Monday, February 27, 2012

Books I Read: Irredeemable & Incorruptible

I started reading Irredeemable with issue #1 and liked it, but after a few issues decided to switch to trades. I dutifully bought many volumes of the series and its companion Incorruptible, but never got around to reading them until recently when I realized "Hey, there's about 50 issues of Mark Waid stuff piled up over there that I would probably enjoy." Now, Waid has announced that both series are ending. Still, it's an impressive body of work worth exploring.

Irredeemable is the story of the Plutonian, the world's greatest superhero who unfortunately is not emotionally equipped for the job. Yes, Waid starts by exploring some Superman tropes but the series quickly evolves beyond that. The tone is not Silver Age-y at all, proving that Waid is not limited to that bag of tricks. There are some surface similarities to Waid's Empire, but the Plutonian is more damaged and less rational than Empire's calculating supervillain.  Irredeemable's supporting cast especially are interesting on their own and not at all copies of Justice League members. My only complaint is that the Plutonian has warped their lives enough that even though they're in the right, they're sometimes hard to root for. Anyway, the Plutonian's enemies are more successful than you'd expect them to be early in the series and that sets things rolling in a different direction too. Art is by Peter Krause and later Diego Barreto, and is always exciting -- there's a lot of sci-fi stuff, especially in the later issues -- and spot-on emotionally.

I actually like Incorruptible a little better than the original book. Max Damage is easier to root for, because he's a street-level guy trying to rise above his past rather than get dragged down into it. Max starts as a really bad guy, even sleeping with his teenage sidekick Jailbait, until he's present at one of the Plutonian's major destructive acts and realizes the world has changed. He decides he needs to be the hero that the Plutonian isn't, but the only way he knows how to do that is to behave exactly the opposite of the way he used to. This black-and-white view of the world is surprisingly endearing, and even though Max's personality doesn't change much I found myself admiring his dogged determination. He dismisses his original sidekick, but attracts an equally damaged one (that he doesn't shtup), and after the first couple of volumes a major (but underused) supporting player from Irredeemable comes over and starts helping Max for her own reasons. The book goes through a couple of artists but settles on Marcio Takara, who is perfect for the job.

Until a recent crossover (not yet collected), the two titles were pretty much separate. Events in Irredeemable are sometimes reflected in Incorruptible, but it's a one-way connection and the books can be enjoyed separately. At this writing, there are 8 trade paperback volumes of Irredeemable and 6 of Incorruptible, plus an oversized & slipcased "Definitive Edition" of the first twelve issues of Irredeemable.

It's no secret that I'm a Mark Waid fan, and obviously his other fans will like this work too, but I honestly think it has a broader appeal like Kingdom Come did.

2 comments:

  1. Nice overview of these series, Jeff. I became impressed with both this books after years of ignoring them (for no particular reason other than I just felt I was following more than enough titles). The occasion was the Free Comic Book Day flipbook from a few years back. I liked both the Irredeemable preview and the Incorruptible preview and bought Volume 1 in trade the next time I wandered around a comics convention. I now have 3 volumes of Iredeemable and Volume 1 of Incorruptible. Time to read some of these. Thanks for the motivation.

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  2. Coincidentally (unless he's stalking me), Tony Isabella also gave these books a favorable review on his bloggy thing today.

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