I recently finally managed to read the entirety of the epic story that is Irredeemable. I know it was started in 2009 and ended in 2012, but I’m always behind the curve.
Usually I don’t read too much in the way of super hero comics, as they don’t usually talk about the things I really want to hear about. As much as Batman is my favorite superhero ever, I still find most comics about his frustrating. As much as I love to see him and Robin kicking butt, I want to see what happens on those down times. How does Robin feel about Batman? What do they do for fun? How did Bruce act when Richard, or Dick or even Jason had a cold? Or threw up? Was he there holding their hair up? I find most delight in seeing extraordinary people set in ordinary situations. We’ve all seen a million times the ordinary man put in extraordinary situation, and frankly, I’m getting tired of it. I love the idea of these amazing men and women just trying to be people. If you’ve read any of the fanfiction I used to write, you’d see that trend in my writing, too.
That’s why I really like certain Batman comics such as Hush and Red Robin. They delved more into the relationships between these incredible people.
I have to say, when I started reading I was intrigued, and it took me a couple of years to be able to hunt down and read the entire story. I have to say that while I felt it dragged on a bit too long (said the pot to the kettle), the story itself was one of the better ones I’ve ever read in comic format.
Irredeemable’s premise is an interesting one: What if Superman lost it? Not just “got mildly controlled by Poison Ivy” or “Lex Luthor convinced him Louis was dead”, no. Honest to god bonkers. He can hear everything in world and he sees through people and no matter how hard he tries someone always wants to take advantage of him and people will forever be scared of his power. What if he said “Screw it!” and went about being the god amongst men that he can so very easily be?
They can’t actually use Superman, of course, so they use a parallel in this universe called “The Plutonian”. This is your regular blond, blue eyed child of unknown origins who grows up to not only be the world’s most beloved superhero, but also the leader of a super-group called The Paradigm. The story jumps through time a little as The Paradigm’s members each try to figure out, alone and together, what happened that turned their leader into a maniac, and how could they possibly stop him. The story certainly doesn’t pull any punches. Entire cities, continents and main characters are destroyed with a wave of the Plutonian’s heat-vision.
This is certainly a character driven story. The Paradigm’s struggles not only against their former teammate but also against their own morals, beliefs and past draws you in slowly, and inexorably. Some characters struggle to maintain idealism throughout this ordeal, while others learn of the good in their heart, hidden under cynicism. Each character evolves and grows and some break down and are ruined, but all through logical motivations. Are some of the characters a little strange? Yes. It’s still very much a super-hero story in many respects. There still has to be an larger-than-wanted amount of soup, but the underlying story is just too solid to let those things overshadow it.
I could be completely off here, but I suspect the story’s idea grew the more they worked on it. Some things feel… added later for padding, or they thought “wouldn’t it be cool if?” and they had such a great story that they went with it. I would argue that large swathes of the plot twists in the middle and towards the end could have been left out and the story would have been tighter and more self-contained, but who am I to talk? It’s been a year and a half now that I’ve been telling Seraphim and I haven’t even started introducing the full cast.
The ending left me content with the direction and sacrifices the characters take, and while it’s not the deepest ending in the world, it does leave room for thought and the very last twist in the story will leave you with a huge smile on your face. My favorite character survives the journey (A bonus in any story) and I didn’t regret the time I spent in their universe.
If you’re not a huge fan with what modern comics do with their heroes primarily, I recommend this story. It’s unique, well told and certainly draws you in. I’ve begun to read the companion piece to the story “Incorruptible” which happens in the same universe during the events of Irredeemable, but follows an ex super villain who seeks to go to the side of good. I’ll let you know how I like that one once I’m finished!
Have you read either of these? What did you think? Let me know! (Be cautious of spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read it yet)