WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Invincible, streaming now on Amazon Prime.
Invincible, Amazon Prime's animated adaptation of the comics series by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Corey Walker, is filled to the brim with homages to every piece of superhero media you can think of. Beyond the obvious DC and Marvel references, Invincible also pays tribute to indie comics and manga. Notably, the series' third episode, "Who You Calling Ugly?" features a reference to the hit superhero manga One-Punch Man.
Two-Punch Man's Cameo in Invincible
A background character who looks an awful lot like One-Punch Man's protagonist Saitama appears in the opening scene of Episode 3 and reappears later during the tryouts for the new Guardians of the Globe team. He has the same round and shiny bald head as Saitama, though his outfit is red with a yellow cape rather than yellow with a white cape.
In a Reddit AMA, Robert Kirkman joked that the character's name was "Two-Punch Man." Perhaps that name's implication of being only half as strong as Saitama explains why "Two-Punch Man" doesn't ultimately make the cut for the Guardians of the Globe. Either that or he shares Saitama's big weakness of flunking the standardized test portions of the application.
Invincible and One Punch Man Similarities
It's fitting that Invincible would reference One-Punch Man as the two series have a lot of things in common. Both are subversive yet loving adult-oriented takes on the standard Western superhero mythos. The Invincible comics might not be as directly influenced by manga as One-Punch Man is influenced by Western comics, but there are at the minimum unintentional parallels with the plots and power-leveling of Dragon Ball.
Even if Kirkman himself never read Dragon Ball before fans pointed out the similarities, there are clearly anime fans involved in the production of the Invincible animated series. Serious adult-oriented action-dramas are rare in American animation but common in anime, so the animation talent best suited for a production like Invincible is most likely familiar with how anime pulls off epic violent battles. The Saitama parody is evidence of this.
Invincible’s Mark Vs. Saitama: Who Would Win in a Fight?
Both series' titular superheroes also come with names that communicate their superior strength and invulnerability, which begs the question: who would win in a fight. The answer? ...It's One-Punch Man, obviously.
Certainly, at this early point in Amazon Prime series, Invincible is an aspirational superhero name rather than an accurately descriptive one. Mark has incredible power but he's not all that talented at using it yet. While his strength steadily increases in the comics, leveling up to the point where he can destroy planets, Saitama's punches can destroy planet-destroyers. Mark at his strongest could put up an incredible fight, but you just can't beat Saitama.
Invincible stars Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Mark Hamill, Walton Goggins, Jason Mantzoukas, Mae Whitman, Chris Diamantopoulos, Melise, Kevin Michael Richardson, Grey Griffin and Max Burkholder. The series is produced by Skybound, and executive produced by Robert Kirkman, Simon Racioppa, David Alpert and Catherine Winder. New episodes air Fridays on Amazon Prime Video.