For just over a year now, readers have known that Mark Waid is evil. But, as the second year of "Irredeemable" begins this week with issue #13, the BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief suggests that the darkest days are yet to come. The series, which takes place in the aftermath of a Superman-like hero called the Plutonian obliterating his home of Sky City then hunting down his former friends in the heroic super-group the Paradigm, has already spawned a spinoff series "Incorruptible," which reverses course to show the world's greatest villain taking on the role of Earth's protector. A 48-page flip book of both series' first issues was given away on Free Comic Book Day.
Recently in "Irredeemable," the twin heroes Scylla and Charybdis fought to delay the Plutonian while their teammates sought clues to the fallen champion's weaknesses inside his secret fortress. Scylla fell in battle, but it was later revealed that this gave all of their shared powers to Charybdis, who then takes on the name Survivor. Survivor is able to fight Plutonian to a stand-still, but, in a troubling development paralleling Plutonian's own mental state, rages bitterly at a public which fails to embrace him as its savior. Meanwhile, Plutonian's arch-nemesis Modeus has taken possession of Samsara, Plutonian's dead teen sidekick, and is currently manipulating the former hero in remarkably disturbing ways. And the Paradigm, demoralized by the revelation of Bette Noir's affair with Plutonian - during which she discovered, but failed to disclose, a way to render him powerless - is taken captive by the United States military, led by the lizardlike alien hunter Orian.
CBR News spoke with Waid about what's coming up in the series and his thoughts on the worldwide impact of Plutonian's rampage.
CBR News: How was your Free Comic Book Day?
Mark Waid: It was terrific! I did a signing at Earth-2 Comics in Northridge, and the turnout there was great, Then, even more surprising, was 4 Color Fantasies in Rancho Cucamonga, which was an event. It was a huge, huge deal. There were tents and it was really very impressive.
I signed hundreds of the flip-books and gave them away. It was a really clever idea to do the flip book because if you've tried "Incorruptible" or "Irredeemable," one or the other, this is your chance to partake in the other.
In the thirteen issues plus one Special so far, you've introduced a pretty compelling view of a world in which the world's greatest hero has turned. I'm curious, though, about some things we might not have seen, that might be going on in the background. Obviously, Plutonian is a global threat, but do other nations view him as an American? How is he viewed worldwide?
That's a good question, and actually something that we tackle in the next arc, starting in issue #16. What is the global response to what the Plutonian has done? We've already seen a little of it in how it impacts the other members of the Paradigm, that what's left of the United States government has taken them into custody, assuming that, if the Plutonian has gone bad, how long before the others turn, as well?
Along with this, how threatened would an ordinary person in, say, the middle of Oklahoma feel that the Plutonian might come and wreck their town?
I think, with a greater degree of certainty than living in a mobile home park during tornado season. I think that the undercurrent of global fear is everywhere, and it's really hammered home by the fact that, because of what the Plutonian has done, the economy is really off the rails, unemployment is about 25-30 percent in America. It's really bad. Even if you're not seeing the Plutonian in front of you, the effects of his wrath over the last month or so impact everyday life.
After focusing on the surviving heroes for a while, you've started to bring back some of the villains, with the alien hunter Orian and then Modeus doing his thing. On the whole, how has the Plutonian's defection affected the whole dynamic between hero and villain fighting?
Any outstanding feud or supervillain wars are sort of on hold right now, because everybody knows that the world is being patrolled by a mad, capricious god who can take you out in the blink of an eye. We saw this a bit in issue 3, but I'm hoping to get a bit more into that in the next arc, as well.
We talked about this in the last interview before #12, but that issue had some especially dark scenes - I'm thinking of Plutonian's solution to his family drama. I won't ask where that idea came from, but once it did pop into your head, what was your initial reaction?
To go take a wirebrush shower! When the word "Cheerio" popped into my head, I just fell apart. It's the darkest thing I've written in a long time. The whole point of the scene was to underscore just how myopic and self-centered Plutonian has become in that he dares to look at a grown man who's lived in a wheelchair all his life because of something [Plutonian] did and tell him he's the lucky one, because he's always had someone to care for him and love him. That's really where that came from, I wanted to hit that again very hard. What you're seeing is, Modeus, pretending to be Samsara, is leading Plutonian through his own past and down some very uncommonly dark moments so that, as you'll see in the next arc, Modeus has a plan for all this. The mental torturing of the Plutonian is leading up to Modeus's master plan.
The Modeus/Samsara thing, that Plutonian accepts the return of Samsara, does seem to speak to the fact that, on top of everything else, he might not be entirely sane.
We are trying to keep that question alive: is Plutonian playing with a full deck at this point? Does he not realize that Samsara is being mind-controlled or inhabited, or does he on some level realize it and doesn't care because he so wants Samsara back, he so wants to undo the things that he has done? Is that what's driving him? That's stuff that I'm going to deal with.
Speaking of dark scenes, there's another particularly nasty bit in #13 that I won't spoil. Should I even ask what might be coming up in #14?
In #14, now that we've seen how Bette Noir failed to save the world and what happened as a result of that, we spend a lot of #14 with the rest of Paradigm in custody, trying to break out of prison and not having much success because each of their cells have been made to subdue them and their powers. And then on top of that, we also will answer more questions about Modeus inhabiting Samsara's body and what that's all about.
The first twelve issues have been pretty focused on the heroes going after Plutonian and looking for ways to defeat him. Does their current captivity play into that, or are we more or less on a different story arc right now?
It plays into that in the sense that what you're looking at the end of this current arc is the knockdown, drag-out, blowout fight between the Paradigm and the Plutonian. Where that leads, with #15 through #19, is as dark as it gets - even darker than "Cheerio."
At the end of #12, Survivor seems to be whisked away to the hunter's world and we haven't caught back up with him yet.
At the beginning of #14, we catch up with him and the hunter.
Prior to this, it had started to look like Survivor was going to go along the same path as Plutonian. Would you say the experiences he's about to undergo might humble him, or will this be an entirely different situation?
There's no humbling Survivor.
We also see in issue #13 where the various heroes were when Sky City was destroyed. What led you to set the players on the board the way you did for Plutonian's rampage?
It was important that we see the day, and it's a card I've had in my back pocket for a while. The moment that the world saw that Sky City had been destroyed and the Plutonian had gone insane. Including them all on stage, including some of those Paradigm members you haven't met yet, that didn't make it - it really was important to me to look through their eyes and see how implausible and how unacceptable the situation was. Their first reaction is not going to be, ‘oh my god, the Plutonian's gone insane,' their first reaction is going to be he's mind-controlled, it's magic, it can't really be him. And then watching as one by one they realize this is for real and there's no going back.
"Irredeemable" #13 is in stores now.