Irredeemable is the sort of series that would seem to have a short shelf life. Reading about the world’s greatest superhero running amok and torturing the planet’s inhabitants should, in theory at least, get old: How long can you read about the same villain going berserk before you want to see him taken down, served justice, made to pay for his crimes?
Surprisingly, in the hands of an able storyteller like Mark Waid, the story remains fresh and vibrant, as Volume 2 of Irredeemable proves. Collecting issues 5 through 8 of the monthly series, this second volume further illustrates the Plutonian’s troubled background, both as a child and as a superhero. The Plutonian is more or less a Superman figure, with somewhat similar powers, and he’s been a member of a Justice League-like group known as the Paradigm. Together, this collection of superheroes saved the world many times over, but something, some case, has made the Plutonian crack. He’s killed millions of people around the globe, including many of his former teammates, and he’s biding his time searching for the rest. The survivors have banded together in a secret hiding place—a difficult thing, considering the vision and hearing powers and other heightened senses their pursuer possesses—as they try to formulate a plan to bring him down.
One of the treats of Irredeemable is Peter Krause’s crisp, clean art, which oftentimes evokes the style of legendary comics artist Curt Swan. It adds to the overall creepiness of the ongoing story, making it truly seem as though you’ve stepped into an EC Comics spinoff of a Golden Age storyline.
Volume 2 is less violent and graphic than its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it’s light fare. It remains a dark and twisted book with plenty of gore, so it’s more suited for adults and older teens. The action is swift and intense, and Waid doesn’t dawdle in the plot lines. Most interesting is the subplot involving the Plutonian’s former girlfriend (the fabulously named Bette Noir), who is now married to a superhero who has no idea his wife used to be the Plutonian’s flame. The storyline gives Waid opportunity to inject a little bit of humor periodically (such as the scene in which the heroes have infiltrated the Plutonian’s lair: Bette opens the door on a shrine to herself in various stages of dress, and she quickly shuts the door and says, “Dead end. Keep moving!”).
Perhaps a less talented writer would have devolved the series into a quick slugfest, but Waid keeps the interest piqued with Irredeemable. Where he’ll keep taking the series is anyone’s guess, but it’s far and away one of the most interesting and compelling superhero books currently being published.
Reviewed by John Hogan on March 23, 2010
Irredeemable, Vol. 2