Comic Book Review: Irredeemable #1

The Revolution has not been tempted so far by anything from Boom’s stable of titles. That ends with the arrival of Irredeemable #1. This title immediately caught my eye. Waid is a good writer and Krause is a solid artist. And the concept of a Superman-type hero (The Plutonian) turned villain was intriguing. Hopefully, Irredeemable #1 is able to deliver a quality read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the Plutonian outside of a house and staring through a window at a little girl sleeping. Plutonian’s eyes begin to glow with heat vision. We cut to inside the house with the Hornet busting into the room of his daughter and telling her to get up and that they have to leave now. We see the Hornet’s wife holding their baby and entering the room. The Hornet tells his wife that the Plutonian knows all of their secret identities and where they live. The Hornet screams that they have to leave now.

Suddenly, fire bursts through the window. The Hornet tells his family to go down under the house into the cave. On their way to the entrance of the cave, the Plutonian looks into the home and fries the Hornet’s wife and baby with his heat vision. All that is left are two skeletons. The Hornet grabs his daughter and runs into the cave.

The Hornet is inside the cave and looking for weapons, when the Plutonian’s hand burst from under the ground. The Plutonian tears open the cave’s floor and stands before the Hornet and the Hornet’s young daughter. The Hornet begs the Plutonian to spare his daughter. The Plutonian says that the Hornet’s daughter is just a carbon bag of atoms and electricity.


Plutonian then uses his heat vision to kill the Hornet. Plutonian then bends down next to the little girl and says “Do you know who I am, Sarah? I’m a super-hero.” We then see Plutonian setting the entire house and cave on fire. Plutonian then flies off into the sky.

We zip forward to one week later with Mr. Quibit and a bunch of super heroes questioning the Plutonian’s ex-sidekick, Samsara (Sam). Sam re-tells the story of the first time he met Plutonian. It was during a baseball game when a giant robot landed on the field and threatened the crowd in the stadium. The Plutonian arrived on the scene and defeated the giant robot.

The crowd cheered Plutonian. The other super heroes, Scylla, Charybidis, Volt, Gilgamos and Sam arrive on the scene. The heroes comment how the crowd loves Plutonian. The Plutonian’s super hearing then picks up some of the people in the crowd calling the Plutonian a “show-off jerk” and “a flippin’ underwear pervert.” Sam says that he noticed something on the Plutonian’s face that day. Sam then says that he cannot remember anything else. Sam says that he is so tired.

Mr. Quibit urges Sam to focus and try to remember anything else from that day. Sam says that he told the Plutonian how Sam’s magic gem protects him from mortal harm. Sam told Plutonian that each night Sam regenerates. However, Sam cannot re-grow anything that he has lost like if a finger was cut off. But, Sam cannot die.

Sam then says that he is tired and cannot remember anything else. We now see that Sam appears to be halfway buried in the ground. The heroes beg Sam to remember. The heroes say that the Plutonian was the best of them and that he was their teammate for years. The heroes say that they are counting on Sam.

Sam answers that the Plutonian was his friend and that Sam worshiped the Plutonian. Mr. Quibit replies that they all worshiped the Plutonian. That Plutonian was the first and the best. Mr. Quibit then points out that something went terribly wrong. Mr. Quibit asks Sam if Sam remembers ringing Mr. Quibit.

Sam then flashes back to the various capers that he had with Plutonian. Mr. Quibit then calls Sam back into focus. Mr. Quibit exclaims that the rest of the super heroes did not know the Plutonian the way that Sam did. The heroes thought that the Plutonian was one of them, but that they were wrong about that. Mr. Quibit says that the Plutonian is hunting them and killing them. That the Hornet, Citadel and Metalman are dead.

Mr. Quibit yells that Sam called him and that Sam was scared and that Sam said that he had seen something. Mr. Quibit yells “What was it!?” Mr. Quibit asks Sam why he does not remember calling in a panic. One of the heroes then notices the back of Sam’s head. We see that the Plutonian has used his heat vision to lobotomize Sam. We then flashback to Plutonian holding Sam and using his heat vision to slice Sam’s head.

We cut back to the present with Sam saying that he does not remember anything anymore. Sam says that is all he has left in his head. Sam asks if he can lie down now. Mr. Quibit answers “Yes, Sam.” Sam then lies down in his grave and pulls the dirt over him. Mr. Quibit touches the grave and says “Good night.”

Gilgamos spits what an awful thing the world’s greatest super hero did to his partner. Gilgamos says that if the Plutonian would do this to Sam then imagine what Plutonian will do to them. Scylla comments that “He never forgave us for—” Charybidis interrupts and says that “We didn’t do anything wrong.” Charybidis says that they promised never to walk about that day. Charybidis asks if they can at least keep one promise.

