Invincible creator Robert Kirkman on Anissa’s introduction: “She’s supposed to be the carrot to the later stick”

Anissa is a big deal for fans of the comics and is only about to get bigger.

Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson)
Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson) /

In the latest episode of Invincible, Season 2, Episode 7, titled “I’m Not Going Anywhere,” we finally meet a character who is vitally important to the comic book source material: Anissa, voiced by Shantel Vanshanten. She’s introduced in the most horrific way possible – and spoilers past this point – as she threatens to kill Invincible’s (Steven Yeun) girlfriend Amber (Zazie Beetz) in front of him.

But other than this harrowing moment, Anissa seems to present a softer side of the series’ villains, the Viltrumite Empire, explaining how letting them conquer Earth would actually help the planet, and teaming up with Invincible to take down a massive monster. According to Invincible creator Robert Kirkman, that’s all part of the plan.

“She's, more than anything, a character that is supposed to, at least in her introductory scene, make you question the Viltrumites a little bit,” Kirkman told Bam Smack Pow. “They've encountered Viltrumites on Earth with Nolan and then on Thraxa with the other Viltrumites, and they all seem very violent and very unreasonable. And then Anissa shows up and gives you a different side of the Empire. She's supposed to be the carrot to a later stick that will be showing up at some point in the future.”

Though Mark still seems pretty firm on not helping the Viltrumites conquer Earth at the end, particularly after multiple brutal beatings from Anissa, it definitely raises a bit of uncertainty in him – and the audience – when it comes to whether letting the Viltrumites rule might not be the right move.

“We just wanted to have the audience possibly doubting Viltrumites' motives,” Kirkman continued, possibly wondering, ‘Is this something that we should be dreading as much as we are? Maybe there is some truth to their stuff about helping Earth and things.’ And so just hoping to have a slightly nuanced take on Viltrumites.”

Diving deeper into this idea, Kirkman discussed how tackling the comic book property he created with artists Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley in TV form drastically changed how he approached the overarching Viltrumite plot.

Invincible - Episode 102 - "Here Goes Nothing" -- Pictured: J.K. Simmons (Omni-Man) -- Credit: Courtesy of Amazon Studios /

“A lot of different things happen when you do the hour-long episodic format as opposed to a 20-page monthly comic,” Kirkman noted. “There's fewer bites at the apple. We know we're coming in for eight beats every season. And so when Simon Racioppa and I sit down to map out the season in the very earliest discussions on what we're going to be doing, we are making sure that the Viltrumite plot is appropriately peppered through the season.

“With season two, my concern, frankly, was that a lot of people were thinking this was the Omni-Man show. And so with season two, our goal was to give the audience what they want but also very clearly signal this is Mark's show and the show is going to focus on Mark's perspective and Invincible's emergence into this world and how he deals with this world is the heart and soul of this show. Omni-Man is a very important character and is going to be present and you can kind of see in season two exactly how important this character is and is going to continue to be long-term, but he's definitely not the sole focus of the show.

“So that was something that we were trying to keep in mind while we were trying to space out all of the Viltrumite goings-ons because that larger story is the through line of the show. It is something that is always going to be present, and how we progress that story from season to season, it's one of the most important things about the show and it gives the show that long-term goal, that from season to season we know we will be dealing with this interplanetary threat while there's all these other things happening.”

One of those things that will be happening? One of the most controversial moments in the comics, which involves Invincible and Anissa. We’re skirting spoilers here, but suffice to say it’s a highly emotional and harrowing sequence that occurs later in the run of the book that has divided fans. The team is deep in production on Season 3 of the series, but even with that in mind, Kirkman did feel it was “too early to speak on that plot point.” That said, they’re well aware when and if the show adapts this key moment, it needs to be handled with car.

“It's something that we're definitely all aware of and figuring out how we're going to handle exactly in the show version,” Kirkman said.

Invincible streams on Thursdays at 3 AM ET / Midnight PT on Prime Video.

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