REVIEW: ‘Invincible’ Season 2, Part 2

In 2021, Season 1 of Amazon Prime’s animated subversive superhero series Invincible enraptured audiences starved for content. An adaptation of creator Robert Kirkman’s long-running Image Comics series, the streaming series worked wonderfully as counter-programming to the world’s most popular film franchise. Season 1’s cagey navigation of the superhero tropes fans think they know and love allowed for its hard-hitting finale to serve as a major shock to the system while leaving fans craving more. Over two-and-a-half years later, in November 2023, the first four episodes of the show’s second season finally debuted and delivered a somber and blood-soaked follow-up that took the series lead, Mark Grayson, on a heavy emotional journey that crescendoed in a reunion with his father, Nolan, and another titanic battle that, once again, left Invincible feeling rather vincible and, of course, teasing fans with plenty of potential for what’s next. Thankfully, the gap between Season 2, Part 1 and Season 2, Part 2 was nowhere near as interminable as the gap between Seasons 1 and 2. On March 14th, Part 2 of Invincible Season 2 debuts on Amazon Prime and the four episodes that comprise it are as saturated in emotional trauma as they are in the blood of the heroes and villains of the series.

It’s in the exploration of Mark’s trauma where these episodes of Invincible make their greatest impact. While the show’s savagery caught the attention of unsuspecting audiences in Season 1, returned with renewed vigor in Season 2, Part 1 and remains part of the fabric of the story in Season 2, Part 2, Invincible is no one-trick pony. Indeed the show’s greatest strength remains not in its ability to raise the bar in terms of onscreen brutality but rather to generate genuine pathos through the continued exploration of its characters’ response to trauma. As the title character, Mark is rightfully front and center in that exploration but Season 2, Part 2 also peels open the emotional wounds of Mark’s mom, Debbie, Donald, Eve, Amber, The Immortal, Robot, Monster Girl, Rex, Rick Sheridan and yes, even Nolan. And even as the characters recover from black eyes, broken arms and bullets to the head, Invincible never hesitates to remind the audience that it is the wounds others cannot see that heal most slowly, if at all, and often take the greatest toll. And for as depressive and weighty as that sounds, Invincible also reminds us of one of the most important universal truths of humanity: we’re stronger together and none of us need to face our trauma alone.

Of course, time to heal from both physical and emotional wounds is hard to come by when you’re the savior of Earth and, unfortunately for Mark, the four episodes of Season 2, Part 2 provide the hero no time for respite. As social media continues to keep trying to make fetch happen in terms of superhero fatigue, Invincible Season 2, Part 2 presents the fatigued superhero. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Mark can and will survive and recover from even the most egregious physical damage; however, over the course of these four epsidoes, the question of just how much emotional damage Invincible can sustain adeptly arises.

One of the few and admittedly mild criticisms of Part 1 of the sophomore season was that it felt bloated with new characters and setups that played no significant role over the course of its four episodes. Unfortunately for Mark, his mother and baby brother and the Guardians of the Globe, those characters and setups are cascadingly paid off, culminating in the episode eight showdown with Angstrom Levy. Already at his breaking point as Mark Grayson’s needs continue to take a back seat to Invincible’s uses, Mark faces an all-new challenge that proves more than the hero can abide, pushing him toward the inevitable existential crisis his ruptured relationship with Nolan created: is he his father’s son?

As part of a series that Kirkman has expressed he hopes will continue on for seven or eight seasons, Season 2, Part 2 is partially a prolepsis of two major events to be adapted from the 144 issues of the Invincible comics. The ability of the episodes to elucidate the dangers of the present is never impeded by foreshadowing the colossal challenges ahead for Mark. Rather, they continue to provide Invincible with ample opportunity to appraise his abilities ahead of the ordeals coming his way and to find out just how Invincible he truly is. Truly dark and cataclysmic, Season 2, Part 2 of Invincible takes its hero to a place on his journey rarely explored in the genre. And while the final post-credit scene hints that there may be some hope on the horizon, one is left to wonder if Mark can recover enough to recognize help when he sees it.

Invincible Season 2, Part 2 begins streaming on March 14th.

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