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Invincible season 2, part 2 review: "Without Omni-Man, Invincible isn't quite as untouchable"

 Invincible.
Invincible.

If the first part of Invincible season 2 was about Mark responding to the loss of his father, then the second part – once again consisting of four episodes – is how he moves on with his life.

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go too well. In Part 2, Mark returns from Thraxa and has to juggle a new family arrival and issues with girlfriend Amber – and that’s on top of skipping out on college and saving the world as Invincible.

Admittedly, the early going is tough. Chances are, you aren’t watching Invincible solely for Mark and Amber, yet the series persists with the pair’s on-again/off-again relationship and follows that particular plot to its inevitable conclusion despite signposting it well in advance.

That renewed focus is where the show clearly becomes a victim of the season’s decision to release the show in two halves. Some slightly below average episodes or slower pacing can be hidden as part of a larger whole, but when one of the few episodes is a slight slog – as is the case here – then it just means everything gets off to a less than stellar start.

Thankfully, one event – which, thanks to various spoiler restrictions, I can’t mention here – later arrives like a bolt from the blue, violently shaking Invincible (the character and the show) back to its senses.

Not only is it shocking to those unfamiliar with the source material, its placement here does enough to suggest that everything else going forward is fair game to be moved around. It’s a disruptive masterstroke that will pay dividends for years to come, and is immediately followed by a rollercoaster of a finale that places several playful multiverse winks and nods on top of an emotionally-charged showdown with Angstrom Levy.

Shades of Grayson

Invincible
Invincible

That’s not to say the earlier episodes don’t hit any similar highs. Far from it. One encounter with The Lizard League is as good as any seen on the show, even matching the bloody dismantling of the original Guardians of the Globe by Omni-Man in the very first episode.

Another outer space trip, too, resembles the best parts of Justice League Unlimited, the DC Animated Universe’s golden era ‘villain of the week’ show, meshed with the ultra-gory overtones of Invincible. One moment even feels like a pointed callback to Superman’s iconic ‘World made of cardboard’ line to Darkseid and all the catharsis that comes with it. Like I say, Mark has to juggle a lot.

It’s not just Mark going through it, though. These four episodes are densely-packed affairs, as Donald, Rex, The Immortal, Eve, and Mark’s mother Debbie (among others) have to deal with changing circumstances – with the latter once again giving Sandra Oh a chance to showcase her incredible talents for voice acting in what could have been a thankless role on the sidelines away from the action.

Even so, there’s a gnawing feeling throughout that something is missing. It’s something I mentioned in my review of the first part, but the second season really needs more Omni-Man.

After doing much of the heavy lifting of the first season, it’s been a shame to see JK Simmons relegated to his character having very little – literally or figuratively – to bounce off. Mark and Amber’s relationship woes and Debbie’s new family dynamic are clearly the emotional core of the season, but it would have been a far more balanced story with some more of the moral complexity Nolan affords the show. Without him, Invincible isn't quite as untouchable as it once was.

Invincible
Invincible

Worse still, given Invincible’s slower release schedule, we’re probably only getting one episode in four years examining the fallout from the season 1 finale with Mark and his father’s messed-up relationship. Traditionalists may argue it wants to closely follow Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley’s comic book, but the Prime Video series has shown enough confidence here and elsewhere to remix story beats. One more wouldn’t have hurt.

Despite its kinetic blast of a finale, Invincible season 2, part 2 doesn’t quite soar to the heights of the first half. For every Lizard League smackdown and surprise arrival, there are characters frustratingly heading around in circles or failing to follow up on plot threads left dangling from last year, while some villains are underutilized.

As a whole, however, Invincible season 2 still proves it’s close to best-in-class in the superhero genre. It’s occasionally touching, always funny, and a blast to be around. If it can iron out some of its narrative creases – it’s certainly jettisoned some of the baggage after these four episodes – then the third season could have the makings of an all-timer.


Invincible season 2, part 2 is streaming on Prime Video from March 14. For more, check out the best shows on Prime Video and the best movies on Prime Video.