A Comic Book series written by Mark Waid, with art by Peter Krause and Diego Barretto.The Plutonian was once Earth's champion, its greatest and most admired and trusted superhero. But something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Seemingly without reason, the Plutonian has begun to wage war on humanity, killing indiscriminately, destroying entire cities and swiftly going from the planet's greatest hero to its worst mass murderer. A group of former friends and fellow superheroes, having narrowly escaped the Plutonian's ruthless and swift butchering of the superhero community, have determined to find a way to stop him; however, the Plutonian guarded his identity — and most importantly, his weaknesses — zealously, leaving them only with a few scraps of information to follow in order to find out why the Plutonian has turned his back on his former ideals — and how to defeat him...Another title in the same universe, Incorruptible, began in December 2009. Its plot is the obverse of Irredeemable: as a result of the Plutonian's rampage, supervillain Max Damage has an epiphany and decides to undergo a Heel Face Turn.
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Tropes present in both series
Apocalypse How: Class 0; Plutonian has caused massive damage to the world, but humanity hasn't died out. Yet.
As of issue #31, Australia and India have been hit with a massive wave of radiation; the total death count is roughly a third of humanity. Yikes.
And now, as of issue #34 Qubit has confirmed that life will be extinct in three generations, and his plans are not going well since the radiation is not behaving like he expected.
Arch-Enemy: Plutonian was this to Max Damage before Max's Heel Face Turn. Plutonian's Arch-Enemy was always Modeus, the only one Plutonian was ever afraid of and, suprisingly, Max Damage, who always reminded Plutonian of his less than perfect childhood.
Bat Family Crossover\Red Skies Crossover - Hard to tell, but long awaited crossover between two series that promised us fight between Plutonian and Max Damage doesn't even have them meet before the fourth part. However, it gives a good insight on their history, including their old confrontations.
Big Good: What the Plutonian was before his Face Heel Turn. Also, this is what Survivor and Max Damage seem to be going for.
Blessed with Suck: The Plutonian himself. Yes, he has roughly the powerset of Superman without any weaknesses, with some extras. The only problem is, he cannot turn most of his powers off, only control them by constant effort of will. He is Made Of Diamond, and even touching his hair can cut the hand of a normal person. He has tremendous Super Strength, and because of not-unfounded fear of accidentally splattering someone if he fails to measure exerted force just for a moment, he was never able to protect himself from bullying as a child. And of course, super-hearing forced him to know every ungrateful asshole's opinion about him.
This gets especially interesting with the eventual reveal that The Plutonian is a Reality Warper, who subconsciously uses his powers to appear to be a Flying Brick. Nobody has remarked upon it yet, but we may thereby conclude all the Blessed with Suck attributes of his powers are his own martyr complex manifesting itself.
Volt had problem controlling his powers before joining Paradigm, destroying any electronic device he had contact with, preventing him from keeping jobs. He had to live with his mother because of it.
Max Damage has this too. He gets stronger and more invulnerable in proportion to how long he's awake. The problem with this is that when he gets up in the morning, he only has one hour before his skin gets too tough to do simple things like feel, smell, or taste things. Most of the time he can only hear and see, with all his other senses being lost under his invulnerability.
Played for Laughs when Jailbait tries to have sex with Max at the eve of his first hour awake (the moment when his powers kick in) leaving him with only half of his face shaved.
Crapsack World: While it may not have been so bad before the Plutonian went rogue, the world's governments and economy are crippled as he's constantly murdering anyone who opposes him and smashing buildings, not to mention what he did to Singapore. The rampage never stops so the world can't recover from anything he does. People are defenseless and terrified, and suicide has become commonplace. This is explored more in Incorruptible than the main series.
Deconstruction: Your standard deconstruction of Superman through an Expy, challenging the idea that someone given superpowers would automatically do the right thing without being emotionally prepared, and the concept of happily being a Slave to PR without actual regard for what people think.
The finale puts a meta twist one this: when Qubit scatters Tony's essence throughout the multiverse in an attempt to give him his second chance, part of it helps inspire a pair of artists to create the first Superman comics. Superman is the reconstruction of the Plutonian.
Expy: The Plutonian is essentially one of these for Superman. Gone very, very wrong. And with none of Superman's weaknesses.
He's also very evocative of Supreme and Miracleman in appearance. In fact, his costume is nearly identical to Apollo's from Grounded.
