There are broadly speaking two strains of comics: the superhero kind and the non-superhero kind. I prefer the non- kind, although I can often be interested in stories that twist superhero conventions in an interesting way (like, for example, Watchmen or Powers, about which more in a moment). Mark Waid does pretty conventional superhero comics, although he has done a few experiments with superhero conventions like Kingdom Come and more recently Empire, which I liked.
Empire takes as its premise that the baddest supervillain has defeated all the heroes, and now rules over all the world with an iron grip. In Irredeemable the world’s greatest superhero has snapped and is now traveling around the world murdering millions of people at a time, taking time off every now and then to kill his former superteammates.
As Waid describes it in his preface:
In superhero comics, pretty much everyone who’s called upon to put on a cape is, at heart, emotionally equipped for the job.
I reject that premise.
No one simply turns “evil” one day. Villainy isn’t a light switch. The road to darkness is filled with moments of betrayal, of loss, of disappointment, and of superhuman weakness. In the case of the Plutonian [the hero-turned-villain of the book], there were sidekicks who sold his secrets. There were friends who preyed too often on his selflessness and enemies who showed him unsettling truths about himself.
Honestly, unless you’re already invested in the superhero genre who takes seriously the idea of “villainy?”
The idea of the superhero who goes nuts and destroys cities was done first and best by Alan Moore in Miracleman, with unbelievable drawings by John Totleben:
(I’ll put another one below the fold so it can spread out; otherwise it’ll either be too tiny or screw up the page formatting.)
It was also done pretty well recently in Powers Vol. 6: The Sellouts, with stunning art by Michael Avon Oeming.
So far, I’m not seeing anything new enough from Mark Waid to hold my non-superhero interest, and Peter Krause’s art can’t hold a candle to the two I just mentioned. The layouts are conventional and the panels feel static. It looks like your basic comic book art. Preview below the fold, followed by the page from Miracleman I promised.