ending up hurt, but happy to be closer to his father. Omni-Man on the other hand reveals his true colours at the end of Episode 1 (to the viewing audience) by slaughtering the entire “Guardians of the Globe” while enduring a lot of damage himself. As he recovers he claims that someone attacked all of them and he only just managed to survive but as the series progresses people begin to suspect him. This was probably my favourite part of the season, seeing the Nick Fury-a-like Cecil (Walton Goggins) and his GDA look into the possibility, and the demon detective known as Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown) spread the possibility to others, including Nolan’s wife / Mark’s mum Debbie (Sandra Oh). The countdown to him just going crazy on everyone was great.

He does eventually reveal to the world who he is and tries to recruit Mark to his side. Apparently his home planet, Viltrum, are in the process of conquering countless worlds by sending their agents to infiltrate and ready them for invasion beforehand, and that’s why he was on Earth. He legitimately fell in love with Debbie and has found himself conflicted when it came to Mark, especially after his time as Invincible had made he want to save Earth from invaders, not welcome them in. Father and son fight, well… father beats the living hell out of son, including ramming him through a bunch of bystanders to show him how weak they are. Eventually in the much-meme’d final confrontation Nolan remembers some good times with his family and looks at the battered remains of Mark and decides to fly off. The Viltrumite invasion is on the cards, but Invincible decides to try to protect the planet regardless…

Your typical high schooler gets his guts mace’d out…

It’s a fun central plot, but there was plenty of fun to be had in the side characters too. Early on Mark encounters the “Teen Team” and hits it off with “Atom Eve”, otherwise known as Samantha Eve (Gillian Jacobs) while also pining after high school friend / eventual girlfriend Amber Bennet (Zazie Beetz) and talking with best friend William Clockwell (Andrew Rannells), so his civilian life is actually enjoyable, if not a little clichéd. Eve’s journey of leaving the superhero life behind her and just using her powers for humanitarian purposes rather proves a point about what heroes can actually do other than fight villains that I oddly never really thought of, and that was fun. Other members of the Teen Team soon become new members of the Guardians after the Episode 1 incident and a great story unfolds with “Robot” (voiced by none other than Zachary Quinto), who starts off as the pure logical character you’d assume, leading both teams as best he can, but we soon see him breaking out the Mauler Twins (Kevin Michael Richardson) who are actually clones and helping them put together a cloning machine. It turns out that Robot isn’t actually a robot but a small deformed man on constant life support who had been controlling Robots from afar, and he uses the cloners to create a new body for himself. While this was going on we see Robot fall for New Guardians member Monster Girl / Amanda (Grey Griffin) so the first thing he does is introduce himself to her, freaking everyone out in the process. It was a good twist.

Plenty of fun action scenes and comic book tropes keep the 8-episode series flying along. A story where Mark / Invincible teams up with street-level hero Titan (Mahershala Ali) to go against criminal Machine Head (Jeffrey Donovan) was good, and saw Mark get his first near-fatal loss and the new Guardians only just come out on top. Titan ended up taking over Machine Head’s empire to use for good… maybe? I also enjoyed an earlier episode that saw an invasion from “Flaxans” from another dimension, if only due to the idea that time was different in their dimension and so they artificially aged and started dying, came back a few days later with new tech to survive but it had actually been many years for them, that sort of thing. Plus a scene where Omni-Man follows them to their home dimension and damn near destroys their entire civilization was a good indicator of what was to come…

The Bad:

Rex Splode manages to make an expressionless robot look fed up with him…

The only real bad I can think of was Rex Sloan, otherwise known as Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas) because his role was to be a complete dick and he plays that role a little TOO well. He cheats on Eve with Dupli-Kate (Malese Jow) (love the names, by the way), constantly brags and treats other people like crap and his powers aren’t even that great yet he went from the Teen Team to the Guardians! The actual Justice League equivalent! Like I said I know this is his intended role but it really got under my skin. At the end he supposedly showed some humility and team unity after seeing Omni-Man’s betrayal but it felt completely unearned in my eyes. It’ll take a lot more character rehab before I don’t hate him…

Other than that though, no complaints. A few episodes were a bit of a non-event, but I think you need to see Invincible do a few more regular Hero things to buy his emotional journey, so no real complaints there…

Overall Thoughts:

“Now now son, don’t make me angry. … No seriously.”

Invincible’s first season was great fun, full of both drama and humour as well as plenty of harmless fun-poking at the Superhero genre as a whole. An impressive voice cast only adds to the show’s quality, and only one character and a few slower episodes stops it from ranking up there with the best. Looking forward to more…

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