Some of the other heroes are also slightly familiar.
Hornet, meanwhile, was anotherBadass Normal on the team (what little we see of him makes him seem more like Green Arrow), and was also effortlessly killed by The Plutonian.
It could be argued that both characters are a mix and match of Batman and Green Arrow. Hornet exhibited more of Batman's attributes however due to having a 'cave' located under his house, reliance on skills and gadgets, demonstrating Crazy-Prepared in his deal with the Vespan, his infamous friendship with Tony à la Superman/Batman and detective skills in noticing subtle clues weeks before that The Plutonian was going to breakdown sooner or later (Tony asked about his wife by name, Hornet never told Tony his wife's name).
Bette Noir is a Colour Character who uses trick ammunition and has Improbable Aiming Skills, a lot like Green Arrow. Except that whereas it's occasionally suggested that Green Arrow's skills are a result of a latent superpower, Bette's are unambiguously revealed to be just that in the final act.
Hilariously, Volt is perfectly aware he's an Expy. As a black man with electrical super-powers, he's all too conscious that he's one of maybe a half dozen other people with that exact description (Static, Black Vulcan, Black Lightning), and frequently bemoans it.
The superhero Qubit is a rather unusual case of this, being based on a non-comics, non-superhero character. He's clearly based off of the Tenth Doctor (admittedly, with some similarities to Mr. Fantastic).
I Just Want to Be Normal: One of the motives of both The Plutonian and Max Damage. The Plutonian because his powers made it impossible for him to have the same kind of stable life most people have, and Max because he loses most of his senses after being awake for a few hours.
It's Personal: The Plutonian hates Max Damage because Max was the first victim of Plutonian's unrestrained rage back when Max was a teen and Tony was still a boy. Max was a constant reminder to Tony that he wasn't a perfect Ace.
Mind Over Matter: There are a few psychics mentioned and seen. Plutonian has this power to a god-like degree, but doesn't realize it (his psychic powers manifest in specific forms, enabling his more conventional-seeming superpowers); his birth parents have his powers to a greater degree.
Super Dickery: Deconstructed; a flashback describes the Plutonian's relationship with a Lois Lane Expy, which occurs in a similar fashion as Superman and Lois Lane's in the Silver Age of comics. Except when the Plutonian reveals his true identity, confidently expecting her to fall into his arms and agree to marry him, she freaks out about the sudden revelation of all the mind games he's been playing on her all this time. He doesn't take it well.
A major recurring plot thread in these flashbacks to the Plutonian's "good days" seems to be his frustration over how even though he lives in a classic super-hero universe type setting, no one reacts the way they did in the old comics.
One of the Vespans' prison planets where Plutonian was performing hard labor uses a graviton well capable of generating half the pull of a black hole to keep its superpowered prisoners in line. The prison overseers make a tidy profit by housing such dangerous prisoners for people willing to pay for that security.
They've not much incentive to rebel with the weight of an entire starsystem bearing down on them.
One problem with this is that black holes don't exert gravitational pull any differently than any other massive body and it decreases exponentially with distance, just like a planet or a star. A black hole of 10 solar masses has a pull identical to a star of 10 solar masses at any given distance from the center. It's a meaningless phrase since we have no idea how far they are from the gravity generator and we don't know how large a black hole it is half-simulating.
The other prison planet is a planet housed inside of a star, with a forcefield keeping the inmates in and the sun out. It's also in the middle of nowhere. The caretakers/guards only enter and exit through a heavily guarded teleport facility at the center of the planet.
All of the Other Reindeer: One of the motivating factors behind the Plutonian's Face Heel Turn was the criticism he received from the population after all his acts of heroism. It's played with, however; despite a few critical and ungrateful voices, by and large the Plutonian was greatly loved, and the criticism he otherwise received tended to be for things he more or less deserved criticism for. It's heavily implied that the Plutonian, consumed by a desire to have everyone love him, simply couldn't tolerate any criticism whatsoever, no matter how justified.
An Arm and a Leg: Gilgamos. Loses one wing in a fight and tears the other off to use the bones as lock picks.Hard. Core.
Volt tells the Plutonian that he'd "give his left arm" for all he's done for him — and is taken up on the "offer."
