Invincible Season 2 Part 2 review: Growing up is hard to do

The hit Prime Video animated series returns for the second half of Season 2 on March 14.

Courtesy of Prime Video
Courtesy of Prime Video /

Prime Video’s Invincible, much like the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, and Cory Walker it’s based on, layers in a series of pauses between bouts of blood-spattered superhero fights. So it won’t be a big surprise to discover that’s where the show picks up in the second half of Season 2, after leaving the title character (voiced by Steven Yeun) battered and bloody after an encounter with the big bad alien race, the Viltrumites.

Don’t worry, that pause doesn’t last. The four episodes that kick off starting on March 14 are just as harrowing to watch as the first half. And while Season 2 overall doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch of the first season’s revelation that Invincible’s father Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons) is the worst villain in the world, as well as the subsequent catastrophic fallout, the series successfully expands the premise to embrace the tricky and often unsuccessful steps we all take towards embracing adulthood.

After watching his father get captured by the Viltrumites, Mark Grayson, aka Invincible, returns to Earth to try to piece his life back together. The only problem is that with two months spent in space, things have changed – a lot. Not only is he off-balance, shaken by reencountering his father and the directive given to him by the Viltrumites to conquer Earth, or die, but all the threats that have been bubbling in the background of the first half of the season come to a head – one after another. Even if Mark wanted to repair his life and get back to normal – whatever normal is for a super-strong superhero who can fly – he just doesn’t have the time.

And all this leads to a finale that tests Mark in a way he’s never been tested before. As usual, Yeun’s voice-work perfectly channels the character’s earnest want to do good, while grappling with the fact that he’s still just a kid in way over his head. The rest of the cast is excellent as always, from Mark’s mom Debbie (Sandra Oh) who will continue to make your heart break in new ways, to the sweet romance between Rudy (Aaron Marquand) and Monster Girl (Grey Griffin).

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But surprisingly the character who gets the most growth and parallels Mark’s journey toward adulthood in the second half of the season is Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas). The misogynistic joke machine has leaned into Mantzoukas’s strengths as a comedy performer for the past season and a half. But due to a mission gone wrong early in Part 2, Rex has to grow up quickly. Mantzoukas’s voice work here is particularly impressive, as he modulates the character’s harsh demeanor to better match Rex’s new reality.

There are plenty of other big emotional moments as characters deal with the repercussions of the non-stop, over-the-top violence happening every day in their world. Donald (Chris Diamantopoulos) is still reeling from the discovery he’s not entirely human; but there’s more to come from that which spills out in poignant ways. And the relationship between Dupli-Kate (Malese Jow) and The Immortal (also Marquand) hits some solid emotional beats as well.

While there's a lot we can't spoil, there's more to say about the second half of the season, including some surprise return characters, big twists, even more shocking (and meme-able) moments, and cameos coming up in ways fans haven’t predicted. But the big takeaway is that showrunners Robert Kirkman and Simon Racioppa have once again found ways to expand on the material presented in the comic in nuanced ways, giving some iconic moments more room to breathe while figuring out where to make small tweaks and changes to finesse the material for animation.

The biggest change is the constant pacing of the Viltrumite threat. While the comic would put the main baddies to the side for multiple issues at a time, the series always has the threat bubbling in the background – and foreground – in new and exciting ways. It gives the series a driving sense of focus that those of us who read the comic monthly back in the day may have missed. I’m not saying the show is superior to the comic, they both exist on their own merits. But Kirkman and Racioppa have smartly paced out the story to give it an overarching plot in between the ongoing soap opera, and villains of the week.

Overall, Season 2 may not be the shot across the bow that Season 1 was. Even the comic found it hard to top that Omni-Man revelation. But with jaw-dropping action, strong emotional moments throughout, and a clear focus on the theme of growing up, to borrow a catchphrase from the comic books, Invincible is still the best superhero animated series in the universe.

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 premieres Thursday, March 14 at 9/8c on Prime Video.

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