The affect of Robert Kirkman on quality comic book television can be hard to quantify. While The Walking Dead came out swinging, it eventually fell off in a big way. However, every once in a while, the series can spin up an excellent mini-series or character arc. Invincible, based on Kirkman’s incredible comic of the same name, stunned it it’s first season. With the core creators returning nearly three years after season one, Invincible avoids the sophomore slump with a brilliant kickoff to the second season.
After the events of Season One, Mark (Steven Yeun) aka “Invincible” must handle the fallout. His father, Omni-Man an (J.K. Simmons), proved his evil ways as a conquering alien. While Omni-Man left the planet, Mark remains terrified of going down the same path. After an early battle, his PTSD comes roaring back. At the same time, a new threat looms as a powerful teleporter – Angstrom Levy (Sterling K. Brown) grows vengeful.
Like many comic book properties, Invincible builds on a multi-verse. The opening of the season results in a harrowing display of violence. It also establishes the threat of Mark’s power, independent of Omni-Man. Yet it also tells us why our Mark is special. Anytime you accompany a depressed hero with Radiohead, you have to pull the trigger. In the case of Invincible, it sets the scene for an incredibly emotion and psychologically complex season.
As usual, Yeun showcases incredible depth. The actor now has a considerable track record of excellence over the past five years, and his melancholic vocals perfect excentuate the quiet moments. The animation team delivers a brilliant floor with their visuals, but it’s Yeun’s vocals that add nuance and empathy to the images.
Yeun gets considerable help from the surrounding voice cast. A murderers row of performers, including Brown, Sandra Oh, Walton Goggins, and Kevin Michael Richardson keeps us engaged across all storylines. The writing helps highlight every character, even the comic relief. With Jason Mantzoukas, Jay Pharoh, and Chris Diamantopoulos, we rarely go more than a few minutes before a great comedic beat as well.
Kirkman and company push the limit once again on the violence. The ease and nonchalance embodied by many characters in regards to violence upsets. Yet it’s the grotesque transformation of characters seeking to avoid bloodshed that reminds the audience of its abnormality. Invincible shines a light on vicious authoritarian tendencies, and while delivering withering critiques of superhero storytelling. Like The Boys, Invincible accomplishes it’s goal without relying on subtlety. Yet each show finds it’s own distinct style to set it apart from each other. We’re lucky to have shows this good as other superhero programs continue to faceplant.