Invincible Season 2 on Prime Video has large expectations to live up to. The animated show’s first season was a bonafide success on numerous levels: seeing critical acclaim, viral moments born out of its at-times-shocking plot, and viewing figures that led to Season 3 already being greenlit. And to the shock of no one, this Prime Video original series does not suffer from a sophomore slump.
Invincible’s second season picks up right after the end of the first, with Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) now Earth’s sole Viltrumite protector. It was revealed that his father Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons) was a murderous imperialist hell-bent on subjugating the planet, stopping short of this goal only due to the love of his son which also left no choice but to leave. Invincible Season 2 Part One, consisting of the season’s first four episodes, is predominantly about change. We see Mark heading to college as he and his mother, Debbie Grayson (Sandra Oh), adjust to life without Omni-Man, aka Nolan Grayson. This theme, combined with an examination of the lasting psychological impact of the show’s horrifying battle in the season one finale, makes for a compelling character-driven continuation.
Change when adapting beloved comics is something that many fans will often struggle with. Invincible Season 2, however, takes comic book writer Robert Kirkman’s famed work and constantly updates and reformats elements to fit both the time this series is being released and the change in medium. Character arcs are updated, some arguable unnecessary storylines are cut for the sake of pacing, and the visual medium of television is fully utilized. Showrunner Simon Racioppa does an outstanding job at recognizing which elements from the comics should be translated untouched, and which require certain tweaks to help Invincible work better as a show.
Debbie Grayson’s role in Invincible Season 2 is the greatest beneficiary of this. Sandra Oh brings an incredible vocal performance, with a renewed focus from the comics on just how devastating the ending to season one is for her character. While the comic book series is cherished for very good reason, the earlier years of the 100-issue run do not portray particularly nuanced views of women at times. The animated adaptation works hard to address this, just as Robert Kirkman did in the later years of the Invincible comics. Amber Bennett (Zazie Beetz) and Samantha Eve Wilkins aka Atom-Eve (Gillian Jacobs) both get more of the spotlight in addition to Debbie, with all three of the female characters holding fascinating relationships with Mark throughout.
As is obvious from the names listed already, Invincible returns with a stacked voice cast of some of the best actors around, all of whom bring their A-Game. Sometimes when you have a cast so big with most of the work seemingly cut out for them in an action-packed plot, you worry certain actors will phone it in. This is not the case here. Steven Yeun continues to helm the show brilliantly as Mark Grayson; fans are truly lucky to have an Oscar-calibre actor such as Yeun leading the way as the titular Invincible. Yeun’s Mark consistently proves to be such a compelling protagonist for this story. Just as with the love for Peter Parker, there is something so captivating about a character who loses time and time again but repeatedly overcomes adversity.
Walton Goggins as Cecil Stedman, Sterling K. Brown as Angstrom Levy, and Tatiana Maslany as Queen Aquaria are all spot on. However, there is one new addition to the cast in Invincible Season 2 who is unsurprisingly an unquestionable standout: Peter Cullen. The legendary voice actor, famous for being the voice of Optimus Prime from the Transformers franchise, appears sparingly as Thaedus, who fans of the comics will know plays a vital role in the story. His powerful and commanding voice perfectly fits the role, bringing gravitas and energy to every appearance.
Invincible is not afraid to evolve as a show, even in the areas it has become most well-known for. Gone is an admittedly fun bit involving the appearance of the Invincible logo in place of characters saying his name, with the series playing off your expectations instead. Another example would be the show’s first season becoming popular for its game-changing final scene in the premiere. A poorer adaptation would attempt to one-up or match this in the premiere of season two, though Simon Racioppa chooses a more measured approach. We see the first episode of the second season end on a note that has an equally influential effect on the plot as the Guardians of the Globe’s death in season one, but one that is less immediately obvious.
Despite the mountain of content from the comics that is still to come, Prime Video’s Invincible takes its time to naturally develop its characters. This is done beautifully in the first three episodes, as it cannot be overstated how well the aftermath of the season one finale is dealt with. While this is still a superhero show with the accompanying fights and flying, at the end of the first three episodes things are still taking on a slower pace than fans might be used to.
Worry not though, because the fourth episode features an absolutely insane explosion in pacing and a fight that rivals anything seen in this animated series to date. Robert Kirkman has stated that he hopes Invincible will run for “seven to eight seasons.” Even if that does eventually come to pass, it will still be shocking if episode four of this second season doesn’t come close to the top of many fans’ lists of best episodes.
Invincible Season 2 Part One continues to evolve and grow the animated series, taking it in fresh directions that are both more vast and more grounded at the same time. The voice cast is second to none, and the creatives behind this season continue to take an already thrilling story from the comics and improve upon it in exciting new ways. As a fan of the comics myself, seeing an adaptation brought to the screen is always a daunting prospect. Invincible fans should never feel the need to worry again – it wasn’t a one-season marvel, and this show is undoubtedly here to stay.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wince and look away at bone-crunching violence, and most importantly, you’ll struggle to find a more engaging main character than… Invincible.