During its first year, “Irredeemable” constantly surprised in its slow reveals about the Superman-esque Plutonian and his fall from grace. At first, it was surprising that such a wholesome and beloved hero could become a mass murderer that left the world shattered. Then, as we learned more about the Plutonian and his past, it was surprising that he had managed to not snap quicker. That shift was surprising and drove the series to a degree. But, since resolving the Plutonian threat on Earth, the book has fallen off the radar of many. Like so many good books, I think it’s simply taken for granted. Issue 25 is another good issue in a comic that has managed to maintain a high level of quality for, now, over two years.
The interaction between Qubit and Modeus that starts the issue is the sort of writing by Mark Waid that has driven this comic: surprising, smart, written with a clear idea of who each character is, and always featuring something a little bit seedy, like Modeus telling Qubit that he removes the true nature of the Plutonian’s powers from Qubit’s mind any time he discovers it because he wants to make sure that he knows the Plutonian best. Isn’t love grand? Using that scene as a means to show the Plutonian’s attempt to escape a prison at the heart of a sun and segue into a more direct showing of it is smooth, economical storytelling. “Irredeemable” is juggling a lot of plots and they all get panel time.
One of the more captivating ones is the journey that Survivor is on as the most powerful man on Earth. It’s clear that there’s something wrong with him, that he could be another Plutonian in the making, and it’s obvious to everyone around him. Unlike the Plutonian, he doesn’t seem able to hide that side of his personality and, here, he reveals himself to be ruthlessly clever in a conversation with a telepath that may know just how damaged he is mentally. The idea that the Plutonian may have been replaced with someone worse is something that Waid teases out so well.
The dueling art between Peter Krause and Diego Baretto gives the book a strong, consistent look. Though the news of Krause departing the book in a couple of months is bad, that Baretto is taking over the art completely means that the book is in good hands. Krause has a more defined, smoother style than Baretto, but both are very good at hitting that ‘superhero comic’ look that would be perfectly at home on a book from Marvel or DC. That style is part of what gives Waid’s writing its power: it looks like a familiar superhero book, so every time Waid plays against that, it’s that much more shocking.
Beginning its third year, “Irredeemable” is still going strong with compelling stories, great character work, and strong art. It’s become a more serialized comic than when it first started and Mark Waid is doing his career-best work. Like a lot of great comics, it’s easy to take “Irredeemable” for granted, but, sometimes, it’s worth stopping and remember just how good it is.