Invincible is a 144-issue comic published between January 2008 and February 2018. It was created by Robert Kirkman, well-known for other comic series: The Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies, and Outcast. In 2021 it was turned into a series by Amazon Prime, which has eight episodes released with another season coming soon.
What if you just can’t wait, though? What if that heart-pounding confrontation between Invincible and Omniman has you so intensely starved for content that you simply don’t know what to do with yourself? Thankfully, Invincible and its kind have been around for quite a while. It has inspired plenty of series that all went on to be adapted into their own works. These may or may not be those, but I can assure you that it will scratch that itch that hits you like a train. Too soon? Take it like a Vultrimite, and let us move on.
First, let me clarify exactly what Invincible is all about so I can correctly line up these picks I think worthy of your next binge session.
Invincible focuses on the protagonist Mark Grayson, soon to be dubbed Invincible, as he comes into his powers. His father, Omniman, has been anxiously awaiting this day. As any proud father would be, of course. There are no ulterior motives to this pride and, indeed, no dark secrets that will throw poor Mark and even the entire world into disarray. That is a silly assumption you’ve made. How weird you have made assumptions like that.
The world Mark has been thrust into is incredibly fleshed out. This is not a world where the uniform is stitched together in a garage. Just to be blasted by the media for being a vigilante and then plastered on a wanted poster. Instead, superheroes are practically another branch of the federal government in the world of Invincible. In fact, those suits are often handled by a professional whose praises are sung as sweetly as a tradesman’s favorite toolsmith.
To scratch that itch, we need to have a series that plays with all these elements just like Kirkman dove into the details of his world, and in doing so, these series will feed your hunger for more profound lore. One that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself, as the lore knows the hunt for the answer is just as addicting as finding it.
Bottom Line Up Front
It is a tough choice, but My Hero Academia will no doubt scratch your need for a series like Invincible better than any other on this list.
MHA shares numerous similarities to Invincible in its theme. The setting of an academy focused on building up Superheros shares a thematic resemblance to Mark learning the ropes in the Teen Team. The subsequent lessons the former members learn as they are selected to make up the new Guardians of the Glode team. The protagonists are also both heroes with abilities from the powerhouse style of superpowers. As the story goes on, we have to continually learn to face the unique traumas inherent to being a hero to everyone.
It is not a copycat; MHA is a love note to superheroes and the passionate. When I need to be inspired and when I need to reignite my faith in humanity. I do it by hearing the passion put into Deku by his writer and voice actor alike; I watch My Hero Academy. Somehow, I think Deku would approve.
No, I don’t hold an action figure of him and rock back and forth in my chair like I am possessed by the devil watching it. How dare you.
Top Picks at a Glance
More By Robert Kirkman
The selections in this list have to follow certain criteria. However, please note not all the requirements on this list are essential for it to be on this list.
- Superheroes and/or Super Powers
- Either a Darker or tongue-in-cheek take on the genre.
- Lampshade Hanging on the Superhero genre.
- Either a Coming-Of-Age story or a struggle-to-rise story.
- At its core, the story inspires us to be better than the heroes we grew up idolizing.
I have split the selections up into two categories. Animated and Live Action. This particular niche genre has become an addiction for many. It has inspired itself to grow into a vast genre that even transcends the comics that birthed it.
See also: Invincible Characters Guide
There is nothing against the live-action series below. Still, this lot gets to shoot out the gate first by credence of them sharing the animated medium with Invincible. It is easier to bring superpowers to life and make the world they live in feel as vibrant and colorful as the pages they were inspired by.
MHA first started syndication as a manga in Shonen Jump in 2014. You would be forgiven for believing it had dominated the field for longer. It became a cultural icon with excellent reason when it hit the shelves. So it is no surprise it was adapted into an Anime in just two years, arriving in 2016. As of writing this, in May 2022, the anime is working towards its sixth season with three theatrical movie releases, while the manga has put out 34 volumes so far.
I have a slight bias here. You see, I was born with a blood disease. Therefore, I experience the world somewhat differently due to how I react to it. This, to a near T, is Deku: MHA’s main character. In a world full of superheroes, Deku was born without powers. This is such a rarity that, in this world, it is as much a social disability as it is a physical one. Deku never needed superpowers to be a hero, though. MHA is, much like Invincible, about the main character recontextualizing their dreams and beliefs regarding superheroes. The world can throw us curveballs, but people like Deku can inspire us to keep going. Even when all hope and dreams are destroyed, Deku rises.
MHA also excels in its auxiliary cast. Deku is never given the full spotlight as the creator has shown love and care for all the students in Deku’s class. Each feeling is as fleshed out as the last, and each brings new depths to the troubles a hero faces.
Step aside, Joker, Gotham’s actual proper clown, finally gets her due.
The Harley Quinn series takes the idea of a satirical take on Superheroes and places it firmly in the DC universe. Not only that, it takes place in Gotham proper. While Batman and Gordon are mainstays in the series, the perspective-focus is always the clown of the hour Harley Quinn. The story begins after Harley has finally shed herself of her abusive past lover, Joker. With this as our initial overarching character arc, the story takes a surprisingly mature yet light-hearted approach to a serious subject: moving on after an abusive relationship. There are few relationships as abusive as Harley and the Joker.
