Invincible is a superhero and the protagonist of the comic of the same name published by Image Comics in 2003. In 2021 Amazon Prime Video released the Invincible animated show which is entirely based on the comic.
While the show is pretty faithful to its source material, there are some minor and major changes that allow the adaptation to improve on the original comic.
Here’s 5 of them:
1- Mark’s struggle with superpowers
In the first episode of the Invincible animated show, Mark is anxiously waiting for his powers to be awakened. He practices in front of his hose he looks longingly at his father when he flies off for a mission and he tries to stand up to a bully at school.
However, for a while, nothing happens. His frustration grows even to the point that when he finally does get his powers, he can’t stand the idea that he might not be as strong as his father.
The biggest problem for the newbie superhero seems to be flying. As Omni-man says, it’s natural for Viltrumites, but it also requires practice and patience. Something that Mark doesn’t have. So throughout the show, Mark often decides to train by himself, even at night or in places where he’s not supposed to be.
In the Invincible comic things are slightly different though.
The scene of Mark realizing that his powers are finally manifesting is pretty much the same as the comic. But what follows is completely different.
Both adaptations show Mark seems hesitant to fly for the first time, the crucial difference is that in the series he clearly struggles to control his movements, while in the comics he doesn’t have this kind of problem.
The Invincible comic shows us that Mark isn’t at the same level as his father, but at no point, he is actually having trouble controlling his flight. Nolan is faster, more confident, and effortless. Meanwhile, Mark is slower, has to train more often, and has to constantly be focused on his path.
The Invincible animated show, unlike the Invincible comic, doesn’t rush to the action therefore it has to be smart with the pacing.
Issue #1 of the comic wouldn’t be enough to fill almost 50 minutes of screen time, that’s why the writers had to come up with a way to fill time and let the audience get attached to the characters.
Invincible comic Mark Grayson is a chill and nice guy who’s always doing his best. But this version of him might not be as entertaining to watch on TV as it is to read in a comic.
Invincible animated show Mark Grayson is still a good guy who’s doing his best but he also has a few layers to his personality. He driven by the desire to be like his father, he is disappointed in himself when he cannot satisfy that desire, and he is even willing to hurt himself in order to improve.
2- Debbie Grayson
Debbie Grayson is an integral part of the story in both the comic and the TV show.
In the Invincible comic she appears for the first time as a housewife. She knows that her husband is Omni-man and she supports her son in his journey to become Invincible.
I don’t want to spoil season 1 of the show so I can’t talk about her career or the friendships she develops in the comics after issue #10.
All I can say is that at this point she is a good mother who is present in the life of her son; and that as a wife she puts on a brave face for the sake of her family even though she’s worried about the safety of her husband.
The Invincible animated show gives her character more to do.
She’s a real estate agent from the very start and says that she’s not working for the money but rather that she does it because she really loves her job. This aspect of her life actually comes into play when Red Rush dies and she has to sell the house he bought with his girlfriend.
Another major change for her character is her suspicion of Nolan. In the comic, he is investigated but his wife never puts his innocence into question.
The TV show, however, gives us a Debbie that is torn between loving her husband and knowing that he is the only being on the planet who could have murdered the Guardians of the Globe.
She initially doesn’t believe that he might be guilty but slowly starts to doubt his sincerity when she sees him acting strangely. Finally, in episode 8 she finds proof of his crimes and confronts him.
Even though there was nothing wrong with the original version of Debbie Grayson, I like Invincible animated show Debbie a lot more.
The show takes the time to give her a strong personality and establish her relationship with her family. Not to mention the fact that the conflict between her and Nolan makes for a few very tense scenes that hook you into the investigation plotline.
3- The Teen Team and Atom Eve
Now let’s talk about everyone’s 4th favorite superhero team: The Teen Team.
In the Invincible comic Mark meets the team by chance when they spot him fighting one of the Mauler Twins at night. They’re immediately impressed with Invincible’s abilities and after the battle is over they introduce themselves: Robot (the team leader), Atom Eve, Rex Splode, and Dupli-Kate.
Invincible later realizes that Atom-Eve is actually Eve Wilkins, a popular girl who goes to the same high school as him. The next day the two meet in the hallway and become friends, Eve even invites him to the Teen Team HQ where Invincible has the chance to talk to the rest of the team.
Overall, the most important aspects of the team are still the same in the animated series: the members of the team are still the same, their personalities are the same, the group dynamic isn’t different, and Mark refuses to join despite becoming friends with them.
What the Invincible animated show does differently is that it takes more time to establish the team, their relationship with each other, and with Mark Greyson.
For example, in the comic Eve and Mark chat a little bit on the way to class and after school, they fly directly to the Teen Team HQ.
