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Invincible

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2021-current). Amazon Studios, Image Comics, Skybound Entertainment. Based on the Comic book by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley. Directed by Jeff Allen, Paul Furminger and Robert Valley. Written by Chris Black, Curtis Gwinn, Robert Kirkman, Christine Lavaf, Simon Racioppa and Ryan Ridley. Voice cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sandra Oh, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Michael Richardson, J. K. Simmons and Steven Yeun. Eight episodes of circa 45 minutes. Colour.

Mark Grayson's (Yeun) mother Debbie (Oh) is from Earth, but her husband and his father, Nolan (Simmons), is Omni-Man – a Superman-like Superhero who is a humanoid Alien from the planet Vitrum. Mark's own Superpowers, similar to his father's, manifest just after his seventeenth birthday: he becomes a superhero, calling himself Invincible – which, so far, is proving an exaggeration. Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Globe, a superhero team not dissimilar to the Justice League, are brutally murdered. The show initially seems be about Mark learning to be a superhero, fighting supervillains; whilst coping with normal teenage problems and the psychological stresses of his new life. This is indeed partially the case ... however, the waters are considerably muddied by the Guardians' murderer being Omni-Man.

Earth's superheroes are supported by the considerable resources and advanced Technology of the Global Defence Agency (GDA); they ask the leader of the Teen Team, Robot (Quinto) – remotely controlled by a misshapen body living in a life-support cylinder – to form the new Guardians of the Globe. Though Invincible does not join the new Guardians, he befriends one member, Atom Eve (Jacobs), who has become disenchanted with the superhero lifestyle.

Villains include the Mauler Twins (Richardson) – when one dies the other Clones themself and downloads their memories (see Identity Transfer); the Flaxans, invaders from another Dimension where time runs at a different speed – Omni-Man responds by nearly wiping out their civilization; whilst the first manned flight to Mars returns with an alien parasite (see Parasitism and Symbiosis). Other plotlines involve Mark's girlfriend breaking up with him – she had realized he was Invincible and was hurt by his lack of trust; Robot using the Mauler Twins' biological skills to clone and copy his mind into a healthy body and Atom Eve deciding to use her powers for humanitarian work.

Matters come to a head when Debbie and the GDA work out Nolan murdered the Guardians: Mark, confused by events, confronts his father – who explains the Vitrumites sent him to weaken the Earth before conquest. Nolan assumes Mark will join him, explaining how inferior humanity will benefit from being part of the (clearly fascistic) Vitrumite empire: he mentions how he loves Debbie, but like a pet. The pair fight, with Mark no match for his father and almost being killed, but Nolan cannot bring himself to finish off his son and flees the solar system.

This is a thrilling, memorable series, interested in character as well as violence and Humour; it embraces the implausibilities of the familiar superhero tropes (see Clichés), but when the cast face the consequences of their actions it cuts deeper than is usual in such shows. Two further seasons have been commissioned. [SP]

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