Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Invincible Is Different From The Comics

Amazon Prime's "Invincible" is pretty faithful to its source material. Physically, most of the series' superpowered characters look similar to their comic book counterparts, and their powers remain relatively unchanged. Story beats have also ended up making the jump intact: In the comics, young Mark Grayson learns of his Viltrumite heritage from his father just as he does on the show. In fact, the scene in which we first witness his powers manifest in the TV series — when he unintentionally hurls a garbage bag into the clouds — unfolds identically in 2003's "Invincible" #1.

But few, if any, comic book superhero stories survive their transition to the screen without incurring some changes, and "Invincible" is no exception. Some of the differences between page and screen exist for legal reasons. Some are there to more accurately reflect the real world. Some came about purely to deliver a more entertaining story. Whatever reasons the creators had, these are some of the biggest differences between Amazon Prime's "Invincible" and the comic book series that started it all.

(Warning — there are big spoilers for both the "Invincible" TV series and comic book below!)

How Invincible gets his codename

Mark Grayson's superhero codename is unique in a couple of ways. For one thing, he chooses an adjective: It's as if Clark Kent protected Metropolis as "Super." For another, considering how often Invincible finds himself hospitalized, there's a fair bit of irony attached to the name.

The way Mark comes up with the codename in the series actually doesn't stray far from the comic — what changes is the source. Towards the end of the premiere episode, Nolan tells his son, "Kids your age think they're invincible and it holds them back, makes them careless. The thing is, you're different. You actually are invincible." From the look on Mark's face, we know inspiration has landed. 

In contrast, in the comic's first issue, it's Mark's high school principal who gives him the name. Mark is called in to the principal's office after protecting another student from a much larger bully. Unaware of Mark's powers, the principal warns him, "You're not invincible, you know." Again, we see the word give Mark the idea he needs. Furthermore, instead of revealing the name in a fight with the cybernetic villain Kill Cannon, as happens on the show, "Invincible" #1 ends with Mark unveiling the codename to a squad of relatively mundane bank robbers.

Amazon's Invincible gives fans a lot more diversity

One of the biggest changes between the "Invincible" comics and the animated series is the latter project's focus on diversity — including when it comes to Invincible himself. In an April 2021 interview with CBR, "Invincible" co-creator Robert Kirkman said that in the comics, Mark Grayson's race "is, more or less, ambiguous." In the Amazon series, however, Mark is biracial: His mother Debbie is Korean-American.  

Along with Mark and his family, we see a broader view of humanity in Mark's social circle as well. Amber — Mark's love interest for most of Season 1 — is Black in the TV series, but white in the source material. Amber also happens to be a much more complex character with a stronger personality in Amazon's adaptation, and has a much different reaction when Mark outs himself as Invincible. Then there's William, who is openly gay from the show's beginning. In the comics, it takes him a while to come to terms with his sexuality.

Speaking to CBR, Kirkman said broader representation is "the right thing to do." Moreover, it's practical: There are "a tremendous amount of people out there who don't see themselves in what they consume," Kirkman pointed out, and so "there's an audience hungry for this stuff; it actually benefits projects."

A bloody scene in Invincible is much different in the comics

For anyone who's never read the source material, the final scene of "It's About Time" is a bloody surprise. The Guardians of the Globe are fooled into convening for an emergency meeting at their headquarters. Once the heroes arrive, Omni-Man reveals his true colors and murders them all. While he's clearly the most formidable powerhouse there, the combined team gives him enough trouble that he collapses from his wounds at the end. 

The Guardians' murders are a much more decisive affair in the source material. Just as he does in the show, in 2003's "Invincible" #7, Omni-Man lures the team to their headquarters. Unlike the extended battle we see in the show, however, Omni-Man kills all but one of the Guardians while moving so quickly that not even the sole survivor — the Immortal — is able to identify the murderer. Once Omni-Man reveals himself, the Immortal exclaims, "You! I never liked you." Omni-Man beheads the Immortal with a single strike, and answers, "The feeling was mutual." 

Debbie Grayson is much more complex in Amazon's Invincible

One character who gains a lot more depth in her transition from page to screen is Debbie, Omni-Man's wife and Invincible's mother. While it's clear Debbie wants to believe Nolan isn't capable of the crimes he's committed, Damien Darkblood's investigation eventually changes her mind. Nolan discovers her suspicions, and at first, it looks like he might be able to charm his way out of them. But ultimately, Debbie sees him for what he really is.

In the source material, Debbie doesn't have nearly as much agency. Whether it's due to denial or because Nolan is just too smart for everyone, Debbie is utterly clueless about her husband's duplicity until everything is revealed. In fact, fans of the show who haven't read the comics would likely be shocked by one of the ways Debbie reacts in the aftermath of the reveal. At the end of 2004's "Invincible" #14 — two issues after Omni-Man nearly beats Invincible to death — Mark comes home to find his mother crying on the kitchen floor. When he tries to comfort her, Debbie blames him, yelling, "Why did you have to fight him, Mark? Why did you have to drive him away?"

