Invincible season 2 has an Omni-Man shaped hole – for good and bad.
Season 2 of Invincible is here, with its second episode having arrived just yesterday. The season carries the torch well enough so far: bringing back familiar faces, moving storylines ahead in a way that makes sense, and providing a decent mix of narratively-driven scenes and action set pieces. But one of the most obvious aspects of the season is that Omni-Man isn’t here. It’s a fact that allows for some incredibly interesting moments. It’s a thing I love about the season! However, I reckon it’ll also push some folks away.
Why is that? Well, there’s no reason to overcomplicate the point. Omni-Man is just too damn fun, too damn interesting. His dynamic with the rest of the cast was a major draw for viewers, as was the double life he lived. Voiced by J.K Simmons, Omni-Man was frankly a major draw to the show. This isn’t to take away from the performances of other actors or the writing – those haven’t taken a turn for the worse in season 2 – but it’s clear that an Omni-Man shaped hole is a key part of the narrative.
As hinted at earlier, this allows the plot to go to places the first season just couldn’t touch. Mark is the most obvious example of this – thrust into adult life with the weight of the world placed on his shoulders, his journey back into the role of Invincible is slow, hard, and complicated. Much of the pressure he feels is self-imposed, he’s clearly in the shadow of his dad even though he’s striving not to become his dad. It’s a common enough trope because… it’s a very real one! Guys feel like this all the time, it’s an easy problem to relate to.
Omni Man’s departure weighs heavily on everyone. Deborah shows obvious signs of stress and mourning over what happened, the crater where her husbands’ fake death occured sits literally right opposite her house. The mailbox, the cupboard doors…nothing works the way it used to do. Omni-Man’s actions are literally impossible to ignore. In scenes between Mark and Deborah, Omni-Man may as well be standing in the room with them. He’s a phantom hanging over the entire show in this season.
The added stress the Guardians of the Globe are under, The Immortal coming back and reminding Mark of his dad’s actions, going under the sea and seeing the widow queen of the Atlanteans, Cecil taking action against Mark behind his back to make sure another Omni-Man attack won’t happen again. Every scene reminds you about Omni-Man. You certainly can’t say the show doesn’t treat the events of season one with the appropriate gravitas they demand.
But, the problem is, it’s doing this all quite slowly. It’s not the show’s fault really, you need time to build up characters following the climax of the season one finale. You need to show the characters reassembling themselves – just as the city of Chicago is literally being rebuilt in the background of their scenes. I can sit partiently through entertainment that adopts a slow burn approach like the best of ’em. I can watch people talk for hours. Though, as I said, I’m a touch worried that Omni-Man’s absence – while intentional – will drive other people away.
Part of the problem is that J.K Simmon’s was just so good at his job. Part of it is also because season two has a totally different tone compared to season one! It’s a twist that has me eager to see what happens next, and I get the feeling the show is building up to a cathartic moment for the cast. Or maybe Invincible will take that naive optimism and bludgeon me with it, who knows. All I know is that the staff involved with adapting the comic have earned my patience. I just hope that regular people feel the same.