Our individual past, differing background, and experience shapes our lives in major ways. But we aren’t defined only by those aspects, it’s the choices and motives that assess one’s true estimate. Maybe this holds true for superpowered human/Viltrumite hybrids as well, even though the titular character of Amazon Prime’s hit animated superhero series Invincible feels otherwise after how things ended in the last season of the series. Yes, the much-anticipated, instant hit Image Comics’ animated series adaptation has returned with its second season and has started off with a brilliant first episode that carries on the aftereffects of the last season through a peek at the Invincible universe’s iteration of the multiverse.
In the first season, the celebrated ace superhero, Omni-Man, aka Nolan Grayson, turned out to be a secretive enforcer of the mighty aggressor alien species known as Viltrums and the killer of the superhero team Guardians of the Globe. It is revealed that his life on Earth was a cover for his original intention of weakening the planet’s defense. Nolan tried to assign his son, Mark, aka fledgling superhero Invincible, whose powers were emerging and who was just trying to learn the ropes of superheroism, into his cause of Viltrum takeover, but to no avail. To really teach Mark a lesson, Nolan battled with him and wreaked absolute carnage in Chicago, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, but stopped in his tracks after unexpectedly going through an emotional crisis for his son. At the end of the first season, Omni-Man left the planet forever, leaving behind a world and his family, both of which need help to forget the scars inflicted upon them. In the first episode of the second season, the tragedy is revisited from a new angle, providing viewers with a glimpse into the now-popular concepts of alternate reality and the multiverse.
Tragedy On An Alternate Earth: Who Is Angstrom Levy?
The episode opens with Invincible duking it out with Immortal, the former leader of the Guardians, and while it seems to be a sparring session between the two, all of a sudden Omni-Man joins in the fight and brutally dispatches Immortal. Viewers might be confused about Omni-Man’s sudden return; it is later revealed that this incident takes place in an alternate dimension, or, we might say, on a different Earth altogether, where similar situations result in different outcomes. In this reality, Mark had paid heed to his old man’s word and joined his side, after which the duo decimated the world’s defenses and took the planet under their control.
The scene focuses on a scientist named Angstrom Levy, an associate of this world’s Robot (who hasn’t gotten his Rudy version of body yet), who is a part of the last remaining resistance, which includes a skinhead version of Atom Eve as well. Levy was sent to retrieve a unique object that might be used against Omni-Man, and he successfully delivers it to Robot, but while doing so, he gets secretly tailed by Omni-Man and Invincible, and a vicious battle ensues. Beams using the specialized object don’t put a scratch on Omni-Man, who easily incapacitates Robot. Mark apprehends Eve, and as she rejects his proposal of disbanding the resistance, he snaps her neck just enough to keep her alive in excruciating pain. After taking care of the superheroes, the duo proceeded to take down the rest of the humans who sided with resistance, which is when Levy was seen to be fleeing the scene by creating a portal.
How Is Mark Holding Up In Prime Reality/Prime Earth?
It has been a month since the devastating tragedy in Chicago took place in prime reality, and the world has slowly started recuperating from the harrowing tragedy. Mark, however, hasn’t been able to move on from the trauma for obvious reasons. Having the person, his father, whom he idolized throughout his life turn out to be thr exact opposite of what he believed him to be, causing brutal genocide and rejecting his family in favor of some predetermined galactic takeover plan of his home planet, has shaken up Mark enough to put him in a state of depression. To add to the misery, Global Defense Agency chief Cecil Stedman isn’t allowing him to partake in major superhero escapades as well, except rescue situations, as he can’t risk involving another Viltrumite in terse situations who might not be emotionally stable at the moment. Mark pleads with Cecil to allow him a chance to prove that he is ready to take on new challenges, only to lash out later and prove Cecil’s point. Through his conversation with his girlfriend Amber and friend Atom Eve, it becomes clear that Mark feels his life as a school-going teenager is wasted unless he can be allowed to help people like he previously used to.
Mark’s mother, Debbie, is going through a similar situation, as Nolan’s rejection of the life they had built has emotionally shattered her as well, and unfortunately, she has even fewer outlets to share her mind. Thankfully, Olga, widow of deceased speedster superhero Red Rush (a Guardians of the Globe member), stops by her house, and the duo pour their hearts out over a bottle of wine. Realizing Debbie needs much more than a few hours of chat, Olga provides her with a mysterious-looking card, stating it will help her recover from the emotional breakdowns.
On the other hand, in the absence of the Guardians, Invincible, and Omni-Man, the second grade SUPE alliance—the Teen Team consisting of Robot, Rex Splode, Dupli-Kate, Black Samson, and Monster Girl—is GDA’s last resort to stop otherworldly and superhuman threats, and to much of Cecil’s frustration, they are not up to the task. He decides to change the leadership and brings in Immortal, the thousands-year-old experienced hero and the only surviving member of the Guardians in the team to guide the teenagers, along with another hero named Bulletproof.
