The finale is here! Whether or not you’ve stuck with this series in the long run, if you started it and dropped it part-way through, you ABSOLUTELY should pick this issue up. This is the perfect conclusion to the Mark Waid-penned series, ending in a way that was both unexpected yet, in retrospect, was foreshadowed in some particularly devious and meta ways.

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Diego Barreto
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editors: Matt Gagnon & Shannon Watters
Covers: Kalman Andrasofszky & Nolan Woodard; Matteo Scalera & Darrin Moore

Previously in Irredeemable… The Plutonian, the Superman equivalent of this universe, got fed up with a human race that didn’t appreciate him and turned on them, razing several cities and causing massive destruction to much of the planet. The Justice League equivalent, the Paradigm, managed to get some aliens to take him away, but that didn’t work out too well as the Plutonian amassed a small army and returned to Earth. There he initially continued wreaking havoc until a Paradigm member, Qubit, came to him and told him there was a way to “turn back the clock” and give him “a second chance to live right.” Naturally, the Plutonian assumed that would involved time travel, and he just discovered the only time traveler they knew is dead, so he’s understandably upset with Qubit.


The series began with some clever marketing campaigns, as the simple and elegant slogan “Mark Waid is evil” was coined and minted. When Irredeemable came out it was touted as “Superman goes bad.” What most felt was just an easy-to-share elevator pitch hints at an important twist that paints the entire series in a new light. I may have discussed it before, but I didn’t grow up on comic books. I grew up on science fiction, reading a lot of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut and Isaac Asimov. My favorites were the short stories where at the end the author would pull the rug out from under you, leaving you on the floor and slightly dazed. As you began to mentally pick yourself up, you would evaluate what you’d read, thinking back on the entire story and seeing it from an entirely new perspective gained from that last-paragraph revelation. Isaac Asimov was the champion of this, crafting masterful twists that, when you thought back on the story were clearly foreshadowed from the beginning. Mark Waid has accomplished this in a fashion that left me with that same sense of wonder and awe that I had after reading Asimov’s greatest short story, “The Last Question.


When reviewing issues of Irredeemable (which I’ve done, a lot) I have frequently discussed how I don’t like Diego Barreto’s art as much as Marcio Takara’s work on Incorruptible. I was surprised to find that in this issue, either Barreto did a better job than usual or I’ve finally grown accustomed to his style. One thing I noticed is that in the first third of the issue the backgrounds were very limited (or nonexistant in some panels), so Barreto may have had more time to work on other aspects of the art; given that I believe he’s also his own inker, that could have been a very important factor. Whatever the reason, Diego Barreto is at the top of his game at exactly the right time, helping push this issue into being the amazing piece of art that it is.


When I heard Irredeemable and Incorruptible were both coming to an end, I (and many others on the internet) expressed skepticism as to how Mark Waid could tie up all the loose ends in time. I’m still a little concerned as to how Incorruptible will end (I fear with a not-so-happy ending), but Irredeemable wrapped up everything it needed to in an incredibly satisfying conclusion. I laughed out loud at the anticlimactic way the seeds to the tree of life bit ended. I can see where some might criticize Waid for dragging that plot on only to have it end the way it did, but I felt it added a layer of reality to the world of Irredeemable, showing the desperation superhumanity sank to in the face of imminent death.

THE VERDICT: The Perfect Conclusion to One of my Favorite Series

Many writers don’t get an opportunity to end a series on their own terms; Mark Waid showed us what Neil Gaiman showed us with Sandman–how powerful it can be to simultaneously have a real ending, and yet have it be the ending that doesn’t end (one might say Gaiman’s Sandman was… Endless). Even more powerful, I asked Waid over twitter if this finale has been the endgame since he first began penning the series, and he confirmed it. I debated whether or not to include the big ending in this review, but I think it’s such a beautifully handled finale that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice; if you read the first arc or two of Irredeemable and for whatever reason dropped the title, at the very least you should pick up this issue. The little plot summary at the beginning of the issue will give you all the backstory you need, and you’ll really appreciate the way Mark Waid ended things. This book gets an easy five out of five stars from me, and I am frightenedly optimistic for the conclusion of Incorruptible as well.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Author



