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Comic Book / Irredeemable

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Beware the Superman: The Series. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
How did he come to this?
What became of the hope and promise once inside him?
What happens to the world when its savior betrays it?
What makes a hero irredeemable?

Irredeemable is a Comic Book series written by Mark Waid, with art by Peter Krause and Diego Barretto.

The Plutonian was Earth's champion, its first superhero, the most admired and trusted of his kind, our savior... but something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Seemingly without reason, the Plutonian has begun to wage war on humanity, killing indiscriminately, annihilating entire cities and going overnight from the planet's greatest hero to its bloodiest mass murderer. A group of former friends and fellow superheroes, having narrowly escaped the Plutonian's ruthless and swift butchering of the superhero community, are 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. Both titles ended in 2012 at Issues #37 and #30 respectively.

In May 2016, news came that 20th Century Fox got the rights to a film adaptation. The adaptation was supposed to be directed by Adam McKay (The Big Short and Anchorman), but Disney's buyout of 20th Century Fox put the film in Development Hell. In 2022, it was announced that Netflix would be adapting both Irredeemable and Incorruptible alongside The Harder They Fall (2021) director Jeymes Samuel.


Irredeemable and Incorruptible provide examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes present in both series 
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • An odd example for Kaidan, who chose Scylla over Cary, even though the former was a bit childish and cocky at times because she liked his initiative and openness (as well as his general kindness and compassion). Cary tries to make the moves on her after Scylla's disappearance, but she and Qubit fear he is becoming as bad as the Plutonian.
    • Bette Noir is revealed to have cheated on her loving and supportive Nice Guy husband Gilgamos with the Plutonian. She admits she had always sensed there was a darker side to him that she found exciting, interesting and attractive, although once she experienced what that kind of man is like, she quickly regrets it.
    • All of Max Damage's sidekicks seem to go this way although they're all crazy and probably don't represent the average girl.
  • Apocalypse How
    • Starting somewhere between Societal Disruption or Collapse on a Regional or Continental-scale and Planetary-scale Civilization Disruption; Plutonian caused massive damage to the world, but humanity hadn't died out. Yet.
    • Starting in issue #31, Engineered Extinction becomes probable. Australia and India have been hit with a massive wave of radiation; the total death count is roughly a third of humanity.
    • Culminating in issue #34, where Qubit confirmed that life will be extinct in three generations, and his plans were not going well since the radiation was not behaving as he expected. It's ultimately averted at the final issue, but it's made clear Earth isn't out of the woods just yet.
    • And hanging over the series after issue #25 is the knowledge that the Plutonian doesn't actually have super-strength/flight/heat vision/etc, but is really a Reality Warper — and he's only tapping into the most basic applications of his abilities. If he realized this and figured out how to use even the most elementary powers he's really capable of, all his destruction thus far could be child's play by comparison, very possibly even shattering reality itself. Thankfully, it's averted.
  • Arch-Enemy: Modeus is the Lex Luthor to Plutonian's Superman, and the only person Plutonian was ever afraid of. There's also Max Damage to a lesser extent, who always reminded Tony of his less-than-perfect childhood, specifically the time he was living alone in the woods as the 'Wolf Boy'.
  • Bat Family Crossover / Red Skies Crossover: Hard to tell, but the long-awaited crossover between the two series that promised us a fight between Plutonian and Max Damage doesn't even have them meet before the fourth part. However, it gives a good insight into their history, including their old confrontations.
  • Beware the Superman: The series is essentially an examination in what would happen if Superman went bad for real. Lampshaded by the Hornet and a US military general, who liken it to angering a god. The former sums it up pretty well in issue 18:
    "There's this old Twilight Zone episode called, "It's a Good Life." It's about a farm town ruled by an omnipotent little boy who can change reality just by thinking about it. People live and die depending upon what mood he's in. Every second of every day, all these poor, scared people can do if they want to survive is tell what a good boy he is. They live on eggshells. They can't even whisper to each other how afraid they are because they're terrified he'll hear them. That's their world. Every morning, they wake up wondering if this is the day they do something to anger God."
  • Big Good: What the Plutonian was before his Face–Heel Turn. After he snapped, Survivor and Max Damage aim to become this, with varying degrees of success.
  • Blessed with Suck
    • The Plutonian himself. Yes, he has roughly the powerset of Superman with almost no weaknesses and some extras. The only problem is that he cannot turn most of his powers off, and only control them by a 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 a not-unfounded fear of accidentally splattering someone if he failed to measure exerted force just for a moment, he was never able to protect himself from bullying as a child or carry on any intimate relationships. And of course, his super-hearing forced him to know every ungrateful bastard's snide opinion about him. This gets especially interesting with the eventual reveal that the Plutonian is actually a Reality Warper who is subconsciously using his powers to appear to be a Flying Brick with Eye Beams and whatnot, so he's only really as strong as he believes himself to be. Nobody remarks upon it In-Universe, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude all the negative attributes of his powers are his own martyr complex manifesting itself.
    • Volt had problems controlling his powers before joining the Paradigm, destroying any electronic device he touched, 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.
  • Cape Punk: This comic is an illustration in what happens when you push Superman to his complete breaking point.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tony's ability to change his hair color is the first real clue that he has more than the normal Superman powers.
  • Corrupted Character Copy: The Plutonian asks the question of "what if Superman turned evil?". While he first appears to be a straight example of the Superman Substitute before his Face–Heel Turn, it's shown he has a lot more demons in his past than Superman ever had. He had a troubled childhood that psychologically damaged him compared to the Man Of Steel's Upbringing Makes the Hero (though it's no excuse for his actions), his powers proved somewhat of a hindrance, and his motive for heroism was less "wanting to do good things" and more "secretly Love Hungry and Can't Take Criticism".
