If there’s one thing I hate about “Irredeemable,” it’s how, after finishing an issue, I immediately want to read the next. This is usually a good thing since ‘always leave the reader wanting more’ is the hope for any comic, but it seems more and more not a good thing than a problem as Mark Waid continues to expand the universe of “Irredeemable” and its secrets. With such a broad cast of characters, back stories, and plots that need to be investigated, there simply isn’t enough space in a 22-page comic to touch on them all, leaving issues feeling incomplete or lacking somehow. What’s there is very good, but there’s just not enough of it.
The first story of this issue, drawn by guest artist Diego Barreto, has Bette Noir revealing the secrets of her relationship with the Plutonian to Orian, an alien hunter enlisted by the US government to kill the Plutonian. For the past six months, Waid has been hinting at a deeper relationship between Bette and the Plutonian despite Bette’s relationship with fellow hero Gilgamos. Bette’s revelations aren’t too surprising as a result, but the manner in which events play contain some solid ideas. Her flirting with the Plutonian, though, doesn’t come across as organic and witty, falling closer to porn flick dialogue. What happens before and after Bette’s coming on to Tony is well-written, but how it happens is cringe-worthy dialogue.
Barreto’s art is a nice fit for the book, not differing from Peter Krause’s art too much. Andrew Dalhouse’s colors help maintain the consistent look as he shifts between darker colors for the present and brighter, lighter colors for the flashbacks. Like Krause, Barreto’s lines are clear and strong, though his work has a more animated, cartoony look to it, most notably seen in the Plutonian in Bette’s revelation of their past. Barreto gives the Plutonian a bit more of a ‘classic strong superhero’ look than Krause does, which suits the flashback material well.
Krause does the second half of the issue, which contains further exposition on the Plutonian’s past as we learn about his first foster family and why he was given up, the family terrified of him. So terrified they were, in fact, that they haven’t spoken a word aloud since he left as a child for fear that he would hear them. Waid continues to build a tragic and complex history for the Plutonian, this disclosure being one of the more heartbreaking and creepy ones. Heartbreaking in how innocent a mistake Tony made and how much it has, no doubt, affected him over the years; creepy in his reaction to Samsara learning what happened. Krause handles the dark mood of the scene very well, especially Tony’s cold, stoic expressions (or lack thereof).
With the issue dominated by the two scenes focusing on the past, there isn’t much room for plot advancement and what little there is seems rushed and incomplete. The issue ends with the promise of revealing Bette Noir’s real secret about the Plutonian and, while alluring, it’s also a cheat given that this issue revolved around that secret, conveniently postponing it until next issue. “Irredeemable” #11 is another very good issue in the series, but it’s bursting with characters and plot strands to the point where it’s noticeably straining to include everyone.