The heart of the show is Harley Quinn’s passion. Not only for her goal to prove her worth to herself after a master had crushed it in manipulation tactics, but in its general love for the source material. The relationship between Harley and Poison Ivy is solidified, being some of the most heartwarming and engaging stories over the years. As the pair support each other, Batman’s two most remarkable experiments with the moral gray area get some time to shine as heroes. With some hiccups. It is Harley, after all. The girl is crazy. Good crazy, but she has Cheshire Cat energy in spades.
What impressed me is how it isn’t afraid to make fun of the source material. The Batman universe, despite its early history of shark repellent and hilarious robin exclamations, spent a long period to focuses on the grit and grime of Gotham’s alleyways. Where Harley Quinn sees this world through the eyes of the eternally optimistic star Joker goon turned budding superhero.
I am sure you’ve heard this before. A newcomer to the city is tracking down the group of hooligans that massacred his home and family, with a natural talent for fighting like no other and a particular set of skills raised up by a mentor.
Do you think you’ve heard that before? Yeah, well, the newcomer is a monkey in a suit. Not a metaphor, a literal simian incapable of the human tongue. A Japanese Macaque, to be precise. That home and village? A group of macaques around a hot spring. That mentor? The ghost of a hitman that was killed hiding out and being cared for by said macaques. In all those stories you knew, the man who would usually be the protagonist dies in the first episode, forcing him to be the ghost mentor of a monkey on the warpath for vengeance.
Hit Monkey was produced and published by Marvel. Thanks to his run-in with Deadpool and Spiderman, you might recognize this character during the Daniel Way run on the Deadpool Comics. While neither of those tightened heroes returns, Hit Monkey is a sarcastic and mildly exhausted look at life in the Marvel Universe. Only through the eyes of a Macaque looking for revenge.
A classy one; you gotta admit that macaque rocks an open suit and tie combination.
One Punch Man is a MasterClass in creating a parody of the SuperHero genre. The series takes the idea of a protagonist at the end of their power scaling and plays with that. Saitama is a character who can defeat anyone in One Punch. This gimmick would prove tedious for a less capable creator, but One Punch Man proves that a LOT can come from this idea.
You see, Saitama is rather bored of this talent. He generally has to worry more about how to fill his fridge and spend his time. Battles for poor Saitama end so quickly; there is no sport in it. Usually, it takes longer for him to find the hooligan causing trouble than for him to defeat him. The story on One Punch Man understands that, because of this, the world around Saitama is as essential to developing as he is.
For example, a fan favorite of the series is Saitama’s self-appointed apprentice Genos. A robotic powerhouse with a heart of, possibly literal at this point given his creator’s low-key mad scientist energy, gold. He respects Saitama in a world that simply can’t believe in the bald-headed superhero’s immense talents. Not just for how powerful his master is, but for how much he cares for the world he chose to protect.
A hero so inspiring, he chose to be a hero to the world just for fun and got so bored of his limits they just kinda stopped being a problem.
HxH isn’t about superheroes exactly, but it plays with the idea of the Shonen Jump protagonist in the same way many of these series take a look at the Superhero genre as a job. Instead of superheroes, we have Hunters. Instead of superpowers, we have the mastery of Nen and the choice of your specialization as a Hunter.
The series follows Gon and the group of allies he meets along the way, forming his main group. Killua, Leorio, and Kurapika will not always be around him, and Gon will not always be the story’s focus. Instead, HxH’s thematic focus wants to explore the world the creator has developed as much as the creator hopes we do. It takes a deep look into what it means not only to be a hero but also to find your passion in life.
HxH, the manga, is a series that is often hit by understandable hiatuses due to the health of its creator. It can be read in its most complete state in its manga form, but two anime series have been made adapting it. Personally, I recommend the 2011 anime as it covers the manga’s story all the way to my favorite Arc, the Chimera Ant Arc. A masterful piece of anime horror all its own.
See also: Black Panther Villains
Have you ever been so mad about something you decided you would take on a team of overpowered superheroes that are satirical pieces of dark humor? Well, Billy Butcher has.
The Boys takes a theorized look at what the world of superheroes would be like if they were treated by the world more like celebrities, professional athletes, and models are. But unfortunately, the icons and idols of the world of tomorrow have become disenfranchised by becoming franchised. This has caused horrible ripples and cracks, blood spilled, and horrors for those the world has deemed not as Super as the ones on the screen. So, Billy Butcher has decided to form a team. This team, Billy, and the world are all seen through the eyes of Hugie. Someone who, in just the first few minutes of the series, introduces us to just how terrifying and heartwrenching it can be standing on the street with a loved one in a world full of speedsters.
