3 Apr 2009

Cover To Cover: IRREDEEMABLE #1

By Matt C

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Peter Krause
Boom! Studios $3.99

Since Mark Waid became Editor In Chief of Boom! Studios we’ve seen him pen a couple of things here and there for the company (most notably Potter’s Field) but it’s clear that big things are expected from Irredeemable due to the amount of promotional hype that’s preceded it. It also just happens to be one of the first occasions Boom! have entered the superhero arena - previously focusing on a variety of other reliable genres - and, this being comics, it’s a no-brainer that it’ll attract the attention of a multitude of spandex fanboys for whom the publisher will have barely registered beforehand. So, really, who better to have onboard than Waid? He may not be revered in the same way as Alan Moore or Grant Morrison, or even the likes of Brubaker and Bendis, but in all honesty there are very few writers out there who understand the tropes and conventions of superhero genre as well as he does. He knows exactly what works, which buttons to press, and how to pull the reader in the direction he wants them to go. Not everything he touches turns to gold but his hit rate is very high indeed; whether it’s the hugely influential masterpiece Kingdom Come or the acclaimed, revitalizing run on Fantastic Four, he reguarly makes his mark on the medium and Irredeemable has definite potential to join the ranks of his very best.

The central premise to the series is: what if Superman snapped and turned bad? It’s an idea that’s been thrown around before to varying degrees of success, but Waid isn’t attempting a Garth Ennis 'I-hate-superheroes' approach – he clearly loves the icons and archetypes and knows them to such an extent that he can adeptly subvert them into something terrifying. This is no more apparent than the beautifully executed opening sequence where the Plutonian – the Superman of this universe – attacks and massacres a former colleague and his family. It’s perfectly paced with an almost unstoppable momentum that sets the tone of the piece very quickly.

The majority of the issue from then on features the planet’s remaining super-powered individuals, now on the run, trying to piece together what corrupted the Earth’s greatest hero turning him into Earth’s greatest villain. Krause’s art pitches itself loosely into the classic school of superhero artwork, all square jaws and rippling muscles, but there’s a degree of realism to the linework, matched by Andrew Dalhouse’s muted colours, that compliments the tenor of Waid’s script – there’s no overpowering stylised visuals here and this works for the story’s benefit as they'd ultimately prove to be a distraction.

Although it’s not quite as mind-blowingly brilliant as Grant Morrison’s overly enthusiastic afterword would have you believe, it is without question one of the strongest debuts of 2009 so far, and although it’s too early to say for sure, this is probably one series you won’t want to miss. 8/10

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