Batman Gambit: Plutonian invokes this on the supervillains he meets in Inferno's lair. He says the Inferno had a plan to destroy him, and handed each handeheld device with a single button that he implied was the product of said plan. He doesn't even get to finish explaining before each villain presses said button, triggering the lair's self-destruct.
The ending for the series, has Qubit pull an ultimate one on Plutonian, due to the radioactive cloud that will destroy all life on the planet with the release of his parents. Qubit strikes a deal to give Plutonian 'redemption' if he helps save the planet. When the Plutonian starts to go back on the deal believing Qubit can't live to his end, Qubit pulls out the bullet made from the candle of the Nahru Visna that he saved Plutonian from before and teleports it into his heart for added motivation. Knowing that once he followed through with their plan, the radiation would most likely kill Plutonian as well and that his 'redemption' that Qubit had in mind would be be his essence being spread across the multiverse.
Berserk Button: We only see it once, but Qubit does not like to be called "stupid".
Technically the whole premise of the series is that the Plutonian's button (the inability to tolerate criticism) was slowly pushed through the years until he snapped.
Body Horror: To summon Orian, one has to read the magic word, upon which he crawls out through your mouth, killing you in the process.
Brain Uploading: Modeus uploaded his brain into Samsara and then later into a robot copy of himself built by Qubit. He later considered putting himself into Scylla, but decided he'd prefer remaining in his robot-body for now. Most recently, he's transferred into Bette Noire.
Break the Cutie: Kaidan's one of two members of the Paradigm that can fight Tony off and have a chance of survival. She's the only surviving member of the team who's not shown signs of a pending Face Heel Turn, and her origin story strongly implies that she'd see such an opportunity coming and choose death without hesitation. Her powers require her to speak. If she survives, it'll be one hell of a subversion.
Broken Pedestal: Oddly, the Plutonian's pedestal broke before he went crazy. After he made a crucial mistake in the field that left thousands of children dead, and he initially lied about his role in this tragedy his sidekick stopped trusting him. Knowing his closest friend couldn't look up to him the way he used to was one of the last straws...
What made it worse was that people from the lab (where he had turned over the device that led to the tragedy) went behind his back and told Samsara about it, claiming to be too afraid of him to do it themselves.
Brown Note: The child-killing sonic plague and the sigil that summons Orian.
The Cape: The Plutonian, prior to his Face Heel Turn. He notably only wears the cape in flashbacks when he's still good.
The Chessmaster: Modeus. The Plutonian's arch-nemesis, and reportedly the only one he was scared of. Possibly the only one capable of finding a way to kill him. Disappeared a few years prior to the main story. Is now possessing/controlling the lobotomized sidekick, egging on the Plutonian on his rampage. Oh, and a Robot Double with his exact mental patterns has started making trouble on his own. And now in the body of one of the few people that Tony has non-homicidal emotions towards. Oh Crap.
Conveniently an Orphan: This trope is extremely common in Superhero comics, keeping the heroes from having to explain things to their folks (Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, most X-Men, all the Flashes, most of the Green Lanterns). While what happened to the Plutonian's biological parents isn't clear yet, this is apparently true for him too. In the series' common style of course, there's a deconstructive twist- this means he spent most of his boyhood bounced around between unloving and heartless foster homes, instilling him with a compulsive need to be loved by everyone as an adult.
Unloving and heartless? We haven't seen a single one that wasn't loving. But a young Plutonian was a 5-15 year old child with the powers of Superman... including senses strong enough to make lying all but impossible, and unreliable control at best. Of course they would at some point, be afraid, and of course he knew.
... aaand in issue #31, we find that he's not really an orphan. Or even remotely human, for that matter.
Dead Sidekick: Samsara's not quite dead- but he's been lobotomized. The reason for this is that Samsara's power protects him from mortal harm and he thus can't be killed, so he had to be neutralized another way. And of course, the Plutonian did it himself to keep him from spilling the beans on his secrets.
Confirmed: Modeus himself recognizes he is in love with the Plutonian by issue #22, or at least with his power.
Disproportionate Retribution: A representative of Singapore told the Plutonian his country was grateful to him. The Plutonian however, recognized this to be a lie, and responded by sinking the country into the sea.
Before his Face Heel Turn, the Plutonian warns his secret identity's coworkers of this when they discover him. They initially think it's a bit of a funny joke, but he points out to him that any one of his enemies would gladly "rape their children with hot knives" to find it out. Several commit suicide afterward.
