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I am reading the news that the Boom Studios comic Irredeemable #6 has gone back to press for a second printing. To be honest, I have been away from comics for a while and some things have slipped past me in the last year or so, this being one of them.  With a little research and a nice internet connection, I quickly found out that this was a series that I wanted to read.

Reason number one: the writer. I’ve enjoyed the work of Mark Waid since the days of The Comet for DC’s Impact Imprint. I enjoyed his spectacular Flash run with the Born to Run storyline, and I have bought his Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty complete run twice. I don’t believe that I even have to mention Kingdom Come or Empire, both of which put a new spin on the super hero genre as a whole. Also, he is from Alabama. As a native of Mississippi, that says something to me.

Reason number two: the reviews. Not only have I seen this series get mounds of praise from other industry sites, our own  Stephen Schleicher gave the  second and  third issues four stars each, high praise indeed, and enough to warrant a pick-up.

Irredeemable_TPB_COVER.jpgThe premise is deceptively simple: What if the world’s most beloved super-hero turned into the world’s greatest super-villain?

The trade paperback (ISBN13: 978-1-934506-90-5) contains the first four issues of this stellar series. Some of the tag lines I have seen quote it as a “twilight of the super-heroes” type story, but I think that it is even deeper than that. Waid had not only created a story which is detailing the fall of a superhero from grace, but he is also performing a deep look at what constitutes madness.  From the first pages and the Plutonian’s massacre of the hero known as the Hornet and his family, which as a relatively new father was a pretty rough read,  to the flashbacks that give hints into a disturbed mind given two much power, you know you are in for something special.

There are many things that make this such an enjoyable read, but I want to touch on a two in particular. The artwork of Peter Krause is the first. Krause is a name I recognize from his run with the Power of Shazam series back in the day, among other great titles.  His art has done nothing but grow from those days. The style is fresh, but still holds a familiarity that lulls you right into Waid’s story.  He adds small nuances that hint at additional back story for your interpretation.  And example is early in the series; the Plutonian has just saved the entire western seaboard from a giant robot with a bomb, presumably nuclear, in front of a baseball stadium full of people.  As the other heroes arrive, they and the audience are all congratulating the Plutonian on a job well done. The Plutonian hears all the praise, and a criticism. His face starts off the page with the satisfied grin of a job well done. Then he hears a spectator’s voice calling him a “showoff jerk–Just a flipping underwear pervert.” His face goes to one of subtle shock, to a quite, determined anger. There are quiet visual cues like that through out the book. The emotion he projects onto the characters is real and tangible. You know what they are feeling without even really having to read the dialogue.

The second major draw to this series is the story telling style.  Many books have used the flashback technique to varying degrees of success, but I believe that Waid’s use of it here in Irredeemable is one of the better examples. At key moments in the story, you are taken back to previous events that help clarify what happened and give clues to about why the Plutonian could have gone rogue. You find out about the relationships that the surviving heroes had with this hero gone mad, and how it contrasts to their current situation. Clues are revealed that add layer to what could have been a simple story of a hero who decided to go bad.  The thing is, the more you read, the more you realize that the super-hero the world knew was yet another secret identity, the villain has been lying in wait all along, it just needed the right incentive to come out.

The trade itself has some nice extras as well. There is an introduction by Mark Waid where he gives you some of his thoughts on the series, a really nice two page afterword by Grant Morrison where he manages to speak about a magazine article in the New Scientist, the Elvis ’68 Comeback special and the “Zone-O-Phone” ,has it all tie into Mark Waid writing Irredeemable, and it all makes sense! Add to that an extensive cover gallery containing all the various art from the series, and you have a bang-up trade, all for $9.99!

Waid has his share of fans as well as his share of detractors.  In my opinion that is the sign of a good writer.  No matter what he is writing, there will be some element in it that will make you wonder. He is a writer that routinely makes his readers think. That can be hard to find these days.

So, go check out Stephen’s reviews of the previous issues.  They have enough information to really give you the idea of the tone of this series (dark), and as always are a great read in and of themselves.  And if you hurry, your local comic shop may still have copies of  Irredeemable #5 for the cover price of .99 cents! And while you are there, see if they have the  sold-out issue #6. Trust me; you’ll want to pick it up as well.

I give Irredeemable Vol. 1 a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.  This series has the potential to become one of the greats out there.

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The Author

Stacy Baugher

Stacy Baugher

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold.

He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours.

He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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2 Comments

  1. hermit
    September 8, 2009 at 2:09 pm — Reply

    i bought the trade and #5 and i really like it. but i didn’t like it THAT much. yes, i’d give it a 4/5, but i won’t be picking up this series. i’m not even sure i’ll pick up trade #2.

    does that make sense?

    • September 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm — Reply

      Makes sense to me. I’ve read several series where I really liked it, but felt I got the full story and decided to quit after I was satsified. Often, it is better to quit while you ahead. ;)

      I’m sticking with it for the forceable future. It is one of those instances where I think I know what is going to happen and I want to see if I am right.

      Eventually, I WILL hunt down a MARK WAID IS EVIL t-shirt!

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