Doctrine of The Invincible

~ essay on the animated series Invincible (2021). {spoilers ahead}

I jumped into Invincible late into its run here in the first part of the year {just in time to fly into the final ep LIVE, with bloodshot eyes and pounding heart}. Unexcited by the generic trailer images, completely uninitiated to the comics and this story, I was blown away. By the end of episode 1, enthralled to find out more, I proceeded to binge the next 6 episodes in one sitting…

The saga of Mark Grayson and his father, “Omni-Man”, two ‘invincible’ {i.e. Superman-esque} superheroes in a fantastical world of hulking clones, alien invasions, government conspiracies, techno-tyrants and demon detectives, among many other things, is a near masterpiece. There are a lot of reasons why, namely that it builds a satisfying world beyond these two principal characters; Invincible weaves together a burgeoning universe of intriguing sci-fi elements, side-superhero developments, and potential pathways for the story to go. And go it does, with the fast-paced stylings of the A Plot of Mark’s coming-of-age superheroics and late-teen angsts amidst Omni-Man’s mysterious quest taking center stage, but with every B Plot wrapping rather nicely into the total picture.

Like I said, there are a lot of reasons to watch — the action, the BLOOD, the animation, the VIOLENCE, the story, the multitude of mysteries and technologies and powers that come into play. The tremendous voice acting talent. The looooore. The glorious, godlike Cat Warrior Man. And the fact that series creator Robert Kirkman is willing to let his Superman go ALL out, with his full power unleashed upon fellow supers and fragile humans alike, to devastating / delightful effect…

I was most intrigued by the background and philosophy of one Omni-Man, only fully unveiled in the final episode of the season. Why is he doing what he’s doing? That is what I wanted to talk about. (Only in the context of season 1 of the animated series and not inclusive of whatever mighty, meaty details and truths that may become revealed in the future of the comics…) {Season 2 + 3 are coming, btw}.

The origins of Omni-Man’s brutal doctrine, conceived from out of the final collection of the superpowered, self-genociding, tyrannical Übermensch population from Viltrumite, is an intriguing thought experiment to {try} to explore the nature of.

Omni-Man, in his blunt and truth-filled talk with Mark in the finale, reveals what his underlying mission has been all along as an alien-acting-as-hero on Earth, and what he *really* thinks of human beings. Both revelations are billed primarily from his identity as a Viltrumite — as one of a race of immortal superbeings. But not only that — he comes {and he kills} as a representative of a remnant, victorious subpopulation of Viltrum, after civil war turned to genocide turned to ‘utopian’ society, and then an ardent regime of intergalactic imperialism. He is a soldier, the vanguard agent of an eventual invasion and conquest by his people upon Earth. Human beings, to him as a Viltrumite, are like insects. The mighty Guardians of the Globe were merely obstacles to him and his endgame, specks in the grand scheme of their Sun-burning spans.

The only people that matter, he tells Mark, are them two. The invincible ones. Earth, we and Mark come to find out, is just another anthill along the path of the Viltrum empire. And Mark’s mother / his wife, Debbie — given his real loyalties to his country and his millennia-long lifespan — is just a pet he kept to make his time on Earth, working his mission to its end, easier for him.

Upon learning all this, Mark rejects his ‘responsibility’ to Viltrum and his father. He chooses his humanity, and thus, his own destiny… And he gets his ass beat into the ground, nearly to death, as a result. Omni-Man flees Earth, shedding ambivalent tears, likely back to Viltrum to reevaluate the plan, or to just craft new plans.

What to make of Omni-Man and Viltrum’s ruthless empire? What of their philosophy of their power utilized to its fullest extent, killing all but the most aggressive and empire-minded of their own species? What does this self-imposed, barbarously un-natural selection amount to — power and the will to use it maximized afore all else — in the collective psyche of the population from there? {Murder, conquest, imperialism, for three…}

Relative to Superman the Kryptonian, whose extraordinary origins and power-level most resemble our invincible dominator within wider comic book lore, Omni-Man acts nearly as his exact opposite, in thoughts and actions.

Omni-Man, or Nolan Grayson, comes to Earth as an adult, with superiority complex intact {objectively ‘accurate’ relative to little humans, subjectively uncompassionate and noxious (to us)}, with plans to conquer it for his people. Whereas Viltrum is thriving as an intergalactic conquering force, Superman’s people are gone — Krypton is destroyed as he is born and sent away. Relative to Omni’s covert agency and conscious marriage to an Earth woman to bear him a child he could eventually use in his quest, Supes crash lands as a babe — he is raised from birth by the Kents, a kind, God-loving couple in rural Kansas. Adopting their mores into his heart, Superman becomes one of Earth’s greatest defenders, fighting “a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.” {eye roll..} And so on. So there are important differences. And they are ones worth exploring in this analysis.

