Robert Kirkman’s superhero saga continues with another bloody and bold chapter.
Plot: Still reeling from Nolan’s betrayal in Season One, Mark struggles to rebuild his life as he faces a host of new threats while battling his greatest fear – that he might become his father without even knowing it.
Review: The first season of Invincible was a pleasant surprise. Few animated series have been able to not only tell a mature story but do so outside of the familiar universes of Marvel or DC. Robert Kirkman’s series, based on his Image Comics series of the same name, introduced the world to a new hero in Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) and his twisted alien hero/villain father, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). After the eight-episode first season and a standalone holiday special focused on Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), Invincible returns after over two years with a sophomore season with new characters and story arcs pulled right from the comics. Along with some new twists, this is a very faithful take on the source material that balances superhero action, brutal violence, and solid humor while delving into the psychological toll of what it means to live in a world of god-like beings with supernatural powers. Invincible is as good as ever and shows no signs of slowing down.
If you have read the comics, you know what you are in store for this season. Invincible picks up after the fallout of the massive battle between Mark and his father, which saw the city of Chicago decimated. Omni-Man departed Earth, leaving his son physically and mentally scarred. Omni-Man’s rampage not only caused damage to Earth but also to those close to him, including his human wife Debbie (Sandra Oh), whom he referred to as a pet rather than a partner. With villains still active and a void left by Omni-Man, the new Guardians of the Globe team, under the watchful control of Cecil Stedman (Walton Goggins) and the Global Defense Agency, continue to pick up the pieces. This means we will meet some former bad guys from last season, like the Lizard League, Doc Seismic, and The Mauler Twins, but there are also new villains to face, as well as some new heroes like Bulletproof (Jay Pharoah) and Shapesmith (Ben Schwartz).
The biggest new addition to Invincible is Sterling K. Brown, who voices Angstrom Levy. Levy’s introduction in the first episode will not be spoiled here, but it sets up one of the biggest twists from the pages of the comic book. Brown delivers a solid vocal performance that will have fans drawing comparisons to a similar plot thread seen in recent Marvel and DC feature films. Not only does this plot device not feel derivative, but it is key to the main narrative of Invincible. This series has always been different than the two big comic book franchises in that it tackles the expected stories of heroes and villains from a more realistic vantage point. Similarly to Prime Video’s other hit series, The Boys, Invincible pulls no punches when it comes to violence, profanity, or sexual content. Even though it is animated, Invincible feels more realistic than The Boys in how it looks at the impact the decisions the heroes have on the lives around them.
Having seen the four episodes that comprise Part One of Invincible’s second season, I was happy with the consistency kept between the freshman and sophomore seasons. Steven Yeun is still great in the lead role, now flush with nuance as Mark Grayson must contend with the psychological trauma of his father leaving Earth. Yeun balances playing an eighteen-year-old burgeoning hero with the stress of being literally invincible with multiple layers, adding a maturity to this story that would have been lacking in most animated projects. Sandra Oh has a lot more to do this season as she succumbs to her own depression after Omni-Man’s departure. Gillian Jacobs is also good as she explores Eve’s change of heart regarding being a superhero. The additional voice work from everyone is excellent, including Andrew Rannells and Zazie Beetz, who play key roles in this run of episodes. The vast ensemble is just as good with new additions and returning favorites, including Ross Marquand, Jason Mantzoukas, Grey Griffin, Zachary Quinto, Cliff Curtis, Daveed Diggs, Rhea Seahorn, Lea Thompson, and more.
With Robert Kirkman back to shepherd the second season of Invincible, the series is stronger than ever. Unlike the diminishing returns of The Walking Dead as it overstayed its welcome, this series keeps the seasons short, focused, and full of meaningful development. Past the initial origin story phase of the narrative, the season premiere opens fast and never lets up. Like season one, these episodes run over forty minutes, a rarity in animated series, but you easily forget that you are watching a cartoon within minutes. I have not always been a big fan of the anime-inspired look of Invincible. Still, it definitely allows for flexibility in storytelling that live-action could not sustain. There is a scale to this story that brings it above most animated projects, which is also helped by the great soundtrack, including a solid Radiohead track in the first half of the premiere. I also found Invincible’s use of credit and post-credit sequences to be original and keep you glued to the very final moments of each episode.
I liked the first half of Invincible’s second season more than the entire first season. The layered drama and character development throughout these four episodes dwarfs any other animated superhero project besides the Spider-verse movies. Invincible has over one hundred issues of source material to draw from, and that means if they can sustain the quality we have gotten over the first thirteen episodes, we are in for years and years of this series to come. Invincible is definitely not for the squeamish, but if you like your comic book adaptations to be chock full of no-holds-barred action, hilarious comedy, and some of the best character development in the genre, Invincible is for you.
Invincible season two premieres on November 3rd on Prime Video.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/invincible-season-2-tv-review/