Spoilers Ahead, I said what I said.
Amazon dropped three episodes of Robert Kirkman’s (The Walking Dead) Superhero comic turned animated series, Invincible. The story isn’t as straightforward as it looks. By the end of the first episode, you are aware you are not watching your typical coming of age superhero story. There’s a huge twist that comes a lot sooner in the animated series than the comic book. The Guardians Of The Globe’s brief introduction was followed shortly by their brutal murders committed by Omni-man/Nolan Grayson (J.K. Simmons), father of the main character, Invincible/Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun). This twist comes as a huge surprise to both fans of the show and the comics. OG fans didn’t expect it so soon, and new fans just didn’t expect it at all. It’s shocking and absolutely amazing to see the series just get right into the meat of the story. As someone who has read the comic books, I welcomed the change in pacing. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed many of the other adjustments to the story.
Comic book fans love to complain about keeping stories close to the source material. Still, Marvel and DC films have been doing their own thing; expecting things to follow the book ain’t realistic. Somethings simply don’t translate as well, and in other cases, things need to be adjusted for the modern palette. Invincible doesn’t have a vast well of history like Spider-Man or Batman, but it still is a product of its time.
Kirkman wrote the two first arcs of Invincible nearly 17 years ago. It was a different time, and he was a younger writer. He can take his years of knowledge and experiences and put them to work here. Mark is a little different, a little more reserved initially. We get to know more about him as a person before he gets his powers. When his classmate is being harassed in the show, he doesn’t have powers, yet he steps in. He gets beaten up for it, but it shows his good moral character. Later on, he has his powers, and he gets a chance to get even, and instead, he lets the bully take his shots and doesn’t retaliate.
In the comics, Mark is a lot more eager to use his powers to his benefit. He gets his powers 10 pages into the first issue, and he is ready to use them. When the bully picks on another kid, he is quick to take advantage of his newfound strength. Mark is a lot cockier, and honestly, just a little unlikable, especially when he talks back to his mother. The slower pacing in the animated series allows Mark’s character to develop in a better direction, and it honestly makes more sense.
There were two potentially significant issues with Invincible‘s original pacing. Reason one, it wouldn’t hook people in the first episode because the story is prolonged and purposely generic. The big twist at the end happens in Invincible #7. Invincible was a monthly release, so from the first to the seventh issue, it was seven months before we had any idea what was in store. Comic book fans have a lot more patience than TV viewers. There’s a definite reason why Amazon drops the first three episodes before switching to a week-by-week release schedule. We binge-watch everything now. If a new show doesn’t drop its entire series on the same day, chances are it might fly under the radar as people quickly move on to re-watching The Office for the 20th time. To keep the fans interested and eager to get the following episodes, they needed to drive the point home. This is more than a story of a boy with superpowers. This is more than your typical superhero story.
Reason two is because people can’t help but spoil things; I couldn’t wait to tell my friends to watch Invincible. I practically wanted to say to them why as soon as I saw the first trailer drop. Robert Kirkman said it best, “By moving that event up–in the comic book series, it happens much later and there isn’t this sense of, ‘Oh my gosh, when are people going to find out? And what are they going to do when they find out?’ Because everything just kind of rolls from there.”
Everyone was taken aback by the brutal ending of the first episode, which takes the shocking conclusion in Invincible #7 and just pushes it to a whole new level. Why did Omni-man take out the Guardians of the Globe? New fans aren’t quite sure yet, but the battle shows that the Guardians were a substantial potential threat to him. The struggle in their four-minute showdown was ruthless and more gruesome than what we got in the issue’s original climax. Initially, Omni-man ends the team within two pages. That’s it. Seriously.
And after all that, this is still just the tip of the iceberg. I know those who read the comic books are still holding their breath because there’s so much more to come. However, now we aren’t sure how we are gonna get it. It’s a whole new experience for everyone on board with the show. It’s gonna be exciting, it’s gonna be shocking, and it’s definitely gonna be brutal.
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