The ‘Redemption’ storyline finally brings together “Incorruptible” with its compatriot title, “Irredeemable.” This crossover started in the other title with their last issue as it fleshed out the Plutonian’s origin. This time it’s Max Damage’s turn, and the results are just about as strange and entertaining.
It should be noted that Max’s origin is more what you might expect from a henchman. It’s not superbly horrific or warped; he was a kid with parents not great at their job, he wasn’t the most popular kid and he was deceptively adventurous. There isn’t much about the young Max — actually named Evan but with a penchant for enjoying destruction and saying ‘maximum damage’ — that stands out. He’s nondescript and possibly could have stayed that way were it not for the intervention of the godlike superhero with a fractured psyche. It is only through engaging with the Plutonian, or being negatively affected by him, that Max Damage is shaped into his future role. These two characters are shown as opposite spiraling helices on a DNA construct. They are separate and yet informatively and crucially bound. The Plutonian is thus the actor of what might be his own downfall. It’s a great way to make the constant detente between these titans mean something more.
Years pass in this issue as we see Max walk the path that leads him toward his current station in life. The narrative through line is the one connection he still cares about, the one friend he had as a kid, a younger girl named Katy. This portents to the predilection Max would later have with young sidekicks named Jailbait. As Max’s life loses its moral compass, he writes letters to Katy. His words play a safe layer over the growing nefarious acts he is party to. It’s a sweet overview of the nascent career of Max. As the letters become more truthful, they say much about the emotional journey of this man.
Marcio Takara takes this comic from violent acts of vigilantism to sweet teen girl moments. He sells simple yet crucial moments like a trinket popping out of an envelope or some artificial enlightenment being passed between friends. He also draws you into the seedier places of the world as Max and his rough gang plot the next heist with some groupies in tow. Takara places you inside this moment like it’s “GoodFellas” and you believe it in Max’s eyes. Nolan Woodard’s colors bring out the weight of each scene, particularly a violently frenzied moment between Max and the Plutonian. You can’t go wrong with the easy atmosphere of this book that looks like it was simply created, yet you know took effort and intelligence to make it all feel so easy.
“Incorruptible” has been a very good book for its entire run. The one major foible has been truly understanding the lead character’s desire to make the flip he did to set this title in motion. This issue takes you a good step toward understanding exactly how far back the dichotomy between Max and his nemesis goes and why it means so much to both men. This storyline has now opened up both lead characters to further inspection and I honestly look forward to what Mark Waid wants to do with them next to abuse this new knowledge.