  • 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:
    • Plutonian is a standard deconstruction of Superman through an Expy, challenging the idea that someone given superpowers would automatically do the right thing without being emotionally prepared to handle the job and the concept of happily being a Slave to PR without actual regard for what people think. The finale puts a meta twist on 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. Thus, Superman is the reconstruction of the Plutonian.
    • Irredeemable #25 also deconstructs the idea that powers like Superman's or Plutonian's could ever be physically possible without absolutely shattering the laws of physics, much less accomplished by a being with the mass of an ordinary human. Reconstructed — albeit horrifyingly, given the implications for what this means Tony could do if he realized it — by the revelation that he's actually altering reality itself, allowing him to sidestep physics altogether and do whatever he thinks he can.
    • Issue #18 also serves as a deconstruction of the Badass Normal through the Hornet's flashbacks. He really did consider the Plutonian to be his best friend on the team, but he was all too aware of his lack of powers compared to his other superpowered teammates, giving him more reason to be on guard at all times. It just took one simple question to make him realize Tony would snap eventually, and he makes a deal with a genocidal alien empire as a contingency plan in case his worst fears did indeed come true. The Hornet hated that he had to make such a deal, but he was ultimately proven right, plus it did save humanity from being exterminated/enslaved by the Vespa aliens.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Plutonian's adoptive family, the Hartigans, deconstruct the Muggle Foster Parents. They were perhaps the only foster parents who genuinely accepted young Daniel's powers and loved him as their own, but Bill Hartigan's draconian attempts to teach his emotionally damaged teenage son responsibility and complete selflessness backfired in the worst possible ways for everyone down the road, himself included. Tony ultimately kept quiet about Mrs. Hartigan's lung cancer because the upbringing Bill subjected him to convinced him that saying something would've been self-serving.
  • Expy
    • The Plutonian is one of Superman, albeit gone very, very wrong, and with almost none of Superman's weaknesses. He's also very evocative of Supreme, Miracleman, and the Homelander in appearance. In fact, his costume is nearly identical to Apollo's from Grounded.
    • Alana Patel is Lois Lane working at a radio station instead of a newspaper.
    • Samsara curiously seems to be a loose Expy of Jimmy Olsen.
    • Modeus is one of Lex Luthor with elements of Brainiac thrown in. His and the Plutonian's relationship is deliberately similar to Batman's with The Joker. He also has duplicates built in his image designed to look and think exactly like him while thinking they're the real Modeus, a clear nod to Doctor Doom, right down to being called Modeusbots; the only difference is that someone else built them.
    • Batman has two characters written to emulate him.
      • The Inferno covered the surface-level traits — the Secret Identity as a millionaire, the secret mancave hideout which he decorated with weapons and equipment taken from his enemies as trophies, being a Badass Normal and a detective and possibly a similar backstory of fighting crime to avenge his parents. Personality-wise he wasn't much like Batman at all, though, being completely blindsided by Plutonian going rogue and finding himself unceremoniously Killed Offscreen due to not having any way to take him down, although he did at least have the foresight to develop a Self-Destruct Mechanism for his hideout, and had a computer system in it very similar to the Batcomputer.
      • The Hornet is also very similar to Batman, while also being much closer to him in terms of personality. Also a Badass Normal, his base of operations was a "cave" located under his house, he relied on skills and gadgets to get by, was Crazy-Prepared in his decision to make a deal with the Vespans to secure Betrayal Insurance, was friends with Tony à la Superman/Batman and demonstrated detective skills in noticing subtle clues weeks before that the Plutonian was going to break down sooner or later.note  The annual also showed they were in many ways Vitriolic Best Buds and that Plutonian considered them to be perfect Foils, and that an impromptu team-up between them was the inspiration to set up the Paradigm, a reflection of the more modern take on Superman and Batman's friendship.
    • 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. Also, she's Ms. Fanservice, has black in the name and usually fights without her powers, due to their destructive nature, all of which could make her one of Black Canary. Bette's dynamic with Tony before he fell from grace, the reveal that she cheated on Gilgamos with him, and how she ends up spending the apocalypse in the lap of luxury surrounded by attractive men might be nods to Oliver's characterization as a wealthy, carefree, and philandering socialite (if only when he's out of costume) in canon.
    • Gilgamos is Hawkman if you take the Egyptian motif away and replace it with a Babylonian one.
    • 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 Lightning, Thunder Fall, Coldcast), 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 Doctor, particularly the Tenth Doctor, but also has similarities to Mr. Fantastic and Forge from the X-Men.
    • Max Damage combines elements of Metallo (especially the frustration at losing his senses when he powers up) and Giganta. Silver Age Giganta got stronger and tougher, but less intelligent when she grew - Max loses brainpower more indirectly, through the severe sleep deprivation necessary to bring him up to full strength. Following his Heel–Face Turn, his Badass Biker-evoking design, crude habits, status as a brutal Anti-Hero and rugged looks also come off as nods to The Punisher and Lobo. His habit of taking on much younger female sidekicks happens to allude to The Joker.
    • Max's sidekicks combine thematic elements of Harley Quinn and Robin, serving as both the Perky Female Minion and girlfriend to a nasty supervillain and then the sidekick of a grim, brooding and violent Anti-Hero. Each serves to demonstrate different aspects and Robins, however:
      • Jailbait represents Dick Grayson and Harley's Undying Loyalty to the Joker — Max's first and most devoted sidekick, but his coldness and lack of team spirit end up making her leave only to come back later, similar to Grayson's decision to become Nightwing and Harley's on-again-off-again relations with Mr. J.
      • Headcase represents Jason Todd and Harley's Mad Love/Yandere tendencies — Max's second sidekick, the loss of her family has poisoned her like it did Jason, and she is more brutal and violent than Jailbait; she also has a dash of Ignored Enamored Underling, which Harley often is to the Joker, and becomes a Clingy Jealous Girl who tries to kill Armadale for supposedly coming between her and Max. In place of her dying like Jason did, however, Max realises her issues run too deep for him to do anything about them and has her taken away.
