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Invincible released the first episode of its second season last Friday after over two years. Here’s a brief recap of last season and a spoiler-free review of the newest episode.
by Emery Brown
*While Invincible IS a cartoon, it is not made for children, as it features gruesome violence and many topics unsuitable for young audiences.*
Invincible released the first episode of its second season last Friday after over two years. Here’s a brief recap of the first season and a spoiler-free review of the newest episode.
In an age of superhero movies, it’s rare to see anything but moderate violence and happy endings. Invincible does the opposite, being a realistic and gruesome look into what it means to be a superhero. If superheroes can punch through a brick wall, it stands to reason that they can seriously injure each other. Invincible offers this realistic view.
Season 1 Recap
We see young Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun) maneuver through teenage life while being the son of the most powerful superhero in the world, Omni-Man (J. K. Simmons). Within the first episode, Mark inherits his father’s powers, a fact that Nolan, the real name of Omni-Man, is very pleased with.
The show seems like a father-son adventure as Nolan guides his son through being a superhero. This illusion shatters in the episode's conclusion as we see him mercilessly slaughter the Guardians of the Globe (the Invincible universe equivalent of the Justice League) establishing that Omni-Man is deceitful, clever, and immensely powerful.
This opens a detective-like subplot as various parties, such as Cecil Stedman (Walton Goggins) of the Global Defense Agency and Mark’s mother Debbie (Sandra Oh), begin to discover who killed the Guardians. Meanwhile, Mark struggles to balance his life as Mark Grayson and Invincible, both names given to him by his father. He faces complex friendships, difficult relationships, and horrific traumas from witnessing countless civilian casualties.
The season climaxes as the GDA uses everything it can to take out Omni-Man, unfortunately including Mark. Mid-combat, Nolan reveals that he is from an alien planet called Viltrum and was put in charge of weakening Earth and taking it over for the Viltrum Empire. Because Mark is his son, he too is a Viltrumite. He explains to Mark that everything is below him, including Debbie, as he states, “I do love your mother. But she's more like a. . . a pet to me.”
The clash between Invincible and Omni-Man finds itself in Chicago, resulting in mass destruction and losses of life. This only concludes after the most impactful exchange in the series. Unable to confront the truths about his feelings for his son, Omni-Man tearfully flies into space, ending the battle temporarily.
While this summary only covers the essential story beats, leaving out many characters and side plots, it tells the story of Mark’s struggles, whether it’s being a teenager, a superhero, or the son of a genocidal god-like being. There are many times when he doesn’t want anything to do with being a superhero, and other times when he feels like it's his obligation and puts his life on the line. This indecisive mindset is what makes him feel so real and compelling for the audience.
Debbie and Nolan are both excellently written as well, especially Nolan. Whenever he appears on screen, his presence is felt and you feel nervous, not knowing what he’ll do or when he’ll do it but knowing for sure no one could stop him.
Invincible Returns in Season 2
Finally, after two years, we saw the release of a new episode. The episode, titled, “A Lesson For Your Next Life,” follows the world after Omni-Man. It focuses on Mark and his trauma. He wants to be a superhero but can’t escape his association with his father, even though his feelings of responsibility return. We also see the world expand astronomically with the introduction of a new character. Whether they are a hero or villain appears to be unknown but if anything is certain, the next battle between Omni-Man and Invincible will be at a scale never before seen.
With a new episode releasing this Friday, I’m excited to see where this recent introduction will take us and where the story of Mark Grayson will go.
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