Mark Grayson Guide - 21st Century Hero

Mark Grayson Guide: 21st Century Hero

Latest posts by Marjorie Soares (see all)

Imagine a cross between Spiderman and Superman, and you would get something like Invincible

A teenage superhero with a liking for one-liners and the power to destroy worlds with a punch. Who wouldn’t want to read that? Yet, what I like most about the series and its title character is how deep they can sometimes be. 

What starts as an ordinary coming-of-age story slowly morphs into a dark exploration of violence, war, and human nature. Each issue of Invincible moves these themes into new territory as the central conflicts unfold into dire repercussions.

Mark Grayson’s journey to navigate his environment creates a compelling character arc. Every problem he faced made me care more about him and his feelings. Mark wants to do the best thing, but in such a fucked up world, the line between right and wrong is not always clear. 

Besides, the young hero suffered more than a protagonist from a Mexican soap opera. His story won’t move you only if you have 0 feelings.

But Mark isn’t a fan-favorite because he suffered. His qualities make him unique among so many other superheroes – and in this Mark Grayson guide, I’ll show you exactly why.

My Bottom line up front: I couldn’t talk about every part of Mark’s story – unless I wrote a book. So I chose 10 moments from the Invincible series that provided crucial development for the character. I’ll explain why these are important and how they change the hero.

Invincible in a Nutshell

Imagine you’re a teenage superhero with alien powers much like Superman’s. Everything seems great until you find out your dad – who’s also a superhero – is actually a murderer who wants to conquer planet Earth. 

Your life just went from great to shit in the blink of an eye.

On top of it all, the Alien race your dad is part of – the Viltrumites – it’s all made of men who look like Freddie Mercury. But no, the women don’t have mustaches. Just a little detail I thought you should know.

This premise shows how fast Invincible goes from something obvious to something unique. The repetitive young superhero story turned into a family drama with bloody repercussions for the world. Subversion of expectations would be ever present in the comic. 

Invincible is Mark’s story. But instead of focusing only on external circumstances, much of it is about how he goes from a naive teenager to a mature man. Or rather, how Mark’s views on his purpose and changing the world transform with the circumstances.

We see epic battles, relationship drama, and several conflicts. But each major event doesn’t only change the status quo but the character’s posture. That’s why Invincible isn’t just another superhero story.

Coupled with the fact that it’s a story with an ending – different from Spiderman, which will be published forever – Mark has a clear arc from beginning to end that we’ll explore in more detail.

Powers and Abilities

Mark Grayson powers

Marks has the strength of an average young Viltrumite – the alien race he’s a part of – which means he can lift 30 tons. This number comes from The Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe, a guide released at the beginning of the series. 

This means that since Mark kept evolving to the end of the comic, he could be even stronger than that.

Mark’s powers include:

  • Superhuman strength;
  • Superhuman stamina;
  • Superhuman durability;
  • Superhuman speed – he can travel 8000 miles in less than 25 seconds;
  • Flight;
  • Enhanced self-healing;
  • Longer lifespan – he’ll live thousands of years;
  • Holding his breath for up to 2 weeks;

Personality

Mark is a good guy in the best sense of the word. 

The young hero tries his best to help his friends, family, and the world. Yet he makes some shitty choices in his personal life and superhero career– which only makes him more relatable.

The young Viltrumite is headstrong: he doesn’t easily change his opinions. This results in colossal trouble. Only significant events with catastrophic consequences were able to change Mark’s views. I often wondered if things would have ended differently had he listened to others.

The other side to Mark’s stubbornness is his tenacity. The hero goes against the odds several times and is willing to sacrifice himself in a heartbeat for the greater good.

Appearance

Mark Grayson is an 18-year-old man (at the beginning of the series) with black hair. He’s 5’11’’ tall and weighs 175 lbs. In the Amazon series, he’s half-Asian and is played by Steve Yeun – a half-Korean actor. 

Mark often wears a yellow shirt with a blue sweater on top. This is the same color scheme as his superhero costume – a blue, yellow, and black jumpsuit with yellow gloves and blue boots.

