Change of Pace 3: Mark Waid's IRREDEEMABLE

Best Shots Extra - IRREDEEMABLE #5

Some might call foul when we have a super-hero book appear in .  Honestly, though, the column’s purpose is to try to draw more attention to a book deserving of it.  And in my estimation, Irredeemable, well-reviewed by our own Best Shots team and other sources, certainly qualifies.  It’s even more appropriate to note it this week, as its publisher, Boom! Studios, has gone out of their way to make the book available.

The New Deal:  Part of the reason that I wanted to mention this book this week is due to Boom’s strategy.  The fifth issue hit the racks yesterday, and it’s only 99 cents.  On top of that, the first four issues became available in trade yesterday for $9.99 (an estimable bargain for a book that typically costs $3.99 an issue).  That’s five issues worth of a rock-solid book for $10.98, in itself a fairly rare occurrence now.

Mark Waid:  The first thing that should bring you to the table here is that Mark Waid is writing original super-characters.  Waid’s probably been unfairly pegged as a Silver Age nostalgia guy for as long as he’s actually been writing contemporary heroes.  Here’s the thing about Waid that I think causes the confusion: he’s always written his heroes .  That doesn’t mean that each one is a flawless paragon with no problems; it means that he has his heroes do heroic things with heroic intentions, even if they occasionally f@#% up royally.  The perfect example of that is Wally West; if you recall, Waid had Wally stoop to duplicity by lying to Bart about naming Jessie Quick as his successor to be the Flash.  Certainly, Wally had the earnest intention of making Bart work harder, but it was a potentially bad decision made by a well-meaning guy for the right reasons.  Waid’s heroes are complex.

Beyond that, Waid wrote one of the great super-villain books of the past several years in Empire.  A case study of what happens when the bad guys when, it was filled with vile characters, back-stabbing, and some just plain unsettling moments.  In some ways, it’s the thematic forerunner for this book.

Irredeemable is the story of what happens when The Plutonian, a Superman-level hero, goes bad on an epic scale.  It’s suspenseful, gut-wrenching, and frequently shocking.  We only see the actions of the hero-turned-villain through the eyes of his former teammates at this point; we’re not sure exactly why he went so wrong, or why he seems to be delighting in it at points.  All that we know is that the archetypal heroes are diabolically outgunned.  And so is the rest of the world.

I believe that this story works very well in an original universe context.  You simply couldn’t tell this story with one of the Big Twos Big Guns in continuity; most What Ifs and a few Elseworlds carry fairly apocalyptic visions, but those have the safety valve of not being “real”.  The actions here have consequence, and you actually believe that any character could be absolute toast at any moment.

Peter Krause: No, not the guy.  This Krause has done a variety of professional illustration, including several years on The Power of Shazam!.  Krause has a very classic super-hero style, reminiscent in some ways of Jerry Ordway.  It’s perfect for this book, as it speaks of a generally pleasant super-hero world gone utterly wrong.  Krause is comfortable with fight scenes and quiet moments, frequently letting his strong command of facial expressions carry the weight of a scene.  This is fundamentally sharp, visually appealing, smartly rendered art.

The Bullet:  Mark Waid, writing in fine form.  Peter Krause, delivering terrific art.  A premise that does something different with super-characters.  And you can get five issues for under $11.  It’s easy to see that Irredeemable, in addition to being a great buy, is an ideal change of pace.

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