Comics Off the Page: "Invincible"

What would you do if the hero you've been admiring your whole life turned out to be a villain?


That's the question posed by Robert Kirkman's dark superhero saga "Invincible." Originally published by Image comics in 2003, "Invincible" follows seemingly-normal teenager Mark Grayson, who happens to be the son of beloved superhero Omni-Man. When Mark develops superpowers of his own, he takes on the moniker of Invincible and begins fighting crime by his father's side. But when the superhero team known as the Guardians of the Globe are brutally murdered, Mark will discover that his father is not the hero people believe him to be.


Earlier this year, an animated TV adaptation of "Invincible" was released on Amazon Prime, with comic-creator Robert Kirkman working as a screen- writer and executive producer of the show. Because of this, Amazon's "Invincible" remains faithful to the spirit and plot of the comic, but I would argue that the TV adaptation is an improvement on the source material in many ways.


One issue I found with the "Invincible" comic was its slow place. Kirkman uses the first few issues of series to establish what appears to be a normal teen-superhero comic, only to shock readers in Issue #5 when the Guardians of the Globe are slaughtered. Not only do readers of the comic have to read multiple issues just to get to the inciting incident, but this also creates a bait-and- switch situation. Readers expect a comical coming-of-age story only to find out it's really a much darker story. In the TV adaptation, the inciting incident is expertly placed right at the end of episode 1 so that the audience knows what they're getting into and also feels compelled to watch more.


The other area where I feel the "Invincible" TV show excelled more than the comic is in the character worse. The comic is told almost entirely from Mark's point of view, so he's really the only character readers get to know on a deeper-than-surface level. The TV show, on the other hand, gives the audience an in depth look at many characters that feel one-dimensional in the comic. The best example of this is Mark's mother, Debbie. For the first 20 or so issues of the comic, Debbie is merely a background character. She just exists so readers know Mark has a mother. It's not until her husband leaves her that we see any character development from Debbie in the comic. In the TV show, however, Debbie Grayson was my personal favorite character. When the Guardians of the Globe are murdered in the TV show, we get to see Debbie mourn for them. We follow her as she begins to suspect her husband’s involvement. We see her grow more and more anxious & fearful until her husband's betrayal is revealed and we see her break. Because the writers of the TV show took the time to develop Debbie's character, it leaves a much greater impact on the audience when she is hurt by the person she loves most.


As successful and well-beloved as the "Invisible" comic is, the TV adaptation is the stronger story in my opinion. If you are a fan of the dark superhero genre, Amazon's "Invincible" is a must-watch.


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