Today’s post is about Mark Waid’s Irredeemable with art by Peter Krause and Diego Barreto! It has its share of violence, sexual themes, misogyny, sexism, and homophobia (and transphobia, depending on how you read Modeus), which is the unfortunate aspect of reinventing a comic cliche. Fans of deconstructionism and revisionists of the golden era of comics will definitely enjoy this series.
Plot: When the world’s greatest super hero becomes the world’s greatest super villain, his ex-team must find a way to defeat him.
Initial thoughts: I think the most noticeable thing about reading Irredeemable is the low quality page material. The title isn’t one of the Big Two, but I’ve never had a problem with the quality of Boom! Studio’s single issues. The trade paper backs I read, however, were flimsy (for most volumes the pages threatened to spill out from the binding, and for two volumes I had to hot glue the pages back into the binding) and the pages were rough and matte instead of sturdy and glossy. The page quality definitely affected my experience with Irredeemable, but the story is so amazing that I still enjoyed the title. Surely, were it a different story the quality would have turned me off completely! I guess that’s what happens when you don’t get published by one of the Big Two, eh?
There’s also a companion series to Irredeemable called Incorruptible, but I find Max Damage pretty unsympathetic despite his efforts to become one of the good guys. I think that’s the point. Though what Tony does horrifies the audience, we see his struggle and sympathize with that. In the end, it’s Tony who gives everything he has in order to save the entire world. But Max Damage? Still dating his under-aged girlfriend. Hmm. Though Waid gives a valiant effort in showing a parallel, opposite story to Irredeemabe, I’m just not sure if it works. His other deconstructionist work can be found in DC’s Empire and Kingdom Come limited release series.
That aside, my only complaint with the series is that there was no way to end the series in a way that lives up with the drama and reveal of the story. Superhero cliches like demons, aliens, and bad guy robots are exploited in the series and deconstructed. Good guy and bad guy tropes alike are deconstructed and parodied to the point of creating a new trope, and that’s why I loved everything up to the ending. To have a happy ending where the hero is restored to notoriety when he sacrifices himself for the world would just be too unapologetically cliche.
Itty Bitty Research: I’m a big Gil fan, so I’ll see where looking into him takes me. He is, obviously, a Thor caricature, capable of flight, a tank, and at least two centuries old. One might think him a God for his long life and wisdom if not for the fact he refutes it repeatedly. I’m not alone in associating Gil’s name, Gilgamos, with Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was a demigod, which seems to fit Gil, but chronologically it doesn’t make sense. Gilgamesh’s epic was written about 4000-3500 years ago, but it might make sense if we understand Gil counting his two thousand years before the advent of the Anno Domini calculating of the Gregorian and Julian calendars.
Gil swears by Enlil, who “with An and Enki, form the supreme Mesopotamian triad of deities.” Enlil is the chief of the Sumerian pantheon, which amused me because it’s very similar to how Thor swears by Odin in Marvel Comics. Essentially, Gil is swearing by his father. The Sumer, by the way, were a Southern settling people in Mesopotamia. (Mesopotamia is the area in the Middle East between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, today encompassing Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria.) Mesopotamia is also rumored to be where the Garden of Eden once was, so Gil’s knowledge of the seeds from the Tree of Knowledge corresponds to the implied character origin story.
Enlil and Gilgamesh also have interesting parallel to God and Jesus in Judeo-Christian mythology. Enlil created a flood, and we could read Gilgamesh’s demigod status similar to Jesus. Gil says he’s walked the world for about two thousand years, roughly the time of Jesus and not of Gilgamesh. Perhaps we might read Gil as Jesus – a Jesus that lacks faith. I know this post is mostly speculation, but there’s no confirmation of it either way, and it’s fun to think about who else besides the Plutonian might be “irredeemable.” After all, it’s the Plutonian and not the psuedo-Jesus that dies to save the world.
References: Waid, Mark, writer. Irredeemable. Art by Peter Krause. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2009. Print. Vol. 1 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Peter Krause. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2009. Print. Vol. 2 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Peter Krause. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2010. Print. Vol. 3 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Diego Barreto. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2010. Print. Vol. 4 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Peter Krause. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2010. Print. Vol. 5 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Peter Krause. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2011. Print. Vol. 6 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Peter Krause. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2011. Print. Vol. 7 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Peter Krause. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2011. Print. Vol. 8 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Diego Barreto. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2012. Print. Vol. 9 of Irredeemable.
—. Irredeemable. Art by Diego Barreto. Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2012. Print. Vol. 10 of Irredeemable.