After reading a Modeus possessed Cutter's mind, a telepath almost immediately commits suicide.
It is implied that Tony's only set of decent but controlling foster parents, after revealing to them the mother had cancer and due to the father's teachings of not using his powers for personal gain, Tony withheld that information until it was far too late.
Everything Is Racist: Volt. There are some scenes where his hair-trigger accusations of racism genuinely find their mark, but there are others that don't, like accusing Bette of preferring Gil because he's not black.
Evil Is Petty: The Plutonian enjoys puppy-kicking on a personal level as much as his mass atrocities, largely to demonstrate the points that used to frustrate him so much.
Expy: In addition to Tony being an evil [[Superman]], Gilgamos is an Immortal warrior from an ancient civilization who has lived through many centuries and has wings. [[Hawkman Sound familiar]]? Qubit also bears a striking resemblance to The Tenth Doctor.
Face Heel Turn: The Plutonian's occurred prior to the series beginning.
Fate Worse Than Death: This is what motivated Encanta to spill the beans to Qubit. He threatened to robotize her, this apparently having the effect of depowering her while being horribly painful. Of course, it's permanent.
Fun with Acronyms: Plutonian's name is one, though no-one else knows it. Chosen by the foster father he gained his alter-ego's name, Dan Hartigan, from, it stands for Piety, Loyalty, Utility, Truthfulness, and Order.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: Plutonian has been showing this during his tantrums even before he became a villain.
Grand Theft Me: Modeus has done this thrice first to Samsara, later to his own robot duplicate, and now Bette Noir. It's not clear if it's an innate power of his or something he needs assistance for.
In one of the issues before Plutonian got captured and dumped on the prison world, it shows Modeus talking to Encana in a supernatural dimension. It turns out that Modeus has moved past super-science and is now experimenting with sorcery.
This backfires when he tries it on Qubit.
He Who Fights Monsters: Charybdis, after doubling in power and becoming the Survivor, is basically undergoing an accelerated version of the Plutonian's turn to darkness in his efforts to stop the Plutonian and be a true hero.
Humans Are Bastards: The Plutonian's Sadistic Choices and mind games seems to be ultimately aimed at proving that. It also seems that he didn't kill most of his old teammates yet because he's striving to break them psychologically, for the same reason.
...And, as it turns out, he's a psychotic nutbag because his first human mother was. Had she not been so deeply disturbed, everything would have been fine...
I Am Not Left-Handed: Up to Eleven. The Plutonian lays a beatdown on the depowered Charybdis, but the tables are turned when we find out that Charybdis actually has at least twice as much power as he did before.
Insufferable Genius: Qubit. This doesn't go unnoticed by this teammates, some of whom find it less and less tolerable as the situation worsens.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: From the point of view of his former friends, the Plutonian's done just this; however, the flashbacks in each issue subtly indicate that it has been stewing for quite a while...
Kids Are Cruel: The Plutonian was forced to put up with bullying, as a child, because any retaliation could have killed the kids bullying him. After his Face Heel Turn, he uses that history of bullying to justify his willingness to murder children.
Kryptonite Factor: The Candle of the Nahru Visna is the only thing that can make the Plutonian vulnerable. Bette Noir made a little bit of its wax into a bullet in case Tony ever went rogue, and, well...
Lotus-Eater Machine: The Vespans have stuck the Plutonian in one at the end of Chapter 19. When disengaged from it, he's still stuck inside, having chosen not to awaken.
MacGuffin: Bette Noir made a bullet of a piece of wax from a candle that, once burned, negates Tony's powers. She shot it at Tony, but Qubit redirected it to kill Orian. While Orian was planning to conquer earth the moment Tony was dead, people call Qubit out on this anyway. Except Qubit kept the bullet.
Meaningful Name: Scylla and Charybdis, the legendary rock and a hard place; Scylla appears to be every inch the hero (this being the very reason Kaidan loves him instead of Cary), while Cary's descent since Scylla's death shows that he's lost any sense of propriety, not mentioning that Scylla is the name of a hideous monster in Roman and Greek literature.
Plutonian's name is very meaningful. It means derived or associated with Pluto, Roman god that is Expy to the more well known greek called Hades. God of Death and underworld. He's also as distant as can be from humanity in general (like the dwarf planet Pluto).
