Sometimes you have to wait a while for a really good thing. If you’re like me, you’re impatient, especially when it’s something that is incredibly exciting. But good things come to those who wait, and that’s where I’m at with Prime Video’s Invincible season 2.
After the tooth and heart-breaking fight between Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) and his Viltrumite father Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons), the story picks back up from that devastating finale. Interestingly, I received four episodes labeled “Part 1”, so let’s dive into the first half of Mark’s freshman year as a college student and sophomore year as…
[Warning: Light spoilers and impressions from Invincible season 2 and the Atom Eve special are below!]
Animation improvements in Invincible season 2
From the beginning, you’ll see a vast improvement in all the animation across the board. The flying models don’t feel like cut-outs dragged across a static background, and the whoosh from flybys is much more pronounced. Of course, there is the initial barrier the animators have already cleared by having assets from season 1 to use which makes the production faster and allows for noticeable improvements. One addition I really enjoyed was the presentation of portals that were half-Doctor Strange and half-Rick and Morty in appearance, which are green in color and display the other side’s destination.
In my opinion, hand-drawn animation remains superior, and seeing them stick with what made my Saturday mornings so special really impacted me. Yes, there are a couple of scenes using CGI for vehicles, but even in my youth that was already happening, so it can be easily forgiven. Still, the alien locales and dingy lairs remain colorful and populated, and one trip underwater becomes a fascinating exercise for not only Mark, but the animation crew as well.
Mark struggles with the idea of becoming his father
Since the story resumes not long after the brawl in Chicago, a lot of residual damage resides not only physically, but emotionally. Agent Cecil Steadman (Walton Goggins) is understandably cautious with Mark, fearing he could be a repeat of Omni-Man. While he allows Mark to run a few missions for him, Cecil is clearly conflicted. Cecil becomes even more bothered when Mark starts to contest his authority and warns Mark he’s starting to follow Omni-man’s path. The promotional materials even show Mark’s reflection showing Omni-Man in a puddle of blood. This is a primary struggle for Mark throughout the entirety of Part 1. (Note: This struggle was talked about in a recent interview with Robert Kirkman and Simon Racioppa at NYCC)
Even though Mark took the literal brunt of the damage, his mother Debbie (Sandra Oh) had her own grief to explore, and I found it to be the most resonating aspect of the four episodes. Grief is a very intricate process to explore when the subject in question is still alive, just absent and responsible for murdering his colleagues. Having to come to terms with the fact that everything you’ve known was a complete lie is compounded further when others deny you the chance to find support. This moment specifically, when Debbie entangled with a counseling group for spouses of the super-abled, packs a wallop that not even Omni-Man could have delivered.
The rest of the world also has its own aches and pains, Samantha Wilkins, aka Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), had a fantastic special episode that shined on her background, as Cosmic Circus writer Izzy so wonderfully covered. Eve’s relationship with her “parents” (spoiler for the Atom Eve special) is further complicated when she decides to pay them a quick visit. Tensions between parents and children are always a sore subject, and this series has always made that a proper and well-explored theme throughout. The way they leave Eve and her parents at the end of Part 1 was a bit of a shock to me, and I’m looking forward to resuming that thread in Part 2.
Introducing Sterling K. Brown’s Angstrom Levy, and more new additions
Sterling K. Brown is a fantastic actor and a wonderful choice for Angstrom Levy, the new multiversal hopping villain who is also a genius. Even though we only get a couple of episodes with him, they are meaningful and leave a solid impression until we inevitably see him again in Part 2.
Comic purists will be delighted to see that his origin story plays out as it did in the pages. The implications of his powers and hatred for Invincible are shaping up to be a match-up of extremely high stakes; his multiversal abilities have exciting potential for how they could be used in battles. (Note: See the previously mentioned NYCC interview for more thoughts on Angstrom Levy).
Other publicly known additions are Ben Schwartz as ShapeSmith and Jay Pharoah as Bulletproof, both eventually joining the Guardians of the Globe team. Sadly, a minimal amount of time is spent with them, but since they’re Guardians now it’s safe to say we will see plenty more of them later on.
All the tolerable (and less than) characters make their returns as well, keeping up with their day-to-day routines after witnessing Omni-Man become humanity’s slaughterer instead of a savior. It’s the point of view of the GDA that keeps eyebrows raised as they now have to prepare for an eventual Viltrumite invasion, just as much as the Coalition is in space. This heralds us back to one of the best characters from season 1, Allen the Alien (Seth Rogen) who makes a comeback to our screens. His role is one of the most important of the series, and to the narrative overall.
A 2-part split for Invincible season 2
The last thing of note was the presentation of how they distributed the episodes. They were labeled as Part 1 and it was a total of four that I got to preview. With the implications of everything finally mounting to a head, there’s one final dilemma that Mark Grayson is now faced with, and his plight against it will be huge. The stakes are massive and I couldn’t be happier to see the show finally return!
Are you going to watch Invincible season 2 on Prime Video when it comes out on November 3rd? Are you already caught up with the first season? Let us know in The Cosmic Circus Discord where we discuss this further! Or keep up the conversation on social media and drop us a reply @mycosmiccircus!