In December, that collision will throw both comics into a four-issue crossover. And according to Waid, it's more than just a big fight — the origins of both characters will be revealed, showing that they were more greatly shaped by each other than they ever realized.
Featuring art on Irredeemable by Diego Barreto and on Incorruptible by Marcio Takara, the crossover begins in December's Irredeemable #32, then continues in Incorruptible #25, Irredeemable #33 and Incorruptible #26.
Newsarama talked with Waid to find out more about the crossover and how the confrontation between Plutonian and Max Damage actually "opens up a whole bunch of new chapters" for both series.
Newsarama: Mark, there's no doubt that Max Damage and Plutonian share a strong connection that really shapes their individual journeys. In this crossover, as we finally find out their origins, will we see even more connection between them?
Mark Waid: You will. In Irredeemable, for two months, you're getting the origin of the Plutonian at last — where he comes from, what his parentage is, what his birth moments are, and how he came to be.
And at the same time, concurrently in Max's series in Incorruptible, you're starting with Max at about 15 years old, and watching his journey.
What we're going to find is that the two of them crossed paths in ways they never realized they did. We'll find out that they met as younger men — nothing so cryptic as, "Oh, they're both from the same parent" or anything goofy and soap opera-y like that.
But for instance, in Irredeemable, you'll see their first encounter as children, and then in Incorruptible, you'll see that same encounter from Max's point of view, and it's a completely different story from Max's point of view.
So throughout the four issues, a big part of it takes part in the past, but it's a lot of back and forth, showing how these two characters' lives have intertwined over the years in ways they don't even realize.
Nrama: As you've built these two separate stories, it's clear that one person's journey would not have happened without the other. They're almost two sides of one coin, aren't they?
Waid: Yes, and you'll see that it was that way even early on. Even before Max got his powers, as a young man, the man he became was inadvertently — and surprisingly — influenced by Plutonian, in a way that Max doesn't realize until now.
That sounds incredibly cryptic, but I don't want to give away the whole story.
And likewise with Plutonian. There are things that happened to him as a child where fate had him brush up against young Max, however briefly, in ways that seemed inconsequential, but, when you look at the big picture, were instrumental in turning Plutonian into who he ended up being.
Nrama: It sounds very character-focused for a big confrontational crossover between adversaries.
Waid: Oh, there's plenty of action. It is a giant crossover between the two universes and the two books, and there is plenty of slug-festing and action and battle. But I wanted it to be more than that. I didn't want it to just be a four-part fight scene. What I really wanted to do was play with structure and write something that is a little more ambitious than just a four-part story that could have appeared in one book or the other.
Nrama: Will this meeting between them be different from what we've seen before? Because this isn't the first time they've met, obviously.
Waid: Right. By now, in the pages of Incorruptible, they've already traded blows a few times. They've already met once now that Plutonian is back and evil. And they've had a bit of a face-off. But it's not the climactic duel. It's more of a lead-up.
How the four-part crossover is structured is that it's actually way more important than just another knockdown, drag-out between Plutonian and Max Damage. It's also the origin of Max Damage, and the origin of Plutonian. Finally.
Nrama: So we'll get answers to some of the mysteries about their past?
Waid: You will. We turn over all the cards on these characters and reveal what their backgrounds are.
Nrama: It feels like, when you say this is a climactic fight, one of these characters — and thus one of these comics — might be coming to an end! It's especially climactic for Max, since he's been on such a journey. Is it an ending for either series?
Waid: Not as far as I know! There are no plans for it to be.It actually opens up a whole bunch of new chapters on Max and his background.
The way it's structured, I think, is going to surprise some people. It's not really a traditional four-part story that ends with a cliffhanger that says, "Next month in Incorruptible!" or "Next month in Irredeemable!" It's not like that.
I'm always leery of "punishing" the people who are reading one book but not the other. I don't want them, for $3.99 an issue, to feel forced to go buy a book they might not ordinarily buy. I'd rather they buy it because they want to buy it. I'd rather tempt them into buying it than make them feel like they're only getting part of a story.
And also, we have the problem of both series running concurrently in trade paperback form, and it's not fair to one or the other if the crossover continues in only one or the other. How do you even package that stuff? How do you put that in trade paperback without duplicating material?
Nrama: So what I'm hearing, then, is that this story ends when the crossover concludes, but that there will be events that spin into more stories within the individual titles, right?
Waid: A lot more stories, now that we've revealed the origin.
As I said, these two characters' lives have intertwined over the years in ways they don't even realize — ways that blow the universe wide open at the end of the story.
Nrama: These two comics have felt like they were building toward this type of confrontation for a long time. Did you have a crossover in mind all along?
Waid: Not originally. I figured it would come eventually. But I had so many stories to tell along the way, and frankly, the idea of the whole arc where we took Plutonian away from the planet for awhile was not in my original outline. It was just something that came about as I started to get excited about the third year of the book.
But yes, the confrontation between these two characters has been building for awhile.
I suppose a crossover is what people are expecting, but at the same time, this is not what people are expecting.
Nrama: In this month's Irredeemable #30 [spoiler warning in this question only for those who have not read #30], a plan was revealed that is being put into action by a few world leaders that is supposed to destroy Plutonian. Will that part of the story be concluded before the crossover, or is it part of this?
Waid: It actually interacts with this story. The decisions made in issues #30 and #31, by the acting president of the United States and the other nations, are world-changing events, even more so than Plutonian going insane. These are world-changing events. We've not revealed that in order to save two-thirds of the world, they have to kill a third. That's still in motion as we begin the crossover, and nothing in those four issues stops that. In fact, it sort of exacerbates the situation.
And the same thing goes for the current story in Incorruptible.
That's the beauty of playing in your own universe. Nobody has to make it out alive if you don't want them to.
Nrama: That's true, and it's also kind of scary as a reader, because we've seen characters go down before. There are a few characters in here that I'm rooting for.
Waid: As of issue #31 of Irredeemable, we're two more down. Not just one, but two. So place your bets now.
Nothing makes this book more of a joy to me to write — either book — than being able to yank the rug out from everybody — and from myself. In my original plans for the year, there's at least one character death that I certainly had not planned on happening and was planning on going in a different direction. But when it hit me what could be gained on a story level by getting rid of this character, it shocked me.Literally, I sat here in my own chair and I gasped when I had the idea of what to do with this character. And it sucks, because I got to know them quite well. But you make your sacrifices for the long-term.
Nrama: It's got to be refreshing that the choices and changes you make to these characters' lives as a writer are permanent and won't be forgotten or erased.
Waid: Right. It's not like you're playing in another universe and you make changes to characters and build the mythos, and then the next guy comes along and just wipes it clean.
Incorruptible and Irredeemable may not have as broad an audience, being that it's not one of the bigger publishers, but at least I feel like it's a story that will stay intact, with a legacy that will stay intact. So yes, as a writer, that's very rewarding.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!