The young hero wears a mask that covers only the first half of his face and lets his hair hang free. Lastly, the iconic Invincible goggles complete the costume. I quite like those. It’s an accessory I have never seen other superheroes wearing.

Key Relationships

Nolan Grayson, aka Omni Man

Nolan Grayson

Mark had an excellent relationship with his dad, but the young hero discovered his old man wanted to conquer Earth. The info caused a brutal physical fight where Nolan almost killed Mark. 

But after a while, Nolan realized the error in his ways, and they reconciled. Father and son became allies in the fight against the Viltrumites – and Omni Man guided Mark to reach his purpose until his dying days.

Debbie Grayson

Mark and his mom have a great relationship. Debbie serves as a grounding force for Mark, a human perspective. 

After Mark leaves for college, he stops visiting his mom as often. Not because they were on bad terms but because their house brought lots of memories of Nolan, who was still on the run. Eventually, Mark becomes more present in his mom’s life – as much as possible with the hero’s hectic lifestyle.

Oliver Grayson

When Nolan ran away from Earth, he landed on a planet called Thraxa and had a son: Oliver. Yeah, that’s the stuff of soap operas. After the Viltrumites arrest Nolan away, Mark takes Oliver to Earth, and Debbie raises him.

Mark and Olvier’s relationship has ups and downs. As a child, Oliver looks up to Mark. But when he becomes a teenager, he begins questioning his brother’s methods and pushing for more violent ways. When Oliver reaches adulthood, the brothers become friendlier again.

Samantha Wilkins, aka Atom Eve

Eve’s the love of Mark’s life. The young Viltrumite dated Amber for a while, but he and Eve were attracted to each other from the start.  After 50 issues o shipping, I finally got to see them together. The couple would still face many troubles, and I thought they would break up on several occasions. But they stay strong until the end.

Amber Bennet

Amber is Mark’s first girlfriend and a wasted opportunity. She’s as dull as one can be.  In the tv show, they changed her looks and personality completely. Some people hate the changes, but I prefer the tv show Amber. She’s indeed angry most of the time, but in the tv show, she seems like a real character instead of a trophy wife.

William Clockwell

William is Mark’s best friend. I loved him in the series, so when I read the comic, I had a terrible surprise – William is annoying in the original version. Fortunately, he has a larger role and a kinder persona in the series.

Besides, his representation in tv is much better, as he’s out of the closet from the start. But that can be attributed to the changing times. 

Allen the Alien

Allen the Alien

Allen and Mark start their relationship with a fight. But after talking, they realized it was all a misunderstanding. From then on, they became allies and close friends. Allen is one of my favorite characters in the series, and you can learn more about him in another article.

Cecil Stedman

At first, Mark and Cecil were friendly. The superhero worked for him in the Global Defense Agency – a secret organization below the Pentagon. But Cecil showed his true colors after a while: he was willing to do anything to succeed.

This didn’t sit well with Mark, and they had a falling out. Yet, they would still experience more ups and downs and work together again.

Angstrom Levy

Levy is Mark’s nemesis. Invincible fights many villains, but Angstrom has a personal vendetta against him. The villain wanted to destroy Mark, which prompted him to repeatedly appear with crazier plans that would take down the world – if necessary – to annihilate Mark.

Thragg

The Viltrumite leader is the series’ big bad. Thragg represents the worst of the Viltrumites: he doesn’t care about human lives and only wants to expand his empire. As the series’ events escalate and Marks gets the upper hand, Thragg becomes hellbent on revenge and is ready to destroy the world to annihilate his foe.

Top 10 Mark Grayson Moments

There’s no way I can talk about all the moments from Mark Grayson in Invincible. The series is 144 issues long, and he’s the title character – I’d have to write a book. So I chose my favorite 10 moments from the young hero and explained why they’re critical to his journey.

1 – Invincible Finds out the Truth about his Dad

Image from Wiki Fandom

When: Issue #12

This is the moment the series really starts. 

The moment father and son get into a bloody fight.

