Friday, 11 March 2016

Insufferable, Volume 1 Review (Mark Waid, Peter Krause)

The city of St Barrington has two famous superheroes: Galahad, the young, social-media savvy hero with a huge following, and Nocturnus, the older, brooding superhero who lives in the shadows. The pair were once a team but had a falling out. Now, a dark secret and a mysterious villain is bringing the two together after years of estrangement – but who and why? 

Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s acclaimed series Irredeemable was a character study of “Superman” that explored themes of alienation, love, and the role of the hero with a killer hook: what if the world’s greatest hero became its biggest villain? In their new series, Insufferable, “Batman” and “Robin” are their subjects exploring the father/son relationship, bitterness and envy, with a much less impressive tagline: what if your sidekick protégé grows up to be a douchebag? 

The differences between the characters were a bit too on-the-nose for my liking. As the name suggests, Nocturnus (Batman) lives in the shadows and wears dark clothing; Galahad (Robin) has an insecure need for everyone to know he’s a hero, again hence the name, and he wears bright clothing – subtle! I didn’t buy Galahad’s setup either: he has an entire company to manage his image – there’s an entire business that big around this guy? Hmm, nope. Live-streaming his missions? So stupid. And having fake tweets covering the pages was really annoying. 

Though I felt the break-up between Nocturnus and Galahad (rubbish superhero names, by the way) was melodramatic and silly, particularly in how it went down on live TV, I suppose it’s a realistic development if you consider how hard “Batman” was on “Robin”. But really that’s about all the commentary Waid has to say about these analogues – hardly insightful! 

There’s dribs and drabs of a plot seeping through but most of this first book is about establishing the characters’ relationships and backstories. Neither of the characters are very compelling and Waid has similarly little to say about them too – the son wanted a father not a superhero and the father didn’t know how to be anything except a superhero. Uh huh. Anything else? Nope. See how long your attention lasts with that one idea streeeetched to book-length. 

I wish I could say Insufferable was every bit as good as the first Irredeemable book was but it really isn’t - what’s missing are great characters/ideas/story. This one was a disappointing effort from Waid and Krause. Instead try Irredeemable if you haven’t already to see this creative team in their prime or give Grant Morrison’s amazing Batman and Robin comics a shot.

Insufferable, Volume 1

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