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.Â 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. Iâ€™ve enjoyed the work of Mark Waid since the days of The Comet for DCâ€™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 donâ€™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 ownÂ Stephen Schleicher gave theÂ second andÂ third issues four stars each, high praise indeed, and enough to warrant a pick-up.
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 â€œtwilight of the super-heroesâ€ 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.Â From the first pages and the Plutonianâ€™s massacre of the hero known as the Hornet and his family, which as a relatively new father was a pretty rough read,Â 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.Â His art has done nothing but grow from those days. The style is fresh, but still holds a familiarity that lulls you right into Waidâ€™s story.Â He adds small nuances that hint at additional back story for your interpretation.Â 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.Â 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 spectatorâ€™s voice calling him a â€œshowoff jerk–Just a flipping underwear pervert.â€ 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.Â Many books have used the flashback technique to varying degrees of success, but I believe that Waidâ€™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.Â 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 â€™68 Comeback special and the â€œZone-O-Phoneâ€ ,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.Â In my opinion that is the sign of a good writer.Â 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 Stephenâ€™s reviews of the previous issues.Â 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.Â And if you hurry, your local comic shop may still have copies ofÂ Irredeemable #5 for the cover price of .99 cents! And while you are there, see if they have theÂ sold-out issue #6. Trust me; youâ€™ll want to pick it up as well.
I give Irredeemable Vol. 1 a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.Â This series has the potential to become one of the greats out there.