Invincible: A Key Comic Book Element Missing From the Show


Warning! Spoilers for the Invincible comics and animated series!

The popularity and success of Amazon Prime’s Invincible has shone a spotlight on Robert Kirkman‘s hit comics, and while it is a very faithful adaption of the Image Comics series, some key comic book elements are still missing from the show. Kirkman says he’s trying to change and improve some of his original comic ideas for the show. The Omni-Man murder investigation, the involvement of Debbie Grayson, and the overall action are far more suspenseful in the animated series.

The first few comics take their time to set things up, leading fans to believe Invincible will be just another superhero series. The infamous ending of the first episode, when Nolan kills the Guardians of the Globe, happens in the seventh issue of the series. Many comic book fans will agree Kirkman did a better job with the pacing before Mark Grayson’s confrontation with his father, though they might miss some of the elements that made the Image Comics series so unique.

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Unlike the show, the Invincible comics heavily focus on satirical and postmodern literary devices. Meta-humor, or self-referential humor, is found several times throughout the comics. The first prominent example of meta-humor in Invincible happens in issue #10. Mark visits the comic book creator Filip Schaff, named after Philip Schaff (a protestant theologian). Schaff is the creator of Mark’s favorite series: Science Dog. When Schaff talks about how designers reuse the same art sometimes to create suspenseful moments, Mark is a bit disenchanted by this and lets Schaff know how cheap he thinks it is. Meanwhile, Kirkman and Ryan Ottley, the artist, do this exact thing with the page’s comic panels, making an ironic and hilarious joke at the same time. This joke, however, may not have worked in an animated show. It seems Kirkman is choosing to be more direct with the Invincible show instead of parodying mediums.

Invincible begins to include more satirical meta-humor as the series continues. Some of these moments also subvert expectations, one of which pokes fun at Watchman directly. Fans of Alan Moore and David Gibbons’ iconic 12-issue series will immediately recognize Damien Darkblood as a spoof of Rorschach. Both investigators are recluses with the same speech patterns, trying to figure out the truth behind a superhero murder. But it goes beyond this. In Watchmen, Rorschach investigates a mystery in a gritty world where superheroes are outlawed. Kirkman flips the coin on Watchmen’s “realism” by stating that a superhero investigation would be solved quickly in a “realistic” world with superheroes all over the place. The show goes for more of a Marvel/DC route and decides to twist this witty idea. Instead of Darkblood’s detective skills failing in a funny way, the show has Debbie Grayson continue Darkblood’s investigation, tying her even more directly to Omni-Man and Mark’s story.

Perhaps the funniest and most ironic parody occurs in Invincible #23. The entire story makes fun of Stan Lee’s upbeat and kid-friendly narrations from the ’60s and ’70s Marvel Comics while going through the origins of Allen the Alien. It excessively refers fans to previous issues in the editor’s notes, constantly makes fun of itself as a series, and even calls the readers “True Believers.” The end of the issue introduces heavy irony once Allen’s upbeat personality encounters some Viltrumites. They make quick work of him by using explicit violence.

While the second season of the show likely won’t be as much of a parody as its comic counterpart, it can still focus on what makes Kirkman’s Invincible original. It puts a unique spin on many comic conventions, such as the love triangle between Amber, Eve, and Mark, which took inspiration from the dynamic between Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, and Peter Parker. And just because the animated adaptation of Invincible isn’t incorporating meta-humor doesn’t mean it lacks its fair share of mature themes. After all, Omni-Man’s carelessness and apathetic attitude towards human violence are far more elaborated upon in the show. With such a unique source material to draw from,Invincible will have comic book fans wondering what Robert Kirkman will change next from the original Image Comics series.

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About The Author

Dylan Moure (148 Articles Published)

Dylan Moure is a writer for Screen Rant, covering the comic book industry, focusing on Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, and Star Wars. He is currently a graduate student at New York University, where he pursues a Master of Arts in Multimedia Storytelling. Dylan earned a bachelor’s degree at Florida State University, where he double-majored in Creative Writing and Studio Art. He was born in Miami, Florida, to Puerto Rican and Cuban-American parents. His passion for writing and entertainment began in high school, where he joined the newspaper as an entertainment writer/editor. He also founded and led comic book clubs in high school and college. His main interests include DC Comics, Star Wars, Marvel Entertainment, Peanuts, Image Comics, Mass Effect, The Elder Scrolls, and other fantasy/fiction franchises.

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