Omni-Man’s doctrine of domination, the one he has secretly carried since he first landed on Earth around 20 years before the events of the Invincible series’ opening, is borne from engagement within a society of his peers. Superman, on the other hand, was as human as anyone — only his supernatural power separated him; his socialization came entirely within human society. Not so for Omni. He comes from the aliens fully formed in mind, body and soul. Krypton’s culture and society may have been benevolent or not, it does not really matter for Clark Kent’s ethos as Superman — for he does not know of it and never experienced it.

Their disparate paths — being as equally over-powerful as they are relative to the world around them — might make sense once we understand the Viltrum society as Omni-Man did experience it. Thus, in this theoretical {fictional} dichotomy, their power matters less than their socialization in determining their life courses, and how they end up using that power.

As Omni tells Mark — Viltrumites are aliens, from another world, humanoid and similar in some bare respects {they build cities with skyscrapers, they try to self-improve, they like to fight and fuck and conquer, etc.}. But they can also fly. And wield the strength of a demigod. They are nigh immortal, ageless and invulnerable to all but the most superpowered violence {as we see Cecil and the GDA testing all kinds of manmade horror upon Omni’s cells, to no avail.} According to Omni-Man they actually age less the older they get and would be able to watch the Sun die and Earth blow away into dust. In sum, they are invincible, in more ways than we humans would even use the word to describe. Their bodies and their lives are beyond our understanding. Thus, this makes their philosophy difficult for us to comprehend. Or their soul. Clearly, it contains a conquesting spirit. {Like we humans do, too…}

In the same way that an ant cannot comprehend *our* quest for the complete domination of our environment, no matter to the natural extinctions or loss of life from our own species along the way — neither can we fully understand the Viltrumite’s will to conquer the universe with their godlike strength and longevity.

To us, they are murderous Gods, delivering to us horrors of the cosmic kind {watch the final two episodes as a human in that world, and tell me that isn’t a bit Lovecraftian..} It is horror that is not unlike the kind that we humans cast into our natural world and its ‘lesser’ species all the time, trampling and killing them through our course as a species to make our position on this planet more secure and comfortable. Naturally, when we want to build a house, or a monument, or even a sand castle — we don’t bother to mind the anthill(s) in the way…

Perhaps the Viltrumites, in their capacity to travel the galaxy(ies?), their own promised and progressed-upon *world* simply entails that of their vast reach. As far as they can go lay land for them to take and build their world, culture and society upon {you know, like “Manifest Destiny!”}. All their invasions and conquests, civilizational ruinations and xenocidal action against resistors that they bring into being through their quest, are simply byproducts from their conscious growth, moving through their potential space as a people. Neither good nor bad, just necessary. It is part of their journey unto maximizing their own Viltrumite flourishing, their eudaimonia, above all else. {So the path of Viltrum through the universe is not that dissimilar from the path of humanity upon Earth…}

{Or their ruling ethic of empire expansion and disregard for all life but their own is less innate and more so instilled entirely from the most violent, ardently imperious elements within their old society rising to revolution and simply wiping out all of the pacifist, anti-imperialist, “weaker” Viltrumite cultures and bloodlines… More food for thought.}

Of course — to us humans under the falling boot of Viltrum — all this is fucking terrible! We see Omni-Man as a villain and a murderer and tyrannical demigod that needs to be stopped at all costs. Yes, agreed. He is a monster! Same with the rest of Viltrum and their abhorrent xenocidal empire. But that is a human perspective {the only one we can take, in defense of our own species}.

You could make the argument that the Viltrumite consciousness is to ours like ours is to the beasts of our world. From his more dominant social force, Omni-Man has evolved to especially disdain human weakness {ALL weakness, in actuality} and to banally watch his own son struggle in life-or-death fights without helping… This is because his consciousness values *strength* above all else. He {and we can assume this for all of the remaining Viltrumites as well} believe strength is what makes a lifeform worthy.

What do we value most of all within life? {..mostly that it just gets out of our way?} What makes life worthy relative to us?

To us humans, consciousness is the master value of our morality. For it is consciousness that we try to preserve and cultivate with our actions in the world, if we are trying to be conventionally moral {..and if we even get that far. We also love to kill each other..} *Conscious* suffering is what we try to lessen with our laws and our compassions. Because we have it and because it is rare in nature, as we have experienced it {discounting the apparently many sentient alien species in the Invincible universe}.

