Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips take a break from their excellent Criminal series to create a new comic which is just as good as Criminal.
Incognito is about a former supervillain who is now in the witness protection program, but, well, if you’ve ever read a single issue of Criminal, you know these things never go smoothly, and soon human nature (and illegal drugs) cause things to go a markedly different way than was originally intended.
The main character, Zack was one half of a brother super villain duo who were given powers by a mad scientist. Eventually, Zack turned on his super villain boss and was placed into the witness protection program and is living out his life as basically just an ordinary guy, except he is an ordinary guy who knows that we live in an extraordinary world – one of superheroes and super villains – only the government makes sure that the populace doesn’t know about the battles going on around them (there are a lot of freaky natural disasters in this world – or so anyone watching the news would think).
Brubaker tells the story in non-linear fashion, but he tells it so neatly that it almost FEELS like a linear story, as the flashbacks fit so well into the thought process of Zack that it all seems like a natural train of thought.
Zack Overkill is a strong pulp protagonist, in the sense that he is certainly not a great guy, but at the same time, he may very well be the lesser of many evils in the world, when it comes to a rooting interest.
Sean Phillips has drawn this basic type of thing when he was doing Sleeper with Brubaker (not the concept, but the basic designs of the super villains – Phillips’ brings a very realistic design sense when it comes to super villains – no garish looking costumes here), and as you would expect from any Phillips’ drawn comic book, the storytelling is excellent and the characters drip with personality from his facial work (the panel layouts, by the way, seem to almost be intentionally bolder than those in Criminal – I wonder if that’s just my imagination).
As Zack slowly finds himself drawn out of the shell of a fake life he’s had created for him, we see a killer ending that spells a whole lot of trouble for Zack in the future, and if the future issues are anything like this first book (or Criminal, for that matter), then readers are in for one heckuva series.
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