A butler's revenge is cut from Amazon's Invincible

One small story that's left out of the TV series involves an ill-conceived revenge plan that disrupts a funeral. In 2004's "Invincible" #8, heroes from other series published by Image Comics like Savage Dragon, Mighty Man, and SuperPatriot gather to honor the fallen Guardians. As Omni-Man delivers the heroes' eulogy, the stone monument behind him explodes, and Sanford, butler to the late Guardian Black Samson, appears in the sky, wearing his employer's suit of power armor. 

Sanford's beef with the Guardians is that they, according to him, abandoned his employer. At some point before the events of "Invincible," Black Samson lost his super powers. As a result, the Guardians gave him his walking papers. Sanford is enraged that the Guardians died before he could get his revenge, and vows to destroy their bodies in retaliation. Choosing to attack a funeral service full of superheroes proves to be just as stupid as it sounds, and it doesn't take long for the butler's plans to be foiled.

Amazon's Invincible gives Cecil Stedman an upgrade

As the head of the Global Defense Agency (GDA), Cecil Stedman is essentially the TV series' answer to Marvel's Nick Fury, and one of the show's most important characters. He suspects Omni-Man's crimes before almost anyone else, and it's often Stedman who lets the new Guardians, Invincible, and others know about impending threats. Once Omni-Man openly goes rogue, Stedman organizes what little resistance Earth can offer against him. 

In the comics, however, Cecil Stedman doesn't become an important part of "Invincible" until after Omni-Man's bloody victory over Mark. In fact, he doesn't even meet Mark until 2004's "Invincible" #13, when our hero is healing from the wounds inflicted by his father. As opposed to his counterpart in the Amazon adaptation, Stedman here claims to have been just as clueless as everyone else about Omni-Man's long-term plans. Though ironically, he admits to his ignorance while delivering a list of his spymaster credentials in a remarkably boastful way. For example, he tells Mark, "I'm so high ranked in the U.S. government, I don't even have a rank. I'm so far above the head of the C.I.A., he doesn't even know I exist."  

Someone else sends Invincible to meet an enemy in the comics

In "Here Goes Nothing," Invincible has his first space brawl with the powerful and telepathic Allen the Alien. In the comics, this brawl happens in 2003's "Invincible" #5, and mostly unfolds the same way it does in the show. Invincible and Allen fight, and Allen is eventually revealed as an Evaluation Officer who tests different planets' defenders. Right after Allen leaves, Invincible has a mind-blowing moment as he looks at the Earth from the surface the Moon.

The one big difference between page and screen is how Mark winds up fighting Allen in the first place. In the comics, Omni-Man calls Mark and asks him to take care of the alien approaching Earth because he's on an important mission with the Guardians and can't be spared. In the TV series, however, the fight takes place after the Guardians have all been murdered. Cecil Stedman shows up at the Grayson home to ask Omni-Man for help, Debbie protests that he's still recovering from his injuries, and Mark volunteers to take his place. It may seem like a minor difference, but it changes the dynamics of the story: Cecil gets another chance to talk to Omni-Man about the Guardians' murders, which lets Omni-Man know that Cecil is on his trail.

Invincible has a tougher time learning to fly on the show

Part of the "Invincible" series premiere likely reminds '80s TV fans of the ABC superhero comedy "The Greatest American Hero." In that show, Ralph, the hero, wears a red suit which grants him powers including flight — but he famously has a lot of trouble figuring out how to land. Likewise, Mark Grayson doesn't get the knack of flying right away in "It's About Time," and suffers a couple of crash landings that would kill him if he didn't have his enhanced durability. 

Mark first takes a crack at flying in the middle of the night without telling anyone, has a near-miss with a passenger jet, loses consciousness at high altitude, and wakes up right before crashing into the street. The next day, as his father trains him in the art of flight, Mark seems to improve — but when Omni-Man tells him to land, he can't figure out how to slow down. He crashes once again, this time making a larger crater.

The comics, however, don't show us these early flight issues. In "Invincible" #1, Mark steps out on his roof in the middle of the night to test out his flight, just like in the show. At first, he's timid at the prospect of stepping over the edge, but once he does it and floats instead of falls, his troubles with being airborne come to an end. 

One of Invincible's favorite comics is a little different on the show

One of the minor details you may have noticed in Amazon's "Invincible" is that its lead character is, fittingly, a comic book fan. In particular, his favorite character appears to be the anthropomorphic sorcerer, Séance Dog. Mark calls him "a Jack Russell Terrier who's a master at the metaphysical arts," and shots we see of the canine hero's posters and comics feature a costume reminiscent of Doctor Strange's. 

Fans of the "Invincible" comics, however, were likely expecting a slightly different Easter egg. In the source material, it's not Séance Dog who commands Mark's fandom, but Science Dog. Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker gave the pulpy dog protagonist his own back-up stories in issues of "Invincible," which were later reprinted as single issue comics and eventually a collection unto itself.