Until now, Mark had fought some villains and was living a somewhat normal superhero life. In issue 7, Nolan kills the Guardians of the Globe, leaving the readers wide-eyed. But the consequences of the murder to the father and son relationship would only come in issue 12.

Nolan raised his son with a fairytale. His home planet, Viltrum, had a mission to spread into the Universe and help other planets become advanced civilizations. But the truth was they were actually conquerors.

When Mark got his powers, it was time to tell him the truth. It was time father and son would conquer Earth together. Or so did the older Viltrumite think. Nolan had doubts. He went back and forth with how to tell his son the truth. But he didn’t get to decide because Mark overheard his talk with the Immortal and discovered everything.

Mark didn’t take this lightly. He didn’t want to destroy Earth. 

This was his home.

Nolan was taken aback. But what did he expect? He raised his son as a human and now wanted him to turn his back on his friends. Unable to convince his son, Omni Man gets physical. He starts beating Mark and destroying buildings, killing thousands of people.

Omni-man argues that life on Earth doesn’t matter. He and Mark will live for thousands of years. Every person they know now will be a blip in their memory after a while.

Mark disagrees, and Nolan keeps beating Mark up so badly the teenager can barely move. I was shocked at this moment. I thought Nolan would kill his own son. He probably would’ve if it wasn’t for a tiny dialogue.

Nolan: Why do you fight? What will you still have years from now?

Mark: I’d still have you.

Upon hearing these words, Omni-man flies out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

I admit I cried at this moment. 

Mark’s answer hit everyone’s feelings, and it was the beginning of Omni-Man’s redemption arc.

This fight is impactful for the emotional stakes, but it’s also a good metric for Mark’s escalation of power. Here, he’s a newbie who can barely hold his own against his dad. But villain by villain, Invincible would become strong enough to defeat more experienced Viltrumites.

2- Angstrom Levy throws Mark in Different Dimensions

Angstrom Levy throws Mark in Different Dimensions

When: Issue #33

Angstrom Levy is Mark’s greatest enemy – all due to a misunderstanding.

Angstrom has the power to travel to other dimensions, so he recruits the Mahler twins to build a machine that’ll allow him to get knowledge from all of his alternate versions. But in the middle of the transfer, Mark shows up, and the Mahler twins from various dimensions pop up and almost beat the hero to death.

Levy runs to help Mark, but the machine he’s in explodes, and he becomes deformed.

The problem is Angstrom doesn’t remember he willingly tried to save Mark. He only remembers Invincible showing up and then the accident. So he wrongly concludes the hero is to blame. Angstrom Levy swears on revenge, and a few issues later, he holds Mark’s mom and his brother hostage.

When Mark arrives, Levy throws him into multiple alternate dimensions. The villain wants to tire the hero,  but Mark gets the upper hand and takes Levy to one of the dimensions. Finally, he’ll be able to stop this. To save his family. Invincible starts punching Levy. 

He keeps punching.

Keeps punching.

Keeps punching.

Until Levy falls dead on the ground.

Realization hits. Mark killed someone.

This is a pivotal moment. It’s where Mark’s fight against his dark side starts. For the rest of the comic, he would be haunted by this event, even in the moments his inclination to kill was strong.

3- Invincible Turns on Cecil

When: Issue #50

Before the jaw-dropping events of this issue, we need a quick recap.

During Mark and William’s visit to a university, they discovered a guy named D.A Sinclair was turning college kids into zombie robocops called Reanimen. Once Mark arrested him, Cecil ensured the criminal would be punished.

Skip a few issues, and Cecil is working with Sinclair because he’s a genius and the Reanimen can help save Earth. Now the evil scientist creates his bots with dead bodies instead of living subjects, but still…

Mark is furious when he finds out. He threatens Cecil, and the older man takes them to the white room. If you don’t remember, this is a room where you can’t see anything until you turn on the lights.

Cecil says he’s doing the right thing. The Reanimen are useful, and if Mark’s not with him, he’s against him.

The hero attacks the director.

