The creative team here is offering us something different to what we got in the first “Incognito” miniseries. It does feel like it’s a heavily meshed version with the past hit, “Sleeper,” but it is also its own beast, though admittedly it is clearly somewhere between the two. Heroes and villains playing off both sides but also for both sides makes for an emotionally fraught tale of death and self-discovery. Zack Overkill is returning to an old villain haunt to get some information and all he really finds is his anger.
Ed Brubaker certainly knows how to write a good line, and has done his research. Certain scenes of this comic absolutely sing while others either fall flat or just feel absent. Brubaker experiments with a set of captions within this issue using pulp trope lines. It’s an effective experiment as each caption then informs or opens up the scenes that follow it. It’s a clever, yet small, aspect of this issue that doesn’t require you to get it to enjoy this comic, but it shows Brubaker is analyzing these characters.
The major flaw of this issue is that not enough happens. This is the third instalment and yet it all still feels like prelude. Tiny shifts are setting up this tale but it hasn’t kicked into any gear yet. By now, I want characters interacting, fighting, sitting down at a diner for coffee to discuss how they are opposite but the same. Anything. But, instead, we get a little more movement and a wait until the next issue. Simon Slaughter has been set up as the big interesting character of this mini and yet he’s been lucky to grace seven pages of this whole thing. The first series was frenetic, this one is not.
The relationship between Overkill and Zoe Zeppelin is making for interesting and quiet drama in the background. It seemed that Zoe was simply using Zack, but in this issue we discover that even proximity to her pleasant way of thinking is making Overkill a better man, or perhaps showing him he always had the ingredients for that recipe (the secret ingredient is pulp). It will be interesting to see this relationship play out and what state it will be left in at the end of this whole mess. There is the possibility it could all be the opposite of what happened with Miss Misery in “Sleeper,” and that would be fitting.
This comic plays into Phillips’ wheelhouse and he knocks it out of the park as usual. His action is swift, his violence gritty, and his dense panel work (no splashes here) make the story feel like it’s moving. Phillips is slowly but surely making the domino mask the coolest thing to have ever been worn. The colours of Val Staples should not be ignored as he sets the tone for most of the scenes and does it well. When the tension or action is dialled in it becomes Staples to the rescue.
This issue, as well as the series proper, is good. But it’s not great. This feels more like a standard decompressed Marvel issue than it does a part of some pulp brand that takes chances and creates trends. This comic needs to build a whole experience and I still feel, months later, like I’m stuck in the orientation of this tale. The back matter by Jess Nevins is quality, as usual, and the art is top notch. A shame the story just isn’t enough. Not enough at all.