      • Hatecrime represents Tim Drake and Harley's independence from the Joker — Max's third sidekick, she is the only one with no romantic interest in him and by far more sane and level-headed than her predecessors. She has an Atrocious Alias, something Tim would know something about too, and is much closer to Alana, reflecting Harley's bisexuality.
    • Orian is one of Mr. Myxztplk, albeit stripped of any comic relief qualities. A touch of General Zod is thrown into the mix as well, particularly his Manipulative Bastard qualities and his ultimate plan being to draw in an invasion force from Another Dimension. Also, some elements of Lobo are added too, in the sense that he is a hunter with a dark and crude sense of humor who is (in Orian's case, ambiguously) extraterrestrial.
    • Lieutenant Armadale is basically Commissioner Gordon with a lower rank.
    • Scylla and Charybdis are a grab-bag of traits from various Sibling Teams throughout comic history. They have the opposite-personalities dynamic of Hawk and Dove, a power set similar to the Marvel Family and power-sharing mechanics that borrow from the latter and the Wonder Twins. They might even be nods to the Summers Brothers, especially considering the reveal that they have a third brother living as a monk, which might be alluding to the subplot of a third Summers Brother in X-Men.
    • The Eleos are Proud Scholar Race Guys with an Alien Non-Interference Clause, similar to the Watchers from Marvel while possessing a size and physiology very similar to Galactus. Then we find out they are the Plutonian's birth parents — after a fashion — which makes them loose counterparts to Superman's birth parents Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van.
  • Going Postal: The whole plot is about what happens when a Super Hero goes postal.
  • Historical In-Joke: Despite Neo-Nazis' worship of Adolf Hitler, most of them are poor and of what the Nazis would refer to as inferior genetic stock. Just as Hitler wouldn't have spared a decent portion of his worshipers, neither would the Plutonian have spared the Diamonds.
  • Hollywood Density: "Half the pull of a black hole" is meaningless when we don't know how massive or how distant the black hole is. An average human could withstand all the pull of a small black hole even if it were close to them, and we all withstand the pull of mind-bogglingly massive black holes every day simply because they're very far away.
  • 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.
    • Ironically enough, Max's origin is revealed to be I Just Want to Be Special. He started out like a common criminal, but when actual super heroes (like the Plutonian) became part of everyday life, he realized it's pretty pointless being a criminal if you can't match their powers. One huge cash payment to a mad scientist later, he's the only surviving guinea pig of a Super Soldier Serum and ended up being Blessed with Suck.
  • In-Universe Catharsis: The Plutonian's rampage is him letting out all his rage, frustration, and general negative feelings that were building up throughout his life.
  • It's Personal: The Plutonian and Max Damage hate each other 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.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Plutonian gets this a couple of times throughout the series, but it never takes him long to go back to massacring people. Max Damage has this after the Plutonian made him realize just what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a supervillain's rampage. Unlike Plutonian, Max Damage's realization sticks and it starts his turn to good.
  • Pet the Dog: The Plutonian does show fleeting moments of decency here-and-there. If only to subvert it later.
  • Scenery Gorn: The destruction Tony leaves behind lends to several shots of these.
  • Shooting Superman:
    • Guess who? And surprisingly, it's not given the Deconstruction treatment. Apart from a comment by Tony that it's hard to deflect blasts without making people shoot themselves, it's more or less just played straight.
    • In Incorruptible Max Damage gets this a lot too. While punching down a mook who was shooting at him he shouts "That's for wasting ammo!"
  • Superdickery: Deconstructed; a flashback describes the Plutonian's relationship with his girlfriend Alana (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 and angrily breaks up with him. Plutonian... did not 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 of setting, no-one reacts the way they did in the old comics.
  • Superheroes: But of course.
  • Super Strength: Several characters have it, but special mention goes to Plutonian; he can resist the equivalent of half the pull of a black hole.
  • Villain Has a Point: The Plutonian dishes out a couple after his fall from grace.

    Tropes specific to Irredeemable 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Modeus is this to The Plutonian. At first, the Plutonian finds it amusing, but it eventually turns ugly as Modeus is more than willing to take possession of Tony's ex-girlfriend's body, beat the crap out of him and super-rape him.
  • Abusive Parents: Bill Hartigan is a strange case in that while he (and by extension his wife, who was much more lenient) was the only foster parent who didn't reject or fear Tony's powers and did try to teach him responsibility and right from wrong, his methods were sometimes... questionable (if not downright extreme). One standout example is when the Hartigans got Tony all the presents he wanted that year for Christmas, and even gets to open them and see what he got. Upon thanking them for getting the presents, Bill then immediately tells Tony to wrap them back up and come with him to give them to homeless kids, not even allowing him to keep one. While not exactly actively cruel like most examples of the trope, it's apparent this way of "teaching" was common for Bill to do, meaning Tony was probably deprived of the things that would have helped him feel like a normal kid and might've even been the root of his perfectionist complex that added to his already long list of insecurities. And to add more salt to the wound, the next panel shows Tony listening in as his foster parents argue about the fact that the homeless kids did not even like or appreciate the presents that Tony had to grudgingly give away.
  • The Alcatraz
    • 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 star system bearing down on them.
    • The other prison planet is a planet housed inside of a star, with a force field 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.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Tony thinks Mordanse can speak English, but Auronan explains that the Vespa implanted their language in all the prisoners.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: As a child, Plutonian was excluded from playing with other kids due to the pretty justified fear that he could accidentally hurt someone or cause other kinds of collateral damage. The isolation made him an easy target for bullies, and the one time he tried to stand up to one (to defend another kid no less) resulted in the bully dying from a simple shove.
  • 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".
  • And I Must Scream: Plutonian was sent to the end of time by his parents in issue #32, where he'd be alone and completely paralyzed for all eternity.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: When looking into the eyes of a comatose Scylla, twin brother to the Survivor, Modeus remarks that one of the twins is brain-dead vegetable, and the other is standing before him.