When Cecil turns the light on, hundreds of Reanimen attack Mark, and the hero shreds them. With no alternative, the GDA’s director activates a sonic device deadly to Invincible – Viltrumites rely on their equilibrium, so anything that affects that can kill them.

Mark flies to the Guardians’ headquarters and pleads for help. After much ado, Cecil shuts off the device. He didn’t want Invincible dead. He just wanted him to be obedient. No need to say this backfired.

After these events, the guardians split – some side with Mark and others with Cecil.

This was a major turning point in the series for me. I sensed something was up with Cecil – there’s enough foreshadowing to reach that conclusion. Still, I didn’t expect things to be this sour. Yet the events of this issue set up Mark’s distrust from now on — a trait that affects all his future decisions.

4- Mark and Eve Get Together

Mark and Eve Get Together
Image from Wiki Fandom

When: Issue #54

Up to this point, Mark was dating Amber: the blandest character in the comic. I, like many other fans, longed to see him with Eve. Robert Kirkman finally answered our prayers on issue 50 – they kissed and committed after the debacle with Cecil. But issue 54 is when we see some real romance.

Mark takes Eve flying to Paris for a date. Yes. Cliché, and I love it.

The couple is interrupted by an emergency, and Eve is left alone. But wait, things will be better than it seems. This issue’s heroic plot happens in the future, so Mark returns to Paris at the exact time he left.

Mark and Eve continue their date – they travel to Venice, the North Pole, Egypt, and even space. The panels of their date are stunning, with a juxtaposition of all the places they’ve been. To close the issue in style, Mark and Eve finally say I love you to each other, which is a big moment for us shippers.

5- Invincible War

Invincible War
Image from Wiki Fandom

When: Issue #60

Turns out Angstrom Levy wasn’t dead.

The villain returns with evil alternate versions of Mark to wreak havoc in the world. Cecil calls every hero in the world to help, but the battle is brutal. The heroes take out most alternate Invincibles, but by day 3, there are still 8 of them.

While all this is happening, Mark is in the hospital with Eve. He doesn’t want to fight, but he goes when Cecil explains how bad the situation is. Thus Invincible faces off against Angstrom Levy once again.

But here comes a dilemma. Should Mark kill Levy?

Oliver says he should because Levy will destroy the world if he remains alive. This is a fascinating discussion present in every superhero story.

I can see the logic in Oliver’s case. It’s the same thing that happens with Batman and Joker. Yes, we get that the no-kill code is honorable, but if the Joker keeps killing more people, does honor even matter?

Mark sees the logic, too, and agrees with Oliver. He’ll kill Levy.

But Angstrom Levy transports to another reality.

6- Invincible Fights Conquest

Invincible Fights Conquest
Image from Wiki Fandom

When: Issue #60

This is my favorite fight in the comic.

Conquest arrives at Earth to evaluate Invincible’s progress to take over the world. Of course, Mark hasn’t done anything, and the Viltrumite uses this as an excuse to fight.

Their battle is vicious.

Eve wakes up from the coma and sees the fight on television. She jumps in to help, even though her leg is still broken. The heroine blasts Conquest, and that gives Mark time to recover.

But Conquest grabs Eve and punches a hole through her stomach.

Eve dies. Mark snaps.

Invincible was holding back, despite Conquest’s viciousness. But now, the villain had destroyed the love of Mark’s life.  So the hero beats the villain until he becomes a blood pool. Eve revives, and both go to the hospital.

I like this fight even more than Thragg vs. Battle Beast or Mark vs. Thragg.

It’s a turning point. Conquest arrives at the worst time possible for Mark: Eve’s in the hospital, and alternate versions of himself have destroyed the world.

Mark is so angry that he just wants something to punch as hard as possible. The fight is brutal, and Conquest pushes Mark to use all his power, which makes it a memorable moment.

7- Mark Destroys a Whole Planet

Invincible Mark Destroys a Whole Planet

When: Issue #75

It’s the middle of the Viltrumite War.