Please note that The Boys is a very adult series. Just because superheroes are involved doesn’t mean you won’t find some dirty jokes and horrifying looks into the pits of reality. Viewer discretion is advised. A lady gets run through like a bullet hitting a water balloon. If that mental image doesn’t bother you, neither will the Boys.
If you thought Mark had it rough being raised by Omniman, just wait until you see what the foster family of the Umbrella Academy had to deal with being raised by Sir Reginald Hargreeves.
On the eve of one very peculiar night, 43 women, many of whom showed absolutely no signs of pregnancy, all spontaneously gave birth. Seven of these children are taken in by the eccentric Billionaire Sir Hargreeves. Things only get more peculiar from there. The Umbrella Academy is a show where every twist and turn will leave you surprised and elated. All the while rooting for the dysfunctional foster family to work out their differences and traumas. Maybe even save the day and their relationships.
Personally, my favorite is Number Five. Elliot Page’s take on the White Violin is an incredibly close second. He does a far better job in making the character relatable and Vanya’s reasoning for her fall to villainy understandable and heartwrenching than the initial comic run did. Someone is sure to find inspiration and empowerment from one of these characters and how they take to their incredibly disastrous and horrifically abusive upbringing. Seriously Hargreeves. Buy a parenting book or SOMETHING.
I am one of those comic book fans that is getting, personally, kinda miffed that one of my favorite characters from Teen Titans hasn’t gotten his heyday. While this is definitely not the title picture Cyborg deserves, the Doom Patrol has made a home for him on the big screen.
This is not Cyborg’s story alone, though. Cyborg is just a piece of the crazy family brought together by one doctor and his morally questionable means of ‘helping’ people. I will not spoil how all these team members come together, but similar to Invincible, they all have personal traumas to overcome. In the case of Cyborg, traumas involving his father’s jaded views on his future. Something he and Mark share in common.
Come to see Cyborg and Brendan Fraiser both finally get the screentime they deserve, stay because
Robert Kirkman’s Other Works
Robert Kirkman has made a career of creating cultural cornerstones. So should you need to scratch your itch, a few series from his bibliography can do that as his creations are rapidly being adapted. Here is a very brief rundown of his two best-known works.
Before Invincible was adapted, Robert Kirkman broke onto the television screens by having his arguably most well-known work adapted to the screens, The Walking Dead. This has inspired many spin-offs, including the beloved Tell-Tale series and the mixed Fear of the Walking Dead spin-off series.
The man has a talent for the undead, alright? When you know a subject well, who better to give it a fresh taste? Take. Take is the word I meant. I am not thinking about eating flesh. How silly to assume, you and your assumptions, reader. The Marvel Zombies series started as a mini-series but has returned countless times, continuing to expand the story of an alternate universe where our favorite superheroes have been taken over by a very unique version of the virus.
Marvel Zombies has recently started to take to our screens. First appearing in the What-If marvel series, while now being teased to return in the form of Zombie Dr. Strange in Doctor Strange 2 Multiverse of Madness.
Question: Are any of these series family-friendly?
Answer: A lot of these series can involve intense situations, strong language, and in cases such as the Boys, sexually suggestive situations.
Here is a quick list of entries on this list I consider family-friendly. Though parental guidance is advised, My Hero Academia, One Punch Man, and Hunter X Hunter are all Shonen Jump quality anime with a similar focus on being accessible to all audiences. While Harley Quinn can involve some mature situations, such as abusive relationships, it does so in a light-hearted tone that I believe it shouldn’t cause any nightmares.
Question: When will Invincible Season 2 release?
Answer: I am afraid no one seems to know. Sources say that numerous hiccups in production have led to various delays, meaning a release date has not been confirmed. However, Invincible’s second season was officially announced, so it is merely a matter of waiting.
Question: I don’t want to wait for Invincible Season 2; what are my options?
Answer: Invincible’s comic run was completed in 2018. That means the entirety of Invincible, Allen the Alien, and Omniman’s stories have all seen their end on the page. The first season roughly covers the first thirteen issues of the comic’s run. You should start over from the beginning, as the Invincible tv series has been adapted with the original creator at the helm. The animated series’ creators have taken this as a second chance to rework some elements of the story that Kirkman worked out later on in its decade-long run. As such, be prepared for some characters to have less development or seem… Different. Mark’s mother, particularly, has far less character development in the comic run of Invincible.
I adore an excellent satirical look at something I love. Thankfully, plenty of masters have set fire to the Superhero genre and inspired us all to laugh at it while thinking about the deeper meanings. Now you have an excellent selection to get yourself started on this binge. Of course, there are plenty more where that came from. Newcomers like Peace Maker and the old classic the Tick are also out there, should you have already had enough taste of this group. These are merely the titles. Anyone who found themselves a fan of Invincible like myself needs to binge.
After taking the time to binge the entire comic series, I highly recommend it. But, just WAIT until you get a taste of the character countless fans have dubbed ‘Freddy Mercury, Queen of the Vultrimites.’
Thank you for reading and as always, have a marvelous one. If you aren’t, please give one of these series a go. Even the darkest of them have inspiring messages at their core about overcoming traumas and horrors.