In March 2021, Kirkman told Decider the change was made to keep options open for a possible "Science Dog" adaptation. While he didn't identify any specific "Science Dog" plans, Kirkman said the property was kept out of the deal with Amazon in case the opportunity should arise. 

A character who sacrifices himself in Amazon's Invincible enjoys a different fate in the comics

One "Invincible" character makes an early exit from the TV series. In the penultimate Season 1 episode "We Need to Talk," GDA agent Don Ferguson sacrifices himself to give his colleagues time to escape Omni-Man and a chance to stun him with an explosion. Ultimately, however, it doesn't even slow the villain down. While Ferguson isn't the most pivotal character in either the TV series or the comics, his death in Season 1 is one of the show's most potentially impactful departures from the source material.

Like his boss Cecil Stedman, Ferguson makes his first "Invincible" appearance in 2004's "Invincible" #9. Unlike his TV counterpart, he not only survives for the rest of the series, he's eventually revealed to be a cyborg. Assuming he isn't resurrected — which isn't necessarily a safe assumption to make when talking about superhero media — his passing in "We Need to Talk" marks the first death of a character who was otherwise expected to be a long-term presence. 

The Flaxan invasion of the Invincible comics unfolds differently

Considering a pretty strong hint dropped at the end of the Season 1 finale, it's a sure bet we haven't seen the last of the green-skinned Flaxans in Amazon's "Invincible." It will be interesting to see how their storyline progresses, particularly given how differently their invasion is handled in the comics. In a lot of ways, the TV show tells the comic book's story backwards.

In the show, the aliens make their first invasion attempt in "Here Goes Nothing," while Omni-Man is still recovering from the injuries he received from murdering the Guardians. With both Omni-Man and the Guardians gone, it's up to Invincible and the Teen Team to fight them off. By the end of the episode, Omni-Man is back to help them. He plunges into the portal to the Flaxans' homeworld, and, beyond the prying eyes of Earth, causes massive destruction and death before returning home. 

In 2003's "Invincible" #3, it's actually Invincible and Omni-Man who first battle the Flaxans. While they repel the invasion, one of the Flaxans captures Omni-Man and brings him to their home dimension. Omni-Man doesn't return until the following issue, when he tells Mark and Debbie a story about temporarily losing his powers and leading a revolt against his captors.

Damien Darkblood's introduction is a lot different in the comics

One of the more mysterious figures in Season 1 of Amazon's "Invincible" is Damien Darkblood. The demonic detective appears to be one of the first characters in the series to suspect Omni-Man's guilt in the murder of the Guardians, and it's largely Darkblood's investigation that sparks Debbie's suspicions about her husband. In fact, Darkblood gets so close to the truth that GDA head Cecil Stedman banishes him to Hell, worrying that outing Omni-Man as the murderer before the GDA is ready is a mistake.

While Darkblood is part of the Guardians' murder investigation in the "Invincible" comics, he's nowhere near as prominent a figure, and is actually treated as something of a joke. He's introduced as he interviews Omni-Man in 2004's "Invincible" #8. He revisits the crime scene two issues later. In "Invincible" #16, he shows up at the Pentagon demanding to see Cecil, because he's "close to finding out who" murdered the Guardians ... even though, as Cecil's receptionist points out to him, it's already common knowledge that Omni-Man is to blame.

It's also made very clear in the comics that Darkblood is a parody of the infamous anti-hero Rorschach from the game-changing comic series "Watchmen." When we first meet Darkblood in "Invincible" #8, he's shown completely from behind, and appears to actually be Rorschach. He even shares Rorschach's trademark "Hurm," and the distinct, chaotic border of his dialogue bubbles.

Invincible vs. Omni-Man

The Season 1 finale of "Invincible," "Where I Really Come From," is unforgiving in its brutal portrayal of the one-sided battle between Invincible and his father. In the source material, the events depicted in the episode take place over the span of two comic issues: 2004's "Invincible" #11 and #12. The Season 1 finale proves to be one of the most comics-accurate moments in the series. There are, however, some important differences. 

For one thing, in the comic, the focus is completely on the fight between Invincible and Omni-Man. In the show, the action occasionally cuts to the GDA, where Cecil and Debbie watch the battle. We also see the new Guardians, who debate whether or not they should help Invincible. For another, while Omni-Man's words about his wife are cruel in the show — he says she's "more like a pet" to him than a wife — in the comic, Omni-Man is even more vicious. He straight-up tells his son, "Your mother means nothing to me."

Most significantly, Omni-Man's bloodlust is ratcheted way up in the show. It's clear in the comic that people are dying in the wake of the battle, and that Omni-Man doesn't care. On the Amazon series, however, Omni-Man makes a point of maximizing casualties in order to "educate" Mark about being a Viltrumite. The most shocking scene in the season finale, in which Omni-Man holds Mark in the path of an oncoming subway train, doesn't happen in the source material.