Kaidan comments that they have no idea how to stop Plutonian. Mr. Quibit answers that they must learn. Mr. Quibit then asks everyone to give him anything metal that they have on them. Mr. Quibit continues that they know the Plutonian’s powers, but not his limits. That they know his methods, but not his background. Mr. Quibit tells the heroes to try and remember anything personal that Plutonian may have said about himself.

Mr. Quibit then transforms all the metal watches, cameras and money from the other heroes into bands. Mr. Quibit hands the bands to all of the heroes. Mr. Quibit says that the bands are quantum jumpers and that the heroes should use them if the Plutonian is ever on their tail.

One of the heroes mentions that she remembers Plutonian talking about a girlfriend. Mr. Quibit says that is a start and for them to track down the girlfriend and see if she can tell them about any weaknesses that the Plutonian might have. Mr. Quibit tells Scylla and Charybidis to try and discover the Plutonian’s secret identity.

Mr. Quibit continues that they must learn all they can about the Plutonian. That they must find out a way to stop him. That they need to talk to other heroes in hiding and to the Plutonian’s enemies. Mr. Quibit tells the heroes to keep on the move and that if they stay in one place to long like they are now then they are as good as dead.

Suddenly, Scylla exclaims “Oh God. Look! Up in the – -” We see the Plutonian streaking onto the scene and firing heat vision blasts at the heroes.

Mr. Quibit yells for everyone to scatter and to stay in contact on hyper frequencies that Plutonian cannot hear. The heroes then all scatter off in different directions. The heroes activate their quantum jumpers and teleport away from the scene. The Plutonian stands there and smirks and says “Perfect.” End of issue.

Commentary

The Good: Irredeemable #1 was a great debut issue. Waid succeeded in delivering an incredibly exciting issue that immediately grabs the reader’s attention and gets them anxious to come back for more. This was as effective a first issue that I have read in a while.

Waid really surprised me with a story that I just was not expecting from him. Waid unveils quite a stark and intense read. Waid effectively takes the Golden Age styled hero and flips it on its head. The old school feel and look of the heroes juxtaposed with the dark and realistic modern storytelling makes this an enjoyable read.

However, what separates Irredeemable #1 from so many other titles that have attempted to parody the super hero genre or to take the Golden Age and Silver Age heroes and impose a modern sensibility on them is the lack of venom for the super hero genre. Unlike some other titles, Irredeemable’s goal is not to parody or lampoon the super hero genre.

Instead, Irredeemable‘s goal is to ask “What if a classic Superman super hero turned bad?” This title seems more interested in the psyche of a hero that has gone black and corrupt than commenting on the super hero genre. Irredeemable is examining the line from The Dark Knight where Harvey Dent comments that “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Irredeemable #1 begins with a powerful nine page opening scene that hits the reader like a punch to the neck. I was absolutely riveted and my mouth was agape as Waid introduced us to the Plutonian in quite a stunning fashion. Irredeemable #1 is crammed full of action and mystery.

While this issue is a fast paced read, it is never rushed. Waid does a good job starting the issue with an adrenaline pumping beginning before easing off the gas in order to allow the reader to get their bearings as we get some back story on the Plutonium. Waid manages to create plenty of tension in the reader that helps to quickly grab the reader and pull them into the story. And this issue does not let go until the very final page.

Irredeemable #1 was a well plotted issue that delivered a focused story. Irredeemable #1 was a well constructed issue that had a pleasant flow. I liked that Waid used the flashback scene in the middle of this issue in order to give the reader some necessary back-story on the Plutonian without boring the reader.

Waid walked the fine line of giving the reader just enough information about this world and the Plutonian in order to whet the reader’s appetite without ever leaving the reader completely in the dark and risk losing the reader after just one issue. The little bits of information that Waid doled out to the reader were calculated to give us just enough to make us come back for more, but not enough information so that there are still tons of questions rolling around in the reader’s head.

Waid also does a good job of clearly conveying to the reader the mission statement of this title. It is always important to let the reader know what we can expect on a new title. It appears that Irredeemable will focus on the various heroes using their quantum jumpers to hop from place to place in order to stay one step ahead of Plutonian in their attempt to learn all they can about him in order to devise a way to defeat him.

Waid crafts some excellent dialogue. In general, the dialogue had quite a pleasant flow to it. Some of the dialogue is almost poetic. Waid also whips up some clever phrases and some impressive imagery.