  • Batman Gambit: Qubit asks Plutonian to kill the Modeus-controlled Bette, knowing Modeus would then move into Qubit’s body -– which is exactly what Qubit wanted, so he could gain Modeus’s knowledge about the radiation that would soon cover the earth. And since Qubit had already armed his mind with psionic blockers, he could trap Modeus in his mind rather than Modeus taking over him.
  • Bedlam House: In issue #23, Plutonian ends up in one. In the middle of a sun.
  • Berserk Button
    • 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.
  • Better the Devil You Know: How Qubit justifies using the Nahru Visna candle wax bullet to kill Orian instead. It is helped slightly by the fact that Orian was planning to Take Over the World with an invading army, and he was a very sadistic being on top of that.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Volt's opinion of a villain who tried to force the Plutonian to arrest him, hoping it could improve his Villain Cred. He tells him that he would barely register as a blip on the radar of Tony, who has better things to do, and will just have to "settle" for being captured by him and Bette Noir instead.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, the villains are all defeated and Plutonian gains his "redemption", but millions have died, including nearly all of Earth's heroes (the only ones that we know are still alive are Gilgamos, Kaidan, Qubit, and the fully reformed Max Damage), most of society has broken down (the only known civilization still standing in decent condition is Coalville, thanks to Max Damage), every survivor including the remaining heroes have lost someone they cared about deeply, and a warrior alien race pissed off at Earth and liable to invade in the future is one of several threats on the horizon that Earth is vulnerable to, especially with the Plutonian no longer around to protect them.
  • 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. To make it worse, he doesn't have to, he just likes doing it.
    • In the special, Kaidan explores her powers by summoning a Bakeneko. Its initial appearance is that of a ghostly giant cat with an Overly Long Tongue, tumorous lumps on the left side of its head, and what appears to be an infestation of tendril-like giant parasitic worms, before briefly mimicking Kaidan herself, but with purple skin and a misshapen face.
    • The child-killing sonic plague melts off children's flesh as it slowly kills them, turning them into agonized, still-moving, still-screaming (and therefore still infectious) skeletons for some time before they finally die.
  • Brain Uploading: Modeus uploaded his brain into Samsara and then later into a robot copy of himself built by Qubit. In the final issues, he goes through a range of hosts to achieve his goals and prevent his own death.
  • Broken Ace: The Plutonian had the front of an incorruptible savior but underneath it all was a deeply insecure man who wanted to be loved and accepted unconditionally thanks to a deeply messed up childhood.
  • 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 the people from the lab (where he had turned over the alien 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.
    • Volt also sees the Plutonian as one. Plutonian helped him control his powers which allowed him to have a normal life. In a flashback, we see him trying to reason with Plutonian, only for Plutonian to rip his arm off.
  • Brown Note: The child-killing sonic plague and the sigil that summons Orian.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": Plutonian calls Hornet's daughter "a carbon bag of atoms and bioelectricity".
  • The Cape: The Plutonian, prior to his Face–Heel Turn. He notably only wears the cape in flashbacks when he's still good.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The bullet made from the Candle of the Nahru Visna; it turns out that Qubit used a portal to catch it after using it to kill Orian, and has been capable of using it to kill the Plutonian all along.
  • 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 then in the body of one of the few people that Tony has non-homicidal emotions towards. Thankfully, he is outwitted in the end.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: "Wow. I didn't even get to the end of the sentence." Leads to a wonderful moment of self-Darwining thanks to The Plutonian's magnificent bastardry.
  • Comforting the Widow: The Survivor attempts this with Kaidan. Made particularly disgusting by the fact that the recently-deceased lover in this scenario is his twin.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Qubit bears a striking resemblance to David Tennant's Doctor.
  • Comic Books Are Real: The final panels reveal that Superman was inspired by part of Plutonian’s essence being sent to many worlds and dimensions, including ours, and being received by Joe Shuster.
  • 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, just to name a few). Keeping with the series' tone, this is deconstructed and played for tragedy, as Plutonian spent most of his boyhood bounced around between unloving and heartless foster homes where everyone feared him for his powers, instilling him with a compulsive need to be loved by everyone as an adult.
  • 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.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Plutonian scares his co-workers that they will tortured and killed by his enemies, because they know his identity. They all end up killing themselves out of fear.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Qubit presents Plutonian's death this way, sending his "essence" to hundreds of worlds and dimensions, in hopes that somehow Plutonian's legacy can be redeemed. Part of Plutonian"s essence ends up in our universe, inspiring young Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel to create Superman.
  • 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.
    • In a flashback from Alana Patel, before his Face–Heel Turn, the Plutonian warned his secret identity's coworkers of this when they discovered he was actually their coworker and almost broadcast it over live radio. They initially think it's not that big of a deal, but he points out to them that any one of his enemies would gladly torture, rape, and murder them and their families to find out any of his secrets. Several commit suicide afterward.
  • Driven to Suicide: There are several cases of this.
    • The above-mentioned former associates of Plutonian.
    • Tony’s original foster mother and the foster mother he loved most before his final foster parents. In both cases, they could not handle the stress of having a foster son with such amazing powers.
    • It is implied that Tony's only set of decent but controlling foster parents (the father specifically) went out this way. 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.
    • After reading a Modeus-possessed Cutter's mind, former supervillain Burrows, a telepath, almost immediately commits suicide.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Eleos are nigh-omnipotent Reality Warpers who can smack Plutonian around with ease, and they claim that their true form is too much for the brain to perceive. That said, they're actually pretty nice, styling themselves as knowledge keepers of the multiverse intrigued by humanity, and when they were sealed by a specialized radiation, they chose not to break containment so as to not harm the human race, instead settling for friendly chats with whoever's assigned to watch their imprisonment. They're also Plutonian's origin race.
