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.
TWISTS DONE RIGHT
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.”
BARRETO’S FINALLY WON ME OVER
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.
ALL WRAPPED UP
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.