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 continues trying to clean up Coalville, but it’s difficult with all the super-villains seemingly finding haven there.

What’s Good: Okay, this is more like it.  I’d been a little tough on the last few issues of Incorruptible as the story had settled into an arc that was a little dull about Max helping to rebuild the town of Coalville (which I still say is a dreadful name).  I mean, who wants to read a comic book about urban blight?

Well, this issue does continue that story arc, but it also brings back some of the more twisted elements that make Incorruptible (and its sister title Irredeemable) worth reading.  This comic excels when it does things that Marvel and DC couldn’t get away with.  So, in this issue there is a particular scene where the Coalville police come upon a few super-villains who are up to super-villainous stuff.  One of the villains has the power to freeze people in time, so she freezes the cops and says (paraphrasing), “There!  Now we can get back to what we were doing.” and as she returns to her work, one of the other villains just chops the cops’ heads off.  Then in a later scene, there is a character that has been cultivated for a bit to have an ongoing role in Incorruptible who gets his heart ripped out by another villain.

The point is not so much that “violence is cool,” but that this comic needs to do things that Marvel and DC would cringe from a little bit. Otherwise it is just another superhero book.  And, to be clear, the violence isn’t gross or over the top — this comic isn’t Crossed or anything exploitative like that — it’s just nice to see a comic that is pushing the boundaries in the effort to tell a story.

And, the story is picking up too.  As I’ve mentioned, reading about urban reclaimation is boring as hell, but reading about a town where Max was trying to help the town through the political system, oreclamationymied by a bunch of super-sick villains could lead to a Tombstone/Gunfight at the OK Corral scenario.  And that would be very welcome.

Marcio Takara’s art is very effective in this story.  His storytelling is spot-on and he mixes up panels layouts nicely to keep the story visually fresh.  I wouldn’t mind the characters having a harder line to them as they’re kinda soft-focus, but that’s probably a personal preference.

What’s Not So Good: Again, it’s coming back to the really small stakes going on here.  The original way this series was sold was as a bookend to Irredeemable: “You’ve seen what happens when the world’s greatest hero turns evil.  Now see what happens when the world’s greatest villain turns good!”  But, while Plutonian has ravaged the globe and is currently off escaping from an intergalactic insane asylum, Max Damage is trying to rebuild Coalville.  Maybe that says something about how it is easier to destroy things that to build something, but it still seems like very small potatoes.

And, I still don’t feel like it has been demonstrated that Max is the King Shit of the Villains.  I don’t think we’ve really gotten to see what he can do in the sense that you say, “Daaammmmmnnnn!  That dude is powerful!  Glad he’s on our side!”

Conclusion: A much better issue because it brought back the twisted edge to Incorruptible that it needs to differentiate it from an overcrowded superhero marketplace.

Grade: B-

– Dean Stell

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