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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Incorruptible volume 1: Boom

This is another crosspost, from Civilian Reader, re-formatted into our usual style.  The original post can be found here.  As before, we're cross posting because the book fits the remit of the site, and CR kindly offered us the review.  He has this to say about himself:  
I’m a British globe-trotter, who is passionate about all things genre-related (novels, movies, comics, etc.) and loves to tell people about them.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Jean Diaz
Inker: Belardino Brabo
Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: Boom Studios

What's it about?
What if the world’s greatest supervillain decided to become the world’s greatest hero?  Meet Max Damage, Sky City’s most notorious super-powered criminal. Known for everything from manslaughter to terrorism, no one could match Max’s appetite for chaos. But that was before the Plutonian, the world’s greatest hero, turned his back on humanity and slaughtered millions, leaving Max a changed man. Now, the world’s salvation may lie in the hands of its most infamous supervillain. Can someone who once ruined so many lives now truly become Incorruptible?
Faced with a post-Plutonian, post-apocalyptic city filled with petrified survivors, Max starts out on his new path, putting a stop to the machinations of those who would prey on people’s fear for profit.  We see a weary resignation in Max, as he has to deal with people’s understandable trigger-happy reaction whenever they see him – he’s trying to make things right, but people only see the supervillain and insist on shooting him. Repeatedly. (It’s so hard, being a reformed villain…)

Incorruptible is a companion series to Waid’s longer-running Irredeemable (reviewed here).  Needless to say, if you like comics, superheroes and great writing, you need to be reading Irredeemable. Seriously: it’s incredible.

What's good about it?
I guess the question many people will want to know, if they are familiar with Irredeemable, is how it stacks up. Some people have said it’s not as good, but I actually really liked this as well. I’ve read more of Irredeemable and while that has a premise that is more obviously original and interesting, Incorruptible manages to stand up alongside it very well.

It’s got a different tone, obviously, and because of Max’s past, the people who are around him aren’t the most noble or respectable – take his sort-of-girlfriend, Jailbait, whom he rescued from a brothel (see the short story in Irredeemable Definitive Collection). She’s an interesting character – petulant, still young (hence her name), slightly ADHD, clearly smitten with Max, but having difficulty with reconciling their past and his new good-guy ethics. She also has a lot more difficulty giving up her old ways, and offers up some funny frustrations for Max. Her character and place in the story are well done – it’s common for villains to take advantage of these types of characters, which Max has clearly done in the past, but now he’s trying to reform her as well. It’s a nice spin on the usual “baddy’s cute totty” trope. It’ll be really interesting to see how she develops in the future.

Armadale, Max’s unwitting police contact, is another interesting character, who is having difficulty reconciling this new version of Max Damage. He refers to Max’s change of heart and new mission as “like… Katarina apologiz[ing] for New Orleans”. Nevertheless, he slowly comes to accept Max’s help – after all, who’s going to say no to a guy with a diamond-hard, impervious body?

The reformed villain is not a new premise, but Waid manages to keep things fresh and engaging, and has put an original spin on this theme. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and can’t wait to read the second volume in the series (if I read them quick enough to catch up, I’ll definitely have to add individual issues to my reading schedule). 

What's bad about it?
It’s a little difficult to get a bead on Max, which is probably intentional – he’s a brooder, not given to vocalising what’s going on inside, so we’re left to understand him largely by his actions and outward appearance.  Which brings us to the art...

What's the art like?
Diaz’s art speaks volumes. It’s very good throughout, and is expertly put together – visually very pleasing, and compliments the writing perfectly. The style is clean and clear, without being exaggerated or ridiculous. The characters are drawn realistically and in proportion. There’s a high level of attention paid to detail. Diaz is easily among the best artists whose work I’ve seen. Waid’s writing is crisp and fluid, with plenty of nice turns of phrase. I really don’t know why Irredeemable and Incorruptible haven’t made a more significant cross-over into the non-comic-reading population (a la Watchmen, etc.).

Boom-Incorruptible-01-ArtistsEditionOther information
This first collected volume of the series contains issues #1-4, a cover gallery, and a 10-page sample of Waid’s Potters Field series.  It is highly recommended, alongside Irredeemable (which you should probably read first).
ISBN: £9.86
Price: 1608860159
Read about Irredeemable here.

Many thanks again to CR, for letting us crosspost his excellent review.

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