With superheroes in film and TV hitting its epoch in a modernistic version of superheroes, live-action adaptations of these comic books have been following into a more postmodern era. Enter: Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, which simply excels in taking the familiar modernization of superheroes like Superman and turning them on their heads. In the case of Irredeemable, it’s taking a Superman archetype in the hero Plutonian and focuses on the moral downfall of Earth’s greatest hero in this universe. This downtrodden superhero’s fall from grace is simply shown through the great devastation he wreaks on the populace of the Earth which each other hero, in turn, suffers from. These other heroes become the last form of respite for Earth against the wrath of Plutonian as they struggle with their own dire straits.
Truly, Waid unleashed a great beast in the form of Plutonian. From the first pages, we see nothing but a fit of relentless anger and disturbing acts he is willing to commit against the people he once vowed to protect. Tracing back in these subtle flashbacks, it really commits to the level of nuance that has always been found within Waid’s successful runs on series like Daredevil and Superman. The subtlety allows for advancement in certain genre tropes by continuously bringing about these pushes in the form of what a superhero has been.
The artwork on Irredeemable is an outstanding pairing between narrative and visual storytelling. The art in the initial 24 issues by Peter Krause really holds an unparalleled feel to other books that have taken on the Superman-archetype. At times vibrantly magnetic, in others it simply holds our gaze with such beautiful finesse. While certain aspects of this style are held by Diego and Eduardo Barretto, it manages to stay on its own. The father and son duo take over the book on issue #29 and managed to truly take the series into its new heights.
Overall, Irredeemable manages to maintain the fun that Waid brings about throughout this series. While at times it feels a little too mean-spirited, the allowance of nuance keeps it from being a simplistic minded story. Waid manages to bring a layer of depth to Plutonian, but at times it feels he is more focused on the spectacle in a hero turned villain.