The real Rus Livingston was first introduced in Invincible season 1 episode 4 “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out.” As its name suggests, this installment finds Cecil Stedman (Walton Goggins) sending Invincible off on a mission to Mars to protect some United States Space Agency astronauts and see what he’s really capable of. The native Martians don’t take too kindly to the USSA humans on their planet because Mars is occupied by a parasitic alien species known as “sequids” which can’t possess Martian brains but can possess human brains. The Martians, who all have inherent shapeshifting abilities, chase Invincible and the astronauts off the planet but not before a man named Rus Livingston is left behind on Mars and taken over by the sequids.
But wait, if Rus Livingston is sequid-infected and still on Mars, then who is the “Rus Livingston” we see in season 2? That Rus is actually an unnamed Martian stowaway. He’s part of a Martian resistance group that is disaffected by the warlike nature of the ruling Martians on the planet so he uses his shapeshifting powers to take on Rus Livingston’s appearance and hitch a ride back to Earth.
As we see in “In About Six Hours I Lose My Virginity to a Fish,” however, adopting someone’s appearance is easy … adopting their identity is harder. The Martian who is posing as Rus Livingston is not doing a good job. He doesn’t get any work done at the USSA, for which his bosses have to fire him (Rus naturally thinks he’s about to executed). He has no idea he’s supposed to pay rent for his apartment and has a fridge full of frozen pizzas that he eats without cooking.
One day, while eating one of those rancid pizzas, “Rus” comes across a TV documentary about former Guardian of the Globe hero Martian Man. As you might recall, Martian Man (voiced by Chad L. Coleman) was one of the original Guardians of the Globe who Nolan Grayson a.k.a. Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons) violently dispatched in season 1. Rus reasons that if Martian Man could use his native Martian shapeshifting abilities to fight crime and make a living then so can he!
The fake Rus takes on the superheroic name of “The Shapesmith” and talks himself into a Guardians of the Globe tryout. The rest of the Guardians know that there is clearly something up with this weirdo who adamantly claims he is a normal human. But hey, crime-fighting is hard and they can use all the help they can get.
Look for The Shapesmith to play an interesting role in the Invincible story going forward.