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Josh Reviews Invincible Season One

May 24th, 2021
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Invincible is a new Amazon animated series, adapting the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley.  The series focuses on Mark Grayson, whose father Nolan is the Superman-like super-hero called Omni-Man.  When Mark turns 17, he discovers that he too has super-powers, and he steps into the world of super-heroes and super-villains.  I’m a big fan of the comic book series, and I was blown away by how great the Amazon adaptation was!

The series is an incredibly faithful adaptation of the first few years’ run of the comic book series.  Watching the show, I was delighted by how accurate the show was to the comic; from the look of the characters down to the recreation of scene after scene from the comics.  The show felt to me like basically a word-for-word adaptation of the comic.  I’d never seen anything like it.

After watching the show, I went back and re-read the first several Invincible trade paperbacks, and at that point I was even more impressed with the skill in this adaptation.  I discovered that actually the show had made a ton of changes to the comic.  They moved sequences around, they expanded scenes here and reordered scenes there.  It’s not a word-for-word adaptation after all.  But it FEELS like a word-for-word adaptation.  And time and again, as I discovered places where the show had changed things from the comics, I felt those changes strengthened the show.  Clearly, the show’s creators understood that comic books and TV/movies are different mediums.  While fans (myself included) often think that what they want is for a TV or movie to adapt a comic book story exactly, that’s not actually the best approach.  Here’s an example: I really liked Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City movie (based on Frank Miller’s comic book series), which was very unusual in that it was basically an exact duplication of the comic book source material.  But as much fun as that movie was, and as cool as it was to see the panels of the comic book duplicated almost exactly on screen, I didn’t think the stories were nearly as effective on screen as they were on the page.  The pacing was off — things moved too fast, the story and characters didn’t feel to me like they had time to breathe.  This is because it took a lot longer to read a 24-page comic book; so what felt carefully paced on the page came off as far too breakneck on the screen.  Characters who felt fully-realized in the comics came off as one-dimensional on screen.  It was cool and fun, but it din’t altogether work.

And so I am incredibly impressed … [continued]