For BOOM! comics, Waid wrote two linked series called Irredeemable (drawn primarily by Krause) and Incorruptible, which explored what could happen if one of the cornerstones of the Superman mythos was kicked away. What if the alien with powers beyond anyone else on Earth suddenly turned hateful and destructive? And, conversely, what if one of his worst nemeses decides that it’s now up to him to turn his life around and save the planet?
Insufferable starts by remixing some basic ingredients of the Batman and Robin mythos. Nocturnus is a dark, unemotional, technology-driven crusader against crime. Kid Galahad was his young sidekick. But there are two major differences:
- Nocturnus is Kid Galahad's real father, not a father figure.
- Kid Galahad is not Dick Grayson; he's just a dick.
Years before this story begins, Kid Galahad broke with his father and blew their secret identity. Since then he’s built a lucrative business around his persona, and Nocturnus has retreated further into the shadows. But a new threat from an old villain forces them to work together again. There are, of course, layers within layers, betrayals, unforeseen allies, and so on. Waid knows how to write superhero stories.
Some aspects of the original Batman and Robin’s relationship are replicated here: Kid Galahad is more emotive, Nocturnus a better planner. As Waid has acknowledged in a summer 2012 interview, the opening chapters were designed to show Galahad’s perspective: “Nocturnus doesn’t seem to get as much play, but that’s only because we’ve made a conscious choice to not look too deeply at his thoughts and to veil him in mystery.” Meanwhile, Galahad just can’t keep his feelings to himself.
Yet the story’s sell line invites readers into Nocturnus’s point of view: “What happens when you’re a crimefighter and your sidekick grows up to be an arrogant, ungrateful douchebag? What on Earth could draw the two of you back together again?” Despite (or because of) his vociferousness, the story strongly implies that Kid Galahad’s big problem is Kid Galahad, and Nocturnus’s big problem is…Kid Galahad. If the kid sidekick is bad, the whole universe goes to pot.
Another theme that Waid explores in Insufferable is the power of social media. Kid Galahad has a big online following. His fans tweet about his latest appearances and exploits. (The Twitter handles of some of those fans match those of real comics fans.) Cameras are everywhere to catch Galahad’s mistakes and boasting. His smartphone plays a role in several scenes. To some extent that reflects the way we live today. But it’s in part also a commentary on online comics discussion, where vitriol goes well beyond what’s merited by fiction about people kicking each other in the face.
TOMORROW: The Thrillbent format.