Invincible started out fun and then got steadily worse and worse… in the best way possible. Hot dang it was excellent. Even in broad strokes this series promises a wild ride and one that will land really heavily when it's all said and done. The series starts firing on all cylinders with an action-packed opener that strongly establishes just how the world of invincible ticks. It's pretty standard set up for a superhero world. Super powered individuals are celebrities and fight for freedom and justice and all that, normal humans are left to deal with all the super villains and heroes flying around, making the world an extra deadly place for them, there's a secret intelligence agency that works behind the scenes, cleaning up and quieting down, our hero is just your average, unpopular teen-ager and the White House has turrets. I think it was quite intentional that the "Guardians of the Globe" at the beginning of the series mostly parallel the core group of the Justice League. The show wants to give a sense of familiarity by starting with the classic hero story, character and world set up before it all comes crashing down in a brutal and bloody way. And even after the crashing, the world only gets more interesting and the fantastic events, characters and locations Like a periodic alien invasion, Allen the Alien, Titan and Damien Darkblood and a space mission to Mars make for some of the most engaging episodic content I've seen, and it makes for world building of a highly entertaining degree.
It seems almost impossible to make a fresh superhero world nowadays in a culture over-saturated with the stuff (heck, it's hard to come up with an original superhero name) but Invincible does it and it's only one aspect of the shows draw. Never before had I seen so many hyper, hyper powered supers duke it out in such a dynamically drawn and viscerally powerful way. The power levels in this world are off the charts and it makes for some truly titanic battles. Not only are they titanic, they are absolutely brutal. The show starts off light in this department but with the crashing down comes a no holds barred sequence of blood guts and gore that, along with the blood on the title card, becomes more and more rampant with every episode. This adds a weight to each fight that establishes the stakes of hero work in a concrete, visual way. I knew immediately how two characters were matched and I also could tell how unprepared Mark was at his start… and how scared and overwhelmed he is. Each of these ingredients start out fun and entertaining but gradually become darker until the weight of consequences, the seriousness of the bloody hero work comes crashing in with one revelation, realization, scenario or tragedy relentlessly coming after the other like the rapid blows that are so often let loose in the shows mythic battles. All that to say that the action was really spectacular and superb but it became meaningful with the turn it takes, the characters are really cool and interesting but they become meaningful with the changes they experience and the set pieces are unique and compelling but they become meaningful with the consequences they leave behind and incidentally, the who's who voicecast talent is fun to keep up with but they become meaningful with the strength they give their performances.
Was the meaning universal or even applicable to our lives as normal humans? I suppose in a round about way. The themes of true purpose, dealing with struggles, taking action even when not prepared and persevering through what seems impossible are lessons we all need to learn but it's a lesson for supers especially, I suppose that's the whole point. There isn't much joyous wish fulfillment in this show, there aren't a lot of zany villains or funny one-liners. There is no room for those things in a world where the black and white of good and evil is blurred into grey, where no one can really be trusted, where people die often and horribly and even a hero called Invincible can be beaten to a pulp within an inch of his life. Invincible is mature, at first in an entertaining way but gradually, in a way that puts punch behind it's story. Some of the plot threads bang against a wall in meaning and closure but I'll trust the upcoming seasons to keep them going and I am eagerly waiting for them to come. Invincible was the whole package and I couldn't find any real flaws, all I see is a crowning achievement for the superhero genre and a show that is challenging and entertaining. What a bloody mess of a great show.