'Invincible' takes yet another leap into the dark side of superheroes

Amazon already has a searing satire about out-of-control superheroes, “The Boys,” which has quickly become its signature series. “Invincible,” an animated show with basically the same broad outline, thus feels a tad redundant, though the opening episodes, produced very much for adults, yield some of the same visceral thrills.

The series comes from “The Walking Dead’s” Robert Kirkman, based on his comic with Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley. In the good timing department, “Dead” alum Steven Yeun — a newly minted Oscar nominee for “Minari” — provides the voice of 17-year-old Mark Grayson, whose father is the strange visitor from another planet Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons), and whose powers have just begun to manifest themselves.
Like “The Boys,” “Invincible” owes an overt debt to DC’s Justice League, with a team of superheroes known as the Guardians of the Globe, and later a more youthful group of teen, um, titans, who — thanks to a rather shocking development — are forced to grow up fast.
    The premiere starts somewhat slowly, but it builds toward a big and brutal moment, one that sets up a serialized mystery at the show’s core. Yet that’s just one part of a concept that also plays with the coming-of-age aspects of Mark’s story, from picking a costume to settling on a name that mirrors the title; to more mundane concerns, like dealing with high school, teenage hormones and his concerned mom (Sandra Oh).
      Animation remains an ideal medium for comic-book adaptations, as evidenced by Warner Bros.’s harder-edged parade of DC titles, some of which carry R ratings. The action here is crisp and at times extremely gory, in a way that makes very clear — or should — that this isn’t intended for kids.
        Despite its long-running comic-book status, “Invincible” hits screens after a number of revisionist looks at superheroes, exploring questions about the potentially corrupting nature of such ostentatious power. Indeed, streaming is awash in such fare, including Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” and DC’s “Doom Patrol.”
          That sense of familiarity doesn’t necessarily undermine “Invincible” on its merits, but it does make the exercise unavoidably feel a bit been there, seen that. Take it as a sign of the times, at a moment when costumed heroes — good, bad or otherwise — seem to come cheaper by the dozen.
            “Invincible” premieres March 26 on Amazon.

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