2023 is not only the year that Invincible is finally returning to our screens with a Season 2, it also marks a special occasion for the superhero story: It's the 20th anniversary of the comics that the animated series adapts. "20 years ago, never in a million years would I have thought that Invincible would still be something people were talking about, something people were enjoying," Robert Kirkman said at San Diego Comic-Con. Kirkman, who is also known for co-creating The Walking Dead, launched the Invincible comics in 2003 with artists Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley. The series concluded in 2018, but another chapter of Invincible began when Kirkman started developing the animated series for Prime Video. "To be finally coming back and talking about Season 2, after what I call a very short break, it's great," Kirkman said.
That was said tongue-in-cheek: Kirkman knows the wait has been long since Invincible Season 1 premiered in March 2021. "We're as upset as the fans are, we just don't voice it as often," he said. "I love you guys on Twitter, but when you ask me questions I can't answer over and over every day for two years, at some point, I don't know..." But Prime Video made an announcement at Comic-Con: Invincible Season 2 is premiering Nov. 3. The first four episodes of the eight-episode second season will be released weekly, and there will be a break before the second half of Season 2 is released in early 2024.
Before then, Prime Video released a special episode, Invincible Atom Eve, on July 21. Kirkman spoke to TV Guide, GameSpot, and Fandom about the special episode, the release schedule for Season 2, and production for Invincible Season 3 (Prime Video had renewed for two seasons in 2021). The comic book writer also shared his support for SAG-AFTRA and WGA as the strike continues.
What has production looked like since Season 1 premiered?
Kirkman: We ramped up for Seasons 2 and 3, we were fortunate enough to get both of them picked up at the same time. But all of that happened deep into the pandemic. And so we had to figure out how shows are made in the pandemic and rebuild the team. And when you see the show, when you see where we're going with Season 2 and 3, this is just an insanely dense, complicated show. There's a ton of different characters in every episode, there's a ton of different locations. And so finding the systems and processes and getting it all up to speed has taken a lot more time than we wish it had. But it's great to be back and also all of the work that was done in that gap is going to ensure that we have lived through the longest period of time there will ever be between a season of Invincible. Every other season, however long we go, the wait will be less.
The release for Season 2 will be in two parts. Can you share the decision behind this approach?
Kirkman: When you see the episodes, Episode 4 of Season 2 is a very obvious midseason finale. People are going to need time to recover from that episode. And it's a structure that worked really well with The Walking Dead, when you're going into the holiday season there's just so much going on in people's lives, it's great to have that breather to come back and experience the show after you've had time to digest. There's a lot of reasons that went into the break and I think it's going to be really great for the show.
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Are you expecting your social media feeds to be bombarded with fan reactions when that episode comes out?
Kirkman: I love interacting with the fans and there's nothing better than having people engaged in a show. No matter what they're saying, even if they're yelling at you, it's great to know that they're watching and they care, and they're invested. And so I love being able to talk to the fans. The compliments are great, but the complaints, oh, that's where I live and breathe. Because it's useful, it helps give me guideposts in what I'm doing.
What are some of the more memorable complaints that you've turned into guideposts?
Kirkman: Well, my ego makes me forget most of them. There's a lot of, "Don't kill this character. Don't kill that character." The Walking Dead is not the only thing I've done where multiple characters die. So, people get really invested in these characters and that tells you how much they're invested. "This character is like a member of my family, if you take this character out of the series, I'm going to be distraught." That tells me that that character has gotta go. Because I'm trying to get the biggest emotional reaction out of the audience at all times.
I also wanted to ask about the Invincible Atom Eve special episode. Why did you decide to launch this?
Kirkman: We thought that it would be great to have a little taste of Invincible out there to lead up to our Nov. 3 launch. Also Atom Eve is an extremely important character to the Invincible series. If you are familiar with the comic books at all, you know that her importance to the series just grows and grows as we get deeper into the story. And there are things about this episode that will come into play seasons later in Invincible, it's like these nuggets are established here.
When Season 1 came out, you discussed some changes made to the series in terms of diversity of the characters: Mark being Korean American for example, and Amber being Black. Representation on screen has been talked about so much since then — how much of that was on your mind when you were working on Season 2?
Kirkman: That's something that's been really important to us. We have to recognize that a couple of dumb white guys made this comic book in the early 2000s. And there was a real lack of diversity in that series. And also, with the Invincible character himself, we talked to fans at all the conventions and places we would go, and because his ethnicity was ambiguous in the comics, everyone identified with him. We would have Filipino fans come up and say, I'm so excited that you made Mark Filipino, we would have Mexican fans come up and say, we're so excited that you made Mark Mexican. And it was just amazing to see how important representation is on a personal level when you're face-to-face with a person. Because I grew up at a time where I went to see Rambo, and Die Hard, and Terminator, and every movie that came out when I was a child, and I watched a bunch of tough white guys do cool stuff. And I was like, this is a lot of fun. And you end up being in this bubble where you have no awareness of what it's like to live in a world where you're not seeing yourself reflected and all of these other things. So to be able to, in any small part, work against that is a tremendous honor.
That's great to hear. I also wanted to ask, the cast of the show is understandably not here because they're on strike. What are your hopes for this situation with the AMPTP and how long do you think this stalemate might go?
Kirkman: I support the WGA and SAG completely, I have no idea how long the strike is going to last, I hope that it lasts as long as it needs to. Because this is an inflection point where the livelihood of writers and actors is very much at stake. The business is evolving in a way that is leaving some people behind. And unions are taking a stand and saying, we have to draw a line in the sand, and we have to protect these communities. Otherwise, the ways of life that everyone has experienced for decades and decades that were established by previous strikes are going to go away. And so I think it's a very serious time and these communities need huge amounts of support right now. And I'm hoping that everybody can understand that there might be a gap in programming, there might be a gap in all the stuff that we love, but it is very important, and it's needed.
Special episode Invincible Atom Eve is available to stream.