Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause
Colourist: Nolan Woodard
Mark Waid’s 2012 superhero series Insufferable has finally made it’s way to IDW for print after it’s initial digital release on Waid’s own publishing website Thrillbent three years ago. The Eisner Award winning writer is without a doubt one of the industry’s greats given his critically acclaimed work on famous DC and Marvel titles, so it’s a surprise that Insufferable passed under the radar back in 2012. This lesser-known title follows the dysfunctional relationship between the superhero Nocturnus and his arrogant side-kick Galahad, reminiscent of Batman and Robin, who are brought together again for a case. Insufferable reunites the dynamic duo of Waid and artist Peter Krause, who formerly collaborated on Irredeemable, to form an engaging comedy-drama story that focuses on character relationships rather than the usual superhero antics.
The story begins with the superhero team already disbanded with the young Galahad stealing the public spotlight overshadowing the true heroism of the ageing Nocturnus, and as the story progresses we see through flashbacks how this father-son duo fell apart. A twist on the classic superhero formula is in no way a new concept harking all the way back to the 80s with Alan Moore’s Watchmen and it’s subsequent copycats in the past thirty years. However, where Watchmen, Kick-Ass, The Dark Knight Returns, and all the rest explore the more sordid side of superheroes and human nature in general, Insufferable focuses on a failed father-son relationship except in a superhero setting. It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it makes Nocturnus and Galahad far more relatable characters than say the psychopathic Rorschach.
Peter Krause’s artwork is just fantastic and with the gloomier colour palette, provided by Nolan Woodard, it helps ground the story more in reality. Krause’s designs for both Nocturnus and Galahad are obvious parodies of classic superheroes with the skin-tight costumes, face masks, and flowing capes, but they’re also rather unique and reflect their personalities; Nocturnus as the reclusive hooded figure, and Galahad as a grown up boy wonder.
To be honest, there’s nothing here I didn’t like and it’s a shame I didn’t catch this series sooner. From the first issue alone it’s clear that Insufferable takes it’s time to carefully craft characters and relationships rather than jumping straight into the action, which is something that doesn’t happen a lot. Overall, Insufferable gives a great family drama wrapped up in a superhero story with some beautiful artwork and a dark but relatable setting.