‘Invincible’ Season 2 Part 1 Review: Steven Yeun’s Superhero Series Still Soars
The Big Picture
- The first season of Invincible ends on a devastating note as Mark learns his father, Omni-Man, was part of an authoritarian group planning to destroy his life.
- Season 2 explores the aftermath of these devastating revelations, with the characters dealing with the physical and mental wounds inflicted by Omni-Man.
- While grappling with the consequences of his father’s actions, Mark also faces the challenges of growing up, navigating relationships, and discovering his own identity as a superhero. The season sets up a battle for Mark’s soul and promises even more unsettling developments.
At the end of the first season of Invincible, the animated Prime Video series based on the Robert Kirkman comics, the world of the idealistic young Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) was completely torn to pieces by his murderous father Nolan AKA Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons) who very nearly killed him as well. The only reason he did not was seemingly out of the small sliver of connection he still felt to his son who, lying bloody and broken before him, managed to utter the tragic line, “You, dad, I’d still have you” when asked why he was still fighting. Confronted with this, the abusive yet cowardly superhero patriarch proceeded to flee the planet and leave his family behind to sort through the damage he left in his wake.
This culmination of the gloriously violent if a bit familiar first season ensured it ended on a high note even as its characters went out on what was their lowest point yet. For Mark, no stranger to taking a beating in the course of the day-to-day life of being a superhero, it was the psychological impact of his father being the one to almost kill him that left just as much of a mark. Though his wounds will heal, the mental anguish of learning his idol was part of an authoritarian group of superheroes who had been planning to destroy everything in his life may be too much to bear. How do you then pick up from that? Well, somewhat hesitantly, as there is an inevitable tension in the normalcy of the everyday struggles of growing up it explores with the knowledge of what came before that’s shaken life itself to its very core.
Invincible is an adult animated superhero series that revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson, who’s just like every other guy his age — except his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man. But as Mark develops powers of his own, he discovers his father’s legacy may not be as heroic as it seems.
- Release Date
- November 30, 2018
- Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons
- Main Genre
- Science Fiction
What Is ‘Invincible’ Season 2 About?
In the rubble of the first season’s painful revelations, Season 2 of Invincible charts a soaring new path that also carries with it the weight of all that has been lost. Though just as bloody as ever, its greatest strength lies in its characters. The devastation they have faced hangs over everything as the wounds Omni-Man inflicted, both physical and mental, may soon be ripped open again. And yet, life must go on for the characters. Somehow, all of them must find a way to continue to carry on.
In particular, the struggles facing Mark and what kind of person he’ll be feel like classic superhero stuff that is then kicked up a notch when we see the gruesome consequences of what happens if he follows in his father’s footsteps. Even when some storylines are more than a little diversionary, which was also present in the first season, Yeun’s performance and the path Mark is going down make this return to his world similarly engaging as we wait for the other shoe to drop. The precise moment this occurs is best left to be experienced in the show itself, but suffice to say it delivers in grimly unexpected ways that still promise much more unsettling developments in the road ahead.
However, in the meantime, Mark is graduating from high school and heading off to college. Just because he is a superhero who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders doesn’t mean he is free from navigating the perils of growing up while making time for friends, family, and romance. His relationship with Amber (Zazie Beetz) is actually going okay and the two share one of the season’s more heartfelt yet humorous scenes when he takes her on a surprise date. These moments help to find humanity in a vein most similar to Sam Raimi’s classic Spider-Man that kicked off the modern superhero trajectory as we know it.
This sense of care devoted to creating mostly well-written characters helps separate Invincible from some of the other hit-or-miss attempts at telling gritty superhero stories. Some of this also comes down to the way this series makes the most of the form as the bloody viscera being crossed with often strange new worlds helps it soar with some of the very best other beautifully animated sci-fi epics of the year. It still maintains a healthy dose of silliness, with one standout episode that pivots to focus on another familiar character proving to be full of great gags both in its shifting presentation and tone, though there is a growing sense that something even more sinister than what happened at the end of the last season could soon come to pass. The only question is not if, but what role Mark will play in it.
‘Invincible’ Season 2 Is Setting up a Battle for Mark’s Soul
More than just the new big bad on the street in Angstrom Levy, played by the great Sterling K. Brown, the internal struggles facing Mark are where Invincible finds its footing. Even though this part of Season 2 lacks some of the more jaw-dropping moments of action, save for a brawl at the end of one episode that ranks as one of the show’s best so far, the complicated internal moments offer up something more to chew on. This might be hard for some of the central characters — both in a literal sense, as their teeth get knocked out and their bodies are broken from all the fighting they do, and an emotional one, as they seem to keep repeating their past mistakes. Whether Mark can break this cycle of violence is the greatest question the series will have to answer, as he tries to fight for what is right only to find that this may not be so easily done. Whatever answer the show comes to, the ride of seeing it soaring to new heights just as it dives further into the depths of depravity is what makes it shine.
Though the superhero of its title might not be truly as invulnerable as his name would lead you to believe, the series itself feels just about as close to that as one could hope. No matter how many times Mark gets beaten down, Invincible always finds new ways to get back up again.
The first episode of Invincible Season 2 is available to stream on Prime Video in the U.S. starting Nov. 3 with the remaining three episodes releasing weekly. Part 2 will be released in 2024.