Inverse Recommends

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 Was Worth the Wait

With the rest of its second season, Invincible remains as fresh and innovative as ever.

Prime Video
Inverse Recommends

Superheroes know that with great power comes great responsibility. But for Mark Grayson in Invincible Season 2, those lessons come at a great cost — and every minute it unfolds is riveting.

Now on Prime Video, Invincible Season 2 is back for a second run of episodes, clearing a high bar of quality to maintain its position as one of the best animated television shows airing now (albeit with anemic competition). While fans are frustrated by its staggered output and long development cycles — a fact Invincible is very aware of, with an outrageous semi-meta gag that grazes the fourth wall in the seventh episode — no one can, nor should, rush art, especially when it’s this sublime.

Whatever agonizing periods of wait Invincible submits its audience into, it’s worth it when it hasn’t dulled around the edges one bit. With this new second half, Invincible Season 2 soars to the stratosphere as a truly fantastical imagining of young adult growing pains: every battle waged with parental figures and college deans, every fight with your own boy- and girlfriends feel like the end of the world. Though Mark Grayson’s story as a twentysomething superhero breathlessly juggling their responsibilities sounds indistinguishable from tales of other young men fated to consider the consequential weight of their gifts — we speak of Invincible now when Dune: Part Two is the must-see event release ruling the box office — there is an uncanny execution to Invincible that feels fresh and arresting, especially considering its DNA as a superhero IP.

As one should expect, Season 2 picks up where it left off in November, with Mark Grayson/Invincible left a bloody pulp (when is Mark’s face ever not purple and puffy?) on an alien planet inhabited by a bug-like civilization. His father Nolan, aka Omni-Man (voiced by J.K. Simmons), has been taken away by his fellow Viltrumites, who are peeved that their greatest single vanguard has lost his way. Soon, Mark returns home to Earth with his half-alien baby brother, later named Oliver, and struggles to readjust to life in college. Missing two months of school is really bad for a freshman in their first semester, and being a superhero isn’t a good excuse when Mark must keep his secret identity.

Mark struggles to get back to real life after his (latest) pummeling.

Prime Video

Mark’s superhero lifestyle and the often decimating challenges it poses continues to serve, in highly engaging fashion, its chief narrative of a young man’s inability to commit. Constantly torn between saving civilians and saving his happiness with girlfriend Amber (Zazie Beetz), Invincible grills Mark on what actually matters to him most of all. The show runs wild with the unbearable weight of power; when you can fly at mach speed and lift a bus with your hands, there’s a moral obligation to use these gifts for the sake of mankind. But benevolence isn’t limitless. What good is power in the hands of a man who grows to resent them? It’s potentially hazardous to us all. Throughout Invincible, Mark tries to have his cake and eat it too, only to realize doing so leaves the plate in pieces.

Mark’s story is echoed by the show’s roster of other secondary superhero figures undergoing similar crises. There is Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs) who, despite her presence, still woefully amounts to little more than a second romantic option for Mark; the troubled paragon Immortal (Ross Marquand, who also voices intelligent being in the body of an adolescent named Rudy); tryhard Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas); and more, all of whom keep up the show’s momentum when Mark isn’t center focus. Even the non-powered characters enjoy moments of tender brilliance. Sandra Oh, as Mark’s mom/Omni-Man’s “pet” wife Deborah, quietly delivers some of the best work ever in a career that already includes Emmy-winning performances. We’ll refrain from spoilers, but when Omni-Man makes his inevitable return and makes mention of his “wife,” it’s hard to see anything but red.

The cast of characters gets fleshed out in Invincible Season 2 Part 2.

Prime Video

Invincible Season 2 isn’t without flaws in its otherwise gorgeous designs. (Ironic, given its title.) No amount of meta nods to cutting corners can make up for its visually stiff exposition scenes. The ample bloodletting throughout the show threatens to subdue the abject horror of it all when it’s supposed to matter most. And while Invincible has done a truly admirable job with finding depth in its plentiful female characters, Season 2 still leaves their entire fate at the mercy of Mark and his actions and his decisions. There’s an irremovable sense that when they are done with Mark, they are done with Invincible. This is not the case for all of them of course, and it’s true that character journeys come to an end especially when it’s out of the view of the main protagonist. But it’s all generally and strikingly antiquated in a story genre that has artistically evolved leaps and bounds in the last 20 years.

Invincible may not totally live up to its title, but it’s damn close. It’s a show where the arguments and the heartfelt expressions of personal anxieties are as engaging as the rivers of blood that spew like geysers amid a consistent rhythm of thick, gooey punches, and sonic booms. It is the platonic ideal all stories in this space must now strive towards: a perfectly weighted balance between realistic human drama and impossible superhero operatics.

Where is superhero pop culture going next? What is the next stage in its continued growth and state of relevance? When DC is undergoing a top-down reboot and Marvel has basically retreated to the drawing board, Invincible is carrying the fate of the multiverse on its shattered shoulders, and it’s nothing short of impressive that it can.

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video now.

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