Bette Noire sounds like a fun pulp-style name for an adventuress. In French, it's a colloquialism about a dangerous thing to be avoided at all costs. Bette contributes heavily to Tony's moral decay, but doesn't fully realize it until they visit his Fortress of Solitude.
She also has little problem bedding him after he returns.
The Hornet: Puh-please...Not my daughter too...She's only a little girl...
The Plutonian: I know exactly what she is. She's a carbon bag of atoms and bioelectricity.
A Million is a Statistic: Invoked by the Chinese and Japanese leaders when they convinced the acting US President to release Plutonian's parents in an effort to stop him. The procedure would lead to the slow, agonizing death of one third of what remained of the world's population, but would stop the Plutonian from killing the rest. Naturally, as soon as he finds out, he drops all diplomacy and goes medieval on their joint asses.
Mood Swinger: The Plutonian's swings from placid to psychotic are a major element of why he's terrifying.
Mundane Utility: We see the Plutonian using heat vision to warm a cup of coffee in the third issue.
My God, What Have We Done?: We don't see much of them, but this is implied to be the reaction of Tony's "parents" upon seeing the devastation which he and they (unintentionally) unleashed.
My Greatest Failure: Before he went insane, the Plutonian gave a piece of alien technology to a mudslinging scientist to be adapted for the benefit of mankind, also giving him a signal device to call him in the case that anything could go wrong. The device turned out to contain a sound-based virus that only killed children. The Plutonian might have been able to stop it early on, but he was on the moon, enjoying ten minutes of silence from the constant cries for help that his super-hearing picks up. This not only rocketed him toward his Face Heel Turn, but seemed to affect him even after he became a villain- He still keeps a (rather unsettling) memorial to the victims he failed to help in his Citadel.
As of issue 31, Gilgamos gets this by Scylla's ghost after killing Cary. It turns out Cary was the source of the power he and his two brothers (they were actually triplets), and with Cary's death, the third brother Elliott, who Gilgamos thought he'd get all the power, loses his own.
Oh Crap: Modeus gets this when he discovers that Plutonian knew he was inhabiting the body of Samasara the entire time.
Modeus gets a teary one when Plutonian rejects him once again after a tender session of rape. Figures.
And yet another when Qubit finally imprisons him in a mental prison after he tries to escape following Bette Noir's body's destruction by the Plutonian.
Qubit gets one after learning Twin's/Survivor's dark secret.
The Plutonian gets one when he realizes Modeus possessed Cutter.
Pet the Dog: Even after becoming a crazed, homicidal maniac who kills the world for not appreciating him, when the Plutonian finds out Samsara has survived his lobotomy with his brain functions intact, he at once becomes friendly and protective of his former sidekick again (even getting food for him by murdering owners of gas stations). Naturally, the series still manages to make this terrible as Samsara isn't really back, only being possessed by Modeus.
The Plutonian knew it was Modeus all along. He was just playing along because he was amused by Modeus' Foe Yay crush on the Plutonian.
Physical God: Plutonian is the strongest being on the planet, and nothing in the (comic) universe so far (with the exception of Max Damage, Survivor and the Eleos) has a chance against him. He's a reality warper, making him more god-like, although he's unaware of his true abilities. His parents have his powers to a greater degree and can alsoTime Travel
Reality Ensues: In a flashback from his early teens, the Plutonian hears his foster mother is about to commit suicide. He gets there in a fraction of a second. But sound takes almost ten seconds to travel two miles. She was already dead before he left his school desk.
Replacement Goldfish: Played with. Both Cary and his brother Scylla had crushes on Kaidan and she wound up dating Scylla. When Scylla was killed by the Plutonian and Cary left alive, Cary expected this to come into play so he and Kaidan would start dating, especially when he becomes The Survivor. It doesn't. Particularly not when Kaidan discovers Scylla is still alive and begins searching for him. This might be one of the many reasons why Cary is deliberately avoiding finding out where his brother is.
The Reveal Prompts Romance: The Plutonian was going for this, except that his girlfriend became so upset that he had lied to her all this time that she immediately broke up with him. One of the main differences between him and Superman.
Superman isn't the kind of Psychopathic Manchild who would naturally assume that Lois Lane would be thrilled about being lied to all those years. Empathy and maturity would have gone a long way in that delicate situation.