  • Everything Is Racist: Volt had a tendency to pull this out. There are some scenes where his hair-trigger accusations of racism genuinely find their mark, but there are other times when they don't, like accusing Bette of preferring Gil because he's not black.
  • Evil Costume Switch: As evidenced in the page image.
  • 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.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The Plutonian's occurred prior to the series' beginning.
  • Fallen Hero: The Plutonian went from being Earth's greatest hero to its worst villain.
  • 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.
  • Flying Brick: Deconstructed. The Plutonian's eclectic power set is the result of him being a reality-warping entity, which he himself is unaware of.
  • Foreshadowing: In Irredeemable #18, Hornet's reference to The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "It's A Good Life".
  • For the Evulz: But of course. This is the very reason the Eleos chose to punish the Plutonian, even though they show him that his meltdown was all but inevitable due to the circumstances of his creation; he is still completely responsible for his evil actions... they just showed him why he is evil.
  • 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.
  • Genuine Human Hide: When he's captured by the Vespa, Plutonian is subdued by being placed into a Lotus-Eater Machine while tied up in a straitjacket revealed to be material made from his skin. Later, as Plutonian is escaping from the intergalactic insane asylum/multi-layered hell he was placed in, he comes across a delusional patient with sand powers and a god complex. After killing him, he makes a replacement costume out of the skins of the inmate's attendants.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Plutonian has been showing this during his tantrums even before he became a villain.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Dr. Seabrook's constant nagging at the Paradigm for not sharing alien technology with humanity eventually leads to the Plutonian giving him what seems to be a harmless piece of alien tech... which ended up destroying Dr. Seabrook's lab and unleashing a deadly virus.
    • Bill Hartigan told Plutonian when he was younger to not use his powers for self-serving purposes. This backfires when Tony reveals that Bill's wife has cancer and by that point, it was terminal. He could've revealed it sooner, when it could've still been successfully treated, but Tony took the teaching too literally. Bill would later kill himself and his wife out of remorse.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: The Plutonian apparently gave himself a buzzcut after turning.
  • Grand Theft Me: Modeus does this repeatedly via Brain Uploading, first to Samsara, later to his own robot duplicate and intermediary hosts, and then to 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 Encanta 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Vespa certainly qualify as they are planet-conquering race that enslaves millions. Hornet may qualify as he makes a deal with the Vespa to enslave countless defenseless planets in order to save Earth from the Plutonian on the chance that Tony turns. He was right.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Charybdis, after doubling in power and becoming the Survivor, basically undergoes an accelerated version of the Plutonian's turn to darkness in his efforts to stop the Plutonian and be a true hero.
  • Historical Domain Character: Gilgamos befriended Alexander the Great while they were both trapped in a Thracian prison. He taught Gilgamos the importance of using patience and one's wits to escape trouble and demonstrated this by cleverly breaking them out of prison.
  • Homage: Plutonian's childhood origin including not being able to control his Super Senses is one to Superman: Secret Origin.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Eleos, the Plutonian's real race, are a race of humanoid aliens... with reality altering powers as a matter of subconscious thought. They do feel empathy and compassion, however — Tony's own psychopathy is entirely his own personality/upbringing.
  • 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 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.
  • Humans Are Special: The Eleos say about humans, "Never had we come across a population so emotionally rich and complex, in ways that defied formulaic expression."
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Exaggerated. 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.
  • I Never Told You My Name: A variation, when the Plutonian refers to the Hornet's wife by name during a flashback. The Hornet had never mentioned her name to him, and realizes that he's spying on his teammates and may not be entirely trustworthy.
  • Insufferable Genius: Qubit. This doesn't go unnoticed by this teammates, some of whom find it less and less tolerable as the situation worsens. Modeus as well.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As harsh as he was, Plutonian rightly points out to the radio team, that broadcasting his true identity, and that he works with them, would cause all of his enemies to hunt them down, capture them and torture and kill them and their families to find out even the smallest secret of his.
  • 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 being bullied 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.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Any time the Plutonian interacts with other bad guys.
    • He tricks a posse of his old Rogues Gallery into activating the self-destruct sequence to the Inferno's secret lair, pretending that the buttons he was handing them were kill switches that would incapacitate him somehow. The fact they were stupid enough to believe he had a weakness, or that he would willingly hand the means to it over to his enemies even if such a thing existed, something he gloatingly lampshades, makes it easy to laugh their deaths off.
    • Frying Modeus' face off is done for the sake of being evil, but considering that Modeus is one of the most dangerous criminals in the Irredeemable universe, it's kind of hard to feel sympathy for him.
  • 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.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Taken rather literally with Samsara.
  • Like a God to Me: The Plutonian is repeatedly referred to in this manner owing to his Physical God-like power levels, though it's seldom a compliment.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: As a reference to For the Man Who Has Everything, 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. His dream? That he was able to atone for his sins, literally erase everything away, and have a second chance. And then it starts to get weird and horrifying.
  • Love Hungry: The Plutonian was this down to the core. Sure, he saved the world and helped people, but it was mainly because he wanted everyone to love him. He Can't Take Criticism whenever he made a mistake (or even if the person commenting was just a bitter jerkass), making him utterly terrified of failure. And when he does make a really bad one (which loses him his sidekick's trust), that is when he goes off the deep end.
  • Magitek: The Candle of Nahru Visna is described as 'a weird hybrid of sorcery and science'. Modeus has also combined his super-science with sorcery, with assistance from Encanta.
  • Make Them Rot: DK, a minor villain, has this as his power.
  • 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 has a couple different ones. One meaning can be taken from how it's derived or associated with Pluto, the Roman god that is the Expy to the more well-known Greek god Hades, God of Death and Ruler of the Underworld. He's also as distant as can be from humanity in general (like the dwarf planet Pluto). Additionally, it's almost a homonym for plutonium, an element which can offer humanity great power but is incredibly dangerous if mishandled.
