Irredeemable, vol. 1

“What If The World’s Greatest Hero Decided To Become The World’s Greatest Villain?”

That is the question that establishes the world of Irredeemable. The Plutonian, a hero who is basically this world’s Superman, has apparently crossed-over to The Dark Side for no apparent reason. Having killed several of his former comrades, a rag-tag team of survivors scramble to learn as much as they can about The Plutonian – his past, his secret identity and his weaknesses – hoping to find something that can tell them what drove The Plutonian to this point and, if necessary, how to kill him.

Former Superman writer Mark Waid is probably the last writer anyone would have suspected capable of writing this tale of a hero in rebellion against society. And yet, he is probably the only writer who could have written this story so well. The afterword by Grant Morrison (who also knows a thing or two about Superman) speaks of how he and Waid discussed the idea of labeling and how no matter what else they wrote, they were apparently doomed to be forever known as the “mad-cap purveyor of free-form gibberish” and “The Sterling Sentinel Of Silver Age Nostalgia” respectively. With that in mind, one can see how this series is Waid’s rebellion against the idea of labels being permanent.

Throughout the course of this first volume, we see The Plutonian indulge in some truly horrific behavior, from orphaning a child by burning her family alive before her eyes to destroying an entire country and then forcing one of his former allies to choose only ten people out of millions to be “saved”. And yet, as this story deconstructs the superhuman, it builds up the classic Superman, revealing that his greatest power was his ability to see the best in everyone – an ability that The Plutonian sorely lacks.

The art by Peter Krause deserves special mention. As an artist, Krause is as firmly connected to wholesome classic comics as Mark Waid. He spent several years working on Superman as well as the Captain Marvel title The Power of Shazam! Perhaps he relished the chance to move against convention with this book as Waid did? He certainly put his all into this book, creating something that looks like a traditional superhero book until you get to That One Moment that every single chapter of this series seems to have.

New comic fans looking for something to whet their appetite after reading Watchmen will enjoy this series as will fans of Mark Waid’s other work, though they may be shocked by some of the content. This is a wonderful graphic novel but it should be kept firmly in the adult section as it contains several moments of intense violence as well as some downright creepy bits, including one scene where The Plutonian forces a young couple to have sex while cosplaying as The Plutonian and one of his former teammates.

Irredeemable, vol. 1
Written by Mark Waid; Art by Peter Krause
ISBN: 9781934506905
BOOM! Studios, 2009