The Plutonian, the world’s most powerful being, has always been a force for good. An inspiration to all, and a superhero so above and beyond good that he leads the way for the world. Until now. Those days are over. He’s turned as viciously evil as they come, going on a mad killing spree (he knows he needs to eliminate the world’s other heroes first).
Irredeemable begins in medias res with the Plutonian having already begun his killing spree. It begins with particular viciousness, a bloodiness that is so savage and impactful that you won’t soon forget it. That in turn sets the tone for the entire book. What do you do when the greatest force on earth, an unstoppable powerhouse, turns against you? The best people fight back, of course, but it’s hard to see it’s going to do them any good.
The basis of superhero comics, Waid says, is that “pretty much everyone who’s called upon to put on a cape is, at heart, emotionally equipped for the job. I reject that premise.” Irredeemable does indeed. He then draws a parallel, in the introduction to this first volume, to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and it’s apt too. The Plutonian is someone who’s seen too much, been called upon too many times, to still be a pure force for good. The artwork by Peter Krause is phenomenal, as well, and perfectly suited to this dark take on traditional superhero fare.
Irredeemable is an ongoing series available in comic-book form, and this first volume collects issues #1–4. Waid has been down similar roads before (most notably in the wonderful Kingdom Come), but it would be wrong to make too many comparisons to that previous work. This stands alone. Irredeemable is more frightening, it seems, even more disturbing, but absolutely no less gripping. Where Waid takes the series from here is anyone’s guess—he plans to keep it going quite a while—but it will be fun to be along for the ride.
Reviewed by John Hogan on October 6, 2009