Irredeemable #5–8 by Mark Waid and Peter Krause
Although the story can be summed up in the phrase ‘What if Superman turned evil?’, there is more to the story of the Plutonian and his murderous spree, killing millions of innocents as well as most of his former friends. It examines the idea of morality in the seemingly rigid boundaries of a superhero comic book, based on the Silver Age notion of ‘If you get superpowers, you become a hero’. It also allows for Waid to play around with some of the standard concepts in traditional superhero comic books, something he does very well.
In this collection, which starts with a wonderfully chilling scene that ends with the phrase, ‘This has been a pre-recorded message. Sleep tight.’, the remaining heroes are trying to locate the Plutonian using the Modeus robots created by Mr Qubit. There is some poking fun at the notion that black superheroes only end up with electrical powers, but there are more serious scenes as we get some more back story of the Plutonian, learning about the Children’s Plague incident and his role in it, and what happened when Samsara found out about it, and that the Plutonian’s citadel is in the middle of a volcano (very Silver Age). There are also the levels to which Plutonian has obsessed over Bette Noir, who is now married to Gilgamos but hasn’t told him about it. However, the best aspect of the story concerns Cary (Charybdis) after the death of his twin, Scylla, for which I have to say: well played, Mr Waid.
I’m becoming accustomed to Krause’s art on this book – it is not flashy or particularly modern, but it does the job very well, giving the book an atmosphere that harks back to the Silver Age but without losing modernity. There are no ‘wow’ pages to dazzle or detract from the story, but this serves the book well because the story is the focus here, as Waid plays a delicate game of doing a story he could never do at either of the two big mainstream publishers. The only thing I would wish for is that the trade paperbacks collected more issues – it is clear that Waid is not writing for the trade in specific arcs, because the books just finish at the end of another issue of the comic series, so Boom! could easily collect at least six issues in a book instead of just four. But perhaps I’m just greedy …