The animated show, however, gives them the chance to bond. Eve takes Mark to the roof and they have a heart-to-heart. Mark confesses that he’s afraid to screw up and put people in danger, while Eve reassures him that everyone is afraid at first and that time and practice will make him a better superhero.
At the HQ we get a feeling of how the team works and who the characters are: Robot is stoic and cold, Rex is a show-off, Kate is sarcastic. Over the course of the next few episodes, we see them fight an alien invasion with the help of Invincible and get to find out more about the team’s dynamic.
The animated show basically makes the Teen Team more “real”. The comic (in the first few issues anyway) paints a vague picture of the superheroes that form the team and it goes deeper into each character later.
On the other hand, the animated show uses the time its been given to let us get attached to the team of superheroes and gives more depth to Mark and Eve’s relationship.
Another nice addition created by the show is Mark’s inexperience and feeling of inadequacy. In the comic Invincible says that beating the Mauler Twins was easier than he expected, while in the show, he struggles to defeat his enemies and he’s happy to receive help from the team.
4- Nolan’s story about Viltrum
This might not seem like an important difference right now, but if you’ve read the Invincible comic you’ll probably notice that this difference highlights a key aspect of the animated version of Nolan Grayson.
When It’s time to talk to his son about his past, in both comic and show, Nolan explains to Mark that he is an alien who left his planet Viltrum to come to Earth. He says that the Viltrumites are very generous people who scout the galaxy looking for civilization to help.
The Invincible animated show stops here, but the comic goes into a little more detail.
Nolan explains that on Viltrum there is an organization dedicated to finding planets populated by species evolved enough to accept Viltrum’s help. They initially refused to send someone to Earth but Nolan himself volunteered and was sent there to become the sole protector of the planet.
He tells his son that humans fascinated him and that he felt so welcomed that he almost forgot his mission.
This is just my speculation, but I think that the reason why animated Nolan’s story is so vague is that he doesn’t really want to lie to his son. But I said that I wouldn’t spoil any issue of the comic past #3 so I’ll just leave it at that.
5- The alien invasion
The Flaxans are an alien race that comes to Earth with the intent to conquer the planet. They appear in both versions of Invincible even though their story is altered a little in the animated show.
In the Invincible comic the Flaxans only come to Earth twice: once to attempt an invasion, the second time to kidnap Omni-man.
While Nolan and Mark were training and spending some time together, Omni-man receives a call that instructs him to go to a deserted area where aliens have opened a portal to Earth. He goes and immediately flies back to ask for Mark’s help.
The two of them arrive at the scene and, despite being overwhelmed by their number, managed to get the upper hand on the Flaxans. Mark immediately notices that the aliens are visibly aging as he fights them, and in a few minutes the green invaders retreat.
Towards the end of the issue, while Invincible and Omni-man are saving a mall from a bomber, the Flexans open a portal behind Nolan and manage to drag him back to their planet. Everything is fine though, a few days later he comes back to his family saying that he managed to overthrow a dictatorship and convinced his Flaxans allies to open a portal that would take him back to Earth.
The Invincible animated show chooses to tell a different story.
The Flaxans are still an invading alien race, they still age rapidly when they come to earth, and Nolan still enters a portal that brings him to their planet. But the similarities end here.
The alien invasion is Mark’s first “real” mission as a superhero. He arrives at the scene and immediately freezes, lost and confused. Fortunately, the Teen Team arrives and manages to keep the situation under control. In a similar way to the comics, the aliens have to retreat because of their unnaturally rapid aging.
The second time the Flaxans come to Earth they have managed to create a device that allows them to avoid the whole aging thing. Now the aliens finally manage to get the upper hand on the humans.
Fortunately, Robot realizes that in order to win they need to destroy the invaders’ bracelets, and the Teen Team manages to succeed at the very last minute.
The third and final time the Flaxans open a portal, they have found a way to enhance their bodies so that they don’t have to rely on a specific device in order to stop aging.
And this time things go south really quickly.
The Teen Team is losing, Invincible is being beaten to death by the alien leader, and it really seems like all hope is lost.
Then Omni-man arrives. He slaughters the alien army, grabs their leader, and pushes him back into the portal, entering it himself in the process.
What follows is genocide set to a cool beat.
Omni-man decides to teach the aliens a “lesson” by destroying everything there is to destroy on their planet. He leaves only a few survivors in order to get them to re-open the portal that will take him back home. And after he drops a giant boulder on them, nothing is left.
The animated show version of the story is less “inconsequential” since this is where Mark meets the Teen Team and this is where we see for the first time what a bloodthirsty Viltriumite is capable of.
Although it lacks the humor of the comic. I personally prefer the Flaxans of the animated show.