I came very late to discovering Irredeemable. Irredeemable is published by BOOM! Studios, and is a fantastic book which posits the idea of what happens when a superhero goes BAD. Created by Mark Waid, and illustrated by Peter Krause, we are introduced to the Plutonian, a character on the level of Superman/Majestic/Sentry/Supreme. He is hailed as the greatest hero on his Earth…until he goes bad. Irredeemable deals with the ramifications of the most powerful hero in the world going to the dark side.
I’m certain that you are all familiar with the creator and writer – Mark Waid has written many of the major characters at Marvel and DC Comics, but this is a new avenue that he is exploring. Now the concept itself isn’t new, by any means…MarvelMan/MiracleMan went down this avenue, with Johnny Bates/Kid MiracleMan believing that he was the only superhuman alive on Earth, and being unfettered by the other members of the MiracleMan/MarvelMan Family, began using his powers unscrupulously; there’s Henry Bendix of StormWatch; the characters of Watchmen; but none so directly aligned with the Gladiator archetype.
Before I begin, let me tell you a little story about the creator.
Mark Waid once stalked me.
I had just come from a visit to Midtown Comics, and had quite a haul. One of the books was an issue of Captain America, and Mark Waid and Ron Garney were the creators. Now, at the time, I had a couple of autographs from Mark from convention visits, so I at least had a recollection of what he looked like. Now, if you think I’m a little wacky, get this – I recognized Bill Mantlo from Butch Guice’s caricature of him on a copy of Micronauts #58, and he just happened to come into a comics store on the Upper West Side as I was looking at the bloody thing. I did the old double-take…yep, it’s Bill, all right.
He signed that copy of Micronauts #58, and autographed a copy of X-Men vs. Micronauts with "Peace!" That’s one of my prized possessions, along with some other autographed books. Just ask me about them, and I’ll bore you with my tales of "Whoa!", but I digress.
So, my job didn’t begin until later in the day, so I went to McDonald’s for a bit of breakfast (no, this is not a product endorsement), and sat down to read my stack of comics.
As I read my books, I spied a face that seemed quite familiar, but I couldn’t place the personage. I just thought that it was eerily familiar.
As I opened my issue of Captain America, the face seemed to brighten. What the heck? I have a comic stalker now?
Well, the heck with it…what’s he gonna do – get Egg McMuffin all over my books? I finished reading, packed up the ol’ kit bag and went to work. On the way to work, it hit me…that was Mark Waid! Man, oh, Manischewitz! Ah, well.
So, without further ado…let’s discuss Irredeemable. This is an awesome book, and the fact that I missed its coming actually turned out to be a good thing, as I was able to read ten issues of this magic, all in one sitting.
Did I tell you yet that I love this book?
The first issue opens with a character called the Hornet frantically attempting to safeguard his family from some impending doom. He admonishes his wife for taking her time and trying to gather money and clothes. As he directs her to run to the shelter, she screams that the door is too hot to open. We are then witness to the immolation of his wife and infant. The Hornet makes it to his underground shelter along with his daughter, Sara. He almost makes it, when a hand breaks through the ground and snaps his ankle. The Plutonian has arrived. The Hornet pleads for him to spare his daughter. The Plutonian states that his daughter is merely a mix of component gases and minerals…and the next thing we see is the Plutonian flying away from the burning domicile.
We then see the complement of members of this Earth’s super-team, the Paradigm. They are Scylla, Charybis (twins, energy manipulation), Volt (electrical powers), Qubit (technological telepath), Gilgamos (eternal warrior), Bette Noir (if I could classify her as anything, I’m betting that she would bear similarities with Rose Tattoo from StormWatch), Kaidan (summoner of spirits) and Samsara (immortal, but not invulnerable, being).
The issue continues with the others heroes questioning Samsara about anything he can possibly divulge that will help them put an end to the Plutonian’s rampages. Samsara, however, isn’t being particularly helpful. Bette Noir discovers an odd-looking wound in the back of Samsara’s head, and we are then witness to a single panel of the Plutonian performing a lobotomy upon Samsara.
With his heat vision.
Despite this, Samsara is able to impart to the heroes a number of instances where the Plutonian seemed to be ill at ease; this feeling is echoed by the Paradigm in subsequent issues as we are presented with their initial meetings with the Plutonian.
We begin to realize that it wasn’t merely one incident than began the Plutonian’s decline into madness, but a series of disappointments and disillusions with humanity, capped by an incident of his own making. The story is so powerful that I do not wish to spoil it here. Also, issue #5 is only 99 cents.
I could go on and on…but trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
I haven’t really mentioned Peter Krause’s contribution to the story, but believe me, it is excellent. Krause is not one of the "big-muscle" guys, but he puts forward a well-done page, and I think that he is an ideal choice to illustrate the difference between the "good old days" and the "bad new days". His characters are clearly delineated; his backgrounds enhance the story and he can tell a story.
So…go out and get this book! There are currently two trades encompassing issues 1-4 and 5-8.
Now…if you want to get in on the ground floor of an excellent series…well, I would be remiss in not mentioning Incorruptible…also by Mark Waid. This is a companion book to Irredeemable, and one gets to see the inverse situation. It’s actually more complicated – Max Damage (the arch-villian-turned-protagonist) has a former paramour named Jailbait…need I say any more?
Actually, I must – I visited a Q&A session with Mark Waid yesterday, and found some more information in regards to Incorruptible: Max Damage becomes Max Daring, and though he has strength and durability on a par with the Plutonian, it only lasts as long as he is awake. Of course, Max has to sleep sometime – and when he wakes, he passes through a period of vulnerability.
This is going to be an interesting series to watch.