The world of Robert Kirkman means big business these days, just look at AMC's hit The Walking Dead, still pulling in the viewers after six seasons, with seemingly no ending in sight. Kirkman has recently expanded his TV world with the release of Cinemax's Outcast. However, what about Kirkman's super-hero epic Invincible? In a world saturated by Arrow, Gotham and Powers, do we really need another super-show...in short, yes, and Invincible is that show!
The story follows Mark Grayson, a high-school boy whose father is Omni-Man, the world's greatest hero. Mark deals with your usual high-school drama of exams and girls, but eventually comes to terms with the fact that he too has powers - think of it as Spider-Man: Homecoming, with buckets of blood! Grayson leads a Teen Titans-esque team, ironically named the Teen Team - populated by characters called Robot, Dupli-Kate, Rex Splode, and Atom Eve. Sure the high-school setting is nothing new, and we even had Disney flop Sky High in 2005, but done right and you can have something that is more Buffy than Sweet Valley High
The only thing you can compare Invincible to is a modern Watchmen, packing as much violence into its pages as it does storytelling. The first volume sets itself up as your average superhero story, but after the second and third volumes, the horror really ramps up. Perhaps the most controversial theme comes during issue #110, when Mark is attacked by anti-hero Anissa. After a brief battle, she knocks him to the ground and proceeds to rape him with graphic detail. On a par with Robin's 'death' in "A Death in the Family", it is unnerving to see a young superhero subjected to such violence.
With a man like Kirkman behind the title, Invincible was never going to be a stroll in the park - Invincible isn't exactly as bad as The Crossed, but it isn't far off! If teen rape isn't your bag, then there is plenty of blood soaked pages in the comic too, and fights make The Punisher vs. Wolverine scenes seem tame. Pick up a copy and you should expect to see teeth and bones fly. Grayson again falls flat in the luck department, with one of the biggest battles seeing him actually go up against his own father. On the other side is Invincible's biggest foe, a bloodthirsty alien named Conquest, who is set on destroying the planet. Conquest quite literally punches a hole through Grayson's girlfriend, Atom Eve, whilst she burns his skin off. Eve serves as no Gwen Stacy and was brought back the next issue, but that isn't the point. However, even hole punching villains has nothing on Invincible #7, proving that Omni-Man serves as one of the series's most interesting characters. No. 7 is an early issue that throws one hell of a huge curveball at us. If properly played out on screen it would certainly deliver a 'Red Wedding', WTF moment. Invincible introduces us to the Guardians of the Globe - Kirkman's direct parody of the Justice League. There is Black Samson (Doc Samson), The Immortal (Superman), Darkwing (Batman), War Woman (Wonder Woman), Red Rush (Flash), Aquarus (Aquaman), Martian Man (Martian Manhunter), and The Green Ghost (Green Lantern)! Don't get too attached though, after just 18 pages Omni-Man enters their hideout and slaughters (almost) the entire team. An arching storyline means that Omni-Man is eventually outed by his son and flies away from Earth for some time. Imagine a season finale of Omni-Man and Mark's showdown, a few season's absence, and then the triumphant return of Omni-Man. Game of Thrones character returns would have nothing on that!
The Neverending Story
Sounding good so far? How long could a show like this run for? Kirkman was recently a little peeved with Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, mainly critical that the writer had revealed the planned ending of his books to showrunners Benioff and Weiss. Kirkman told Rolling Stone:
I would never do that. That's the one thing I'm disappointed in George R.R. Martin for doing. He should have just been like, Fuck you. You make it up now, I'll get to mine when I'm ready.
The tail end of last year saw the 'reboot' of Invincible, presumably to capitalize on the success of DC's "New 52" and the more recent "Rebirth" - with 128 issues (129 coming this month), Invincible shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. So, why TV and not film for Kirkman's super-saga. Well, quite simply put...content. Whilst the big-screen Watchmen was by no means perfect, it was a great cinematic adaptation of Alan Moore's material; where the film fell down was the amount of material they had to cut. Even films knocking around the three hour mark will struggle to cram in everyone's favourite moments. Give an ongoing comic series the scope of television and it can run and run.
I mean, just look at The Walking Dead, AMC's president of original programming, Joel Stillerman, told Vulture:
The answer to how long the show will go on in some way is directly correlated with the health of the storytelling in the comics. Those comics are firing on all cylinders. He still writes every line of dialogue in those books, and is as engaged as he was when I think he was sitting around in Kentucky writing the first issue. That is very much part of the DNA of the show. He sort of felt like, in real life, this goes on for a very long time. We’re along for that ride.
The concept and the material are certainly there for an Invincible series, as well as the chance for it to go on for plenty of seasons.
So, should Invincible grace our screens? There has technically already been an adaptation - MTV2 broadcast a motion comic, but clearly it didn't wet exec's appetites enough for a proper outing. Surely The Walking Dead and Outcast's models should strike hopes into our hearts. TWD currently stands at 155 issues, and Invincible isn't that far behind. Someone over at AMC should make their moves quick, this is one franchise you can't afford to pass up on.