Fresh on the heels of the announcement that Amazon Prime has ordered a second and third season of the show, the streaming service dropped the season 1 finale of Invincible. It was an amazing episode, but it was definitely tough to watch at times.
Based on the Robert Kirkman comic of the same name, INVINCIBLE tells the story of Mark Grayson, a high school student whose father is the world’s greatest protector. Mark begins to get his powers, setting off a tragic series of events that leads to the finale. Mark’s father, Omni-Man, helps him to hone his gifts and the neophyte becomes a hero himself, using the code name Invincible. But as Omni-Man fills Mark in on his origins in the beginning of the season, he’s hiding some very important information: he murdered the members of the Guardians of the Globe, this Earth’s premiere superteam, and is tasked with preparing the world for an alien invasion from his homeworld.
While Mark’s mother and others suspected something nefarious, everything Omni-Man has done over the last few months comes out in the finale. As Omni-Man and Invincible meet to stop a beast sent after Omni-Man by Cecil, the head of the Global Defense Agency, Omni-Man gets pulled into battle with The Immortal, one of the Guardians of the Globe that Omni-Man murdered. Of course it didn’t stick; he is called The Immortal, after all. The Immortal is out for revenge, but Omni-Man is too powerful and rips The Immortal in half in front of his son.
After that happens, it’s just a giant brawl between Omni-Man and Invincible, which goes all over the country.
Actually, it’s not so much a brawl as it is Omni-Man beating the snot out of Invincible, trying to get his son to join him in preparing the world for an invasion from the Viltrumite Empire. Omni-Man explains everything to his son; he was sent to Earth as an advance man for the Viltrumite honor guard. While he met Debbie, Mark’s mom, and fell in love, his commitment to the Empire superseded that, and with his son finally gaining abilities, it was time to fulfill his duties. Invincible, though, wants nothing to do with Omni-Man’s plans. Despite getting the shit kicked out of him across the country, he keeps getting up, trying to talk sense into his father.
All the while, Debbie is watching the fight from the GDC headquarters with Cecil, hearing every terrible thing her husband says.
The battle takes up the bulk of the episode’s 45 minute run time, as Omni-Man finds ways to not only inflict pain on his son but kill other people at the same time. It’s the kind of murderous efficiency that you just don’t see in most supervillains. With every life lost, and every pained look on Mark’s face as he realizes how high the death toll is climbing, the battle gets harder and harder to watch. Having a general idea of how the fight would end thanks to my knowledge of the comic book story helped a bit, though it certainly didn’t blunt the brutality of the battle.
Finally, with Invincible collapsed into a heap in the side of a mountain, Omni-Man prepares to give his son the killing blow if he won’t give in and join him. But Mark’s appeals to his father seem to finally pay off. Omni-Man flashes back to one of Mark’s T-ball games and, in a fit of conflicted grief, flies off planet, leaving Mark battered and beaten.
Kirkman said, in a conversation with Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin on their Fatman Beyond podcast, that the animated series allowed him to revisit the story he had started writing almost 20 years ago and make some changes to tighten up the narrative. While the spirit of the original comic book story is there, the show moved beyond being a direct adaptation right from the first episode. Instead of building up to the reveal of Omni-Man’s betrayal, Invincible ends its first episode with it, leaving the viewer to see how long it would take before Mark – and the world – discovered what the hero was really up to.
The changes Kirkman made truly are for the betterment of the story, and making the whole of the first season about Mark wanting to prove himself to his dad, only to be let down by the man he actually is, worked perfectly. The animation and the voice acting sell the confusion, heartbreak and defeat in all of the show’s main cast as Omni-Man’s true nature is revealed.
Even though the announcement for the second and third seasons wasn’t made official until the week the finale was set to air, it was clear Kirkman was ready for the animated series to continue. The season 1 finale gave viewers glimpses into the threats Invincible would have to face in the near future and teased the idea that Omni-Man – and the Viltrumite Empire – wasn’t done with Earth. While the Grayson family drama may be the most compelling part of the Invincible story, there are a lot more in the 144 issues Kirkman released between 2003 and 2018.
I expect the second season of Invincible to focus more on Mark and his relationships with his friends and other heroes on his world before getting back to challenges from the Viltrumite Empire in season 3. Plus, we should get a lot more brutal fights to go with the top-notch character drama.
I definitely can’t wait to see more!