The Coalition of Planets discovered only 50 Viltrumites were left in the universe, so they gathered forces to defeat them. Up to his point, there have been ferocious battles in the Viltrumite War.

But this is the best.

This is the first time Mark and Thragg fight.

Marks uses all his force in a punch but just draws a little blood from Thragg. That shows how mighty the Grand Regent is. 

The group has other matters to take care of. Their strategy is to destroy planet Viltrum so the Viltrumites can’t regroup. So Thaedus, Nolan, and Mark destroy head to the planet and punch through it. Three superheroes destroying a planet with a combined punch is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in comics.

But why destroy, Viltrum?

The Viltrumites can regroup on other planets, but destroying their home planet was a blow to morale. The Viltrumite empire would not be the same after this event.

8- Mark Kills Dinossaurus

Mark Kills Dinossaurus
Image from Wiki Fandom

When: Issues #98 – 100

Dinossauros is one of the most compelling villains I’ve seen.

He wreaks havoc in the world because he believes it will help humanity. The villain is a genius, so Mark thought they could work together. He thought Dinosaurus would see the error in his ways and use his intellect to help humanity.

It seemed to work until shit hit the fan.

Dinosaurus snapped and triggered multiple world disasters: earthquakes and tsunamis. According to him, there’s a climate crisis waiting to happen, but humans don’t do anything about it. So if he destroys most of the population and accelerates the crisis, people will have to do something now.

Mark is furious, and they have a physical battle.

But then they talk.

Mark tells Dinosaurus all he did will amount to nothing. The hero questions the villain.  What if you’re wrong? What if the opposite of what you want to happen happens? 

The coming crisis was already making people rethink their actions. But by taking the problem away, Dinosaurus only slowed things down. Humans will see villains and not something they can fix. We all think we’re the hero of our own story, but most times, we’re wrong.

What I love about this dialogue is that Mark started questioning his ways. On issue 50, he was sure of his moral stance when he confronted Cecil. But that changes. Invincible evolves and realizes he can be wrong sometimes – even when he has the best intentions.

That, right there, is character growth.

Mark’s speech is so compelling, Dinosaurs agree with him. But the villain knows he’ll do harm again, so he asks Marks to kill him. It’s a heartbreaking moment that fills our minds with multiple what-ifs. Dinosaurus wasn’t completely bad, but he couldn’t avoid the holes in his logic and died for it.

9- Reboot

Invincible Reboot

When: Issues #123 – 126

After spending years in terrible fights, Mark wanted to retire and live a chill life in Talescria, the Coalition of Planet’s capital. He wanted to dedicate his time to Eve and their daughter.

But, of course, when things go awry, the Coalition recruits the hero for a dangerous mission. Mark explores a cave and falls down a rabbit hole during the assignment. 

This is the beginning of the end.

Mark meets a light being full of tentacles and wakes up in issue 1 of the comic. This was an amusing turn of events, and I was curious to see what would happen. Would Kirkman reboot Invincible for real?

The story resumes, and Mark uses his knowledge of the future to prevent countless deaths. The hero defeats enemies before they even do something,  helps Omni-Man betray the Viltrumites sooner, and avoids the Guardians’ deaths.

But as he does these things, he doesn’t feel good.

Due to some ripple effect, Eve never caught Rex cheating, and they’re still together. Mark’s alone.

The light appears in Mark’s room and asks him why he’s sad if he’s doing so much good to the world. Marks says he misses his relationship.

The being says Mark was chosen to save the Universe. Too many people died, and the balance of the Universe was broken. The being couldn’t find anyone else who sacrificed this much and saved the day. Invincible was the last hope to undo the evil actions that covered the world into darkness.

But this would only work if Mark agreed. He has to choose to stay in the rebooted dimension.

Mark refuses.

He believes his love for Eve is strong, and they’ll end up together eventually. But the child they’d have wouldn’t be Terra. Staying meant killing his daughter. Angered, the being transports him back. It seems all is fine, but 5 years have passed.

When I realized what had happened, I was emotional. I couldn’t believe that after everything Mark went through, he lost 5 years with his wife and daughter.