What Happened To Angstrom Levy’s Multiverse Mission?
Meanwhile, Levy uses his portal-creating powers to free the prime Earth version of the Mauler twins from prison and takes them to his Earth. Viewers may remember the genius/hulking brute Maulers, who were instrumental in transferring the prime Earth’s version of a robot’s consciousness into a lab-grown human body, and it turns out that in every reality, their genius remained unparalleled. The Maulers are confused as to why they were summoned, and Levy goes on a brief exposition session. They learn that contrary to what happened in prime Earth during the battle of the Graysons in Chicago, Levy’s version of Earth was ravaged when Earth’s Mark Grayson decided to join sides with his father. Levy states that using his portal creation powers, he can access an infinite number of realities, and he has found out that in almost every version of them, Mark and Nolan have teamed up to take control over Earth. Now Levy is a pacifist, and he isn’t inspired by the revenge motive as of yet; instead, his approach is much more cerebral.
Levy has managed to gather all his doomed reality counterparts, a thousand Angstrom Levy, and although none of them possess the portal-creating powers like him, all of them share a brilliant mind and a keen knowledge of their respective Earths. Every single Earth differs from each other in one way or another, knowledge of which Levy wants to accumulate in order to assess how the different realities can be saved and improved. To accumulate the knowledge, inspired by his Earth’s version of Mauler’s design, Levy has created a gigantic symbiotic encoder machine, which will allow him to read and copy the minds of thousands of Levy’s into his own. However, to successfully complete the device, he needs the help of the original designers, the Mauler twins, and in exchange, he allows them to have an Earth of their choice that meets their condition.
The problematic part is that Levy has chosen to carry out his multiverse experiment in one of the dockyards in Chicago on prime Earth. The breakout of Mauler twins already kept GDA on their toes, and now as they get spotted near the dockyard, along with an energy surge at the same location, Cecil-led GDA quickly gets a whiff of an alarming situation. Right at the moment, Mark once again returns to Cecil and pleads with him to allow him to undertake missions as he is willing to comply with his commands, and Cecil sends him to the dockyard to apprehend the Mauler twins. The encoder is turned on before Mark arrives, and Levy starts receiving the accumulated knowledge of his thousand counterparts at once. However, Mark’s sudden entry jeopardizes his plan, and despite Levy continually begging him not to interfere in his mission, which is supposedly being done for greater good, a headstrong Mark considers it to be another of Mauler’s evil machinations and engages the duo in battle. To stall Mark’s advances, Levy brings in different versions of Earth’s Maulers, and together the Mauler group overpowers Mark with ease. The group goes overboard while hurting Mark, and Levy pleads with them not to mortally injure him, as he doesn’t want to paint his utopia with the stains of blood. Maulers show no indication of stopping, and a desperate Levy overcharges the encoder, which results in a vicious explosion that at once obliterates all the Levys and Maulers.
Mark appears to be gravely injured, but he survives and feels aghast at not being able to rescue the Levys. The Teen Team arrives at the spot to check up on everything else, and Cecil reassures Mark about the success of their mission. Mark returns to his home to reconnect with his mother and later gets to know that he and Amber have managed to get admission to a college together. Immortal pays him a visit and clarifies his stance, stating that unlike Cecil, he doesn’t trust Mark and that he will monitor him from now on. Immortal’s mistrust is understandable, as after all, he was killed twice by Omni-Man, so it’s tough for him to put faith in the instincts of yet another person of Viltrum origin.
Later, one of Prime Earth’s Mauler twins appears to have survived with a mangled-up body, and as he looks for his twin amidst the rubble, he rescues the only surviving Levy, the one who planned everything to begin with. The freak accident disfigured Levy’s body, overcharged his mind, and he harbors the conflicting consciousness of all the different Earth’s Levy at once. A nefarious, vengeful version of Levy emerges to be in charge, who blames Invincible for what happened to him and his earth and swears disastrous revenge upon him in return. As the episode ends, the disgusted, surviving Mauler leaves, stating he will not repeat the mistake of helping anyone else with their particular problem yet again.
With the introduction of the multiverse, Invincible got its horizons stretched way further, and it will be interesting to see how the makers handle this aspect, as, in the comics version, the different Earth aspects of the narrative contributed to adopting and exploring multiple perspectives. Viewers who are updated with Superman and Lois and My Adventures with Superman might find a similarity with this version of the multiverse and evil version of the protagonist concept, and they will be eager to learn how bold the creators choose to be with this self-contained storyline. All in all, the first episode has neatly set up the tone, stakes, and roadmap for a bloody showdown to follow throughout the season, and multiverse expansion will play a key role in that narrative.