By:Chris Smits
Review Date: Monday, November 01, 2010
Source: Mania

Returning in the second Incognito series from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips; former super-criminal (and witness protection screw-up) Zack Overkill finds that even though he’s now technically working for the good guys, things are still pretty messed up. He gets to keep his powers while busting heads for the S.O.S, he gets to keep the adventure in his life and, most importantly, he doesn’t have to be a nobody living a nobody’s life, but then there’s also the fact that he has to put up with a direct superior that hates him along with a case of mistaken identity that is going to be a major pain in the ass.

It’s been awhile since Brubaker and Phillips introduced readers to Zack Overkill in the first Incognito series, but their second outing with the character hits it’s points quickly, catching fans up to speed in no time. Everything comes back to the reader smoothly and we’re reminded in no time that it’s lead character is a shmuck that somehow manages to be strangely interesting and more than a little likable.

For new readers jumping on for the first time, you can get the gist of what’s going on and the story here works well as an initial read. Incognito is a skewered look at the superhero genre from the standpoint of a super-powered non-hero.

Overkill isn’t “the reluctant hero” at all. In fact, he’s incredibly selfish and self-serving. As a masked baddie who used to work for the criminal mastermind known as Black Death, he’s not so much as doing the right thing as much as playing the hand he’s dealt with right now. Always looking for an angle out of whatever hole he’s dug himself into, Zack is like a lovable scoundrel but really is more of a dick when it comes down to it.

Cover art to INCOGNITO: BAD INFLUENCES #1 by Sean Phillips

What Brubaker does, though, makes him very easy to latch on to. With his sarcastic comments or his attempts at manipulating the people that are one-up on him, Brubaker’s use of good dialogue and a plot that’s very entertaining and cleverly written make Zack Overkill quite a bit of fun on every page. For every bit of good writing that’s in here, artist Sean Phillips gives every page the charisma it needs to make it work. His ability to transcribe the mundane on the same page as the extraordinary is flawless and it’s his talent at the quiet scenes that sell Incognito so fully.

If this is the first you’re hearing about Incognito then I can’t recommend the trade collection of the original series enough. If your local comic shop doesn’t have it in stock then they should have no trouble getting it, and having read it will make this issue even better for you.

Incognito: Bad Influence has way too much quality in it to be the fantastically guilty pleasure it feels like. I’m giving this issue an A and I’m very glad for the series’ return to the shelves. This book is the trifecta of a comic: Great writing, great artwork and great story. If you need more reason than that to give it a try, then all I’ve got is some head shaking and a disapproving look for you.

Mania Grade: A
Title: Incognito: Bad Influences #1
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art and Letters by: Sean Phillips
Colors by: Val Staples
Published by: Marvel/Icon
Price: $3.50