Pick of the Week

October 13, 2010 – Irredeemable #18

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.5
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 6.9%
Users who pulled this comic:
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause

Size: pages
Price: 3.99

Sometimes when they come around that final turn and they’re heading down that straightaway, a horse that you hadn’t even been paying that much attention to breaks free from the pack and blows past the leader to cross the finish line first.

That’s my extremely clunky analogy for Irredeemable #18 blowing past Bruce Wayne: The Return Home: Batgirl at the last second to take the Pick of the Week.

We’ve talked many times here on the website and on the podcast about how great Irredeemable is at setting mood. Back when it first came out and The Mighty was also on the stands, they both jockeyed for position as the creepiest books on the shelves. The Mighty ended its excellent 12 issue run but Irredeemable keeps on going and, as shocking as it may sound: this book just keeps on getting creepier, and in my book that means it keeps on getting better.

For the uninitiated, Irredeemable is the story of what would happen if a Superman type character — in this case, The Plutonian — goes crazy, turns evil, and unleashes his wrath on the world. It’s a pretty scary thing when an unstoppable force goes from protector to attacker.

I knew for sure that Irredeemable #18 was going to be the Pick of the Week about halfway through the issue. It was at that point that I realized that my stomach was twisted up in knots while reading it. This book actually caused me physical pain, that’s how tense and twisted it was. As I’ve said many times before, any time a piece of media can cause a genuine physical reaction in its audience, then that piece of media is exemplary.

Irredeemable is exemplary.

Why was my stomach so tied up in knots? Well in Irredeemable #18 we follow two storylines, both of which have consumed the book for the last few issues. In the A story, Plutonian’s former teammates — think “Justice League” — are trying desperately to find a way to defeat The Plutonian. In the B storyline, The Plutonian finally confronts his greatest enemy — Modeus – who has secreted away his consciousness in the mind of Plutonian’s former sidekick Samsara. These parallel storylines work together to create an incredibly tense mood by having opposite dramatic arcs.

In the B storyline we know right away that Plutonian knows that Modeus has been hiding in plain site this entire time and with every turn of the page I we are left to wonder “Oh, god – what’s Plutonian going to do to him??”

The A storyline ends up creating a very similar mood but in a completely different way. It’s a slow burn in the A story line. Here, Plutonian’s former teammates watch a video created by Hornet, the Batman type character who Plutonian killed first. The video was made a few weeks before his death and is one of those “In The Event That The Plutonian Snaps And Kills Me Please Watch” type deals. Before he plays the video for his teammates, Qubit reveals that the video holds the secret to defeating Plutonian. So as the video plays out through the course of the issue we find ourselves on pins and needles waiting to finally find out how to defeat this unstoppable evil force. Hornet recounts his greatest triumph, the day that he, the only non-super powered member of the team, repelled an invasion of unstoppable aliens. His teammates never knew exactly how he did it… until now.

The greatness of this issue was found in the pacing. Writer Mark Waid intercut the two stories wonderfully and he used two completely different methods — the early reveal and the slow burn — to increase the tension to stomach churning levels.

All of this unbearable, knot-tying tension culminated in three big moments, the kind of moments that Irredeemable excels at. In the first moment, Plutonian decides what to do with Modeus. In the second moment we see the truly horrific thing that Hornet had to do in order to defeat the invading aliens. And in the third moment both storylines come crashing together in one big cliffhanger. Irredeemable was text book comic book pacing. Mark Waid was like a master symphony conductor in this issue. I actually had to walk away from my books for a little while after finishing this issue because I was emotionally drained.

One of the best things about Irredeemable has been that Mark Waid has not been afraid to show that in a world of super heroes and super villains everyone exists in shades of gray.  The bad guys have been capable of committing acts of good and the good guys have been known to do some pretty terrible things, and I’m not just talking about Plutonian. When it was revealed what Hornet had to do to save the people of Earth it was so horrible, so shocking, that I was left to wonder just who was worse, Plutonian or Hornet. Is the Plutonian worse because he takes a perverse pleasure in hurting so many people? Or is Hornet worse because, while he didn’t enjoy it, and he felt terrible about it, he ended up hurting an exponentially larger amount of people than Plutonian.

(I realize that I am being circumspect about what Hornet did. That’s on purpose. I don’t want to blow the reveal for anyone who hasn’t read it. We’ll talk about what he did on the show.)

Irredeemable ratcheted up the tension, turned my stomach in knots and then made me spend a good amount of time thinking about what I had just read. That’s more than the other 20 books I read this week did to me, combined.