Yet, the reboot idea and the way it was subverted were brilliant. This concept was a stab at Marvel and DC for their multiple reboots. Still, it brought philosophical depth to the narrative. Who hasn’t wondered if they would do things differently, had they known what would happen?

I caught myself doing this several times.

But I always realize I wouldn’t change a thing. Because changing would mean losing all the good stuff I got. 

That’s what this arc is about, and that’s why it’s a pivotal moment for Mark. He realized that despite the terrible moments, he got precious things he wouldn’t trade for anything.

10-Invincible Fights Thragg

When: Issue #144

Here comes the final battle.

Everything in the comic leads up to that.

A while ago, the Viltrumites discovered Nolan was the rightful heir to the throne, so he became Grand Regent. Thragg didn’t take that well. He ran away and created a Viltrumite army by breeding with aliens that age super quickly. In 5 years, he made himself an army.

At last, the reformed Viltrumite Empire faces off against Thragg. The villain fights Nolan and leaves him near death. Mark heads in their direction, desperate, and fights the former regent. 

Invincible is good, but Thragg is the superior combatant. They fly into the sun for an epic fight. Here the comic’s message reaches the surface. Thragg only fights for himself, while Mark fights for the world – this is the difference between them.

Suddenly, Robot sends one of his armors to protect Mark from the sun’s heat, which helps the hero win the fight. There’s no one backing Thragg, and that’s why he perishes. The strengths in the collective.

Even though Mark vs. Conquest is my favorite fight, this is the most visually stunning.  The panels are eye-catching – the way the sunlight washes everything is beyond beautiful.

Bonus: Invincible Brings Peace to the Universe

Mark Grayson Guide - Hero invincible mark grayson

When: Issue #144

Unfortunately, Nolan didn’t survive the attack.

Mark is hesitant to take his dad’s place, but Nolan says he can make a difference in the empire. Invincible becomes the emperor and leads the Viltrumites in a bold new direction.

The hero helps multiple planets evolve. He brings peace to the Universe in such a way he makes the Coalition of Planets useless. But things are bittersweet.

As the years pass, Terra and Mark outlive Atom Eve.

It seems they’ll have to find a way to live without her.

But on her deathbed, wrinkled and old, Eve is reborn.

It turns out her powers allow her to be reborn every time she dies. Cool, huh?

I loved the way Kirkman handled that. It didn’t feel forced because there was enough foreshadowing. Plus, I’m a sucker for happy endings, so I was satisfied.

Awesome or Lame?

Mark Grayson is awesome—no doubt about it.

The hero carries the comic with a mix of intensity and chillness that makes him compelling. Each crisis or question he experiences hits home for me because I can see his point of view in detail. I felt how he felt. I wanted what he wanted. I rooted for him.

Mark’s a very well-built character. Anyone else could be boring for being so overpowered. But Kirkman balances strength levels and challenges in a way that Mark is constantly pushing himself to the limit.

Seeing Invincible grow up and his power escalation unfolds was a joy. Mark’s a sweetheart, my favorite hero created in our current era.

FAQs

Question: Is Mark Grayson Asian?

Answer: In the comics, Mark is Caucasian. But the animated series has Mark as half-asian from his mom’s side. He is played by a half-Korean actor – Steve Yeun.

Question: Is Mark Grayson Immortal?

Answer: No, he isn’t. Mark can be killed with violence. He can also die of old age, but his lifespan is massive. The hero can live for thousands of years, aging slowly.

Question: Is Mark Grayson DC or Marvel?

Answer: Neither. Invincible is a series from Image Comics. This publisher was created by 7 comic book writers/artists who decided to leave Marvel and create their own company.

The End of All Things

Invincible is a serious contender for this century’s best superhero title. Rober Kirkman manages to use recurring superhero tropes but twists them to keep them fresh for comic book fans.

If you were curious after reading Mark’s story, you can find more about the series in the Invincible Universe Guide. But if you’re already a fan and want to show your love for the saga, you can check this Invincible Cosplay Ideas Guide.

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