Review by Frank Plowright
In a series predicated on intelligent, really surprising twists, something we’ve not yet drawn enough attention to is the sheer quality of Irredeemable’s cliffhanger chapter endings. Mark Waid varies these, so they’re not all bombshells, but every single one is designed to have the reader turn the page immediately. The suspense for readers buying the original comics month by month must have been unbearable. Because the rug is pulled so often, it’s no great spoiler to note the first of them being the Plutonian offered the opportunity to go back in time and rectify events so he remains the world’s most respected superhero.
There are now fewer members of superhero team the Paradigm than there were when the series started, but they’re still dedicated to stopping the Plutonian, although with less success. Their main hopes are pinned on his greatest enemy Modeus handling the job, and the culmination of that plot plays out over the first half of this oversized hardcover collection.
The second half is less satisfying. Waid continues to make good on the surprises, but for much of time it’s Irredeemable in a holding pattern. Circumstances call for the Plutonian to consider much of what’s happened over the previous volumes, which is in the form of a self-justifying, yet occasionally sorrowful recollections. As this occurs there’s a complicated transfer process that leads into Premier Editon Volume Four. The Paradigm are also in a holding pattern, Waid amusing himself and us by taking a poke at what constitutes a superhero in the early 21st century.
For the final time in the hardcover editions there’s more art from Peter Krause than Diego Barreto, which is still the justification for the oversized purchase. Krause uses subtle artistic methods to distinguish between past and present, and adds an effective new system to differentiate the possible hallucinations. He draws the entire first half before alternating with Barreto on different strands, that broadly break down as Krause dealing with what happens to the Plutonian via flashbacks, while Barreto handles the remainder. Barreto ups his game for these pages, including more people seen from further away and greater variety. It’s welcome.
Previous endings to these editions reached a natural pause, but that doesn’t occur here, with the Plutonian still mid-stream so to speak. It’s a volume that doesn’t quite press all the buttons, and lacks the earlier energy rush, but the story still moves forward considerably. It’s also available with the remainder of the series in the Irredeemable Omnibus or as Volume 5 and Volume 6 of the original paperbacks.