    • 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.
    • "Eleos" sounds a lot like Elohim. This, of course, makes the Plutonian another Satan trope.
  • Measuring the Marigolds: Done mockingly by The Plutonian in the first issue.
    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.
  • Mood-Swinger: The Plutonian's swings from placid to psychotic are a major element of why he's terrifying.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Deconstructed. Having a foster son with a Superpower Lottery means no privacy and poses a threat to your other kids. Many of Plutonian’s foster parents are ultimately Driven to Suicide. And it’s no better for the child, who can hear everything their foster parents say, creating massive insecurity. Being bounced from home to home proves to be Tony’s Start of Darkness.
  • Mundane Utility: We see the Plutonian using heat vision to warm a cup of coffee in the third issue. Superman has done the same in his own works.
  • 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 and the Paradigm might have been able to stop it early on, but Tony 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
    • See My Greatest Failure for the most obvious of these on the Plutonian's part, though his former teammates have their share too.
    • Bette Noir could've stopped the Plutonian way early on by getting the bullet she made out of the Nahru Visna candle wax, which is the only object known to render him powerless. So why didn't she act sooner? Because she got that candle wax by going behind her husband's back with Tony. She let millions die to cover up a single act of infidelity.
    • 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) wielded, and with Cary's death, the third brother Elliott, who Gilgamos thought would get all the power, loses his own.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The US president who holds the press conference with Plutonian when they announce the formation of the Paradigm greatly resembles Al Gore.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: What sets off the Plutonian's spiral to villainy was he gave a piece of alien technology to a scientist and Tony even checked the scientist's heartbeat to see if he was lying about using that technology for good purposes. While there's an ego reason behind it, there were some good intentions behind it.
    • In fact, this happened pretty frequently to Tony. Two childhood flashbacks in particular illustrate this:
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Charybdis becomes increasingly like the Plutonian as time goes on. By the time the comic draws to a close, his allies are wondering if he's anything resembling an improvement over Tony after all.
  • Oh, Crap!
    • In a dark twist of the classic line used for introducing Superman, Scylla screams "Look! Up in the sky!" when he sees the Plutonian has found them.
    • 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 cell after he tries to escape following Bette Noir's body's destruction by the Plutonian.
    • Qubit gets one after learning Cary/Survivor's dark secret.
    • Gilgamos (and everyone around him) gets one after killing Cary.
    • The Plutonian gets one when he realizes Modeus possessed Cutter.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Plutonian becomes this.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Invoked in-universe. Wanting to mess with people besides killing them, the Plutonian decides to point out how he might be able to disguise himself as anyone in a wide-range message to the people of Earth.
    Plutonian: You know what they say about the gods of myth. That they would disguise themselves and walk among you as ordinary people. I confess I do that, but... who am I? That guy down at the end of the bar? The new recruit? The foreigner who just moved upstairs? I know what you're thinking. That at least in this moment, I can't be standing next to you. There is that. But I should add one thing. This has been a pre-recorded message. Sleep tight.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Plutonian can destroy an entire city in less than an afternoon and sank a whole island nation to the sea in less than an hour.
  • Pet the Dog: Even after becoming a crazed, homicidal maniac with the end goal of bringing the world to its knees for not appreciating him enough, 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, as he's just possessed by Modeus. Then it's revealed that the Plutonian knew it was Modeus all along; he was just playing along because he was amused by Modeus' crush on him. The sentiment's still there, as seen in the dream sequence example. Plutonian wants to reverse everything, but doesn't know how.
  • Physical God: Plutonian is the strongest being on the planet, and nothing in the (comic) universe (with the exception of Max Damage, Survivor, the Eleos, and Bette Noire once Modeus taps into the full extent of her powers) 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 also time travel.
  • Power Nullifier: The Candle of the Nahru Visna, a magical object that's the only known thing to render Plutonian powerless.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: The entire point. (And, apparently, not just for the Plutonian...)
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Vespans. After they capture The Plutonian, they agree to leave Earth and never invade again, simply because of an agreement they'd made with a (now dead) Earth human.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: One possible interpretation for the Plutonian's need to be loved. It's especially apparent in his confrontation with one foster family that gave him up for accidentally injuring their baby brother and leaving him permanently brain damaged.
    Plutonian: Why do you keep treating me like a ticking time bomb?!

  • Reality Warper: Tony, albeit unknowingly. The Eleos (his "race" of origin) are this to an even greater extent.
  • Regional Redecoration: The Plutonian sinks Singapore into the ocean. This is not the worst thing he's done.
  • 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 play out that way, especially 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 (and revealed his secret to their coworkers). 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. Then again, Plutonian pursued his girlfriend by actually entering the radio station because of her; in Superman's case, Lois happened to work at The Daily Planet before any romance sprang, making Plutonian's case all the creepier.
  • Rule of Cool: Kaidan's superpower is being able to summon the spirits of great warriors by recounting their stories. The characters in said stories are souls of samurai and Feudal warriors. It's awesome. She later finds that she summon the spirits of superheroes and open a path through the underworld. Double awesome. Even Qubit is surprised by this (and he's the one that figures it out for Kaidan), and this is a dude that 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?" He then incinerates every other Singaporean on the scene.
  • 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:
    • Keeps happening to the Plutonian, including interplanetary travel, a black hole, a sun, a Lotus-Eater Machine, and time travel.
    • Played with in regards to Plutonian's parents. Personality wise, they're Sealed Good in a Can, but the Containment Field used to seal them is the evil; when the seal is broken, humanity is doomed by the unleashed radiation, but they gave Plutonian some needed disciplinary action.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Plutonian's parents.
  • 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.
  • Secret-Keeper: Subverted. Dan Hartigan’s workmates are about the tell the world the Plutonian’s Secret Identity immediately after they find out, and they would have had the Plutonian not quickly flown into outer space and destroyed their satellite. When he returns, he is Burning with Anger.
