Adult animation has been a popular genre for a long time.
After the initial success of 'Family Guy', 'Beavis and Butt-head', 'Futurama', and 'South Park' in the 1990's, the 2010's exploded with humorous, wacky, and often philosophical adult animated series like 'Rick and Morty', 'Bojack Horseman', 'Archer', 'Regular Show', and 'Bob's Burgers'.
'Invincible' is an excellent addition to the long line of acclaimed animated series.
The series, which premiered on 25 March of this year on Amazon Prime Video, is based on a comic book series of the same name written by Robert Kirkman who is famous for co-creating one of the most successful titles of all time, 'The Walking Dead'.
The cast of the show is similarly star studded, featuring actors like Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh, Gillian Jacobs, Jason Mantzoukas, along with living legends of the industry: J K Simmons and Mark Hamill.
These brilliant actors bring the animated characters to life and make them relatable for the audience.
Consequently, the show has gained enormous praise from platforms like Wired and Rotten Tomatoes.
But the main attraction of the show does not lie in its cast or its production quality but in its approach to storytelling.
'Invincible' is also a part of a long line of comic books that subverts the usual tropes of the genre to tell more dark, gritty, and realistic stories.
The modern age of comic books, marked by the release of Alan Moore's 'Watchmen', gave writers opportunities to explore more complex moral scenarios, themes of mental health, the relationship between wealth, power, and the government, and most of all, the idea of being a superhero.
Before that, comic books were primarily monochromatic where the heroes were always good and the villains were always irredeemably evil.
The modern age threw all those notions out and introduced complex characters who were more relatable to an adult and matured audience.
A useful tool for that was the subversion of tropes, flipping the established motifs of the genre on their heads.
One of the most enduring pieces in that regard is Mark Waid and Alex Ross's 'Kingdom Come', which features a new age of superheroes who do not value human lives and go to any length to serve justice, or at least their version of it.
The influence of this miniseries published by DC is apparent in the initial plot of 'Invincible'.
It features a group called 'Guardians of the globe' which is eerily similar to the Justice League.
The team consists of the Immortal who is based on Hawkman, Darkwing who is based on Batman, War Woman who is based on Wonder Woman, Red Rush who is based on Flash, Aquarus who is based on Aquaman, Martian Man who is based on Martian Manhunter, and Green Ghost who is based on Green Lantern.
And then there is Omni-Man, who is strikingly similar to the most iconic comic book hero of all time, Superman.
The protagonist of the series is Mark Grayson, who is about to graduate high school.
This seemingly normal teenager hides one secret – his father is the greatest superhero in the world: Omni-man.
A member of the super powered Viltrum race, Omni-man came to earth in the 1980's and fell in love with a real estate agent named Debbie.
He married her, created a family while taking on the life of a best-selling writer named Nolan Grayson and became the greatest protector of the planet.
But their ideal, calm and loving suburban household begins to fall apart once Mark gains similar superpowers from his father and takes on the superhero moniker of 'Invincible' while the secret behind some gruesome murders begins to unravel.
'Invincible' is a great coming of age story.
Mark goes through the struggle of every teenager: Getting good grades in school, maintaining a healthy relation with his friends and girlfriend, career uncertainty, finding his place in the universe, all of which make him a very grounded and relatable protagonist.
The series also serves as an excellent example of the 'mystery box' trope, where the audience are given clues behind the motivations of each character which makes the plot both intriguing and unpredictable.
Kirkman did not deal in black and white while writing the story and the audience are left to figure out who to root for.
One of the most intriguing parts of the series is the relationship between insanely powerful individuals and the government.
Technically, the government is supposed to be an autonomous body and the most powerful, capable of anything to ensure the safety of the population.
But that hierarchy falls apart in a universe filled to the brink with super-powered individuals who can endure anything the government throws at them.
This crisis is exacerbated when the insane risk of collateral damages from superhero actions is looked at.
Even though civilian casualties take a background role, the series puts a dynamic front and centre, showing the disposability of humans against the invulnerability of super-powered individuals.
The series also tackles wider social issues like racism, domestic abuse, poverty, destitution and organised crime, making it feel extremely realistic.
Every character suffers the consequences of their actions, keeping the audience at the edge of their seats.
This eight-episode long series can be compared to another Amazon original, 'The Boys'.
But while that series is more focused on corporate greed and superhero culture, this show poses more existential themes like the cost of power, and the worth of human lives and relationships.
The animation of the show is fun and vibrant, like other classic animated series but it also picks up the details of violence which provides a nice contrast not often seen in this medium.
'Invincible' is not an extraordinary story. Plenty of great superhero movies and series have come out before, like Cristopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight Trilogy', Zack Snyder's 'Man of Steel' and 'Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice'.
But it is the animated platform which gives it distinct advantages while taking nothing away from the main themes.
So if you are a fan of superhero movies, animated movies, or comic books in general, 'Invincible' will be a guaranteed thrill ride.
This show is a 'must watch' in my book and was well worth my time.