The two year wait for season 2 of Invincible is over. Well… sort of. Invincible has returned with a stand alone episode over three months before the release of the second season. While the first season’s finale left us with many unanswered questions about the future, this special episode takes a step back into the past. Away we go from Mark Grayson to tell the backstory of his friend Atom Eve, aka Samantha Eve Wilkins. If this episode is anything to go by, it’s clear this season will be just as thrilling as the last.
[Warning: Spoilers for Invincible: Atom Eve below!]
The origin story of Atom Eve
Atom Eve, co-written by Robert Kirkman and Helen Leigh, does an amazing job of building excitement for the return of Invincible without actually giving anything away about the plot of season 2. It’s a return to the world, not a return to the main storyline. While we begin and end the episode with brief glimpses of Omni-Man and Mark, its heart is the tragic backstory of Samantha Eve Wilkins. The title card quite literally wipes away Invincible’s title to replace it with her name. Our focus is completely on her, and oh boy does she deserve it.
Eve makes an enthralling main character. She’s charming, witty, and full of preteen angst. She’s deeply strange in a way that didn’t quite come across for me in the first season, but makes her all the more likable. While season one left me believing I understood her fairly well, this episode only served to show just how many questions I had.
The previous season left viewers to wonder how Eve came to be superhuman in such a normal family. Her father remarks that the day she got her powers was the worst day of his life, but there’s no mention of where she actually got her superhuman abilities from. Mark has powers because of his genetics. Many other heroes got theirs in chemical accidents. In comparison, Eve seemed like she sprung from normalcy waving hot pink force fields in both her hands.
This episode reveals how a superhuman like Eve ended up living the life of a suburban preteen – the good ol’ baby switcheroo. Turns out, her ordinary parents aren’t her birth parents at all. She’s the product of careful government experimentation to make the perfect superhuman. Instead of being handed over as a weapon, she was switched out with the stillborn baby of an ordinary couple. Her birth parents are a homeless woman named Polly and science-dad-extraordinaire Dr. Brandyworth. While Dr. Brandyworth is not a blood relation of Eve’s, the show portrays him as a fatherly mentor. He’s her symbolic birth dad. He’s the reason she exists as the person she is, both in nature and nurture. In many ways, she finds it easier to connect to him than to the father that raised her. The two families that Eve struggles between are a perfect mirror to the heart of the series.
Eve is stuck between two worlds: one that does not understand her, and one that does, but only results in death and exploitation. This backstory paints a solemn and deeply empathetic portrait of Eve. Suddenly, events from last season hold more weight. Her boyfriend cheating on her, her decision to leave her home, and her pain at the Teen Team falling apart all fit perfectly into the newly revealed core of Eve’s character – Loneliness. She becomes ten times more interesting and ten times more sad.
The framing of her character is a perfect way to return to the themes of Invincible. What better way to return to a series about the dark side of superheroes than with a dark origin story. Eve was created to be the superhuman, and she was born from exploitation and pain. To be a superhero is to be caught between worlds, and belong in neither.
We might not know what is to come, but we are reminded of what Invincible is really about. With great power comes intense emotional horror and a strained relationship with your dad. This standalone episode of an isolated girl with god-like powers and a difficult homelife is a perfect touchstone for the series as a whole.
The creation of the ultimate superhuman
Much of this episode takes a deep dive into just how Eve’s abilities work. Atom Eve is powerful. “Rearrange subatomic particles” levels of powerful. Her power has exactly one limit – manipulating live matter is off the table. Even that does not last the whole episode. Her exploration of her abilities begins with the understandable decision to transform an olive and cream cheese sandwich into a hamburger and ends with manipulating brains to wipe her enemies’ memories. She can even make matter from nothing, turning it to pink shields and force fields.
Watching a preteen girl casually mess with the fabric of reality is a big wake up call for the power scope of the series. The reveal that Eve was meant to be the ultimate superhero is more concerning than impressive in light of the first season of Invincible. She could casually shape matter at the age of thirteen, and even she was not considered a match for Omni-Man. Her powers are never shown as being on another level than those around her. If matter manipulation isn’t the power-ceiling for this series, what is? Just how big of a hurtle are our heroes going to face in the second season?
That being said, this episode seems to be setting up Eve for a much more important role in the next season. As one of the key characters, now singled out as uniquely powerful, she could be on the path towards becoming one of the most threatening heroes on the show.
Of course, this is Invincible. Her abilities, though immense, mostly serve to heighten her anguish and showcase the brutality of the world.
Invincible season 2 will be just as brutal as the last
Invincible made a name for itself by being a rollercoaster of physical and emotional violence, and this episode absolutely lives up to that. The series has a knack for taking what gives the character’s strength and turning it into body horror. Eve might have the privilege of having a science dad who cared enough to make sure she didn’t turn her powers on her own body, but her siblings do not. Eve’s siblings, born from the brain dead body of their mother, are a twisted reflection of Eve. Their matter manipulation is focused within their own bodies. The animators of Invincible are continuing to skew their visuals towards the grotesque. Muscle peels from bone, limbs twist unnaturally, skin bubbles unnervingly. It’s not a pretty sight.
The death count that Invincible can pack into each episode is pretty unbelievable. Even Eve, who lives, is covered in blood and bruises by the end. Her iconic pink uniform becomes stained red throughout the final fight.
We aren’t quite to the levels of the first season of Invincible yet. When your series ends on an extended sequence of your main character’s dad brutally smashing his face in, it’s difficult to top the bar you’ve set for yourself. However if this episode is a taste of what is to come, we all need to buckle in and emotionally prepare ourselves. Invincible season 2 is absolutely delivering more heroic blood guts to our screens. It’s shaping up to be a wild ride.
How and when to watch Atom Eve and Invincible
While you can find Invincible: Atom Eve streaming now on Prime Video, we still have longer to wait for the next installment of Invincible. Season 2 will be available to stream starting November 3rd, 2023.
Are you excited to see the next chapter of Invincible? What were your thoughts on Atom Eve? Let us know social media or our Discord!