By: Mark Waid (writer & creator), Marcio Takara (art), Nolan Woodard (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Shannon Watters (assistant editor) & Matt Gagnon (editor)

The Story: Max Damage tries to help Coalville rebuild from the damage inflicted by Plutonian’s rampage, but not everyone is so eager for this to happen.

What’s Good: The supporting characters in this story have always been more interesting than our main character Max Damage, and that continues in this issue (and is also one of the problems for the series).  One of the stories in this issue is that Max has located a “one honest man” who can bring order to Coalville, but he needs his cop-buddy Armadale to talk to the guy.  The entirety of Incorruptible is about redemption and Armadale (the recovering alcoholic police officer) is pretty relatable, so your heart kinda breaks for the guy when you see that at first Armadale thinks that Max wants Armadale to lead the Coalville recovery.  Then, you see him being disappointed/irritated when he learns that Max really meant for someone else to get the job—because ya know, Armadale used to be a drunk.  In Max’s eyes, Armadale hasn’t done enough to redeem himself yet.

Of course, what does that mean for Max himself?  A problem this series has lived with since the first issue is that we’ve constantly been told what a horrible villain Max Damage was before he decided to become a hero.  But, this is comics and we need to be shown.  This issue takes a first step towards letting us know about one particularly awful thing that Max did during his villainous days.  Although, I still think we need the “all evil flashback issue”.

What’s Not So Good: This series is honestly starting to suck-wind for me right now and this issue is a microcosm of why.  Let’s start with the fact that rebuilding Coalville is boring.  It’s just hard to get too excited about a comic that deals with problems like cleaning up the water supply.

Another problem is that the villains just aren’t very developed.  I suspect that is because the “true nemesis” of the series is everyone’s past sins, but we still need some of the bad guys to be more complex.  This Bellamy guy who is both financing Max and helping the bad guys is just a two-dimensional, stereotypical, evil, fat-cat businessman.

The final story related problem is that we don’t get much of Max’s female supporting cast in this issue.  The female supporting characters have always been a million times more interesting than Max and Armadale, but 2 of those characters have been written out of the story (Jailbait and Anna) and the third (Alannah) barely gets any time in this issue.

The art isn’t remotely “bad” in this issue, but I’m putting it on the “not so good” side of the equation because I think it has slipped in the last couple months.  Takara has some very positive elements to his art (namely that it is lively and his characters are very vital).  The only problem is that it is becoming very soft as he settles into being the regular artist and I’d prefer that he went back to what he was doing when he first came onto the series. I’m all for artists trying new things, but this softer line doesn’t work as well for this story.

Conclusion:  Honestly, this story is slipping for me.  While I don’t mind the story about “the search for redemption”, I don’t want to read about it in the context of the urban renewal of a town called “Coalville”.  Give these characters something more important to do.

Grade: C-

– Dean Stell

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