At the Baltimore Comic Con a couple of weeks ago, Mark Waid was asked about what’s coming up in “Irredeemable” and reacted as such when he mentioned issue 17 and the revelation of why Modeus hates the Plutonian: “Waid shuddered and said he had to take a long, long hot shower and scrub with a wire brush after he wrote that secret.” Well, issue 17 has arrived, the secret is out, and I don’t need a shower, but the revelation is indeed disturbing and screwed up, even for a comic that’s had its fair share of disturbing and screwed up revelations. And, yet, the explanation for Modeus’s obsession and hatred of the Plutonian is so simple and elegant that it makes complete sense.
Before that revelation at the end of the issue, Waid focuses on the fall-out of Qubit’s decision to save the Plutonian from a bullet able to kill him and, instead, make sure it killed Orian, the alien demon that promised to help them kill the former hero finally. The Survivor confronts Quibit in front of a group of people, making his decision to not kill the Plutonian public and provoking a fairly strong, violent reaction from the mob. It’s certainly understandable for everyone to react as they do and Qubit’s motives have been a mystery even from us. His explanation here is both sweet and pathetic, more emotional than logical, which is strange for Qubit. Waid makes the emotion in the scene, on both sides, very believable and almost overpowering.
Contrasted with this is the Plutonian and Modeus (in the seemingly resurrected body of Samsara, the Plutonian’s sidekick), and an attempt to resurrect the people of Sky City, undoing all of the death and destruction the former hero visited upon the city. The dynamic between the two is interesting as Modeus plays the Plutonian, using his seeming mental imbalance to his advantage, while the Plutonian is hard to read. Is he truly gone, or is he hiding something? Every word and act seems to have numerous meanings and implications for what’s coming next, leading up to the discussion of Modeus, his methodology, and the Plutonian’s revelation of why Modeus hates him so much. The interplay is engrossing, especially given the dramatic irony of their interactions.
Having Peter Krause back on the book starting last issue makes a big difference since this is the world he’s designed and it just looks right with him on board. It’s astonishing to look at his pencils and notice how much more detailed and polished they are compared to his work when he began the series. Watching Krause grow as an artist has been a pretty cool thing and that growth allows him to nail the emotionally charged scenes that drive this issue.
What’s most impressive is how he draws the scene at the end between the Plutonian and Modeus/Samsara. There’s an element of horror in his art. A panel where the Plutonian says “And then I knew,” has him in profile, eyes looking to the side/back, an evil grin on his face with shadows making him look like a character out of the Stephen Bissette and John Totleben drawn “Saga of the Swamp Thing.” He looks monstrous, almost glorifying in the dark secret of Modeus’s hate.
Somehow, “Irredeemable” manages to keep upping the ante and the surprises. This issue reveals some big pieces of information and does so through great dialogue and art. Waid and Krause make this title a top-of-the-pile-read-right-away comic every month and this issue is no exception. But, maybe, just in case, leave time after for a shower if you’re easily disturbed to scrub the ‘ick’ away.