Okay so The Joker isn't exactly an analogue for Max Damage, but I figure what The Joker represents makes sense. Plus the Clown Prince of Crime is certainly a more recognizable name than if I had written "What if Black Adam..."
ANYWAY, I just wrapped up reading the 15 issues of Mark Waid's "Incorruptible" that have been printed to date so I figured why not blog about it like I did about "Irredeemable" when I finished that up.
See "Incorruptible" is a sister title to that book, taking place in the same reality in which The Plutonian lost his mind and went from the world greatest hero to its greatest villain. But in this book, the situation is reversed...it's a story of what happens when the villain attempts to redeem himself.
The villain in this case is Max Damage, a man who had stood toe-to-toe with The Plutonian in the past and survived, a man who was essentially The Plutonian's arch-nemesis. Super strength & invulnerability are Max's power set, but they come with certain trade-offs that, while not a major spoiler, is something I found clever enough to not want to ruin for the unfamiliar.
Max, along with his underage female sidekick Jailbait, were a duo capable of anything, most evidenced by his last near-crime that would have seen a plague unleashed upon the world. In the moments before said plague was about to be released, The Plutonian unleashed hell upon the Earth and everything changed. In that moment, something different opened up inside Max Damage and his path towards heroism began with a vengeance.
Essentially what Damage knows about being a hero is this: don't do what he did as a villain. That is the credo he begins with and it leads to a rather intense sequence inside his underground lair. The initial supporting cast is intriguing: an elderly cop & the barely legal sidekick, but it allows for two very different perspectives on Max's change. With Jailbait there are number of questions: Is there redemption for a man who pulled a 16 year old girl into his life and, for lack of a better description, turned her out? What kind of man does that? How does she adapt to this new life of Max's? Is she even capable of following his new path?
And with the officer, Max has a parallel of sorts. The cop, Armadale, seems to be a man undergoing his own life change. Newly sober, apparently trying to tread the straight and narrow as a cop, he is a man who can understand the desire for change that Damage is experiencing. In addition, he also seems to have some back story that is of yet unexplored.
As for Max, the biggest challenge is obviously convincing anyone that he is a different person. When a man has committed the atrocities that Max has in the past, it's difficult...if not impossible...to accept he is now a "hero". It's almost the same situation as with The Plutonian, but in that case, it was impossible to believe the avatar of good had now become the poster child for evil. For every good moment that set The Plutonian into his position, there was an evil moment on behalf of Max Damage. Yin and Yang I suppose, and Max is best defined at one point as "...dangerous because he'd do things just to create fear, no other motive. Modeus was smarter, but Max was more threatening, because his anger was indiscriminate." How does the average person possibly grasp the idea that a man like that has suddenly stepped into the light? Is that even something comprehendible to the average man?
That is the story of "Incorruptible" more or less. The story of salvation and change, but not just for Max, it's also for the people around him and how they too are capable of becoming something...more, something better. Given that this is taking place within the same world as "Irredeemable" there is crossover with the characters & events taking place in that book. Alana Patel, The Paradigm, certain aliens, they all make appearances in this book and some of the specific story points spill over as well. The two books certainly feel tied to one another, but each has its own sense of identity...not just a case of reading the same story from two different perspectives.
"Incorruptible" is much more the street-level story, the tale of what happens to the common man in the wake of The Plutonian snapping. This book shows how the rampage of the most powerful being on earth impacts the cities and the world in which "Irredeemable" takes place. The rise of a White Supremacist movement in Plutonian's name, survival in the remnants of Sky City, the government, the businesses, just the reaction of the common man to the events happening in their world. Yes Max Damage is a super-powered being but he is on the streets not floating in the sky above it all. He's driving/running on the roads, not teleporting across the world, so the effects of The Plutonian's turn are in his face much more than in those of The Paradigm.
This is a book that fleshes out the world around the super powered heroes/villains and adds another layer to The Plutonian story that there just isn't room for in "Irredeemable". And even though he hasn't made a single appearance in this book, The Plutonian is still a constant presence hovering over all the events that take place in Max Damage's corner of the world.
I'm excited to see how the story of this book plays out, of how much of the world will be explored as the saga of Max Damage progresses. I think my interest is not, as of yet, at the level of my interest in "Irredeemable" but it is still quite high. The impact Max has already had on the lives of people in his short existence as a hero has been quite sudden, particularly on the characters of Headcase & Alana, and with the way the most recent issue closed, that impact is only just beginning.
Will Max Damage ever be embraced as a hero? Is he even looking for that public acceptance? Those are just a couple of the questions that I eagerly anticipate the answers to as Mark Waid unfolds his story. I certainly recommend this book to any readers who may have picked up "Irredeemable" already but have yet to look into "Incorruptible". I initially thought the idea of "bad guy goes good" wouldn't be as interesting as its opposite, but I'm happy to see that Mark Waid has proven me wrong.
To pick up "Incorruptible" yourself click here: Incorruptible on Amazon, and for more info on the series head on over to the BOOM! website via the link over there on the side.