  • Sex Slave: Encanta is forced to be one for the Plutonian between issues 3 and 7.
  • Sexbot: Modeus built a half-dozen sexbots resembling Tony.
  • Shout-Out:
    Gilgamos: I know you! You're Black V-
    Volt: That's... the other guy.
    Gilgamos: From Philadelphia?
    Volt: That's the other other guy.
  • Skewed Priorities: Bette Noir, she kept the one bullet that could kill Tony secret, simply because she gained it by sleeping with him behind her husbands back.
  • 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.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Played for Drama. The Plutonian has an intense, driving need to be loved by everyone around him and receives endless praise from being the world's greatest super-hero. But he's unable to get over the few people who don't shower him with praise, leading him to bitterly think that the entire population of Earth are nothing but selfish, ungrateful animals.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: As brief as it is, the Plutonian's Heel–Face Turn also shakes up the supervillain community who had once seen him as the ultimate "goody-two-shoes" and they're not sure if he's really going to be on their side. Surprisingly, he's not. As a result, most of the other supervillains of the Irredeemable verse have either reformed (Max Damage), laid low, or just quit altogether.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Ultrasonic Lifeform that infects children and spreads through their (and their immune parents') screams.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Plutonian's defining personality trait prior to his breakdown. He was the "Unstable" type with more than a few touches of the "Empty/Depressed" kind.
  • 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.
    • Charybdis/Survivor is another winner. How else would you describe someone who can fight off the Plutonian successfully?
  • Super Senses: The Plutonian, to a truly insane degree. He can perceive the movement of electrons inside people's brains.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: This trope is one of the main themes of the series.
    • 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.
    • Bill Hartigan, the foster parent who forged him into The Plutonian, teaches him to be completely selfless; Tony took it a tad too far when he withheld the fact that his foster mother has terminal cancer and he has known all along. When she dies, his foster father kills himself in guilt.
    • On a more general note, Muggle Foster Parents would really have no idea how to handle the super-powered child who throws tantrums sometimes. The girl you've been dating won't find it fantastic that you've lied to her constantly about your secret identity. A Badass Normal won't stand a chance against a guy who has super strength and can shoot lasers out of his eyes. Indeed, the resident Batman expies, Hornet and Inferno, are very quickly dealt with by Plutonian (the former's death scene is the opening scene of the series, and the latter was killed off-screen without any manner of fight being shown or even referenced), a vicious hammerblow to the usual idea of a Batman vs Superman conflict. Because if a man who can destroy planets through brute force wants you dead, martial arts training, nifty gadgets, and money won't do jack to save you.
    • The Hornet, as a Batman expy, is a zig-zagged example. The first issue plays it straight, showing him dying easily with no real hope of resisting the Plutonian. Then we find out that he did in fact anticipate the Plutonian going bad, having caught on to a single offhand remark the Plutonian made ages ago, and did in fact have a plan, which successfully neutralizes him long after the Hornet's death. But it's zig-zagged again in that instead of just letting him big-brain his way through the problem for free, his plan was basically to sell out the entire rest of the universe to save earth, in keeping with the series' Darker and Edgier tone.
  • 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 Age Fanboy, a reputation Waid earned after Kingdom Come.
    • This is justified in the text itself, in a flashback to one of the triggering events of the Plutonian's fall. After Plutonian has literally saved an entire stadium's worth of people from a bomb, he hears the cheers of almost everyone... except for one snotty jerk who calls him an 'underwear pervert...' a term coined by Warren Ellis and popularized by Cory Doctorow to protest the trademarking of the term super-hero. Here it comes across as the ultimate internet forum comment, only the Plutonian not only hears it, but in one sense hears it more clearly than all the praise.
  • 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.
  • Technical Pacifist: "Everyone knows Qubit doesn't kill"... Humans, that is. He's fine with killing an entire spaceship full of Vespans and Orian, the space demon.
  • Technopath: Qubit's actual power.
  • 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. After Qubit takes them back and Plutonian's escape from the prison-planet, they're put out of action.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: This is what happens when Superman gets pushed slowly over the years with ungrateful comments, snide remarks, and generally being treated like a time bomb, and he finally says "oh fuck it"note  and boy it's not pretty.
  • 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 taking on the alias Survivor), a second-tier superhero, gains a considerable boost of power when his brother dies, putting him on the same level as The Plutonian.
  • Tulpa: It turns out that the Plutonian was basically this. Unfortunately, the woman who gave him (unwitting) form was mentally ill and full of guilt over killing her baby. This did not, of course, help his own psyche later.
  • Unexpected Successor: General Walter Ehrlich becomes President of the United States after the Plutonian (apparently) kills the President, Vice President, and all others in the Constitutional line of succession. These deaths all happen offscreen, but there is a shot of the White House half-destroyed.
  • Ungrateful Bastards: Every superhero universe needs them, and like several such tropes they are deconstructed. Super Senses meant that the Plutonian could constantly hear bitter Jerkasses, like the one from the football stadium he saved in a flashback depicted in the first issue and the Entitled Bastard with the yacht, who made snide comments about his costume and refused to accept him no matter how many times he saved their asses. This was one of several factors that contributed to the Plutonian's breakdown. Such people were drastically outnumbered by those who loved Tony but his intense insecurity and need for universal adoration made the few people who didn't stand out all the more.
  • Un Reveal: Qubit never says what he sees in the Survivor’s mind that leads him to ally with Modeus and rescue 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 unaware by the fact that a depowered Plutonian was not totally incompetent. That, or Tony's Reality Warper powers were still in effect.
  • Unwilling Roboticization: What Qubit threatens Encanta with to make her reveal what she knows about Modeus.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The Ungrateful Bastard who complained of the bullet damages to his yacht, after Plutonian and Kaidan saved him from a pirate attack. This particular event made Plutonian to seek solace in the moon for 10 minutes, but then the virus strikes... True there's other Ungrateful Bastards as well, but this is the guy who's the figurative spark that ignited the whole fuel spill.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Plutonian.
