Invincible (2021)

Attack of the tentacle-faced beastie!
Attack of the tentacle-faced beastie!

17 year old Mark Grayson is the son of Omni-Man, the world’s most powerful superhero. With Mark’s own superpowers emerging, his father decides it’s time to start training his son, who is given a costume and assumes the name Invincible.

You don’t mess with Omni-Man
Invincible confronts Machine Head
Invincible confronts a villain called Machine Head

INVINCIBLE is an animated Netflix series based on Robert Kirkman’s comic of the same name. The world of this show is inhabited by the kind of characters you’d also find in Marvel or DC universes (heroes, secret identities, villains, super teams, robots, alien races, monsters, shadowy organisations, etc), but this series handles things rather differently, with fights that are brutal and often deadly, involving characters who are willing to carry out shockingly terrible things they believe to be the right thing to do.

The demise of many characters is not pretty
The demise of many characters is not pretty

Just a warning that there are going to be spoilers ahead, though the conclusion of the first episode probably lets you know where the story is heading.

The aforementioned episode 1 ending shows us Omni-Man, this story’s Superman analogue (a ‘good’ being from another planet), wiping out the superhero team Guardians of the Globe in an extremely savage manner. From now on you know this isn’t going to be a typical superhero cartoon.

This never happened in Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends!
Off with his head!
Off with his head!

The series progresses with Mark (who is quite Peter Parker-like) trying to juggle life as a teenager, navigating a world of first dates, etc, whilst also taking on the commitments of a superhero. Various characters, meanwhile, try to discover what part Omni-Man played in the massacre of the Guardians of the Globe. These people include the Hellboy-like demon detective Damien Darkblood, scar-faced Director Cecil Stedman (who oversees the secret Global Defense Agency) and even Omni-Man’s wife, Debbie.

Damien Darkblood is a demon detective
Damien Darkblood has his suspicions…

Omni-Man’s motivation will ultimately be revealed when he announces to his son later in the show that he is ‘guarding’ the Earth to prepare it for invasion by his own people, to make it part of the Viltrumite Empire.

In INVINCIBLE a fight between various powered heroes and villains will always result in injury, and often death, with the villains REALLY wanting to kill their adversaries: there’s no pulling of punches or easy wins.

The fights are never pain-free
The fights are never pain-free
Gory action
The action gets, let’s just say, pretty gory…

Where most shows and films feature super-powered battles with very little human collateral damage, INVINCIBLE doesn’t shy away from showing what it’d be like if such conflicts erupted in a heavily populated environment. In episode 2, for instance, a race of extra-dimensional aliens called Flaxans enter a city via portals and many bystanders are cut down by lasers or crushed as the invaders launch their attack.

Superheroes in this show can't save everybody
Superheroes in this show can’t save everybody
A bystander is crushed
Splat!

But definitely the most outrageously pitiless example of this is in the final episode, when Omni-Man shows his son just how little he really thinks of the humans around him by punching Invincible so hard that his son smashes into a Chicago street at such speed loads of civilians are killed. Then Omni-Man follows this up by forcing his son to hover in front of an oncoming tube train, resulting in the bloody deaths of all the passengers, who are smashed apart as the train ploughs into Invincible.

The bloody tube train scene
The bloody tube train scene

The series’ plotting keeps you guessing about the motivations of different characters (such as Robot), there are great set-pieces and there’s a decent amount of emotional impact too. It’s pretty upsetting for Debbie, for instance, when she watches footage of her superhuman husband telling his son that he regards his wife fondly… like a pet.

As this is the Monster Zone blog, let’s look at some of the monsters, aliens and beings that inhabit the show…

The green-faced alien Flaxans are vicious would-be invaders who age quickly on Earth due to the way time flows in their own dimension.

The Flaxans march to war
The Flaxans march to war

There’s a cool-looking, tentacle-headed monster that resembles Cthulhu, which the Global Defense Agency send to attack Omni-Man after he’s revealed to be a bad guy.

It’s angry!

Titan is a super-powered thug who can coat himself in a golem-like stone outer covering.

Titan: a stone-skinned thug with a secret plan…

Reanimen are cyborgs built from corpses by twisted scientist D.A. Sinclair. They are later mass produced by the Global Defense Agency.

One of Sinclair's savage cyborgs
One of Sinclair’s savage cyborgs

Thokk, the Battle Beast, is an extremely powerful lion-headed being who kicks superhero ass and exits if he feels his adversaries are not worth the effort.

Thokk does NOT pull his punches
Thokk does NOT pull his punches

Sequids resemble starfish with external brains and are parasites that Invincible encounters on Mars. These critters, if not kept in check, can rapidly multiply and make whole civilisations their hosts.

Parasitic brain creatures!
Parasitic brain creatures!

The Martians are a race who will do anything to stop the spread of the Sequids, including considering the execution of visiting Earth astronauts.

The Martian Emperor
The Martian Emperor

The muscled, blue-skinned Mauler Twins are not actually twins: one is a brilliant scientist and the other is his clone. The thing is… both of them claim to be the original!

The Mauler Twins are totally ripped and totally blue
The Mauler Twins are totally ripped and totally blue

INVINCIBLE boasts a great voice cast, including J.K Simmons as Omni-Man, Steven Yuen as Invincible, Sandra Oh as Debbie and Mark Hamill as Art Rosenbaum, a superhero suit tailor.

Father/son showdown
Father/son showdown

Check this superhero show out: it’s well-plotted, well-paced, shocking at times and full of interesting characters.

Just in case you need a reminder that this is not a kids show…

gory gif
Yikes!

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