Incognito: Bad Influences #5

Story by
Art by
Sean Phillips
Colors by
Val Staples
Letters by
Sean Phillips
Cover by
Marvel Icon

This series has hinted all along at a new player in the game, Simon Slaughter. He's a rogue double agent who might be playing both sides off against the other. Here we finally get a true glimpse at the man who caused all the fuss. It feels strange to have the big confrontation in the final issue without any lead up meetings. This is all the Simon Slaughter we get and I guess it's all we need. The confrontation leads to a very noir ending and one that begs for a trilogy cap to be put onto this character's tale.

The major failure of this comic is that it packs its resolution with exposition rather than built up action. Slaughter expounds on his views and theories and, while they're interesting, they lack punch because we've seen so little of the build up to this moment. You don't think an action comic is going to culminate in a conversation. It's a surprise, to say the least, and one that doesn't resonate as the perfect choice. It might want to be the discovery of Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now" but it comes across a little different.

This comic is good, but it's not wholly satisfying. This comic sums up the strengths and weaknesses of the entire mini. It works well as being the opposite narrative arc of the first mini, even if that's all it is. It feels like it's trying to be the "Empire Strikes Back" of the "Incognito" universe. Everything is bleak, the end is futile, etc. The entire series then suffers from feeling like filler before the next Zack Overkill story. No one wants the story to feel like a stepping stone.

No matter how you get there, the ending is still strong. There's meaning to what happens and the flow on effects from these actions are serious. There's change to these characters, but it's mostly development that will need to be explored in the next mini.

Sean Phillips makes everything look pretty, or at least pretty bleak. His work is so consistently excellent that you barely need to say it anymore. I do like the main fight sequence at the end of the comic where Phillips suddenly drops the backgrounds so the focus is left on the two men working against each other even though they don't know which cause they support.

Val Staples uses his colors to drop retro-science right into the panels. He lets you know what's dangerous and then he lets you know what could really melt your face off. In this world, there are different levels of things that can kill you; Staples always telegraphs these aspects of the world well.

"Incognito: Bad Influences" is a good comic that suffers for being a sequel to a great comic. This comic gets us to some good places, and the ending is a great noir send off, but the pieces don't add up to the whole. It's only at the end that I really care and want more and that's far too late. This has been fun, and should be a quality read in trade, but the final issue doesn't finalize everything perfectly; It just drops you in the boiling water to sizzle for a while.

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