Nieto takes an advance look at the latest issue of Boom! Studios' hit series. Does it live up to the increasing hype and adulation surrounding the book?
Written by Mark Waid
Drawn by Peter Krause
SC, 24 pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Gene Ha
COVER B: Dan Panosian
Diamond Code: AUG090731
A “twilight of the superheroes”-style story that examines super-villains from Mark Waid writer of KINGDOM COME and EMPIRE! The Plutonian’s former teammates, the Paradigm, start to turn the tide against their former comrade. But you know what they say about a cornered animal…
An admission: I'm a bit of a latecomer to this title. I have only recently read the first six issues (in one sitting, in fact) and was, in common with the majority it seems, amazed and impressed. I probably shouldn't have been - I've been a Mark Waid fan since Flash: Year One - but I was: Kingdom Come notwithstanding, one tends to equate Waid with more upbeat fare and as such I was rather taken aback at just how dark this book can often be. The idea of a Superman-trope gone bad is taken to its absolute logical conclusion with all the devastation that implies, and the fact that these characters are not the Justice League that they often so resemble means that absolutely anything can happen and nobody is safe.
My worry about the book was (and is) that as an ongoing the pace and threat level may prove to be hard to keep up. Don't get me wrong, I have faith in Mark Waid's vision here, but the element of apprehension is still there and this issue doesn't really do anything to dissipate it. But that's OK, it really is.
In a way, this issue treads a little water dealing as it does (and as an aside, the publisher's official description reprinted at the top of this review has almost nothing to do with the actual plot of the book) with Charybdis, left alone with a rampaging Plutonian trying to talk himself out of a painful death by confronting Tony with a few home truths and, in doing so, coaxing a confession of sorts from the former hero. There is a slight digression where the narrative follows the rest of Tony's former team-mates as they try to make their escape, only to come across more evidence of his dalliance with one of their number. And one has to say, Gilgamos is either the single stupidest cuckold in history or is in more denial than anyone else in the history of failed relationships.
The pieces of the puzzle are definitely fitting together nicely, but in order for this to happen this issue drops the pace somewhat. This is not to say that this is a bad thing (despite my aforementioned irrational trepidation), but one does hope that next issue picks the pace up again. Having said that, the last page reveal is a lovely little twist - one that I wish I'd seen coming. Between this and last week's Unknown #1, Waid seems to be enjoying pulling the rug out from under us. Long may he continue!
Peter Krause continues to be the perfect artist for this book, for two reasons. Firstly, he is excellent at staging action sequences while at the same time being able to ensure that his characters' facial expressions are conveying their thought processes and emotions effectively. What is arguably more important is that his storytelling seems old-fashioned enough to evoke the classic superteams of the 70s and 80s, the better for Waid's story to undercut what this shorthand leads us to expect despite ourselves.
On top of this (and I know this isn't specific to this issue per se) the character design work is spot on: these heroes and villains are as recogniseable as characters we have followed for years, a tough job to pull off in this saturated market.
So yeah, I love this book and #7 is more of the same, really. If you've been following Irredeemable then you'll know what to expect and will be looking forward to Wednesday afternoon. Admittedly this issue may not serve as the greatest of jumping-on points, but at the same time I believe that had this been my first exposure to the book I would have been able to follow it easily enough. Either way: reccomended.
9 of 10