Review: Irredeemable HC, Vol. 4

Imagine a world where Superman suddenly snaps. All the resentments over slights and anger and jealousy that Superman has managed to repress over the years just bursts. One angry outburst after another becomes incredibly destructive and millions of people pay the price and cities are destroyed. In this scenario, no one, not even Batman knows his secret identity or his weaknesses. How do you stop him? And if you do, how do you face the aftermath.

That is the idea that feeds Mark Waid’s Eisner award-winning series, Irredeemable. In this world, The Plutonian is Superman’s analogue. When he snaps and destroys Sky City, his former teammates, The Paradigm realize that they know almost nothing about him or how to stop him. It becomes apparent The Plutonian lacks the emotional maturity or even desire to control himself. As the situation continues to escalate world leaders and his former teammates all are driven to increasingly desperate measures. Just as many people are as threatened by their solutions as by The Plutonian himself.

The original series ran from 2009 to 2012. It was nominated for multiple Harvey and Eisner awards during its run, finally winning the 2012 Eisner for best writer. (Waid won for Irredeemable, its counterpoint: Incorruptible and Daredevil.)

Boom is re-releasing the series in a multiple volume, hardcover premium edition. Volume four covers issues 24 through 31 in the original run. As such we are reaching the home stretch of the story with a final volume covering issues 32 through the conclusion in issue 37.

The heroes of Earth have managed to imprison Plutonian in an alien jail. The aliens find that they cannot control him and send him to an insane asylum in the heart of a star. Plutonian first fights then finds allies among his fellow prisoners in his bid to escape. In the meantime the heroes of Earth realize that another one of their own is developing into as much of a threat as The Plutonian was and their only hope is, you guessed it, The Plutonian.

On his return, The Plutonian plus a couple insane aliens attack his former friends, killing some and making his escape. When the public see The Plutonian is back, they turn against the heroes who promised this could never happen. Asian leaders band together to unleash a secret weapon that will cost 2 billion people their lives but is the only way to stop him. Or will it?

The series is brilliant. Waid is the master of this story, exploring not only The Plutonian’ s tortured history, but the costs that the other heroes face as they are forced to break and reassess their own moral boundaries in the face of the unstoppable threat their former ally and friend presents.

This volume is also the one where the art transitions from Peter Krause (Superman, Power of Shazam) to Diego Barreto (Eureka, Escape From New York). While there is a shift in style, both artists do a fantastic job on this masterpiece. They are juggling multiple characters in battles over multiple planets as well as quiet contemplative moments. They handle all of the changes the story throws at them with ease.

This story was previously collected in a 10 volume trade series, but if you missed that and the original (or if you have the originals and don’t want to pull them from their bags ever again, this is a great (but expensive) way to collect the series.

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer:  Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause, Diego Barreto, Eduardo Barreto, Damian Couceiro
Cover Artists: Design by Michelle Ankley, with art by John Cassady & Laura Martin, Jeffrey Spokes, Dan Panosian and Peter Kraus

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