I know that I’m going on and on about the story and the reason is because it was the expert level of comic book writing from Mark Waid that this issue was the Pick of the Week, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Peter Krause whose art holds this book together. I have nothing against the people who occasionally fill-in for Krause but the books always seems to lose a little something when he’s not drawing it.

Today at the comic book store I got in early and actually beat the UPS delivery of the new books (c’mon, Tuesday delivery!) so I had some time to kill. I browsed through the trades and ended up holding Irredeemable, Vol. 4 in my hand. I thought to myself that it was probably time I switched to trades on this book. I’m really glad I didn’t decide to make that switch today.

Conor Kilpatrick
Mark Waid is going to give me an ulcer.


  1. I was wondering when you guys ever going to talk about this book. It’s been a long while..

  2. great, now I have to read Irredeemable, thank you very much for ruining my budget again ¬¬

  3. Man my store didn’t pull mine and didn’t have any spares! Dang it! I knew it would be a pick fo the week!

  4. It’s been awhile since this book was talked about. Glad it’s still on your radar and it’s still kicking ass. I finished the 3rd trade a while back and the secondary characters are growing on me a bit. Excited to read volume 4 to see where it goes from there.

    My pick was Strange Tales II #1 (Phillies: 2) for just being a great anthology. Maybe not as perfect as the 1st series but it had so much going for it. Kate Beaton, Jhonen Vasquez, Jeff Lemire doing a fucking amazing Man-Thing short, and also Rafael Grampa. I would buy a comic with just those four stories and they only made up for 18 pages, so I guess you could’ve just had an issue with those four. 

  5. god damnit @conor now i gotta get this f***in book

  6. Mark Waid knows how to get under your skin.

  7. I have been loving this in trade form.  Hard to get enough of ‘Superman gone bad’

  8. I’m gonna have to read this title now.

  9. Looks like I need to go buy a few issues of this on graphic.ly.  Sounds solid.

  10. I love when the POW byline is something the ball park of "Man, that’s f*cked up!"  It always makes for solid entertainment on the podcast.  I’m not reading this, but glad to see it get some love, especially with how many people enjoy it. 

    Sadly, I didn’t read this week’s comics last night, but I did finsih my stack from last week…so there’s that.  Here’s hoping I can finish them by Friday.

  11. Yep, that was pretty intense.  Really looking forward to the next issue.  Seeing as how the first arcs of this story hinged on the premise that only Modeus could take out the Plutonian, I’m very curious where it goes from here. 

  12. Great pick.  I have loved this book since issue #1.  The twists are awesome.  At first I was in this book solely for the story, but now I’m finding myself totally enthralled with Peter Krause’s art, which has been improving in leaps and bounds. 

  13. Yay!

  14. This series is downright incredible. I know exactly what you mean by this issue causing you physical pain, there were moments when I just wanted to jump right out of my skin because of how creepy the issue was getting.

  15. I’m glad you didn’t switch to trades too. Haven’t read this issue yet, but I’m glad it’s gonna be a gud’un.

    Also, good on ya for plugging’ the Mighty. I enjoyed that book equally as much as irredeemable, yet, as with kirkman’s zombie movie, irredeemable just keeps going.

  16. Dammit, I wish I weren’t reading this in trade now.

  17. @kennyg: I hear ya. Not sure if I’m gonna listen to this on the podcast or skip over it yet.

  18. @RapidEyeMovement: You can always just skip the first section.

  19. @conor: That’s what I meant. Sometimes I do like to spoil myself though. ‘Tis a terrible habit.

  20. This might force me to go back and pick this series up starting with the first trade…

  21. This series seems to be a bit of a hit. Are they going to do a deluxe edition or omnibus?

  22. Gray,

    We’ll see…;) 

  23. I’ll be all over a hardcover edition.

    That was a great pick of the week review.

  24. Great write-up Conor. It was my PotW also with Echo and Unwritten closely behind.

  25. To me this story is really the mature version of Empire. He has developed the concept from that mini into a full, emotional drama that rivets the reader. The world is filled with greys and blacks, hope is spare and survives just enough to create that little flutter in your heart.

  26. Okay Conor, picked this up on your recommendation… hope it’s good. 

  27. @DenverDave: Keep in mind that this issue is a pay off issue. It might be good on its own but won’t be nearly as good if you hadn’t been reading it for the last 17 issues.

  28. And this review is exactly why I listen to you guys.  Right on.  Just read the book and then the review and it’s like you’re in my head.  GET OUT!!

  29. Excellent issue indeed, and a nice review, I look forward to the podcast where you don’t have to worry about spoilers.  Cause when the Plutonian does that thing…and then that other thing happens….heh.

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