Rule Of Cool: Kaidan's superpower is the art of telling ghost stories. The characters in said stories are souls of samurai and Feudal warriors. It's awesome. She can now summon the spirits of superheroes and open a path through the underworld.Double awesome.
Even Qubit is surprised by this (not mentioning he's the one that figures it out for Kaidan), and this is a dude than can create technological wonders out of thin air!
Sadistic Choice: During his destruction of Singapore, the Plutonian caught his former teammate Qubit, who tried to evacuate citizens. The Plutonian allowed him to pick ten whom he'd let escape... to painfully illustrate the answer to Qubit's question: "All that power, all that responsibility... what does that feel like?" only to incinerate their flesh with his eye beams.
Samaritan Syndrome: Nothing quite whittles away at your love of mankind than having to serve them 24/7. The Plutonian suffered a huge case of this before he went nuts, constantly hearing, and feeling he had to answer, calls for help every minute of every day. After one particularly ungrateful victim was rescued, he got fed-up and took a ten minute break by flying to the moon, where there was no sound. During those ten minutes, a child-killing virus broke out, partly because he'd given a piece of alien technology to a human scientist.
Even after his Face Heel Turn, there are traces of this. He promised to listen to everyone, but nobody believed he meant that literally.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Max Damage immediately abandons Qubit when he learns that Qubit's master plan for saving the world from the fallout of Plutonian's parents' release involves making the Plutonian even more powerful.
Sealed Evil in a Can: As of the end of issue #19, the Plutonian after he is defeated by the combined forces of the Vespans, Paradigm, and Kaidan's superhero ghosts. He is currently trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine onboard a Vespan ship.
Secret Identity: The Plutonian had one, and upon revealing it to the woman he loved she promptly told their four coworkers and rejected his affection. It was one of the bigger contributing factors to his Face Heel Turn.
Sexbot: Modeus builds a half dozen sexbots resembling Tony.
Smug Super: In addition to the rapid walk down a very dark path he seems to be taking, The Survivor is becoming one of these as he's more than a little bit too pleased with himself in recent issues after the pwning he helped give the Plutonian.
The Plutonian after his Face Heel Turn. When he became evil, it turned out Tony's false modesty was exactly that.
Stepford Smiler: The Plutonian's defining personality trait prior to his breakdown.
Strong As They Need To Be: Deconstructed. The Plutonian's only real super-power is warping reality and violating the laws of physics. He's as strong as he needs to be because he re-writes the universe to make himself that way.
Superpower Lottery: The Plutonian was the clear winner, which led to certain members of the Paradigm resenting him even before his Face Heel Turn. While he acted humble during his time as a hero, he didn't mind gloating once he went evil. At one point, while killing Gazer, Tony remarks how he made him totally redundant, being able to do everything he could do but better. Turns out he "only" has Reality Warper powers-since he thinks he could win, he does.
Super Senses: The Plutonian, to a truly insane degree. He can perceive the movement of electrons inside people's brains.
Take That: Just to make sure that no one misses the subtext, the first issue comes with a long essay about how comic fans saying mean things on the internet suck and will destroy comic heroes.
The essay was written by Grant Morrison, not Mark Waid, and is not quite as simplistic as that. If anything, the subsequent issues since number one have indicated Morrison's reading of the point is a bit off from Waid's true intent.
To elaborate, said essay wasn't saying anything about people talking on the Internet destroying heroes. Morrison was talking about people's opinions, the difficulties in changing them, and what a hero must have to do to become completely Irredeemable. And how Waid showed him the script for the first two issues, after their discussion if the internauts will ever stop seeing him as a Silver AgeFanboy, a reputation Waid earned after Kingdom Come.
Talking Is a Free Action: Kaidan must tell a story to activate her powers. It is more of a snippet than a full story, but those couple of sentences are racing against drawn guns.
Teleporters and Transporters: Quibit has built several devices that seemingly produce wormholes. The Vespans, having had access to his technology, weaponize them and defeat Plutonian with them. Seemingly out of action as of Plutonian's escape from the prison-planet
Throw Away Country: Averted. The destruction of Singapore is shown in full, and is just as horrifying as it should be. And although not shown, the death of tens or hundreds of millions in Australia and India is treated with equal horror.
Took a Level in Badass: Charybdis (later the Survivor), a second-tier superhero, gains a considerable boost of power when his brother dies, putting him on the same level as The Plutonian.