  • Walking Wasteland: Minor background villain Dekay melts everything he touches.
  • What Ever Happened To The Mouse: Encanta's screentime decreases greatly after she is turned into a being of technology by Qubit. She appears as Modeus' assistant briefly before just disappearing altogether mid-series.
  • What the Hell, Hero?
    • Bette Noire gets it particularly hard. After escaping 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".
    • Survivor is furious with Qubit for foiling his plan to kill Plutonian. Survivor later tells a group of farmers that Qubit is helping that he let Plutonian get away, and they begin to physically attack him.
    • Qubit calls Survivor out on giving murderous supervillains full pardons in exchange for help to clean Earth up when Cary should be looking for his Not Quite Dead brother instead.
    • Survivor gives one to his and Scylla's retired and estranged third brother Elliot for not trying to help them stop Plutonian's rampage, 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 other supervillains 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 Gilgamos are prepared to plant the Tree of Life, granting every living thing on the planet immortality but due to the consequences it would bring (no longer being able to have children, go to the afterlife, and worst of all, possibly stuck forever at the mercy of the Plutonian), they hesitate until the last minute, where Qubit stops them and saves 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.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Tony makes the mistake of revealing to Alana his secret identity as the Plutonian, which only results in her revealing this to her co-workers and them almost revealing it to the world; it's implied that The Plutonian's Dan Hartigan was like Superman's Clark Kent, meaning his only possibility of blending in and having a normal life. Superman argues that he is Clark Kent and that he would go insane if he had to be Superman all the timenote ; the story takes this point and amplifies it to its logical, albeit monstrous, conclusion, which is The Plutonian going insane for not being able to be Dan Hartigan (among other even more messed up things).
  • Would Hurt a Child: Plutonian has no qualms with killing children. Tony's first human mother and the one whose desire for a child forged him into a human body, to a horrifying extent.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: In the final panel, the drawing the young Siegel and Shuster make is unmistakably Superman, but it's not in color and the S symbol hasn't been drawn yet.
  • 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.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Sonic Plague liquefies children's flesh and animates their bones. Worst part is that it spreads like wildfire through the screams of the living. The Paradigm managed to stop it before it got out of control, but the damage is done and this plays into one of the biggest reasons behind the Plutonian's Face–Heel Turn.

    Tropes specific to Incorruptible 
  • Arrested for Heroism: Max Damage makes an example of Headcase, who sets out to kill the murderer of her parents. When she's successful and as soon as he understands that she has a death wish, he surrenders her to the authorities for the crime.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Recap pages all share Max's "Wanted!" Poster which informs us that he is wanted for manslaughter, terrorism, armed robbery, conspiracy and interstate flight.
  • The Atoner: Max Damage after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Max and Jailbait; Max and Headcase arguably start as this as well, before she becomes wayward and crazy.
  • Badass Normal: Sidekicks Jailbait and Headcase have no superpowers, but they can handle themselves.
  • Blessed with Suck: Max's super-strength and invulnerability increase proportionally to how long he stays awake. However, he is just as susceptible to the mental effects of sleep deprivation and stimulant drugs as the rest of us, and will exhibit poor judgment as a result. He's also vulnerable for up to a full hour after waking up.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: What Max tries to keep his Perky Female Minion Jailbait out of harm's way.
  • Broken Bird: Jailbait; Headcase after plot hits her.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: When 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.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Annie/Headcase learns this the hard way.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Lieutenant Louis Armadale is roped into being Max's reluctant ally.
  • 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not in the sense that it's more pessimistic than Irredeemable (which is definitely not a sunshine and rainbows kind of story) but it has a much more "gritty" tone, with villains modeled on Neo-Nazis and magicians who power their spells with Villainous Incest. Plus, the unfortunate codenames of Max Damage's sidekicks (Jailbait, Headcase, Safeword, Hatecrime) are practically a Running Gag.
  • 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.
  • Death Seeker: Headcase
  • Driven to Suicide: Commissioner Armadale
  • Enemy Mine: After Max runs 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.
  • Ephebophile: Max Damage likes 'em young: he met sidekick/girlfriend Jailbait in a brothel when she was fifteen and he somewhere between 30 and 40. She's sixteen when the series rolls around, but his Heel–Face Turn drove him to break up with her for a Jailbait Wait.
  • 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 doing it shook him to his core. In short, Max was on the receiving end of the treatment of a supervillain — 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 supervillain 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.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: For painfully obvious reasons. 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.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Max Damage, needing information from Origin, does so by dangling him over a vat of chemicals containing a tentacled monster.
  • 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 smart 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 invulnerability increase in direct proportion to how long he's been awake. A bit of Blessed with Suck, as he is still affected by the mental instability that naturally occurs 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.
  • Logical Weakness: Max's strength and invulnerability increase the longer he's been awake. Of course, people - Max included - still need to sleep, as staying awake too long has negative effects on mental health.
  • Morality Pet: Max adds Alana and Armadale 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; meanwhile Headcase, after the murder of her whole family, has become a truly frightening Death Seeker Yandere 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).
  • Noodle Incident: Jailbait's cage match against the Hentai Brothers. Jailbait won. And it was hot.
  • Power Nullifier: Sleep. He is vulnerable for roughly an hour after waking.
    • In the epilogue, he's telling a bunch of people about the time he locked himself and The Plutonian in a field generator that nullified both of their powers. Max figured that, with all his powers, the Plutonian thought he'd never need to learn hand-to-hand combat. The Plutonian proved him wrong.
  • Redemption Quest: The premise of the series.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Max is trying to stick to this as part of his Heroic Vow.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Max tells Alana this to get her to stop beating herself up over feeling like she caused the Plutonian's Sanity Slippage and breakdown.

Alternative Title(s): Incorruptible