While billed as a Serious Work by Mark Waid, "Irredeemable" strikes me more of Waid having a little bit of fun with his favorite hero, Superman. Sure, there's a little bit of the old ultra-violence thrown in, but there's a lot in the second issue of this series that points to Waid having a laugh by playing with certain aspects of Superman's world and twisting them around in ways that many fans have wanted for years.
Since "Irredeemable" is about a Superman-esque hero turned villain, it would be foolish to run away from Superman's mythos, so Waid's embracing of it makes a lot of sense. Jumping right in right away makes even more sense because, until those elements are out of the way, the Plutonian can't really take shape as his own character. In this issue, Waid rushes headlong into the classic Superman/Lois Lane/Clark Kent love triangle by introducing "the Plutonian's girlfriend" Alana Patel.
Patel is located by Kaiden, a Paradigm member who fights crime by retelling Japanese ghost stories that then become real. She begins the issue by recounting an instance where the Plutonian saved her life early on in her crimefighting career, and acts like the gentlemanly hero everyone would expect him to be. Patel's recollections reinforce that image of the Plutonian, for the most part.
Like the Lois/Clark/Superman dynamic, Alana and the Plutonian date, while one of Alana's co-workers secretly pines over her and, later, is revealed to be... GASP! the Plutonian! From there, Waid has events unfold in an unexpected manner that hints at the beginning of the Plutonian's fall from grace. What's more is that it all makes perfect sense.
Peter Krause's art is reminiscent of Waid's "Empire" collaborator Barry Kitson's work, but a little less polished. Thankfully, Krause never falls into the trap of simply being a Kitson rip-off and adds his own touches. His storytelling is strong, as are his character designs. The young and older versions of Kaiden manage to fit into certain eras while maintaining a singular quality -- and working as two versions of the same character. I also love his use of soft borders with rounded corners for the flashback scenes as they set those scenes apart in a subtle way. The soft borders that bleed into the white background also give those older scenes a dreamlike quality, a sense of those being more innocent times that certainly works with the subject manner.
"Irredeemable" hasn't yet moved beyond its concept of "Superman turned evil," but it's very entertaining to watch Waid play with the most obvious aspects of that idea. Hopefully, he'll burn through the key parts of the Superman mythos quickly and then move on. But, until then, why not enjoy the ride.
(Check out the first few pages of this issue in CBR's preview and, then, pick it up. It's good.)