Friday, April 30, 2021

Invincible Animated Series: Episode #4: Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out!

   Welcome back my pal Billy Hogan who continues his reviews of the animated series based on the comic book Invincible:

    The wife of Guardians Of The Globe member Red Rush hires Debbie Grayson, mother of Invincible hero Mark Grayson, to sell her home because she has decided to move back to Moscow. 

   Mark's relationship with Amber continues to develop as he learns how to navigate the superhero problem of having a secret identity.

   When Mark's father Nolan, aka Omni-Man, declines Cecil Stedman's offer of protecting a manned mission to Mars from the Martians, Mark decides to volunteer. His inexperience shows as the astronauts are captured under his nose, and the expedition has to make a hasty retreat from the Red Planet. The question is, did a threat to Earth hitch a ride on the spacecraft.

   While Mark is away, Nolan and Debbie take a brief vacation for some quality time after experiencing the stress of recent events.

   Throughout the episode, demonic detective Damian Darkblood has been continuing his investigation about the events involving the Guardians Of The Globe at the end of the first episode. 

   Cecil Stedman, head of the Global Defense Agency, has been conducting his own investigation, and his suspicions center on one person. But he finds a way to get Damian Darkblood out of his way so that no one or nothing can interfere with Stedman's plans. But Damian made sure his own investigation did not go for naught.

   The surviving Mauler Twin finds a place to build a new lab so he can clone another twin.

   At the end of the episode, we discover a secret about Robot.

   This episode uncovered a few hidden layers of a number of characters, revealing dimensions about them we weren't aware of before. These characters are becoming more complex and intriguing, and makes me want to hurry up and watch the next episode to see how they affect the story. 

   Robert Kirkman, writer and co-creator of the comic book series, is using the comic book series as a foundation for this animated series, but he's not afraid to continue playing with his characters and take them in different directions from the comic book story. That strategy makes the animated series new and fresh, hooking the viewer into staying along for a wild ride.

   It leaves me no choice but to also give this episode a solid A.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Invincible: Episode 3: Who You Calling Ugly? - Guest Review

   Welcome back Billy Hogan with his review of the third episode of the Invincible animated series:

    We begin with a public ceremony honoring the Guardians Of The Globe, followed by a more private one with the families of the Guardians. There Damian Darkblood questions Nolan about the case involving the events involving the heroes at the end of the first episode.

   During the episode, Atom Eve discovers a secret about two of her teammates on the Teen Team.

   After the success the Teen Team had with the Flaxan invasion last episode, Cecil Stedman, head of the Global Defense Agency (GDA) tasks Robot, leader of the Teen Team, with putting together a new group of heroes to become the next Guardians Of The Globe. 

   After a series of auditions, some with humorous results, the heroes chosen along with the Teen Team are Monster Girl (who appears to be a pre-teen girl who can transform into a hulking monster, with an interesting twist to her power), Shrinking Rae (a female hero who can reduce her size), and Black Samson (an early member of the Guardians Of The Globe who left the group when he lost his powers but now wears a special suit that gives him powers).

   Meanwhile, Mark discovers some of the challenges of having a private life while being a superhero, when he begins a relationship with a girl from high school. He has to respond to an emergency alert from Cecil, along with Atom Eve, without revealing his secret identity to his new girlfriend. Invincible and Atom Eve face Doc Seismic at Mount Rushmore.

   The Mauler Twins, who were introduced at the beginning of the first episode, escape their GDA prison with a little inside help. The source of their assistance, when it's revealed, is a surprise. One question I have is how it is able to be hidden from Stedman, but maybe we will learn more details in later episodes. This plot twist is the first major one that significantly differs from the comic book. It shows that co-creator and writer Robert Kirkman continues to play with his concept of Invincible, and not just make what amounts to a “motion comic” of his comic book hero.

   The episode ends with demonic detective Damian Darkblood questioning Debbie about her superhero husband.

   This episode had more humor in it than the previous two. It continues to build an interesting mystery about what is going on with Nolan Grayson aka Omni-Man, as we continue to follow his son Mark's development as a superhero. 

   Nolan continues to give Mark some valuable advice about what it takes to be a hero, both as a public figure and someone with a private life and how to protect it. The ways the animated series differs from the original comic book don't stray from the spirit of the series, but makes readers familiar with the comic book, like me, feel like we're watching an entirely new story.

   I can't wait to see where Robert Kirkman, the creative team of animators, and the vocal cast will take us. 

   Once again this episode deserves a solid A.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Invincible Episode 2: Here Goes Nothing - TV Guest Review

   Back with a follow-up review of the animated series Invincible is our man Billy Hogan:

   The episode begins where the first episode ended, at the headquarters of the Guardians Of The Globe


   Mysterious troops enter to carry away the heroes, and Mark and his mother Debbie are informed of Nolan's injuries. Mark discovers that his superhero father was not only a member of the Guardians, but they also worked for the secret Global Defense Agency (GDA), headquartered under the Pentagon. 

   As Nolan recuperates, Mark, as Invincible, meets the Teen Team (think DC Comics' Teen Titans) and begins working with them, and discovers one member actually attends his high school. They are tapped by the GDA to replace the Guardians.

   During the episode the Teen Team attempt to fill the gap left by the absence of the Guardians Of The Globe. They are severely tested by the inter-dimensional invaders called the Flaxans, who attempt three separate invasions of Earth. 

   During their first invasion, Invincible is almost overwhelmed by the chaos of the invasion, and slowly takes his first steps in building his confidence as a superhero. With each invasion, the Flaxans become a greater challenge until the Teen Team is almost defeated by the Flaxans during their third attempt, when they receive a helping hand in turning the tide.

   As this is going on, literal demonic detective Damian Darkblood, voiced by Clancy Brown (who voiced Lex Luthor in the Superman Animated Series), begins an independent investigation about what happened to the Guardians Of The Globe. (I'm trying to keep these reviews as spoiler free as possible.)

   Also, as Nolan recovers, the GDA discover an old threat that Omni-Man faced in the past has returned, and Mark has to face him alone. The encounter is one of the most original I've ever read in a superhero comic book.

   Just like in the first episode, events in this one are familiar to readers of the Invincible comic book series, but are tweaked so that it doesn't feel like an exact recreation of the story onto the screen. 

   Mark is thrown into the deep end of the pool as a superhero a lot quicker than in the comic book, making his learning curve a lot steeper in the animated series.

   We get to know the other members of the Teem Team very quickly, and they soon become very familiar. They are led by Robot, who is able to analyze any situation and formulate a strategy to overcome the challenge. Atom Eve is able to manipulate matter and energy. Dupli-Kate, as her name suggests, can make multiple copies of herself very quickly. Rex Splode, like the X-men's Gambit, is able to touch anything and make it into a bomb he can hurl at his opponent.

   Watching this animated series adaption of one of my favorite comic book superheroes is like the story was boiled down to its essence, into a more intense story. 

   Pieces of the plot are familiar, but are tweaked enough that it's like watching a brand new story. 

   Invincible co-creator and writer Robert Kirkman continues to adapt his comic book superhero to fit the strengths of the animation medium, and I give this episode a solid A.