TV Show ReviewsJosh Reviews Invincible Season Two Part Two!

Josh Reviews Invincible Season Two Part Two!

Invincible is a terrific animated series on Amazon Prime Video, adapting the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley.  The series has what seems like a classic comic-book super-hero premise: Mark Grayson is a college freshman who is also the powerful superhero Invincible.  Having only recently discovered his superpowers, Mark has gotten caught up in a complicated world of super-heroes and super-villains.  What’s special about Invincible (both the original comic-book series and this animated adaptation) is that it takes these classic sorts of stories and tells them through an adult prism — characters are allowed to grow and change (for instance, I’m happy this season moved Mark from high school to college), to be flawed and to make bad decisions, and there is a lot of ultra-violence when super-powered beings collide.  I was a huge fan of the comic book series, and I absolutely adored the amazing first season of the Amazon Prime Video adaptation!  (Click here for my review of season one!)

We had to wait a long time (two years) after the end of season one for the second season to arrive, and when it did, it was released in drips and drabs.  First came the Atom Eve one-shot special, then the first four episodes of season two, and only recently were the final four episodes of the second season released.  I understand these delays were the result of the strikes and other challenging problems.  Still, there’s no question that this bizarre release schedule affected the impact this season had on me.  That’s a shame.  But putting those annoyances aside, I am happy to report that this second season was terrific.

It’s hard to top that first season, and the incredible reveals that came in those early stories.  They’re a huge part of what made the original comic book series such a classic, and it was a joy to see those story-twists brought to life so well in season one!  This second season, understandably, doesn’t have quite that same impact.  But what’s interesting to me with this second season is the way the show seems to settle in for the long haul, taking its time to explore the emotional impact of the events of season one.  We see that Mark, as well as many other characters on the show, are suffering from the trauma of those events.  If and how Mark is going to find his way through that trauma is a main arc of the story in season two, and I appreciated seeing that.  (Too often in super-hero stories, these big huge events occur and then everyone just moves right on like nothing happened.)  The writers did a nice job exploring the effects of this trauma on Mark, and Steven Yeun (who voices Mark) really hit it out of the park in several emotional scenes towards the end of the season.

Of course, the show still has big huge action and shocking moments of ultraviolence!  There are some big moments in this batch of four new episodes, particularly Mark’s confrontation with the multiverse-traveling villain Angstrom Levy (Sterling K. Brown) in the finale.  Wowsers, that gets bloody!  (I’m also thinking about several violent battles with Viltrumites… as well as when someone who I won’t spoil gets shot in the head!)

I missed the presence of Mark’s dad Nolan on the show here in season two (this character, voiced by J.K. Simmons, was so amazing in season one), but I was pleased they found ways (as was the case in the original comic) to keep Nolan involved at the edges of the story.  And it helped that, even when he was off-screen, his presence (and now absence) loomed large over almost all of the show’s main characters.

I’d have loved to have seen a little more of Eve (Gillian Jacobs) this season, but (having read the comics) I know there’s more great stuff ahead for her.  (I’m glad we got the Atom Eve special to spotlight her character.)  Conversely, I love how the show has found a way to make Amber (Zazie Beetz) into such a complex and nuanced character; I’m glad she had a lot to do this season.  (This was a strong improvement over Amber’s portrayal in the original comic, where I was basically waiting all along for her and Mark to break up so Mark and Eve could get together.  But here, I was much more invested in Mark and Amber’s relationship, and so the turns their relationship took towards the end of the season were far more compelling to me.)  I also was very happy that the show took the time to explore Mark’s mother Debbie’s grief… and the strange turn her life takes when Mark returns from a visit to space with a young half-brother Oliver.  Sandra Oh is wonderful as Debbie.  (I also enjoyed meeting Oliver’s new specialized baby-sitter, April, voiced by Calista Flockhart!)

The joy of both the comic book and the show is the way they developed such a vast, rich array of supporting characters.  I love all these characters, and I loved the way the show took the time to check in on their various story-lines (what we comic book readers like to call “sub-plots”) and move things along.  It’s a sign that the show is hoping to last for many seasons that there are so many ongoing storylines that moved forward but didn’t reach resolution this season.  (I really hope the show is able to last long enough to tell the full story and take all these characters’ story-lines to their proper conclusions.)  I loved how central Allen the Alien (Seth Rogen) became this season, and I can’t wait for what’s ahead.  I also loved the time given to exploring Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas) — I love that jerk, and I love how the show is slowly allowing him to develop a little more depth.  (Though one of my only complaints this season is I don’t think the show adequately explained how the heck Rex survived his grievous injuries.  I’ll have to check if that was better explained in the comics…).  It was great to see sidekick Donald (Chris Diamantopoulos) given a storyline, exploring his emotional reaction to having been killed and brought back to life as a cyborg.  I’m continuing to enjoy the sweet but complicated relationship between Robot (Zachary Quinto), now a clone of a young boy (where he’s voiced by Ross Marquand), and Monster Girl (Grey Griffin), who becomes younger every time she uses her super-powers.  It was interesting to see The Immortal (Ross Marquand) given some depth this season as well, grieving over the death of Dupli-Kate (Malese-Jow).

I haven’t even mentioned: Global Defense Agency head Cecil Stedman (Walton Goggins); the Mauler Twins (Kevin Michael Richardson), superheroes Bulletproof (Jay Pharaoh) and Black Samson (Khary Payton); the Martian Shapesmith (Ben Schwartz); Art Rosenbaum, the superhero tailor (Mark Hamill); Coalition of Planets leader Thaedus (Peter Cullen, the iconic voice of Optimus Prime himself); evil Viltrumites General Kregg (Clancy Brown) and Anissa (Shantel VanSanten)… and so many more!!  This show has an incredible array of wonderful characters, voiced by an even more incredible array of talented actors!

No season finale could top the mayhem at the end of season one, but I thoroughly enjoyed Mark’s final confrontation with Angstrom Levy.  All the multiverse stuff was fun.  My only quibble with the finale was that the final moments of the episode ended on a bit more of an “eh” scene, as opposed to something that really left me pumped for season three.  I’m not sure I understand that choice.  But, having read the comics, I know what’s coming, so I AM pumped for season three.  (For instance, I’m very curious to see how the show handles some of the crazy Anissa stuff from the comics… we met her briefly here at the end of the season, threatening Amber and then battling with Mark… there’s a lot more to come with her…)  I really hope we don’t have to wait two years to get new episodes!!

Invincible is a tremendous show and I highly recommend it.

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