What I'm Watching: Invincible

I'd read a couple years of Invincible when it came out, and some of Robert Kirkman's other comics (The Walking Dead, Tech Jacket, etc); he was throwing things at the wall until one stuck. And now Kirkman's adapted this into an animated series (it would be insane to do live-action), and like TWD taken it mostly down the comic's plot, but there are some differences already; I hope it doesn't become a walking dead series like TWD, 'zon's already renewed it for S2 & S3.

Invincible takes a very slightly variant Superman (no laser eyes or X-ray vision or blowing ice breath), gives him a happy family with a teenage son (voiced by Steven Yeun, Glenn from TWD) just getting his powers, a Justice League (including blatant Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Martian Manhunter ripoffs) he's not exactly part of, a secret agency that monitors superheroes. That all ends abruptly, and very bloodily.

The fight scenes in this are fantastic, very fast-moving, active camera for the most part, and incredibly violent. More violent than you think. You're going to see a lot of internal organs, and often just red everywhere. Superheroes and the things they fight are massive natural disasters that kill thousands or millions of people, up close, and failure is always an option. If that's a problem for you, don't watch this, it only gets more so later.

The character designs are nice and distinctive, the writing and voice acting for everyone… varies from ones they obviously cared about, to wannabes. With some weirdly over-cast, over-written NPCs like the simple tailor (not Garak, but Mark Hamill).

Superman's an equally terrible problem in DC, and the Zak Snyder movies address it, but there's always been at least one villain/hero/President (Lex Luthor) who recognized that and had the tools to fight the alien. There were constraints on his powers. There's no such constraints on Omni-Man, as you soon learn. And there won't be any limits on Invincible, either, when they face him or alternate versions of him.

I know it's a trope, but the inability of anyone to recognize superheroes is incredibly dumb; Invincible, Rexplode, and Eve at least wear trivial little masks, but Omni-Man's face is fully exposed, there's no reason anyone wouldn't instantly recognize him in person or, say, on the dust cover photos in his books. So when characters figure out who Invincible is, it's less "wow they're smart/genre aware/know him really well", and more "how did you not see that 4 episodes ago?!"

There's also a lot of monologue speechifyin', often from trivial NPCs you'll never see again, and I could not care less. The teen romance drama is tedious, but that's sort of plot-related so I can ignore it. Often a good 25% of each episode is fat that could be cut.

The Mars storyline is nonsense, even for superhero space adventures; in the show it's less than 2 weeks there and back. In reality, it takes 9 months to reach Mars, 9 months back, because that's how Hohmann Transfer Orbits work. If Earth was shown having a fancy fusion drive torch, sure, weeks there and back. But they have a long-haul orbit cycler, which you may remember from The Martian (book, not the silly movie).

The college sidequest (that turns out to be more relevant later) has a Justin Roiland cameo. You know, when you see missing posters in a horror or superhero world (same thing), you should pay attention because something bad is happening.

The comic relief is generally good. The Beta Ray Bill stand-in (Seth Rogen) who checks up on Earth, and the Hellboy detective rip-off (Clancy "The Kurgan" Brown!) are amusing. They got Kevin Michael Richardson to play the Mauler clones and Monster Girl's monster voice, and he's funny, but they really should've got Armie Hammer, who played the Winklevii in The Social Network.

It's not the most creative show ever, just Kirkman shitposting on 50 years of DC plot holes, but it's fun enough, if you're into kinda grimdark fun at the expense of people who wear spandex to fly around and punch each other. Vastly, vastly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, vastly better than the live-action misadaptation of The Boys (the comic is still my favorite superhero thing ever, read it all!).

★★★★☆

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