Based on the popular comic book series created by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker, Invincible follows the story of Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun), son of the most powerful hero on the planet; Omni-Man (voiced by J.K. Simmons). As he is introduced to the greater world of heroes around him, Mark struggles with his powers and the realization that his father may not be as heroic as he seems.
In the style of the super heroics that has taken over TV lately (The Umbrella Academy, The Boys), Invincible aims to tell a mature story with the kind of visceral action that those shows before it portrayed.
There’s just one problem…it’s an animated show, animated like the kind of fare you’d expect to find on the Cartoon Network.
The first action scene of the premiere does include some blood and gore when the Guardians of the Globe and Omni-Man defend the White House but it is used sparingly and manages to convey the kind of power behind each character’s attacks.
Unfortunately, the shift to more…brutal effects is incredibly jarring, made worse by the animation style.
It’s possible that the show creators intended this effect to play out the way it does now, creating a startling realization of how real things can get when super heroic forces are at play but this feeling isn’t conveyed properly.
Samurai Jack (created by Genndy Tartakovsky) featured a similar shift in its final season as Jack had to contend with and kill human opponents. However, that series managed to include an examination of Jack’s character that prepared the audience for the next time Jack had to shed blood.
Invincible, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be in a spot to have that moment with its audience. It is effectively setting up its world, characters and plot points that will carry on for the rest of the season but the need for this extremely graphic depiction of violence in such fashion isn’t clear.
It could be argued that the bloody gore makes the show grittier and more realistic but that argument holds little water after shows like The Mandalorian proved that such elements can be introduced with the need for over-the-top brutality.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge provides an excellent example of how to mix this level of blood and gore with this kind of animation. Every brutal fight in the movie somehow manages to keep the connection with its art style.
The original comic had an art style that meshed well with its depiction of violence so it’s curious that the series didn’t try for a style that hewed closely to that of its comic counterpart.
Invincible delivers a great story with colorful characters and an amazing world. The action is kinetic fun that is held back by the combination of cartoonish art style and graphic violence but it is still worth your time.