“Irredeemable” is Mark Waid’s spin on the Superman mythos, turning it upside down. It’s only fitting that the spin-off book, “Incorruptible,” bases itself on the Batman mythos. While Max Damage/Danger isn’t exactly Bruce Wayne, his relationships with a teenage sidekick and a cop who may or may not be on his side, and his hidden cave-like lair all scream Batman. But, those superficial similarities are merely a wink at the reader as Waid goes beyond that for an interesting look at what a post-Plutonian world is like.
Following up on Max’s surprising announcement last issue that he was becoming a superhero and turning his back on his life of crime, this issue features his first patrol of the city with both his teenage sidekick Jailbait and police Lieutenant Louis Armadale in tow. Neither can quite believe that Max wants to be a hero and that turns their interactions into something of a comical farce.
Jailbait’s disbelief and struggling to accept that the life she’s known has been flipped allows Waid to remind us that the violent sexpot does have the emotional maturity of a typical teenage girl, which is disarming and surprising. The interactions between Max and Jailbait early in the issue have an oddly creepy dynamic with Max forcefully demanding that things be different from before, while Jailbait doesn’t know how to react or act like Max wants.
Armadale’s cynical skepticism of Max’s newfound desire to protect and serve gives him a gruff surface that makes him somewhat endearing. His running commentary of the current situation after a visit by the Plutonian is the most interesting part of this issue. While “Irredeemable” focuses on the big picture, it looks like “Incorruptible” will spotlight how the people of this world are reacting to this version of Superman turning evil and killing millions. Turns out, they’re reacting very poorly with crime and suicides way up. The central conflict here has Max settling a hostage situation where a man is threatening to kill his family unless he’s guaranteed safety from the Plutonian, and it does not go exactly as planned.
Jean Diaz is another great find by BOOM!, which seems to have an unending supply of great artists for their titles. Diaz has done work for “Wonder Woman” and IDW’s “24” comics, but he’s really proving himself on this book — even two issues in. His clean, polished style is the perfect complement to Peter Krause’s equally bright and shiny superhero art in “Irredeemable.” Though not quite as polished as Krause, Diaz’s art shows promise. In the non-action scenes, it’s stilted and posed, but in the action scenes it’s full of energy. He particularly does buildings and landscapes well; the wrecked streets of the city look bleak and disheartening. Given the more urban-centered approach to this book, the colors seem a little too bright at times, even when it’s dark out.
Two issues in, “Incorruptible” is setting itself apart from the book it has spun out of by taking a more ground-level approach to the world, focusing on the effects of the Plutonian’s rampage on a human level. The plot set in motion at the end of the issue is an engaging cliffhanger/teaser for next issue.