Comic Book Review – Irredeemable #1

Context
What happens when the world’s greatest superhero becomes its greatest threat?

Story
The afterward included in this book, written by Grant Morrison, complains that Mark Waid has been pigeonholed as the champion of the Silver Age. I think this says more about the age of comics we are in rather than Waid himself. Secret identities and sidekicks are so last century. Although Waid refuses to abandon these elements (thankfully), the core of Irredeemable is refreshing and original.

An uberpowerful alien has become earth’s greatest defender. Sound familiar? What’s new here is that The Plutonian, like the gods of mythology, has all too human failings. In this case, he allows negativity and betrayal to divert him from his role as the savior of humanity. His first goal is to eliminate his greatest threat, his former partners and fellow superheroes. Waid has visited this vicinity before. In his JLA: Year One we saw the Martian Manhunter create information files on his teammates. Later in the JLA, Waid had Batman take these files a step further when he created contingency plans for each member of the Justice League. With Irredeemable, Waid moves this concept forward at light speed. These aren’t plans, they are actions…and they are carried out with incredible power and brutality.

Art
Peter Krause (Power of Shazam!) provides uneven but enjoyable pencils and inks for this issue. When I page back through the book I can see Krause’s artistic influences. There’s George Perez, John Byrne, Dave Gibbons, Kieron Dwyer, Jerry Ordway, Ron Garney and Dan Jurgens. The great thing about this list is that these are some of the best in the industry and they all reside within a certain style family. The only problem with this list is its length. I would like to see Krause do more to consolidate these styles and create something new.

His layouts are good but some of his figures come off a little stiff. The double splash page reveal of the baseball stadium seemed offbeat at first until I remembered that the fans were the most important player in this flashback. I get the idea but two pages seemed a little like filler. The inks during the battle with the giant robot seemed a little disconnected from panel to panel. When he is working with the darker portions of the story, Krause shines. The darker colors seem to unify any variations between inking styles.

What to look for
Waid places himself firmly on one side of the Superman vs. Batman debate in his opening scene.

What might put you off
At this point, I would have to say the shifting artistic vision but I think given a little time, Krause will pull his look into focus.

Recommendation
You should be reading this for the story alone. Much depends on its execution but this story idea has the potential to put this title up with Waid’s best.

Credits

Title Irredeemable
Issue Number 1
Publisher Boom! Studios
Release Date 4/1/2009
Writer Mark Waid
Artist Peter Krause
Letterer Ed Dukeshire
Editor Matt Gagnon

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