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Why Is Invincible’s Anissa So Controversial?

Why Is Invincible's Anissa So Controversial?


  • Anissa’s arrival on
    brings controversy due to her disturbing act of sexual assault against Mark, a dark moment in the series.
  • The issue of sexual abuse of men is tackled in the storyline, sparking debate on whether the series should adapt the controversial scene.
  • Fans are anxious about how
    will handle Anissa’s storyline in Season 3, wondering if the series will address or avoid the controversial issue.

This article contains SPOILERS for the comic series Invincible. It also includes references to abuse, violence, sexual assault and rape. Reader discretion is advised.

Invincible has introduced many terrible villains, from the destructive and terrifying Omni-Man to the multiversal threat of Angstrom and, recently, a swarm of alien parasites bent on domination. It is a terrifying world that the heroes often struggle to save. Yet the franchise might have introduced the most controversial villain in the entire franchise recently. In the penultimate episode of Season 2, Invincible brought in the character of Anissa.

To the average audience, she seems like another member of the powerful alien race known as the Viltrumite. Yet comic fans know that not only is she a major character in the story, but she is also part of the franchise’s most controversial and haunting moments. Here is who Anissa is and why her arrival was met with shock and worry by fans of the comics.

Who Is Anissa in Invincible?

Invincible is based on the Image Comic series of the same name, created by Robert Kirman and launched in 2003. Anissa debuted in Invincible #44 in July 2007. Her debut issue plays out much like the Prime Video series, where she arrives on Earth to tell Mark Grayson to submit to the rule of the Viltrumite Empire, stopping a sea creature from sinking a ship and nearly beating him to death when he refuses. In the series, she is voiced by Shantel VanSanten, who also played the role of Billy Butcher’s wife, Becca, on The Boys. While in The Boys, she is a victim of a horrible act, in Invincible, her character has more in common with that series’ main villain, Homelander.


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She is a recurring antagonist in the series, notably in the Viltrumite War story arc, which finds her fighting Invincible and many of his alleys. However, when the Empire is weakened, she finds herself hiding amongst Earthlings. While she becomes an ally later to Invincible and the Guardians of the Globe, her actions later in the series mark her down a path where many could not forgive her despite the series trying to show that she was a changed person.

The Controversial Issue With Anissa and Invincible

This section contains references to sexual assault and violence. Reader discretion is advised.

In Invincible #110 from April 2014, Anissa commits her most notable and vile act. After being gone for six months due to some time displacement issue, Mark finds that many people in his life have moved on, thinking he was dead. Anissa confronts Mark about how he is not doing his part as a Viltrumite and not procreating. She does not want to mate with a normal human but will do so with Mark because he still has Viltrumite DNA and believes it will give her a strong child.

Mark refuses her advances, but she does not take no for an answer. After failing to seduce him, she headbutts him and goes about it “the Viltrumite way” by force and against Mark’s will. She beats Mark, pushes him to the ground, and forces herself on him despite his protest. She rapes Mark, with her even being aroused by Mark’s refusal and pain. She leaves, and Mark is left alone, crying as he was violated and sexually assaulted.

Since the publication of the issue, it has been controversial, from the act itself to the way it was depicted in the comics, with some claiming it was exploitative. Anissa remained part of the series and even did sire a child with Mark. The series tries to give her some form of redemption, expressing that she is regretful of her actions in an attempt to show character growth. This was controversial for many as her sexual assault of Mark was seen as an action too far and one that could not be forgiven or even forgotten about.

In a story filled with brutal violence, murder, dismemberment, and carnage, the cruel act of Mark being taken advantage of against his will was easily the darkest and most haunting moment. When Invincible was announced as a series for Prime Video, many wondered if the show would ever attempt to adapt this storyline.

Will Invincible Adapt the Controversial Anissa Moment?

Read Our Season 2 Review

Invincible has remained a relatively faithful adaptation of the comic book series. Obviously, some elements have been changed just by the nature of adaptation, with some plot points being moved up from when they were in the comic. Still, it has remained faithful to the spirit and major story points of the series. Anissa’s debut episode also closely adapts the elements of issue #44. This likely means that Season 3 will encompass much of the Viltrumite war storyline from the comics. The series is certainly far away from the controversial issue for now, but eventually, they will have to catch up, and that has left fans of the comics nervous in anticipation of how, if at all, they choose to adapt it.

They could go for a one-to-one translation, but it would be a brutal and horrific scene that might push too many boundaries. Some would argue that the point of the scene is to show the horrors of the act. They could re-edit to show less and leave more implied, as what happened on Netflix’s The Sandman when they adapted issue #17 of the comic “Calliope.” The storyline features a more overt reference to rape, whereas the Netflix series was implied but equally horrific.

There is also the chance that they avoid the storyline entirely. Robert Kirkman, the creator of the original comic, is the creator of the television series and might use the series to address some issues he himself has with the comic. While he made the creative decision in 2014, he might not want to do the same in 2024. Bringing in Anissa might be a misdirection, where the fans know what her arrival means, and the series might swerve in a different direction.

Cutting Mark’s sexual abuse is a tricky thing. The subject of using sexual abuse for character motivation is an overdone and often poorly thought out writing device where some might argue it is gratuitous and profits and exploits trauma for drama. However, the flip side could mean sacrificing a too-rare instance of sexual assault inflicted on men and could dispel the common belief that men will enjoy it. Cases of sexual abuse of men can often be downplayed or joked about in popular culture, and a series like Invincible has the chance to reach an audience and show how it is no laughing matter. It is a horrific, traumatic, and awful experience and one that the series cannot take lightly. There are pros and cons to adopting it or not.

The one thing for sure is that the arrival of Anissa on Invincible certainly made fans’ feelings of dread rise more than any of the other villains the series established. Fans eagerly await Season 3 following the epic Season 2 finale, but there is also a great deal of concern about where the story will go. Invincible is now streaming on Prime Video.

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