For creatures and lifeforms that are less conscious than we — such as animals and plants — their life is necessarily secondary. To our own {biased} eyes, they have less of a capacity for suffering due to their lack of consciousness; individually, the ‘lower’ lifeforms existing entirely within the realm of instinct lack this self-awareness and do not anticipate anything but pain and pleasure, and thus carry a fraction of the worldly influence any given conscious human being does. For better or worse, this is the calculus of human morality.

{To many, while this is a pervading belief, it’s an unfortunate reality, and I agree! We should take better care of our world and its non-human life. Not saying this is right or good, merely trying to describe common human philosophy and morality in the context of the world around us — much the same way as an alien superbeing like a Viltrumite might contextualize or justify their domineering existence relative to the universe of planets around theirs… As Omni-Man does to Mark in the finale…}

Think Mark! Think!! ~ In effect: MARK! Human pain and death is nothing compared to Viltrum pleasure and life!!
Shout out to Debbie Grayson, a strong woman willing to consistently stand up to Omni-Man — and win! Happy mother’s day!

My thesis in observation and contemplation of Omni-Man, as a Viltrumite within the human world, is that his strength and immortality comprises a whole new form of consciousness. In other realms of the fantastic, in the same way that godhood or vampirism / undeath displaces one from humanity and from our understanding of their pathological actions and ‘evil’ doings unto us — so too is *invincibility* a strain of ascended {or merely deranged} consciousness that, by definition, makes one utterly amoral. Or in the Nietzschean sense — beyond good and evil.

Omni-Man and the Viltrumites do everything they can to advance themselves, to achieve their goals and expand their consciousness as far as it can go. To their eyes alone, all of the blood along the way is just collateral damage for the sake of their species’ destiny; whereas, to the subjected species, it’s all one big holocaust, and an end to theirs.

Omni-Man has the power to carry out his will. Simply, no one can stop him {yet}. Thus, everything comes down to his – to his people’s – choice. The Viltrumites have the strength and the will to do what they are doing – and so, it is done.

Remember when Omni-Man tells the Flaxons that Earth wasn’t “theirs to conquer”…

This is because the potentially universe-spanning power and influence that Omni-Man and Mark and all Viltrumites wield makes their consciousness and its suffering — {from this singularly subjective, morally despicable perspective!} — infinitely times more consequential than a human beings’. Given their lifespans, even many, many generations of humanity. Again, in the same way that a single human’s life is infinitely more valuable {to most of us} than many generations of ants within one or many anthills. Omni-Man tries to communicate this philosophy of their superiority to his son, rather viscerally with some devastating first-hand lessons… and quite a few human casualties by the class’ end.

“For the first time in your life, I am telling you THE TRUTH!”

In Invincible, you see the full devastation of superpowers upon weak, powerless — and oh so fragile — humans. ~

When you are as strong as a God relative to all others around you, to you – the only one that really matters becomes you. Godlike power and the will to use it make all life outside of it necessarily lesser. Whether this is part and parcel of the evolution of all life forms in the universe, or just one that Viltrum and humanity share, is unknown. From this point, as an apex species on a world or in a galaxy — it takes willful, collective, conscious concern and compassion for other life in order to stave off your own species’ growth for the sake of other species’ life.

Omni-Man and the Viltrumites engage in some of this in their expansion {Omni to Mark: Earth can submit to our will *peacefully* … or it will be taken by force (and potentially wiped out)}. But ultimately, their might makes right. They don’t have much of a conscience for any non-Viltrumites and their potential self-determination out in any space that could eventually be theirs. In this universe, this is the chosen doctrine of the invincible: imperialistic dominance.

So, yeah … Omni-Man’s / Viltrum’s selfish, dominating doctrine, wherein their power and longevity give them the discretionary right to rule over the universe — as the most powerfully *conscious* beings around — is indeed a terrifying prospect. And clearly, in this fictional world, figuring out why they do what they do matters less to us than the chance that we may be able to stop them from killing us or other alien civilizations, either with our technology or our own heroes.

But… speaking under a veil of reasonable philosophical conjecture, with the same power in hand, would humanity choose much differently? Have not certain swaths of humanity — bearing out a doctrine of their own racial superiority, without the reality of such Overmanhood relative to their oppressed targets — tried to do just this on Earth over the centuries…?

So before we claim any easy moral high ground relative to Omni-Man’s fascism, we must understand that we have done the same — and none of us are even close to


Quick Invincible 😂MEME😜 cache:

I’d still have you…” 😭 ~