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Hungry for Evil? Why Wait: ‘Irredeemable’ #18 [Review]

Right now there are approximately two things that Superman or a Superman-analogue character can do to inspire vitriolic hatred. The first is to take a walking tour of major U.S. cities while using his powers to settle local problems. And the second is to kill tens of millions of people after snapping and going on a city-destroying rampage. Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s “Irredeemable” has gone with the second, more splash page friendly route. And I’ll admit that recently it’s had a difficult time holding my interest. “Irredeemable” started strong, with its Superman stand-in known as the Plutonian going mad and destroying major urban centers across the globe while his former allies, the Paradigm, ran and hid, creating a tremendous sense of urgency early on. But the Plutonian never really ended his time as an unstoppable force, he just seemed to start to slow down and take his time with the whole destroying-everyone-in-his-way thing. For several issues the story meandered into side plots and felt like it should have been a twelve-issue series that ended with the Paradigm either finding a way to win or failing. But last month the book introduced a twist that showed promise, and this week’s issue gave me even more reason to get excited about the series again.

It was recently revealed that the Plutonian had known for some time that Modeus, his old evil genius archenemy, had hidden his consciousness in the resurrected body of the Plutonian’s former sidekick Samsara. Add to that the shocker that the Plutonian had realized that Modeus’ squad of robot duplicates of the Plutonian had not been combat robots, but instead had been built for… different purposes. Like, greased up naked hugging purposes. And so after correctly inferring that his old nemesis had snuck into his presence in the desperate, misguided hope of getting some super nookie, Plutonian began to screw with Modeus’ mind and not the other body parts Modeus had been hoping for.

This issue pushes that further, as the Plutonian manages to out-manipulate an evil manipulative genius. There’s a moment where he does something horrible to Modeus, and then this happens:

First off, that quickly shoots into contention for one of the best images in comics this year. Krause’s art is beautifully subtle and I absolutely love that little grin in the last panel. Second, it further strengthens the undeniable truth that no time is a bad time for a Snickers bar. And third, it does a great job of cementing the Plutonian as a villain others cannot hope to challenge. For most of the series so far Modeus has been a name spoken of in hushed tones as one of the few people who could possibly be used to stop the Plutonian. But the Paradigm was so afraid of attempting this they resisted looking for him. And now when the confrontation finally happens, Modeus is quickly outsmarted and presents no challenge at all to the Plutonian. Who looks more pleased to be eating a candy bar he just found in a rubble panel than he is about wiping the floor with his old enemy.

While that’s the best scene, the central story of this issue actually revolves around Hornet, the Batman-analogue killed off all the way back at the beginning of issue #1. Qubit reveals a message left by Hornet that tells an engaging story of how the superhero with no superpowers adjusted to working with the rest of the Paradigm, how he grew to begin to worry about the Plutonian, and how one of his greatest moments of heroism may not have been all that it seemed. Waid does a great job of tying the story back to an early event in a way he appears to have been planning all along, and this first glimpse we get of who Hornet really was and how he struggled to fit in as a guy with only gadgets and martial arts fighting alongside omnipotent beings.

“Irredeemable” had been starting to fall off my radar as a book that caught my eye over its first arc but settled into a slower moving plot that was leaking out all of the tension it had been able to build. But now it’s once again a series that has me excited to keep following it. If you’ve been letting your attention slip from this one, now might be a good time to check back in.

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