Unskilled, but Strong: While practically a Physical God, the Plutonian turns out to have next to no hand-to-hand combat skill due to never really needing to learn how to fight.
Weirdly, this is subverted in a story about him told by Max Damage, who says that he expected this when he caught the Plutonian in a field that nullified their powers... and got knocked onto his ass for his troubles. He could be exaggerating the story for effect, though, and might simply have been caught unawares by the fact that a depowered Plutonian was not totally incompetent.
What the Hell, Hero?: Bette Noire gets it particularly hard - after escaping alone a trap set up by the US army and a demonic bounty hunter, who revealed her secrets to her teammates, she meets up with her father and, desperate for some kind of support, comes clean with him. He then tells her that her inaction not only cost him everything he had, but also caused the deaths of the rest of their family at the Plutonian's hand. When she asks for forgiveness, he simply says "Not now".
Qubit calls Cary out on giving murderous supervillains full pardons in exchange for help when Cary should be looking for his brother instead.
Survivor gives one to his third brother for not trying to stop Plutonian, or even use his powers to help others.
Who's Laughing Now?: This seems to be a major factor in the Plutonian's snap into madness. Flashbacks to his life as a hero show him to be very bad at dealing with critics, to the point that he often seemed to resent the people he felt obligated to save. In particular the villains the Plutonian used to fight are much less comfortable dealing with him once they know he has no trouble killing them.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Invoked near the end of the series as a last resort, Kaidan and Gigalmos are prepared to enact a spell that grants every living thing on the planet immortality but due to the circumstances, no longer being able to have children, go to the afterlife and worst possibly stuck forever at the mercy of the Plutonian they hesitate until the last minute, where Qubit stops them saving it as a 'Plan B' in case his plan doesn't work.
Wonder Twin Powers: Scylla and Charybdis are have something like this going on, where they're only super while close to one another. Except not really; this is a lie that they used to make Scylla feel better about simply siphoning his brother's power. After Scylla's death, Charybdis only faked being powerless to get to the Plutonian, who he felt he could handle with double his normal power.
"World of Cardboard" Speech: HORRIFYING subversion. Tony mentions why as he was growing up he was ostracized, out of fear he might hurt the other kids, and casually explains that now he's The Unfettered and doesn't have to worry about such things...chucking a grenade at a terrified mass of huddled schoolchildren in what is one of many Moral Event Horizons.
Would Hurt a Child: Tony's first human mother and the one whose desire for a child forge him into a human body, to a horrifying extent.
You Killed My Father: While the Plutonian needs to die for the safety of Earth and has slaughtered countless people already, the thing that seems to really make it personal for Charybdis/Survivor is that he also killed his brother.
Of course, this being Cary (and even when his intentions are noble), he manages to mess up basically everything he touches because of his pride, even reaching the end of undermining his brothers Scylla and Elliott, and rapidly eroding everyone's respect for him.
Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: When former villain Max Damage learns about Dan Hartigan being Plutonian's Secret Identity, he gets mad because he had that "weakling" as a hostage many times and now realizes Tony has been making fun of him all this time.
Bullet Seed: Max Damage catches a bullet in his teeth and spits it out, shooting the gun out of a cop's hand thusly.
Covers Always Lie: Incorruptible has become extremely guilty of this since Christian Nauck became the main cover artist. See that epic fight scene between Alana and Headcase on the cover of issue 13? Yeah, that's exactly what happens in the comic, just without Alana and Headcase fighting each other, being angry at each other, or having much interaction at all.
Deal with the Devil:After a brief dust up caught on film where Plutonian and Max are buried in mine, Max makes a secret deal the Plutonian to leave Coalsville alone under his protection. The details of which haven't been revealed on panel.
Enemy Mine: After Max runs of the Plutonian out of town and everyone thinks he is the ultimate hero, he enters into one with forces of St. Lucifer and the military forces that intended to take over the only place Plutonian was ever repelled from.
Even Evil Has Standards: Besides the standard enlightened self interest angle he usually cites, Max seems to have hit this when he saw the Plutonian wipe out an entire city. Keep in mind, Max was on the verge of wiping the city out himself in a fit of depression about the drawbacks of his powers... but seeing the Plutonian actually do it shook him to his core.