Once upon a time, there was a boy. This boy grew up reading classic literature--Moby Dick, The Time Machine, Robinson Crusoe. At age six, his favorite novel was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He devoted his time and efforts into being an incredible nerd, mastering classical literature and scientific history for his school's trivia team. Then he got to college, and started reading comic books. It's been all downhill from there.
Jimmy's favorite writers include Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid and Bryan Q. Miller. His favorite artists are Kevin Maguire, Amanda Conner and Alex Ross, and his least favorite grammatical convention is the Oxford Comma. His most frequent typographical gaffe is Randomly Capitalizing Words.

You can follow his lunacy on Twitter at @JimmyTheDunn

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  1. May 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm — Reply

    Good review, and all-in-all a truly amazing finale.

  2. Brannigan's Law
    May 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm — Reply

    Congratulations to Mark Waid and Diego Barreto. I didn’t expect this series to be anything special, but it really hooked me, and kept itself going with consistant quality.

    I can’t wait to see what Diego Barreto does next. I’m hoping it’s another independent series like this one that he can keep on monthly. He’s refined a bit doing Irredeemable and he’s in a great place right now that I want to see more of.

    I’m a Mark Waid fan now. Great job and thanks to everyone on Irredeemable.

  3. Navarre
    May 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm — Reply

    How soon might I reasonably expect to be able to buy Irredeemable and Incorruptible in collected graphic novel form (each series separately, that is)?

    • May 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm — Reply

      the final volume of Irredeemable (volume 9) comes out June 5th; click the Amazon link in the top right of the Major Spoilers page and you can pre-order it (as well as buy the previous eight volumes) there!

      I don’t know the release date for the rest of Incorruptible, but using the Major Spoilers Amazon link is a great way to pick up the back-volumes!

      • Brad
        May 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm — Reply

        Actually, Volume 9 will collect the crossover. The final volume is volume 10, which is Amazon lists as coming out on September 4th.

        The last volume of Incorruptible (Volume 7) is listed as August 7th.

        • May 25, 2012 at 11:16 am — Reply

          Thanks for the heads-up! The press section of Boom didn’t say definitively, so I just made an (incorrect) inference based on their info; didn’t even think to check the regular part of the site!

          I do think it’s kind of goofy they’re collecting both the Incorruptible AND Irredeemable issues in Irredeemable volume 9; are they just going to skip over those in the Incorruptible volumes, or are they going to publish a volume of Incorruptible with those exact same issues? (I could probably go check and find out, come to think of it)

  4. Tbirch42
    May 24, 2012 at 12:25 am — Reply

    I really liked the ending, it felt… right.

    I’ve been satisfied with quite a few endings recently. Even the finale of House was decent. I did not like about 90% of the episode, but the last moments just worked for me. :)

    But Irredeemable, apart from maybe 5-10 issues out of the 37, the rest have rocked. :)

  5. Armaan
    May 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm — Reply

    Am I wrong for totally hating the ending?

    • May 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm — Reply

      You’re always welcome to your opinion! (as Matthew would say, mileage may vary)

      I liked the way it tied into a certain major comics icon, but I can understand how some people might not like that. In fact, there are probably only a half dozen writers who I would trust to use a plot point like that without it feeling like they were cheapening the product by trying to hitch their wagon to something big, but I have read enough of Mark Waid’s work and his interviews to understand that by connecting Irredeemable the way he did, it was the ultimate expression of the theme of his entire book.

    • Ricco
      May 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm — Reply

      Yes, it means you have no soul :)

  6. Johnny
    May 25, 2012 at 7:48 am — Reply

    Without spoiling, the ending reminded me of something Morrison did in one of his high-profile works at DC… the fact that I read the Morrison trade for the first time recently leaves a strange taste in my mouth as I get to the end of irredeemable– I love the ending but I’m not as awed as I would be.

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