Good things come to those to wait and that’s never been truer for fans champing an the bit for Invincible Season 2 to arrive. The acclaimed superhero animated series based on the comic by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley that follows of the adventurs of the titular teen superhero returns for another round of ultra violence this Friday. While it’s tempting to lambast production for such a lengthy delay, the recent Variety expose on the endless torrent of content from Marvel Studios will perhaps serve as a careful reminder on the importance of quality over quantity. Indeed, in this post-Endgame world where the once lauded MCU no longer reigns supreme, we’ve seen the phenomenon of superhero fatigue cited as constant source of blame. However, after watching the first half of the new season, don’t expect superhero fatigue to befall Invincible anytime soon.

My review for the first season of Invincible was mostly favorable, but in the intervening years my appreciation for the series has only increased, especially when compared to recent lackluster superhero fare. Invincible Season 2 is a vastly different viewing experience for me, among many reasons is the fact that back in 2021 I had at best only a passing familiarity with the property. Since then, I have started devouring the original comics and as a result many of the story beats are I can anticipate. Thus, the second season moves a bit slower for my taste. I believe that still holds true for viewers who haven’t read the comics. 

That’s not to say Invincible Season 2 isn’t engaging at all and there were points in the adaptation process that kept me on my toes. For instance, the third episode introduces the Coalition of Planets and its leader Thaedus (voiced by Optimus Prime himself Peter Cullen). Without spoiling anything, if you’ve read the comics you likely know the secret that Thaedus is hiding. Though the episode doesn’t outright reveal it, the series adds a new a potential new twist that had me questioning if there’s in fact more to Thaedus than meets the eye.

As much admiration as I have for the original comics, even Kirkman is the first to admit that certain aspects have not held up all that well. To that end, the animated series is only enhanced through its deviations from the source material in order to update it for a modern audience. We saw it in the first season with Amber Bennett, not only changing her ethnicity but giving the character a more developed personality beyond her role as Mark Grayson’s girlfriend. A similar approach is taken with Telia (voiced by Tatiana Maslany). Like Amber, Telia’s role in the comics can be reduced to simply “girlfriend,” in this case that of Allen the Alien (Seth Rogen). The animated series made the inspired decision to update her as a general in the Coalition of Planets as opposed to being a simple booty call for Allen. Make no mistake though, Telia and Allen still have a very active sex life.

Review Invincible Season 2For some time media, particularly the superhero genre, has had to reckon with its past treatment and portrayals of women. While certain shows like She-Hulk come across as too tone-deaf for my taste, Invincible is a much deeper examination of toxic masculinity. This is perhaps best seen in the second episode when Debbie (Sandra Oh) is forced to confront her relationship with Nolan, and his infamous “pet” remark that launched countless memes, after witnessing a husband demean his wife during an open house. Toxic masculinity has a tendency to come across as exaggerated or cartoony as in the case of She-Hulk. Invincible on the other hand not only feels real but actually gives some dimension to the perpetrators akin to Ken and hie epic power ballad in Barbie.

The first season of Invincible already boasted some incredible celebrity talent in its voice cast which only continues to grow with this new season. Among the notable new additions is Ben Schwartz as the superheroic Shapesmith. Schwartz has established his comedic chops at this point in his career and his trademark schtick could easily wear thin at a certain point. Luckily, that’s not the case here as Schwartz brings a joyful sincerity and earnest naiveté that calls to mind Golden Age comic characters like Plastic Man and Shazam.

Without a doubt however, the standout actor has to be Sterling K. Brown as Angstrom Levy, a character with the ability to access alternate realities. There’s a gentle kindness to the way Brown portrays Angstrom in the first episode that is only made the more tragic by the tragic fate that befalls him and sets him on the path to villainy. Praise must also be paid the show creators for bringing nuance to the character whose motivation for exploring the multiverse was fairly simple in the comics but here is given an actually compelling motivation. In the most likely event Marvel Studios needs to find a new actor to play Kang, I’m officially throwing in Brown’s hat into the ring as a potential replacement. 

One aspect the animated series does carry over from the comics is juggling a myriad of dangling plot threads. The epic Season One finale teased quite a number of new threats on the horizon. Unfortunately, not all of them come into play in these first batch of episodes in the season such as newly minted supervillain head honcho Titan and the international crime organization known as The Order. With any luck, this plot point and others will be addressed when the second half of the season is released in 2024. I’m still trying to discern what the deal is with that mysterious mummy in the episode “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out” and when he’ll come into play.

Some were critical of the animation at some points in the first season. With the exception of the CG used for the Flaxan aliens, I am more understanding of the challenges and  difficulties of producing an hour-long show of this caliber, something rarely seen in animated superhero shows. That said, the production definitely did not cut any corners when it came to the animation this time around. Certainly nothing as laughably abysmal as M.O.D.O.K. in Quantumania. The first season produced so many iconic moments and images that became instant internet memes. I have no doubt this second season will be generating tons of new memes. 

At a time when even I find myself turning way from superheroes, Invincible Season 2 is a much needed refreshing reminder of why I love these stories in the first place.

Invincible Season 2 premieres this Friday November 3rd on Prime Video.