Why Allen the Alien is the best character on Invincible

Invincible has no shortage of characters worth celebrated, but one super-strong, kinda dim, one-eyed bro takes the top prize:
Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video
Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video /

Invincible is an animated superhero show on Amazon Prime Video, based on the Robert Kirkman-authored comic book of the same name. It's about Mark Grayson, a teenage superhero with a very famous, very powerful superhero father named Omni-Man. Over the course of the first two seasons, the cast has grown into a robust ensemble, with characters constantly stepping into and out of the spotlight. There's Atom Eve, Mark's superhero colleague whose small-minded parents don't understand what she's trying to do with her powers. There's Rex Splode, a hot-headed member of the Guardians of the Globe superhero team who's rethinking his life after a near-death experience. In the most recent episode, a mild-mannered, bespectacled government operative named Donald took center stage as he adjusts to the knowledge that he died and was brought back as a cyborg...39 times.

I could go on. Part of the fun of the show, especially as it expands in the second season, is that it feels like any of these characters could take the spotlight at any moment. I haven't read the source comic, so I don't know how deep this rabbit hole goes, and that's exciting.

Among this embarrassment of rich characters is Allen the Alien, whose name already tells you some important things about him. He's a space alien, specifically a Unopan. But he's not just any Unopan. He was bred to especially strong and hardy so the Unopans could fight back against the Viltrimutes, a group of space fascists waging an expansionist war across the galaxy. When he gets the crap kicked out of him early in season 2, he's rehabilitated and comes back even stronger and more swole than before.

But that hasn't changed his disposition. Allen is a decent dude, a good bro, and a little dim. Mark first meets Allen when the one-eyed alien made one of his many visits to Earth, a planet he is supposed to keep an eye on for the Coalition of Planets. Only he's actually supposed to be looking in on the planet Urath; he mixed the planets up, and is super-embarrassed about it.

There is something very charming about a cyclops alien with a bulky superhero physique capable of traveling through space without a spacesuit making kind of whoopsie-daisy sort of mistake. Invincible is all about contrasts. Mark wants to live the life of a normal teenager, but is constantly called away to solve diplomatic crises with fish people or to stop an invasion of mind-controlling Martian parasites, or whatever Global Defense Agency head Cecil Stedman has for him that day. We see this see-saw on display in the newest episode, "I'm Not Going Anywhere," where Mark is on a date with his girlfriend Amber — having ice cream, shopping at open-air markets — when they've visited by a Viltrumite who puts a hand around Amber's neck and threatens to tear her head off if Mark doesn't leave right now. The jump from ordinary to extraordinarily dangerous is quick and brutal. One moment, Invincible is making cheeky meta jokes about the difficulties of animation, and the next, lives are at stake.

Allen the Alien has that contrast at his core. In the final scene of the episode, he's flying through space when he's passed by a Viltrumite cruiser. "Did they see me?" this untouchable superbeing thinks aloud. "Yep, they definitely saw me." Again, it's the contrast of nigh-limitless power combined with Seth Rogen's affable gym bro performance that sells moments like this. It takes very little for me to crack a smile when watching Allen do his thing.

Rogen is crucial to Allen's success. The voice cast of Invincible, like most things about the show, is of a far higher quality than you'd expect just reading the description: Oscar nominee Steven Yeun as Mark, Sandra Oh as his mother Debbie, J.K. Simmons as Omni-Man, Jason Mantzoukas as Rex Splode, Ben Schwartz as the Shapesmith, Zachary Quinto as Robot...part of you wonders what Amazon has on these people, and then you watch the show, and you're like, 'Oh, no, it's just good enough to justify this cast of big names.'

In addition to acting on the series, Rogen is also an executive producer, and you can tell that he gets the material on a deep level. He understands that Allen is supposed to be funny, but still leaves enough room to take him seriously so we're upset when he loses a fight. That's a tighter line to walk than it seems and I give him a lot of credit.

And that's why Allen the Alien is the best characters on Invincible...at least until another episode comes along and I change my opinion. That seems to happen a lot on Invincible, and I couldn't be happier.

dark. Next. allen. Invincible review, Episode 207: "I'm Not Going Anywhere"

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