Insufferable by Mark Waid, Peter Krause

Insufferable is what I come to hope and expect from the modern comics/graphic novel industry: a nuanced story, interesting graphics, and very contemporary presentation (horizontal panels intended for E readers and screens). Now that the Big Two publishing houses have huge studio publicity machines backing them and many versions of their canon characters hitting all-time popularity levels, the anti-superhero is timely and popular again. With Insufferable, we have the dynamics of a relationship gone wrong (reportedly based upon the break up of two comic artists’ business relationship) – this time a father and son superhero team.


Story: Superhero Nocturnus raised his son carefully to survive the cruelty of the superhero world. But the son wanted a father, not a teacher, and eventually a wall of emotion fatally breaks the relationship. Modern son that he is, Galahad overtly uncovers the identity of both to the public – forcing his father to desperately scramble for the shadows. But the sudden explosion of Nocturnus’ wife/Galahad’s mothers ashes – and the message that she might still be alive after all – send both into a tailspin for very different reasons. Someone is dredging up their past and divided, they may not have the strength to face it.

Although the blurbs initially describe the son as a ‘douchebag’, I honestly felt the responsibility of the relationship breakdown sat firmly on both men’s shoulders. It’s a kudo to the author for writing the story in such a way that we can understand the problems each have with the other. It’s a bog standard “son doesn’t want to follow his father’s footsteps’ story that also greatly illustrates the difference between the hyper modern world (publicity, sponsorships, the high life) and a reserved, self effacing, grounded past.

The two men’s stories are contrasted in colors – Galahad is colored in bright warms where Nocturnus is a study of muted blues and greens. Of course, Nocturnus is drawn in the costume stylings of a bygone era whereas Galahad is all about the flash and glamor – a Ray Ban ad of “Never Hide.”

The plot does take a backseat to this first volume’s story of a dysfunctional family. Villains aren’t given much time and the aggressive vs passive-aggressive grandstanding of both father and son is the focus. But a mystery is afoot as to who is targeting the two – and why. And in bringing the superheroes back together, setting up the situation for either a reconciliation or a very big implosion. I’m looking forward to either. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

This entry was posted in ARC, Book Reviews, graphic novel, urban fantasy. Bookmark the permalink.

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