Mark Waid has spent a lot of time making "Incorruptible" and "Irredeemable" one of the coolest one-two punches in the comic industry. These two titles exist within shared continuity, revolve around opposite sides of the same initial premise, and deliver a dynamic and enjoyable read each and every month. “Incorruptible” might be lesser champion of the two books, but that doesn’t hold it back from being great most of the time.
For those who don’t know, this title follows Max Damage, the major villain gone good while the good guy in “Irredeemable” has gone bad. Having the villain stop on a dime and attempt the good guy schtick is something that happens plenty in the major sandbox universes, but here Waid explores the concept with some level of depth and honesty. This issue showcases this by showing Max trying to play nice with someone he wronged quite severely in the past. There’s no way this man can or would ever forgive Max, but for Coalville to ever get any better maybe he has to at least put it aside, painful as that might be.
The interaction between the two leads in this issue goes back and forth in a gruelling duel that doesn’t look like it can ever be resolved. Then, just as it goes bad, it gets infinitely worse. It’s yet another seeming audible that Waid has no fear calling on this title because he can do whatever he likes. “Incorruptible” is a prime example why creators should keep a little creator owned on the side because they can play the game for complete stakes rather than always playing retconned/resurrected safeball elsewhere. Waid doesn’t need to sell these books as continuations of the status quo, so he shakes them up at will and watches the scattered remains slowly float down in new and amusing patterns.
The other thing Waid does so deftly in these books is expand his universe in divergent and creative ways. This issue gives time to some more of the new villains he’s created and they’re an interesting and wild bunch. They’re more action than character, at the moment, but they offer an erratic heart to this otherwise rehabilitated title.
Marcio Takara keeps his tone and pencil relatively in line with the previous stewards of the art on this title, and yet still makes things his own. His storytelling is definitely clear and he delivers the wide scope of Waid’s cast easily. There’s no confusion as to who each character is. There’s not much he’s doing wrong with the art, but he could stand to try a few different things, mix up his boxed panel layouts, or attempt a page in a meaningful style. His expressions are generally emotive but he could spend more time fleshing out each background, not just the establishing shots.
This issue races by, as they all do, because they are good. After reading this, stand back and slowly flip through it. Soak in just how much Waid fits into only one issue. He advances many scenes and plays through plenty of the main drive of the tale. This isn’t a comic that wastes a lot of time. It feels like Waid would get bored, so he moves onto new ideas and weaves them through everything else to make a very long and linear narrative. This is a good comic that’s rarely disappointing. Buying consistency is a solid investment, and your money is safe with this book because you never know where it’s going. You just know you want to be there to find out.