(Review by Erik Slader)
If you haven’t already, go check out my review of INVINCIBLE Episode 1: “It’s About Time”!
Warning: This recap/review will inevitably contain spoilers (especially for Episode 1), so proceed with caution…
Episode 2: “Here Goes Nothing”
Right off the bat, this show continues to impress me – the visuals are stunning, the music is really unique, the sound design is mind-blowing, the story is fast-paced, and the characters are all cast perfectly and fully realized! The animation is so glossy and smooth throughout, all the cityscapes are breathtaking, there are entire sequences that feel like they were ripped directly from the comic with just how well the art-style was emulated, and… seriously, I just can’t get over how good this show looks and sounds! (Have I mentioned how awesome and different the music is?)
Ok, so this episode immediately starts with two extremely clever call backs to the first one – we see the guard from the opening of the first episode with his stepson in London where we see the result of Mark accidentally launching a trash bag into orbit as it explodes around them!
Cut to a very brutal reminder of how the last episode ended – with the aftermath of the single most disturbing scene ever put to animation, showing the dismembered bodies of the Guardians strewn about their blood-stained headquarters and the culprit, Omni-Man himself, unconscious at the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, the Pentagon-based Global Defense Agency, headed by Cecil Steadman (Walton Goggins) is investigating what the hell just happened. We’re also introduced to a demon detective named Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown!) who feels like a clever mix of Rorschach and Hellboy. Omni-Man is in a coma and brought to a secret government base for medical treatment where Mark and his mom are given the shocking news that the Guardians of the Globe are dead!
Something I forgot to mention last time, much of these first three episodes showcases Mark’s mom, Debbie (played by the fantastic Sandra Oh) who does a great job of really grounding the story from a human perspective. We see her struggling with what it’s like to be the wife of a superhero that always seems to go missing for days at a time without warning, and the mother of a teenage son who suddenly has powers of his own.
Of course, the main superhero action comes in the form of an interdimensional alien invasion from The Flaxans – an army of green bug-like humanoid creatures with high-tech weaponry! Mark immediately leaps into action (in his brand new fancy super suit that Mark Hamill made for him) and… gets his ass handed to him, because of course he does! Once again, this series continues to deliver the carnage with gallons of Mortal Kombat-style blood as lasers slice through the unfortunate citizens fleeing the invading trans-dimensional creatures. We get to see the inexperienced hero dealing with the traumatizing reality of super heroics and the fragility of the everyday people they’re trying to save.
We’re then introduced to a whole new cast of characters in the form of “everyone’s fourth favorite superhero team”, The Teen Team, a Teen Titans-esque squad of lower-tier heroes – including: Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), Rex-Splode (Jason Mantzoukas of “How Did This Get Made?” fame), Dupli-Kate (Melise), and Robot (Zachary Quinto, Spock himself)! Although they’re clearly a well-coordinated team, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re way out of their league. Fortunately, the Flaxans begin deteriorating and retreat.
Robot eventually figures out that The Flaxans are aging rapidly because… reasons, Invincible and Eve share a moment in the air, before it’s revealed that her and Rex are in a relationship, and Mark’s dad, Nolan, comes out of a coma just in time to have a somewhat bittersweet moment with the family. It would be heartwarming if he wasn’t a total murderous psychopath.
Meanwhile, Invincible has his first epic encounter with “Allen the Alien”, a super-powered cyclops, played hilariously by Seth Rogen! The two duke it out in orbit and eventually have a heart to heart on the moon where Allen realizes that he got Earth and Urath mixed up. Invincible is about as confused as anyone who hasn’t read the comic and it’s great.
After fighting the Flaxans a couple more times, the team finds themselves hopelessly outnumbered and overpowered when Omni-Man shows up just in time to save the day and absolutely annihilate the Flaxan army, before following them back into their own dimension – where he proceeds to completely and totally decimate their entire planet in one of the most metal scenes since the Duncan Hills Coffee jingle in Metalocalypse! He looks so unhinged with that Riker goatee!
Episode 3: “Who You Calling Ugly?”
This one starts with a really messed up scene where Omni-Man gives the eulogy to the Guardians of the Globe… you know, his former superhero “co-workers” that he brutally murdered.
A lot happens in this one: Atom-Eve flies back from the funeral to find her boyfriend, Rex-Splode cheating on her with Dupli-Kate, Mark trains more with his dad, Cecil gets Robot to hold auditions for the new Guardians of the Globe, we meet Monster Girl (Grey Griffin), a seemingly adolescent girl who turns out to be much more than what she seems when Rex talks down to her (man he’s such a dick!), and she shows off her true nature as a giant green ogre while beating his ass into the cement. (It’s later revealed that the drawback of using her powers is that it causes her to de-age, which… would kinda suck)
Invincible decides to invite Amber Bennett (Zazie Beetz aka Domino from Deadpool 2) over for “to study”, but Mark is forced to ditch out on his “not date” with Zazie Beetz to go fight Doc Seismic (Chris Diamantopoulos), a tectonic themed supervillain on Mount Rushmore. There’s also a lot of cool little references to the comics in this one, including a nod to the in-universe comic “Science Dog” which in this version is “Séance Dog”! Mark and Eve team up against Seismic, and trade blows (and puns), saving some tourists while Seismic seemingly falls to his death in a volcanic ravine. Mark rushes back to apologize to Amber, just as his dad gets back from fighting a Cthulhian kaiju.
The episode ends with the Mauler Twins escaping a high-tech prison facility and we get a hint that someone on the inside helped them get out… (wait, it was Robot?! Whaaat???) and yeah, I already can’t wait for the next episode! I think it was really clever the way Amazon Prime released just the first three episodes right away to give people a bridgeable sample – just enough to get hooked before releasing the rest of the season weekly. Just like how Star Trek Discovery has been rolling their episodes out one at a time, I actually prefer shows that aren’t dropped all at once, because it builds up the anticipation, makes you actually get excited for the next one and gives people time to discuss it with their friends and theorize about where it’s all going and what’s gonna happen next.
Once again, if you’re not already watching this show – first of all, why the hell are you reading this article? – but also go watch it, it’s freaking great! As a fan of the comic, I couldn’t have asked for a better adaptation.
-Review by Erik Slader.
Erik Slader is an author, podcaster, and full-time nerd. He’s the co-author of the “Epic Fails” book series (The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into History, The Age of Exploration: Totally Getting Lost, etc) and the creator of Epik Fails of History, a podcast and blog about the most epic fails… of history. He’s also a co-host on 2 Young 4 This Trek: A Star Trek Podcast, and an editor / frequent contributor on Podcasters Assemble – where this season they’re counting down to “Godzilla vs Kong”! ErikSlader.com