Waid did not perform much in the way of character work in this issue. Irredeemable #1 focuses mostly on quickly getting the story in place and running, offering some mystery and doling out plenty of action. Having said that, the characters that Waid presents the reader with certainly have plenty of potential and they do seem quite interesting. Sam was a neat take on your typical Golden Age sidekick character. Out of all of the heroes, Mr. Quibit is already my favorite one. I like his look and his powers. Mr. Quibit seems to have the most potential out of all the heroes we meet in this issue.

The Plutonian is obviously a Superman analogue. And who is not intrigued by a Superman gone bad? The beginning scene of this issue certainly cements the Plutonian’s cred as a villain. Plutonian kills men, women, children and babies. Plutonian is completely lacking a conscience with the way he clinically dispatches his victims.

The scene in the Hornet’s cave was fantastic. I loved Plutonian’s phrase that the Hornet’s daughter is just a carbon bag full of atoms and electricity. This emphasizes that Plutonian, through a cold scientific lens, views regular humans as insignificant creatures. The Plutonian is more like an ancient god of Olympus with his aura, attitude and the way he views the mere mortals around him.

The psychology of what makes a person turn into a villain fascinates me. I have always rooted for the villain and almost always find the villain to be more interesting than the hero. I am definitely looking forward to learning more about what turned the Plutonian down the path of darkness.

Waid does give us a few hints concerning Plutonian’s heel turn. We see the seeds of Plutonian’s heel turn in the flashback scene as his face changes upon hearing the nasty comments from some of the people in the crowd. And we learn that the heroes did something to Plutonian that he evidently perceived as an attack or slight in some manner.

The scene with Sam at the graveyard was well done. This scene was heavy with tension. The fact that Plutonian lobotomized his own sidekick was simply chilling. This was an incredibly effective way of putting over the Plutonian as a phenomenally terrible villain. And it was done in a fashion that was not graphic or bloody. Waid demonstrates that less is more by showing only the aftermath and just one quick panel of the actual act. This was approach was more powerful than a blood-soaked scene that leaves nothing to the reader’s imagination.

I am impressed with how in just one issue Waid is able to successfully establish Plutonian as being a monster villain. And what made it even more impressive was that Waid does it in an intelligent and interesting manner and not in a cheap and uncreative way.

To be sure, Irredeemable #1 has plenty of violence. However, what makes Irredeemable different from many of the other violent comics on the market is that the violence in Irredeemable #1 is never done in a prurient fashion or done for pure shock value. The violence is never over the top so that the story de-evolves into more of a joke that the reader never takes seriously like what we get from some writers like Ennis or Way. Waid employs violence with a meaning in order to establish a theme or plot element. At no point does Irredeemable #1 become a parody due to the level of violence. Instead, we get just the opposite as Waid is able to keep Irredeemable #1 a serious read.

Waid ends Irredeemable #1 with a great hook ending. It is a chaotic and adrenaline pumping moment as the Plutonian arrives at the graveyard and all the heroes scatter and teleport away from the scene in a panic. My favorite part of this final scene was how Waid took the line “Look, up in the sky…” which is normally associates with positive and good feelings and perverted it into something that sends chills down the reader’s spine.

Peter Krause dishes out plenty of solid artwork. Krause’s style of art is a nice match to the realistic tone of the story and the Golden Age look of the various heroes. I like how Krause lays out the story and he gives the reader a nice variety of panel shots. Krause draws the hell out of the Plutonian in the beginning scene and at the end. Krause definitely succeeds in injecting plenty of intensity and emotion into Waid’s story.

The Bad: Readers who do not like violence should probably avoid Irredeemable #1. This title has plenty of violence and killing. Also, readers who prefer bright and positive super hero comics will more than likely not like Irredeemable #1. Waid is giving us a dark and grim title that deconstructs the Superman type hero.

Overall: Irredeemable #1 was an excellent debut issue. Waid comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders as he wastes no time getting this story rolling in an exciting fashion. Many debut issues are dull reads that provide necessary set-up work. That is not the case with Irredeemable #1. Waid decided to start with a quick beginning and let the reader learn the background information as we progress along this story.

Irredeemable #1 is a technically well crafted issue that offers a pleasant balance between good dialogue and gripping action. Waid has created a setting for Irredeemable that immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Irredeemable #1 is a good start to what has the potential to be an interesting and unique title. I would definitely recommend giving Irredeemable #1 a chance.

1 Comments

  1. I thought it was good too. But something about it reminds me too much of Miracleman. Kind of a combo of MM and Kid MM in one hero.

    Maybe its the look of the Plutonian. Too close to MM in my mind. Although, making him look like Superman, might have everyone feeling like its Superman-Prime, and that would be even worse.

    I’d rather compare to Moore’s work than anything with Prime in it.

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