Despite a strong start, “Incorruptible” has started to lag a little in recent issues. Designed as a complementary book to “Irredeemable,” it follows former villain Max Damage as he attempts to be a hero in a world where the greatest hero of all, the Plutonian, has turned evil. Its focus is narrower than the main book, but for the past couple of issues, this one included, it doesn’t quite have the same dynamic energy that it began with. It still has a solid hook and some good ideas, but there isn’t the sense of urgency that it had originally.
Following up on last issue where Max rescued his teen sidekick Jailbait from some criminals looking to strike back at him, Max finally has a talk with her about their new situation. That scene is the best of the issue as Waid nails where each character is coming from. Max wants to do things right, while Jailbait just wants things to be the way they were. Add in Max having not slept for several days and you can see him break down over the course of the scene. It’s a place of vulnerability that we haven’t seen Max in so far and it adds another level of depth to his character.
Prior to this, Max has a run-in with members of the Diamond Gang, a white supremacist group that sees the Plutonian’s actions as attacks on minorities, not against humanity as a whole. Of all of Waid’s twisted ideas for these books, that may be one of the most twisted, especially when Max points out that Sky City, the Plutonian’s first target was 40% white and they respond that sacrifices have to be made. The idea of a gang not only supporting the Plutonian, but twisting what he’s done for their own ideals is fantastic and provides Max with a street-level threat he can take on.
However, even with these good ideas, the storytelling is lacking. The scenes don’t quite cohere as a whole and the art is very generic. Horacio Domingues does solid work in a somewhat cartoony style, but there isn’t much flair to it. His characters all suffer from looking the same age no matter what, all possessing similar body types, and not showing as much expressiveness as needed. While he’s definitely talented, the mixing of a veteran writer doing some of the best work of his career with a young artist still learning pulls the book in two differing directions.
More than that, there isn’t a clear direction in the book. Max Damage becoming a hero is so vague that even the character doesn’t quite know what to do. Already, the book suffers from not being entirely sure what to do next, or so it appears. Hopefully, this is just a planned bit of uncertainty as Max finds a narrower focus as there is a lot of potential in this book as the first arc showed.