On some level, I have to believe that viewers of Amazon’s Invincible are supposed to be attracted to Omni-Man aka Nolan Grayson.
He’s built like a sculpture of a sculpture, like form itself idealized. He is both the titular protagonist’s dad and all of our dad, who is horny, loves a henley...
...and sports forearms that look like two hormone-plumped turkey legs plucked from a cart at Disney World.
His graying temples bespeak maturity; the rest of his full head of brown hair flaunts vitality. He’s been on Earth for hundreds, if not thousands of years (I can’t remember if it’s explicitly stated on the show, but many online resources regarding the comic book source of the Amazon show’s story say 2,000+) and he’s only showing minor signs of aging—a superhero to make David Sinclair proud. His mustache looks as much like it belongs on the bottom of a broom as it does pressed up against a guy’s torso in the back room of a bar. He is Super Daddy.
Not to be all like, “drawings are hot,” but this drawing is. Add Omni-Man to the list of drawings that seem hung. Invincible, whose first season dropped on Amazon earlier this year, looks very familiar while existing in a universe that is distinct from the Marvel and D.C. ones that take up the most cultural space. Many Invincible characters are reminiscent of established icons like the Flash and Spider-Man. The show’s m.o. seems to be not to avoid the cliche, but to embrace and enrich it, sketching out what the actual (super-) human experience of living in a world dominated by flying heroes and monster villains might look like. Tropes are twisted slightly, and juiciness flows.
Omni-Man is an alien uber-man—a Superman cognate with just a little more going on than benevolence for a people whose planet he’s passing through. He’s so familiar in his broad embodiment of masculine ideals that when he brutally murders a group of his hero peers at the end of the show’s premiere, it’s a shock. How could such well-chiseled goodness be capable of such savagery? He must have been possessed by evil forces! His motivation is a mystery that runs throughout the first season and I’ll let you in on why, which means I’ll be spoiling the first season finale (which premiered months ago, so please get over it).
It turns out that Omni-Man was sent to Earth by his people, the Viltrumite race, not to protect it, but to weaken it for future infiltration. That means, of course, getting rid of the planet’s strongest: its existing superheroes. The story subverts our expectations that such a positioned character who radiates health and fatherly protection would only be capable of good. Omni-Man is a way of illustrating the insidiousness of what might commonly be referred to as “toxic masculinity.”
And I’d argue that he wouldn’t be nearly as convincing were it not for his corporal vessel.
He’s a wolf in himbo’s clothing, someone whose rather conventional allure maximizes his potential for exploitation. He’s a him fatale. At his core, he is not “a kind of good-hearted hero, a response to the toxic brand of dastardly character that emerged in the Trump years meant to reassure women that Not All Men,” as my editor Julianne Escobedo Shepherd described of the himbo in her intro to this series. Rather, he uses that image to deceive in a scheme that, because it’s inherently evil at least in terms of earthly morality, and this is a story about superheroes, is destined to fail. He’s not a himbo, he just plays one in society, but his plan is decidedly misguided and, in fact, fundamentally himbo-ish.
Also, Wikipedia describes his stamina as “nigh-limitless,” which makes me think he’d fuck great.