In short, Max was on the receiving end of the treatment of a supervillian - the sort of thing he did before. It made him feel helpless and like a victim but also made him realize he could be better. Perhaps as a side 'benefit', one of the reasons he was a super villain in the first place was because his powers prevented him from being normal. Thus Plutonian's rampage let him experience that in a very real way.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: As called on by his friends early in the series, Max starts out his hero career by simply doing the complete opposite of whatever his villain instincts tell him to do, which may not always be the smart thing.
Genre Savvy: Max Damage decides to switch sides because he was smart enough to know that the Plutonian turning evil meant there was nobody around to protect the general populace from aliens, demons, and one another. This, coupled with the Plutonian killing millions with no end in sight, meant the human race could die out in a matter of months if someone didn't try to pick up the slack.
This changes, for a while, after he beats the Plutonian
Hero with an F in Good: Subverted in that Max is actually doing a pretty good job at doing good, but he has no actual idea how to be good, other than to do the opposite of whatever he did as a villain. This is exactly why he asked Alana to join him.
This is also why his friends are wondering how they will tell Max, who heard the whole thing, that the Plutonian has been captured, meaning that Max has little reason now to continue on as a hero.
Honor Before Reason: Max Damage destroying most of his villain gear and ill-gotten loot as part of his Heel Face Turn. Resources that would've been invaluable in fighting The Plutonian (the reason for the turn in the first place).
He's invoking this trope intentionally, reasoning that he has to be perfect now, but he isn't sure how to do it. It's implied in places that he's not very good at this, as he may have killed another supervillain and definitely handed over some white supremacists over to the people they previously attacked.
Another reason he might have done this is because he's Genre Savvy enough to know that nobody would trust him if he still had all his weapons, after seeing that their Big Good turned on them.
Irredeemable makes it pretty clear no one had weapons capable of really hurting The Plutonian.
Ultimately, the explanation for this trope is right there in the title. Max has to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin because he knows that if he doesn't do absolutely everything he can to be totally and utterly incorruptible, he'll either backslide or never be good enough to challenge the worst supervillain the world has ever known. Thus all the money and gadgets and vehicles have to go, since in his words it's all "blood money".
The Insomniac: Max Damage's strength and invulnerabilty increase in direct proportion to how long he's been awake. He's a type C as well, as seen when he stays up for days at a time to get strong enough for his next challenge, but is still affected by the mental instability from the lack of sleep. After issue 29, this applies to Alana, too.
It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Why Max breaks up with Jailbait. With the Plutonian on the rampage, Max is no longer so intimidating that his enemies would leave his girlfriend alone.
Also part of his new honorable turn as mentioned above: he refuses to be with her until she turns eighteen, even after she makes it clear she won't leave him despite the danger.
Lolicon: Max Damage likes 'em young: he met sidekick/girlfriend Jailbait in a brothel when she was fifteen and he was 28-30. She's now sixteen, but his Heel Face Turn drove him to break up with her for a Jailbait Wait.
Morality Pet: Max adds Lois Lane and Jim Gordon analogues to his posse to invoke this trope. And boy, does he need it - it is horrifyingly subverted by Jailbait and Headcase, both of whom do their cute girl best to drag Max back down (Jailbait is a sixteen-year-old he saved from sex slavery... who became a bloodthirsty adrenaline junkie and daily begged Max not to keep being heroic, while Headcase is apparently 22 but looks just like Jailbait, and after the murder of her whole family, has become a truly frightening Death SeekerYandere who would kill anyone that threatens her warped worldview or her relationship to Max).
He ultimately realizes that a Morality Pet isn't enough, and he resolves to be a better hero by being more open to other people in general.
No Sell: Safeword tries her power on the Plutonian. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't work (to her credit, she didn't really expect it to, but she figured it was worth a shot.)
Room Full of Crazy: Max scribbles equations in marker all over the walls of Alana's house in issue #13 as he tries to construct a plan to defeat the Plutonian.
Alana: "This is what you feel you can do to other people's homes?"
Shooting Superman: Max Damage gets this a lot. Lampshaded when he shouts "That's for wasting ammo!" while punching down a mook who was shooting at him.
Sociopathic Hero: Played straight. While Max has a couple moments where he shows genuine concern for others, for the most part, he has no moral compass of his own. By the end, he's trying to get rid of the "Sociopathic" part.