"Irredeemable" was a comic that came out of the gate with a great concept, but it always felt like a concept that couldn't run forever. In the last few issues, the overall idea of an all-powerful hero becoming the world's greatest villain has come to a bit of an impasse. The status quo has been severely disrupted and this issue cements the fact that Mark Waid possibly knows what he's doing, and he's having fun doing it.
The reason this comic is working is because we see a plot development and then it's always left with a hook so we're asking for what comes next. Nothing ever feels like it is a dead end for an idea. Even if someone dies, they can come back. Someone can be defeated, but then they'll return. Sides will be taken, but later they'll be reshuffled. The Plutonian has been put into a spot where it could be a game over scenario but instead Waid turns it around to be just another step in a great narrative.
There is a moment late in this issue that really sets the Plutonian apart from the crowd. He is really being set up as the strongest character there is and while we knew how strong he was it becomes apparent we didn't know exactly how strong he was, if you know what I mean. He's more than a force of nature, he's an absolute force of the universe and this is going to make things very interesting going forward in the story.
The initial status quo was all about the heroes of the world cowering in whatever corners they could find as they hoped not to be killed by their former ally. Now that they've possibly won, they are having to rework society back into shape. However, it seems that the world may have changed too much to ever revert back to its previous innocent ways. Even with the Plutonian off the table, things are going to be very rocky for our Earthbound heroes.
The artwork in this series has always worked hard to make the variety of creatures on display feel different and new. This issue shows the Plutonian's very strange situation and those around him and it's quite visually arresting. It's nice to feel like the creative team is working to ensure even background characters and images have some effort put into them. There's a sense of invention at play and it makes the entire world feel that much more rich.
The initial concept for this title was good but it never felt like it would last forever. Now, we see it doesn't have to. Waid is a strong enough writer to be able to follow this twisted tale through various turns, even if it comes out the other side a completely new tale. You get the feeling he would scrap everything and hunt a good story in any direction and it is that fearless nature that makes this comic something to read every month. You never know where you're going to end up and that's mighty refreshing in a medium where the status quo is usually the only golden setting.