NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Invincible” are present in this review
Invincible’s first episode kicked off what appears to be a very interesting new adult animation series for Amazon Prime Video. In another move that mimics Amazon’s other blockbuster superhero series, The Boys’ weekly second season as well, Invincible’s debut features the release of its second and third episodes alongside its first, with the rest to debut on Amazon Prime Video once every Friday throughout April. With the establishment of the core Grayson family characters now out of the way as well, alongside Invincible’s unexpectedly violent, bloody tone, the series’ second episode can now go in on upping the spectacle, while pushing Mark further into the formerly uncharted world of superheroics.
“Here Goes Nothing” refines Invincible’s tone a bit more, and generally strikes a better balance between its grounded family values and its weirder comic book satire. The caveat in this case however is that the series crams in quite an eventful first series of battles for Mark, to the point where it’s a little too eventful! Because Omni-Man is temporarily out of commission, Mark has to take point when Earth suffers an invasion by an alien force called the Braxans, particularly since the Guardians of the Globe are all dead. Fortunately, there are other superhero teams in the Invincible universe, and one of them, the plainly-named Teen Team, loosely inspired by DC’s Teen Titans, takes Mark under their wing as he continues to get his feet wet as a budding superhero.
The Braxan invasion and Mark’s subsequent introduction to the Teen Team would have been more than enough to sustain this episode, particularly when the team’s top agent, Atom Eve, turns out to be the popular girl at Mark’s high school. Unfortunately though, this episode’s narrative sometimes bites off a bit more than it can chew, cramming in a bunch of additional plot developments to fill the 44-minute runtime. This marks a potential issue with Invincible being an adult animation series that’s otherwise paced like a blockbuster live-action series, specifically the fact that it needs to pack in a lot of story into each episode, and if it can’t do that, it needs to stuff a bunch of ideas into the plot all at once, which continues to leave Invincible less focused than it ideally should be.
Fortunately, the action and characterization continues to shine in Invincible’s second episode, as does the violence. The Teen Team all have distinct, interesting personalities as well, whether it’s the impressive, but laid-back Atom Eve, the overcompensating, macho Rex Splode, the cold, calculating Robot, or the impatient, yet persistent Dupli-Kate. Mark shares just the right amount of friction and camaraderie between the members of the Teen Team to boot, which helps to compensate for the fact that Omni-Man spends most of this episode incapacitated. At the same time, Mark is also effectively introduced to the Global Defense Agency or GDA here, the Invincible universe’s version of A.R.G.U.S. or S.H.I.E.L.D., who take it upon themselves to look after Omni-Man while Mark tries to debut his Invincible persona alongside the Teen Team.
Another big plus in this episode is that the alien threats that face Earth are very creative and memorable. The Braxans for example come from a planet where time runs faster, resulting in three invasions that initially see them aging uncontrollably on Earth and being forced to flee, to suppressing this technology with bracelets, to eventually being completely immune to Earth’s timeline, all in the span of a few days of Earth time. This creates an exciting, ambitious first battle for Mark and his new friends, who are only bailed out when Omni-Man inevitably wakes up again. In a tangent alien storyline that’s a little less necessary at this point, Mark is also forced to do battle with a lost ‘planet assessor’ named Allen the Alien, cutely voiced by executive producer, Seth Rogen. It’s a fun scene, but it’s a perfect example of a scene that doesn’t really service the storyline here, and probably should have been cut, or moved to a different episode.
The more successful subplot in this episode unfolds from the perspective of GDA agents, Donald and Cecil, who appear to be longstanding allies to the Grayson parents. Upon investigating the deaths of the Guardians of the Globe members, which they manage to hide from the world for at least this episode, the two end up drawing the attention of a demon detective called Damien Darkblood. Darkblood quickly pieces together evidence that the team were murdered by one of their own, but in trying to bring this information to Cecil, Darkblood is aggressively shut down and dismissed. This smartly suggests that Cecil may know something about why Omni-Man ultimately snapped and murdered his teammates. In fact, it seems to be something to do with Omni-Man’s Viltrumite DNA, because Mark also briefly goes berserk on the Braxan leader during one of the alien battles, nearly beating him to death in the process!
Predictably, this episode eventually ends with the Braxans being successfully repelled by Omni-Man, right as the truth about the Guardians of the Globe being killed makes it to the general public. Omni-Man only gets shadier in the process as well, as he ultimately responds to the Braxan invasion by killing seemingly everyone on the Braxan home world, committing genocide in the name of protecting Earth! This is an act that even The Boys’ Homelander would probably be given pause by, and one that quickly begins to cement Omni-Man as a dangerous menace, one that will probably someday mark the greatest enemy that Mark will eventually have to face!
“Here Goes Nothing” is a bit improved over the first episode of Invincible, especially when it’s able to better run with the bloody action and exaggerated comic book elements driving the series. The tone is also a little more consistent here, even if it now comes at the expense of the storytelling being all over the map. Invincible does manage to maintain its confidence as it expands upon its world and introduces a new superhero team however, one that will clearly be a foundational part of Mark’s evolution as a new superhero. The introduction of the GDA also creates plenty of intrigue, especially when it implies that they aspire to actively cover up the circumstances under which the Guardians of the Globe were killed. Just how dangerous is Omni-Man when it comes down to it? Does he even have a weakness?
If he does, it’s probably the son trying to find his metaphorical sea legs right now. Mark may have to get there sooner rather than later, at this rate!