Invincible: Season 2's Change In Direction Is Exactly What the Series Needed (2024)

Warning: this article contains spoilers for Invincible's Season 2 premiere!

Invincible: Season 1 ended with a whopper of a plot twist, as teen superhero Mark Grayson (Steven Yuen) discovered his father Omni-Man was anything but a benevolent defender of humanity. The season ended with thousands of innocent civilians killed, Mark beaten half to death and Omni-Man leaving Earth for destinations unknown. How exactly does a show follow up on drama like that?

Fans may be surprised and even disappointed to learn that the series isn’t immediately returning the focus to Omni-Man in Season 2. While J.K. Simmons’ character does put in an appearance in the premiere episode, it’s not the same version of Omni-Man we’re used to, and it’s clear the regular Omni-Man is going to be MIA for the foreseeable future. But that’s okay. There are good reasons why Invincible isn’t continuing the Omni-Mn storyline just yet. Let’s take a closer look at why it’s good that the series is taking a step back and shifting focus in Season 2.

The Evolution of Invincible

The animated series isn’t necessarily a 1:1 adaptation of the Invincible comics, but it does follow the same broad strokes as it chronicles Mark Grayson’s rise up the superhero ranks. The decision to pivot away from Omni-Man in Season 2 is in keeping with the source material. If the comics are any indication, fans should prepare for a long wait before the series dives back into the heart of the Omni-Man conflict. Nolan casts a long shadow over Mark’s world, but it may be a long while yet before he plays an active role in the plot again.

But again, that’s actually a good thing, and not just because the animated series is following the example of the comics. It doesn’t make sense to continue the Omni-Man storyline yet. What could be the point in having Mark confront his father again so soon? We’ve already seen the painful evidence that Invincible is nowhere near strong enough to hold his own against his father. He’s going to have to grow much stronger and more proficient with his powers before a rematch can become possible. It would be like Luke Skywalker attempting to duel Darth Vader again immediately after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Mark needs plenty of time, growth and perspective before he’s ready to confront his father again.

If anything, Invincible is playing to its strengths by veering in a slightly different direction in Season 2. This isn’t a Marvel or DC series, and it’s not beholden to the same tropes. Mark suffered a very real defeat in Season 1, something that’s not going to be easy for him to recover from. The physical scars of his battle with Nolan may have healed (Viltrumite DNA is pretty handy in that way) but it’s clear the emotional scars are still very fresh. As we see in the premiere, Mark holds himself responsible for the thousands of deaths in Chicago, as he wasn’t strong enough to save them from his father’s wrath.

Mark isn't just grappling with his father's betrayal; he's also forced to question whether he's as different from Nolan as he'd like to believe.

But the series is also exploring another angle in the emotional fallout of Mark’s battle with Nolan. Mark isn’t just grappling with his father’s betrayal; he’s also forced to question whether he’s as different from Nolan as he’d like to believe. How strong is the Viltrumite side of his personality? Is there a world in which Mark Grayson becomes a bloodthirsty conqueror just like his old man?

As we see in the opening moments of Episode 1, the answer is a resounding yes. There are other universes where Nolan convinces his son to embrace the Viltrumite cause. What unfolded differently in those worlds? Is it simply that the other Nolan was more open about his true mission from the beginning? Or is there a chance that, even after everything he’s suffered in recent weeks, Mark Grayson is still in danger of becoming like his father?

Those are questions we’re going to see Mark grapple with in Season 2. What could he have done to save more lives? Can he trust himself to do what’s right for humanity? Why couldn’t he see the truth about Nolan until it’s too late? There’s plenty of juicy drama to explore in these upcoming episodes. And that’s why Omni-Man is better treated as an unseen ghost looming over the series than an active participant in the plot. He has more to offer Invincible: Season 2 by staying out of the picture than returning as a major antagonist so soon. There’s another character better suited for that role.

Angstrom Levy: A New Type of Villain

Instead of bringing Omni-Man back into the fold, the Season 2 premiere introduces another villain with a major bone to pick with Mark Grayson. It’s here we meet Sterling K. Brown’s Angstrom Levy. In the comics, Levy is probably the one character who best qualifies as Invincible’s arch-nemesis. He’s a recurring threat over much of the series, and a character whose grudge against Invincible is deeply personal.

Though as he’s introduced in the Season 2 premiere, Levy is actually a surprisingly sympathetic character who only really becomes a villain at the very end. The first version of Levy we meet is a refugee from one of the realities where Mark becomes what he fears most. He’s a character with the power to travel to any dimension, and his goal is to use that to gain the knowledge of his other selves to make the world a better place. It’s a grandiose plan, but not necessarily an evil one.

Even in his final descent into madness, Levy remains a very sympathetic character. He struggles to convince Invincible that his experiment is for the greater good. He eventually pulls the plug on that experiment when faced with the choice of saving Mark or letting him be pummeled to death by the Maulers (Kevin Michael Richardson). The Levy that emerges on the other side is a hideous, malformed wreck of a human being, but even then, he remains a tragic figure. He hates Invincible because he can no longer separate his own memories from the ones that have been force-fed into his mutated brain.

In this way, Angstrom Levy is very different from most of the villains we’ve met in Invincible to date. Omni-Man notwithstanding, the series hasn’t been overly concerned with creating villains with vast amounts of depth and nuance. Most of these characters have been a means to an end - sources of conflict for Invincible and the Guardians of the Globe. Levy represents a shift in a very different direction - a villain who has as much complexity as Invincible himself.

Levy is also the perfect villain for Invincible right here and now because he speaks to Mark’s inner fears about himself. Mark fears becoming like Omni-Man, while Levy has seen that reality firsthand. He’s the perfect foil for an Invincible grappling with self-doubt. And as a character who’s superhuman in mind more so than body, he represents a very different challenge to a hero whose approach up till now has been to punch enemies into submission.

It’s understandable that fans may want the Omni-Man storyline to continue in Season 2. However, now simply isn’t the time for a father/on rematch. The series has to play the long game, and that means postponing the return of Omni-Man in favor of exploring the emotional fallout of his betrayal. That also means introducing a new villain to test Mark Grayson at this delicate time in his superhero career. We have no doubt Invincible will eventually pay off on the loose end that is Omni-Man. But for now, we’re all-in on Angstrom Levy as the series' latest and greatest threat.

For more on Invincible's new season, check out IGN's review of Invincible: Season 2, Part 1 and find out how to stream the series.

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

Invincible: Season 2's Change In Direction Is Exactly What the Series Needed (2024)
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