As reported over at Newsarama last week, Mark Waid’s critically and fan acclaimed series Irredeemable and Incorruptible are both getting cancelled in May… Though by Waid’s own choice:
“I’m just stretched thin right now both personally and professionally, and I live in mortal fear that I’m going to overstay my welcome on these books,” said Waid in an interview. “Moreover, I feel that Max Damage’s character arc is reaching its end in Incorruptible. And in Irredeemable, I’ve long known what the end of that series is, and lately, it’s as if all the characters are moving into position for it whether I want them to or not. So let’s go out big and grand, I say.”
For those of you not familiar with the series, Irredeemable is about The Plutonian, a Superman-esque hero who goes just a little bit nuts, and decides to slaughter pretty much everyone on planet Earth in the most horrible ways possible. As a response, his arch enemy – Max Damage – over in Incorruptible decides to try and walk on the side of good, though he faces a few problems of his own.
Along the way, Waid, as well as artist Peter Krause – who was the original series artist on Irredeemable, created an entire superhero universe independent from DC, Marvel, or even anything else published by BOOM! That’s not so much a rarity nowadays, but what is unique is that both series will end up running over thirty issues each (Irredeemable will end with #37, Incorruptible with #30), spawned a line of cologne, and a devoted legion of fans. In a market where even the Big Two have problems launching new characters, this was – and remains – a tremendous achievement.
There’s a number of questions that this announcement lays down, of course, the biggest of course being how final these final issues will actually be? We suspect that Waid will conclude his mediation on villainy and heroism he began in Irredeemable #1, from both perspectives. And as teased in the recently concluded crossover between the two books, Max Damage and The Plutonian have their origins inexorably linked… We can’t imagine one surviving without the other, and we sort of can’t imagine either of them surviving the ends of their respective series.
Still, there’s plenty of opportunities for further series and spin-offs, particularly dealing with the fall-out from the end of the books… Assuming there’s an Earth around to deal with the fall-out. There’s also plenty of time that hasn’t been chronicled in both the hero-turned-villain and villain-turned-hero’s careers, so we could see BOOM! spinning off a Irredeemable Adventures! type series. We’d imagine it would have a different title, though.
The other question, of course, is how much Waid’s series have primed the market to accept new ideas and characters. The answer is, probably, unfortunately, not a whole lot. Irredeemable started as a clear analog for Superman, complete with his own Lois Lane, Jimmy, and Justice League. The characters have grown tremendously since then, but the book also banked on that familiarity from the start. Not to undercut the accomplishment, but how well would these series have done if they didn’t have that “Superman goes nuts!” tagline, and Waid’s name attached?
To find a very specific example, look at DC’s excellent A God Somewhere, a graphic novel that came out around the same time as Irredeemable, but didn’t do anywhere near as well as the latter series has done. Same with The Mighty, another excellent series from DC that also mined the same premise, but didn’t stick in fans minds the way Irredeemable has.
Perhaps it was Waid’s name? Perhaps it was the extensive universe building in the book? Or perhaps it was just a simple, catchy title? We may never know, until someone tries it just one more time. Until then, we’ll savor these last few issues of Irredeemable and Incorruptible.
Both series end their runs in May, 2012 from BOOM! comics.