We’re kicking off BOOM! Month in style today with an exclusive interview with Mark Waid, writer extraordinaire and creator of the epic Irredeemable and Incorruptible series. Irredeemable is the story of the world’s greatest superhero, The Plutonian. Thing is, The Plutonian snapped and he’s killed millions of people–including several of his old teammates. It’s an incredible ride that Mark’s taken us on for nearly two years. I can’t wait to read this one each month.
The companion book to Irredeemable is Incorruptible. Few made it out of Sky City (the city that The Plutonian used to call home), but Max Damage was one of the lucky survivors. Max was one of the worlds foremost super-villains, but after witnessing The Plutonian’s destruction, he decides to turn his life around. He’s out to stop criminals, and he refuses to let himself slip into his old ways, no matter what the cost! Incorruptible is also one of my faves right now and completely stands on its own feet.
So, now that everybody’s on the same page, let’s get to our interview with Mark Waid!
TFAW.com: With the Plutonian off-planet since issue #19, the Paradigm is trying to put the world back together. They’ve pardoned ex-villains to help in the relief efforts. That’s not going to go well, will it?
Waid: Yeah, that trick never works. Just ask all the Wall Street billionaires we failed to send to jail last year. On the other hand, the results may surprise you–and some of those results will be the focus of Incorruptible and not Irredeemable. Just what is Cary planning . . . ?
TFAW.com: The Vespa realized that they underestimated The Plutonian’s power and jettisoned him onto a star where another alien race has found him. Can we expect to see him awake anytime soon?
Waid: It would be a crazy-dull series if it were all his fantasy world. Yes, he awakens at the end of this arc–and what he (and we) find there with him at the heart of a star will stun Tony to the core.
TFAW.com: It feels like the Qubit/Survivor tensions are building and something big is coming up. Do you plan on pushing another hero to his breaking point?
Waid: That’s the fun of it all, isn’t it? Look, stories are never interesting unless the people in them are making interesting decisions–and the most interesting decisions are made when the stakes are the highest or the moral issues are at their thorniest. But who’ll break first?
TFAW.com: Does Modeus fit into the equation?
Waid: Two words: road trip.
TFAW.com: It seems like The Plutonian really wants to be redeemed. I mean, he trapped himself in a dreamland where he was able to bring everybody he killed back to life and they all trusted him again. That’s the world he wants to live in. Do you plan on leading him down a long road to redemption? Will you change the title to Redeemable and later Redeemed?
Waid: Where’s the fun in that? Of course, in asking, (in all seriousness) you’ve hit upon what, to me, makes this series something more than Yet Another Caustic Genre Deconstruction–there is hope in this book. It’s sometimes a very faint ember, but it’s not shot through with cynicism. I’ll tell you flat out that I honestly thought Qubit would be the heart of this book and the soul of humanity–but I’m fast discovering that someone else in the cast fits that bill even better, and it shocks me.
TFAW.com: Couldn’t Tony just go see a psychiatrist to work out his issues, or do you feel he’s incapable of moving past his childhood and forgiving himself for what he’s done?
Waid: I think so long as he feels, at heart, unworthy of being loved, there’s not a psychiatrist in the galaxy who could talk him down. Keep reading.
TFAW.com: If an even bigger threat arrived at Earth to stake claim, would Tony stand up for his territory?
Waid: Oh, man, wait until you see issue #28.
TFAW.com: 22 issues of Irredeemable have been published to date (including the special), how has The Plutonian changed since your first concept? What (if anything) have you tried to make sure didn’t change?
Waid: The Plutonian hasn’t changed, but my approach morphed dramatically with issue #5, and I remember the exact moment that it happened. It was when I was writing that opening scene designed to introduce new readers to the concept and fill in the backstory in an interesting way that wouldn’t be repetitive for existing readers. I wanted to show Tony being a villain, but I’d just had him sink an entire nation and spent a week trying to figure out how to top that spectacle. And suddenly I realized that wasn’t the answer.
It dawned on me that I was trying to write violence when what I wanted to write was evil, and the former is easy and the latter is powerful. So instead of having Tony, say, burn Philadelphia to the ground with laser eyes, I instead had him address the people of the world directly and talk to them in a way that instilled global paranoia and all the attendant violence it brought, all without having to lift a finger. Random acts of violence, after a while, make Tony look like Mr. Mxyzptlk gone dark. Yawn. Acts of evil are more character revelatory.
TFAW.com: Is it too late for new readers to jump in to the ongoing monthly series, or are you actively trying to provide accessible entry points?
Waid: In fact, knowing that each four issues is collected into a trade edition, I make extra-sure that the first pages of every trade bring you fully up-to-speed. And for those who are collecting monthly and miss an issue, there’s always a detailed “Previously in . . . ” on the inside front cover. Same applies to Incorruptible, by the way.
TFAW.com: At San Diego, there was mention of the potential for an an Irredeemable hardcover. Is that in the works? Still on the table? Not going to happen?
Waid: That’s up to BOOM! I’d love to see it, but I predict we’ll have to sell out of all the trade paperbacks first so as not to cannibalize those sales. That said, we’ve sold a lot of trade paperbacks. Volume 1 is the third- or fourth best-selling book I’ve ever written, and that’s coming from the guy who gave you Kingdom Come and JLA: Tower of Babel.
TFAW.com: Do you have an ending in mind for Irredeemable? Is that a long way out, or closer than we think?
Waid: Yes. And that would be telling. Isn’t part of the fun of the series never knowing where we’re going?
TFAW.com: We haven’t seen much crossover of Max Daring (formerly the villain Max Damage) from Incorruptible in the pages of Irredeemable. He’s said to be one of the three keys to Earth’s only hope. Will we see Max joining The Paradigm?
Waid: They show up to recruit Max in the very next issue of Incorruptible. It does not go well.
TFAW.com: Speaking of Incorruptible, Max’s first sidekick, Jailbait, ran off and Headcase joined him as his new sidekick. It seemed like Jailbait was in love with Max, is it safe to assume that she won’t be happy to see him with a replacement?
Waid: That would be a very safe assumption, but she’s going to hate Max’s next sidekick even more, trust me. Following the Final Fate of Headcase, soon approaching, we’ll introduce you to the sensational character find of 2011, and if you’re very, very good at Hangman, you might guess her name if we give you two vowels: _ A _E_ _ _ _ E
TFAW.com: Do you have any new projects with BOOM! in the works?
Waid: At the moment, my plate’s pretty full, but we live in hope.
TFAW.com: What are your favorite BOOM! titles that are not your own?
Waid: Right now? I think 28 Days Later is supremely underrated because Michael Alan Nelson’s really a good writer. Likewise, Chris Roberson’s Do Androids Dream spin-off [Dust to Dust] is top-notch. Of all time? I think Necronomicon by William Messner-Loebs and Andrew Ritchie is one of our overlooked gems; ask your store to order it!
We want to thank Mark Waid for taking the time out of his insanely busy schedule to talk with us about Irredeemable and Incorruptible. Sure, I’m now chomping at the bit for the next six month’s worth of comics, but that’s not a bad problem to have.
We need your help! We know there are more burning Irredeemable and Incorruptible questions out there, so we’re holding a contest to complete our interview. The prize: copies of Irredeemable Vol. 1, which Mark has generously agreed to sign for us. We’ll choose five lucky winners and Mark will answer their questions. Click here for details on how to enter.
Are you a fan of Irredeemable and Incorruptible? What do you think of recent issues? Post your comments below!